Preliminary Discourse on Mindfulness, Freedom, and the Soul’s Origin and Journey

My approach to God, while drawing inspiration from the Trinitarian Christian god, envisions the latter as, incidentally, symbolizing God and His relationship to the universe. I indeed approach God as an infinite, eternal, substantial, volitional, and conscious field of ideational singular models that completely incarnates itself into the universe while remaining completely external to the universe, completely ideational, and completely subject to a vertical (rather than horizontal) time; and which is not only completely sheltered from any forced effect (whether ideational or material), with one or more efficient causes, in its willingness but traversed, animated, efficiently-caused, and unified by a sorting, actualizing, pulse that both stands as the acting part of God’s will and as the apparatus, the Logos, through which God incarnates Himself while remaining distinct from His incarnation.

In the Trinity, I envision the Father as the symbol of the infinite, eternal, substantial, volitional, and conscious field of ideational singular models as that field both incarnates itself into the universe and remains distinct from the universe; the Son as the symbol of the universe as the latter is both the ideational field’s incarnation and an entity distinct from the ideational field; and the Holy Spirit as the symbol of the sorting, actualizing, pulse through which God incarnates Himself into the universe and yet remains distinct from the universe. The present discourse, which stands as a direct continuation to my “Preliminary considerations on the dignity of man, the Idea of the Good, and the knowledge of essences,” intends to bring whole new preliminary considerations on my part on a number of topics including the substance, emergence, creation, the Chi, war, predestination, mindfulness, freedom, decentralized competition, the pineal gland, and the soul’s (earthly) journey and (divine) origin. On that occasion, I will deliver an assessment of what Benedictus de Spinoza, René Descartes, and Aleister Crowley (and a few other philosophers) respectively wrote on some of those topics.

Beforehand a few remarks concerning my respective definition for some of my concepts should be made. A moment-relative property in an entity (whether ideational—or material) is a property (whether existential—or non-existential) that deals with the point (or points) in time at which the entity itself or one or more properties in the entity are taking place; whether time for the entity is horizontal—or vertical. In an entity (whether ideational—or material), a property preexistent to one or more other properties is a property for which one chronological point, at least, in its existence is chronologically anterior to the existence of the other property or properties in question; whether its existence is already extinguished before the existence of the other property or properties in question. An entity preexistent to one or more other entities (whether it occupies the same realm as the one or more other entities in questions) is an entity for which one chronological point, at least, in its existence is chronologically anterior to (the existence of) the other entity or entities in question; whether its existence is already extinguished before the existence of the one or more other entities in question.

In a realm of reality taken in isolation (whether it is the ideational realm—or the material one), any extrinsically contingent or extrinsically necessary property existing in an entity at some point has strictly three kinds of cause, which are all operating for any extrinsically contingent or extrinsically necessary property in any entity. Namely a relational cause (i.e., one or more relations on the entity’s part at some point before), an existential cause (i.e., the existence of the entity both presently and at the anterior point), and an intrinsically necessary cause (i.e., an intrinsically necessary property in the entity at the anterior point). What’s more, in a realm of reality taken in isolation (whether it is the ideational realm—or the material one), any extrinsically contingent or extrinsically necessary entity existing at some point has strictly three kinds of cause. Namely a relational cause (i.e., one or more relations on another entity’s part: at some point before the concerned caused entity’s existence, except in a few cases), an existential cause (i.e., the existence of the other entity and hypothetically of some other entities which it is having one or more relations with: at the anterior point, except in a few cases), and an intrinsically necessary cause (i.e., an intrinsically necessary property in the other entity and hypothetically in those hypothetical other entities: at the anterior point, except in a few cases).

The relational cause for some (extrinsically necessary or extrinsically contingent) property or entity is that kind of cause that can also be called the “efficient cause.” Saying of an entity that it is an efficient cause (were it the only efficient cause) for one or more extrinsically contingent or extrinsically necessary other entities is a convenient way of saying that one or more relations on that entity’s part are efficient causes (were the relations in question only between the entity and itself) for the one or more entities in question; just like saying of an entity that it is an efficient cause (were it the only efficient cause) for one or more extrinsically contingent or extrinsically necessary properties in that entity or in one or more other entities is a convenient way of saying that one or more relations on that entity’s part are efficient causes (were the relations in question only between the entity and itself) for the properties in question. An efficiently uncaused property is one with no efficient cause; what is only the case of any (strong-kind or weak-kind) intrinsically necessary property.

An efficiently uncaused entity is one with no efficient cause; what is only the case of any (eternal or self-produced) intrinsically necessary entity and the case of that modality of an extrinsically contingent entity that is a randomly self-produced entity. A self-produced entity (whether it is intrinsically necessary) is a temporal-starting-endowed entity that is, besides, self-caused and efficiently uncaused (whether it is intrinsically necessary). When it comes to those extrinsically necessary entities that are the supramundane souls and the ideational essences (whether their realm is taken in isolation), the combination between relational, existential, and intrinsically necessary causes which results into their existence (in the ideational realm) is both internal to the ideational realm and temporally simultaneous to their existence (in the ideational realm). When it comes to those material entities (including the universe) that are considered from the angle of their incarnation-relationship to God, the combination between relational, existential, and intrinsically necessary causes which results into their existence (in the material realm) is both internal to the ideational realm and temporally simultaneous (in the ideational realm) to their existence (in the material realm). Ditto for the properties in those material entities that are considered from the angle of their incarnation-relationship to God.

Any entity (whether it is ideational—or material) is both a caused and causing entity: more precisely, a caused (though not systemically an efficiently caused) and efficiently causing entity. Any act of creation falls within production; but not any act of production falls within creation. Production is to be taken in the sense for a cause (whether it is relational, existential, or intrinsically necessary) of causing the existence of one or more properties that are (not eternal but instead) endowed with a temporal beginning; or the existence of one or more entities that are (not eternal but instead) endowed with a temporal beginning.

As for creation, it is to be taken in the sense of the fact for a cause (whether it is relational, existential, or intrinsically necessary) of producing one or more (temporal-starting-endowed) properties other than moment-relative that are (completely or partly) novel with respect to what characterizes the (existential or non-existential) properties other than moment-relative that have been witnessed in the entities having been witnessed in the concerned realm of reality (i.e., the existential or non-existential properties other than moment-relative that are characteristic of the entities that either are or used to be or have been being in the concerned realm of reality); or the existence of one or more (temporal-starting-endowed) entities that are (completely or partly) novel in their properties (other than moment-relative) with respect to what characterizes the existential or non-existential properties other than moment-relative that have been witnessed in the entities having been witnessed in the concerned realm of reality.

Not only any efficiently caused entity (i.e., any entity with one or more efficient causes) that is temporal-starting-endowed is a produced entity (i.e., a caused entity that is endowed with a temporal beginning); but, reciprocally, any produced entity is an efficiently caused entity that is temporal-starting-endowed. Not only any efficiently uncaused entity (i.e., any entity devoid of the slightest efficient cause) is a self-caused entity (i.e., a caused entity that is randomly self-produced or intrinsically necessary); but, reciprocally, any self-caused entity is an efficiently uncaused entity.

A self-produced entity (i.e., a self-caused entity whose existence is, besides, endowed with a temporal beginning) and a substance (i.e., a self-caused entity whose existence is, besides, intrinsically necessary and, at every point, endowed with a strong intrinsically necessary eternity remaining throughout the entity’s existence by strong intrinsic necessity) are two distinct modalities of a self-caused entity; but both a self-produced entity and a substance are efficiently uncaused.

Any entity that is (completely or partly) novel in its properties (other than moment-relative) with respect to what characterizes the existential or non-existential properties other than moment-relative that have been witnessed in the entities having been witnessed in the concerned realm of reality falls within emergent entities in the concerned realm of reality; just like any property other than moment-relative that is (completely or partly) novel with respect to what characterizes the (existential or non-existential) properties other than moment-relative that have been witnessed in the entities having been witnessed in the concerned realm of reality falls within emergent properties in the concerned realm of reality.

Any emergent entity is either ideational or material; just like any emergent property is either a property in an ideational entity or one in a material entity. In a few lines, I will deal more closely with the concept of emergence; and with the respective concepts of existential and non-existential properties. It is worth clarifying that, while the way one understands some concept lies in the way one identifies (what one believes to be) all or part of the properties in the concept’s object, the way one defines some concept lies in the way one identifies (what one believes to be) the whole of the constitutive properties in the concept’s object. One’s “understanding of some concept” and one’s “approach to some concept” are phrases that can be used interchangeably.

Emergence and Creation: The Substance and the Chi

A material entity is an entity endowed with some kind of firmness, consistency (for instance: a quark, the void, an idea in a parrot’s mind, a movie, or the Chi); just like an ideational entity (i.e., an Idea) is an entity devoid of any firmness, consistency. A property is what is characteristic of an entity (whether the entity in question is ideational—or material) at some point (whether time for the entity in question is horizontal—or vertical). Any property is either existential or non-existential. A non-existential property in an entity (i.e., a property in the entity that is not relative to the entity’s mode of existence) is either compositional or formal or a composite of form and of composition; what is tantamount to saying: a composite of formal and compositional properties. An existential property is a property that is, if not relative to the entity’s existence’s origin or relative to whether and how the entity’s existence is (at some point) permanent or provisory, at least relative to the entity’s mode of existence, i.e., the entity’s way of existing. A strong existential property is a property that, among the properties relative to the entity’s mode of existence, deals with the entity’s existence’s origin or deals with whether and how the entity’s existence is (at some point) permanent or provisory.

Just like any strong existential property in a material entity is part of the entity’s substantial natural material essence, any strong existential property in an entity (whether it is ideational) is remaining throughout the entity’s existence by intrinsic necessity of the strong kind, i.e., remaining throughout the entity’s existence with the entity’s existence at some point being a necessary, sufficient, condition for its remaining throughout the entity’s existence. An eternal entity is one with no (temporal) beginning and with no (temporal) ending; what falls within the entity’s strong existential properties. Not any eternal entity is an intrinsically necessary entity; but any eternal entity is eternal (at some point) in a strong intrinsically necessary mode and remains eternal (throughout its existence) by strong intrinsic necessity.

A substance is an intrinsically necessary eternal entity whose eternity at some point not only occurs in a strong intrinsically necessary mode but remains throughout its existence by intrinsic necessity of the strong kind. Not any intrinsically necessary entity is a substance; but any entity eternal by strong intrinsic necessity (at some point) is remaining eternal (throughout its existence) by strong intrinsic necessity (and reciprocally). An innate property in an entity (whether it is ideational—or material) is one that is, if not remaining in the entity throughout the entity’s existence, at least accompanied with the strong existential property of a temporal beginning for the entity and present in the entity at the moment of the entity’s temporal beginning; just like an eternal property in an entity (whether it is ideational—or material) is one that, besides remaining in the entity throughout the entity’s existence by strong intrinsic necessity, takes place within an entity both eternal in a strong intrinsically necessary mode and eternal in a strong intrinsically necessarily remaining mode.

A property that is arising at some point in an entity is a property in the entity that is neither innate nor eternal in the concerned entity; just like an entity that is arising at some point is an entity (in some realm of reality) that is neither innate nor eternal in the concerned realm. Any property eternal in an entity is present at some point by strong intrinsic necessity and remaining (and eternal) in the entity throughout the entity’s existence by strong intrinsic necessity; just like any entity eternal in a realm of reality is eternal at some point by strong intrinsic necessity and remaining eternal by strong intrinsic necessity.

In an entity (whether it is ideational—or material), whether its realm is taken in isolation, a property other than moment-relative that is irreducible to all or part of the preexistent properties other than moment-relative in the entity is one that is neither completely characterized identically to any of the preexistent properties other than moment-relative in the entity nor completely characterized identically to a combination between all or part of the preexistent properties other than moment-relative in the entity (whether all or part of the preexistent properties other than moment-relative are still existent—or now inexistent); just like, in a realm of reality (whether it is ideational—or material), whether that realm is taken in isolation, an entity that is irreducible in its properties other than moment-relative to all or part of the properties other than moment-relative in those preexistent entities causing efficiently its existence is one for which one of its properties other than moment-relative, at least, is neither completely characterized identically to all or part of the properties other than moment-relative found in the set of those preexistent entities causing efficiently its existence nor completely characterized identically to a combination between all or part of the properties other than moment-relative found in the set of those preexistent entities causing efficiently its existence (whether all or part of those entities are still existent—or now inexistent).

An emergent property in an entity (whether it is ideational—or material) is a property other than moment-relative that is, if not irreducible to all or part of the preexistent properties other than moment-relative in the entity, at least arising at some point in the entity (instead of being innate or eternal in the entity); just like an emergent material entity is a material entity that is, if not arising at some point in the universe (instead of being the universe itself or one of the very first entities chronologically in the universe), at least irreducible in its properties (witnessed over the course of its existence) other than moment-relative to all or part of the properties other than moment-relative in those preexistent entities causing efficiently its existence.

A strong emergent property and a strong emergent material entity are respectively a property other than moment-relative that, besides arising at some point in the concerned entity (instead of being innate or eternal in the entity), is irreducible to all or part of the preexistent properties other than moment-relative in the entity; and a material entity that, besides being irreducible in its properties other than moment-relative to all or part of the properties other than moment-relative in those preexistent entities causing efficiently its existence, is arising at some point in the universe (instead of being the universe itself or innate in the universe).

Any emergent property is either a quality (i.e., a non-existential property) other than moment-relative or an existential property other than moment-relative; but not any quality other than moment-relative nor any existential property other than moment-relative fall within emergent properties. An emergent entity (whether it is ideational—or material) is an entity that is, if not arising at some point in its realm of reality, at least irreducible in its properties (witnessed over the course of its existence) other than moment-relative to all or part of the properties other than moment-relative in those preexistent entities causing efficiently its existence; just like an emergent ideational entity is an ideational entity that is not only eternal but irreducible in its properties (witnessed over the course of its existence) other than moment-relative to all or part of the properties other than moment-relative in those preexistent entities causing efficiently its existence.

A strong emergent property and an emergent entity are both introducing—when (and only when) the strong emergent property in question and one property, at least, in the emergent entity in question are characterized in a way that is then unprecedented (whether completely or partly) in the concerned realm of reality—a certain novelty (whether complete—or partial) in the field of what characterizes the properties other than moment-relative that have been witnessed in the entities having been witnessed in the concerned realm (i.e., the properties other than moment-relative that are characteristic of entities that either are or used to be or have been being in the concerned realm).

Any novelty (whether complete—or partial) introduced (at some point) in the field of what characterizes the existential or non-existential properties other than moment-relative that have been witnessed in the ideational or material realm’s entities having been witnessed (i.e., the properties other than moment-relative that are characteristic of entities that either are or used to be or have been being in the ideational or material realm) is introduced by (and through) an (other than moment-relative) property that is either a strong emergent property or a property in an emergent entity or a property that is both; but not any strong emergent property introduces some novelty in that field, no more than does any emergent entity.

The universe is both an extrinsically contingent emergent material entity from the angle of its relationship to the nothingness chronologically prior to the universe; and, from the angle of its relationship to God, an extrinsically necessary emergent material entity (distinct from God and yet identical to Him) whose incarnation-relationship to God is an eternal (rather than emergent) property in God Himself. Whether it is from the angle of its relationship to the chronologically anterior nothingness or from the angle of its relationship to God, the universe isn’t an intrinsically necessary entity endowed (at every point) with an eternity both intrinsically necessary in a strong mode and intrinsically necessarily remaining in a strong mode (i.e., a substance); no more than it is, generally speaking, an intrinsically necessary entity.

In the field of philosophy, translating into one’s language another philosopher’s concepts consists of expressing the latter’s concepts—and the way they’re understood and defined in the latter—through one’s concepts (such as one understands and defines them) in a way that nonetheless stays completely faithful to what are that someone else’s concepts and his understanding and definition of his concepts. To put it completely in my language, Spinoza’s approach to God in Ethics correctly portrays Him as an intrinsically necessary entity eternal in a strong intrinsically necessary mode whose eternity is remaining (throughout His existence) by intrinsic necessity of the strong kind, and which is composed (at every point) of an infinite number of non-existential constitutive properties; and as the only entity that is composed (at every point) of an infinite number of non-existential constitutive properties—and as the only entity that is a substance, i.e., the only entity that is endowed (at every point) with an intrinsically necessary existence and with an eternity both intrinsically necessary in a strong mode and remaining in a strong intrinsically necessary mode throughout the entity’s existence.

That approach nonetheless commits a mistake that lies in its confusing the being an eternal entity and the being an entity with no temporal ending; and in its confusing the being an intrinsically necessary entity with no temporal ending and the being an entity devoid of any temporal ending. Any eternal entity (as is the case of a substance) and any entity devoid of any temporal ending (as is the case of a substance) are respectively eternal—and devoid of any temporal ending—in a strong intrinsically necessary and strong intrinsically necessarily remaining mode; but, just like an eternal entity is only a modality (i.e., only a certain kind) of an entity with no temporal ending, an intrinsically necessary entity with no temporal ending is only a modality of an entity devoid of any temporal ending.

Though the universe cannot end in time (whether it is with regard to the nothingness—or with regard to God), it is an extrinsically contingent (rather than intrinsically necessary) entity with regard to the nothingness chronologically anterior to the universe; and, with regard to God, an extrinsically (rather than intrinsically) necessary entity. Accordingly the fact of being devoid of any temporal ending is not (as Spinoza wrongly asserts) unique to the eternal entity that is a substance; though there is indeed only one substance as Spinoza rightly asserts. Another mistake Spinoza’s approach to God commits lies in its confusing the being an efficiently uncaused entity and the being an intrinsically necessary eternal entity whose eternity takes place in a strong intrinsically necessary and strong intrinsically necessarily remaining mode (i.e., a substance); and in its confusing the being an intrinsically necessary entity and the being a substance.

An extrinsically contingent and efficiently uncaused entity (i.e., a self-produced entity) and an intrinsically necessary and efficiently uncaused entity (whether it is a substance) are two distinct modalities of an efficiently uncaused entity; just like an intrinsically necessarily eternal (in a strong mode), intrinsically necessarily remaining eternal (in a strong mode), and intrinsically necessary entity—and an intrinsically necessary entity that is, if not devoid of any temporal ending, at least endowed with a temporal beginning—are two distinct modalities of an efficiently uncaused entity. The universe and God are respectively an efficiently uncaused entity of an extrinsically contingent kind (with regard to the nothingness chronologically prior to the universe) and an efficiently uncaused entity of an intrinsically necessary kind; just like God and the universe’s very first components chronologically (such as the quarks and the Chi) are respectively an efficiently uncaused and intrinsically necessary entity of an intrinsically necessarily remaining eternal (in a strong mode) kind and (with regard to the nothingness chronologically prior to the universe) efficiently uncaused entities that are intrinsically necessary but devoid of any eternity at any point.

Accordingly, the fact of being intrinsically necessary is not (as Spinoza wrongly asserts) unique to the substance; though there is indeed only one substance. Yet another mistake in Spinoza’s approach to God lies in its misunderstanding God’s complete coincidence with the universe to exclude the slightest degree and form of independence of God with regard to the universe. God is both completely identical and completely external to the universe—in that He gets completely incarnated into the universe while remaining completely distinct from the latter. Yet another mistake in Spinoza’s approach to God lies in his misunderstanding time for God to be horizontal (rather than vertical); and in its misunderstanding God’s non-existential constitutive properties to exclude any ideational property.

Though God (as Spinoza rightly asserts) is indeed the only substance, God finds itself placed under a vertical (rather than horizontal) time; and its non-existential constitutive properties find themselves to be exclusively composed of ideational properties (including ideational essences). Neither the “extension” realm nor the “thought” realm nor the indeterminate other realms which Spinoza thinks to be non-existential constitutive properties in God qualify as ideational realms (in my language).

Another mistake in Spinoza’s approach to God lies in its misunderstanding God’s non-existential constitutive properties to be both infinite and of an infinite number; and God’s non-existential properties not to be all constitutive. Though the substance is indeed composed of an infinite number of non-existential constitutive properties (since the ideational essences are of an infinite number), Spinoza as much misses the fact that all the substance’s non-existential properties are constitutive as he misses the fact that not all of them are infinite.

Yet another mistake in Spinoza’s approach to God lies in its misunderstanding God not to be endowed with some willingness and not to expect something from the human. Though God is indeed identical to the unique substance (as Spinoza rightly asserts), the substance is (at every point) a volitional entity (i.e., an entity endowed with willingness) and even a conscious volitional entity (i.e., an entity endowed with conscious willingness); and a conscious volitional entity that expects something from the human. Namely that the human, through rendering himself sufficiently like-divine in the material realm, render his soul completely divine in the ideational realm. I will not discuss here whether the notion of entities or properties that are arising at some point (instead of being innate or eternal) or irreducible is lacking (were it partly) in Spinoza’s philosophy; but the cosmos in Spinoza, besides being identified to God in a way that wrongly excludes any externality of God with regard to the cosmos, is just as wrongly envisioned as a perfect and achieved entity that excludes the slightest novelty (with respect to the existential or non-existential properties other than moment-relative that have been witnessed in the entities having been witnessed within the cosmos).

The fact for the human of being “in the image of God” is to be taken in the sense for the human of being endowed (in his substantial natural material essence) with a grandly (but not completely) self-determined willingness with regard to matter; of being in a position, not to remedy the cosmic order (were it partly), but instead to bring reparation and completion to the universe in strict conformity with the universe’s underlying order and laws; and of being in a position to know reality and the universe in a way that is irremediably perfectible.

The Spinozian approach to God is a complete offense to Him in that it demeans Him to the level of nature instead of envisioning nature as His incarnation or product or even as an emergent property in Him; just like the Spinozian approach to the human grandly (though not-completely) offenses what, in the human being, is “in the image of God.” It denies just as much the slightest degree of self-determination in the human will with regard to the efficient causes at work in nature as the slightest possibility of novelty (with respect to the existential or non-existential properties other than moment-relative that have been witnessed in the entities that have been witnessed) and therefore of creation in the realm of nature as the slightest role to be played for the human’s creation with regard to an allegedly perfect nature where nothing would be to be repaired nor to be perfected.

The Spinozian offense to what, in the human being, is “in the image of God” remains incomplete in that Spinoza, instead of envisioning the human as able to reach perfect knowledge of the nature, holds him for irremediable unable to have the slightest knowledge of any other “attribute” in the “substance” than the “thought” and than the “extension.”

As concerns creation on a human’s part, it is worth noting that, while an idea created in a human’s mind (or, for instance, in a dachshund’s mind) is a produced idea introducing some novelty (either complete or partial) in the field of what characterizes the properties (other than moment-relative) having been witnessed in those ideas having been witnessed in the universe, a creative idea created in a human’s mind (or, for instance, in a dachshund’s mind) is an inspirationally produced idea introducing some novelty (either complete or partial) in the field of what characterizes the properties (other than moment-relative) having been witnessed in those ideas having been witnessed in the universe. In other words, a creative idea (created in a human’s mind or, for instance, in a dachshund’s mind) is a modality of a created idea—namely that it is a created idea the efficient cause of which lies in an inspiration-relationship of the mind in question with respect to all or part of those entities having been witnessed in the concerned realm of reality. Not only not any creation on a human’s part consists of a created idea; but not any created idea on a human’s part consists either of a creative idea.

An exploit is to be taken in the sense of an act that is jointly exceptionally creative (i.e., characterized with the mind’s creation of one or more exceptionally creative ideas), exceptionally successful (i.e., characterized with the complete fulfillment of an exceptionally hard goal), and exceptionally endangering for one’s subsistence. The Spinozian ethics, in that it exclusively situates the human’s happiness in the “persevering in one’s being” here below, is a (complete) offense to what in the human’s happiness cannot be reached in an earthly lifetime exclusively or primarily dedicated to the persevering in one’s material existence. That part in the human’s happiness, the highest, noblest, part, which lies in the accomplishment of exploits (i.e., the accomplishment of acts that are jointly exceptionally creative, exceptionally successful, and exceptionally endangering for one’s subsistence), is basically dismissed in what can be called Spinoza’s “conatus ethics,” which is basically an ethics of mediocrity.

Just like the entities are subdivided between those inhabiting the ideational realm and those inhabiting the material realm (which stands as the materially incarnated ideational realm), the Being (i.e., what allows for the entities to exist without being itself an entity) contains both a realm correspondent to the ideational entities; and a realm correspondent to the material entities, which stands as the material incarnation of the latter realm. “The materially incarnated Being” and “the ideational Being” are convenient ways of designating respectively that realm of the Being correspondent to the material entities; and that realm of the Being correspondent to the ideational entities.

Any intrinsically necessary entity is an emergent entity; but not any extrinsically necessary entity is an emergent entity, no more than any emergent entity is an intrinsically necessary entity. Though the universe is God’s incarnation, the universe’s ideational essence does not lie in God Himself—but instead in the Idea of the universe, which is not only infinite and incomplete but in constant updating. Just like any material entity other than the universe stands as the incarnation of some ideational essence, any material entity other than the Chi and other than the universe stands as the incarnation of some finite and achieved ideational essence.

The Chi stands as the incarnation of what I previously called (following Plato) the “Idea of the Good,” which would be more judiciously called the “Idea of the Chi” and that is genuinely the sorting, actualizing, pulse at work in the ideational field; but the Idea of the Chi, though it gets incarnated (like any Idea other than the Idea of the universe), is jointly infinite (like the Idea of the universe—but unlike any Idea other than the Chi’s Idea and than the universe’s Idea), incomplete (like the Idea of the universe—but unlike any Idea other than the Chi’s Idea and than the universe’s Idea), and in constant updating (like the Idea of the universe—but unlike any Idea other than the Chi’s Idea and than the universe’s Idea).

I approach that entity known in Chinese and Japanese ontologies to be the “Chi” as a material entity (internal to the universe) that can be described as mere energy enveloping, at every point, every other entity in the universe; and which, without causing itself the slightest property or entity, makes it possible to cause the emergent properties (including the strong emergent properties) present (at some point) within some entity (whether innate—or arising) present (at some point) in the universe and makes it possible to cause some entity (whether innate—or arising) present (at some point) in the universe (including those entities in the universe that are emergent).

Just like the Chi stands as the incarnation of the sorting, actualizing, pulse through which, at every point in the ideational realm (for which time is strictly vertical), some ideational models see their correspondent hypothetical material entities being introduced, concretized, in the material realm and others their correspondent hypothetical material entities being denied, not-concretized, in the material realm, the sorting, actualizing, pulse itself stands as the Idea of the Chi, i.e., the Chi’s ideational essence. A mistake in the Spinozian approach to the substance is to confuse the being a substantial entity and the being an entity eternal in a strong intrinsically necessary and strong intrinsically necessarily remaining mode. Though there is indeed only one substance (as Spinoza rightly asserts), an intrinsically necessary entity eternal in a strong intrinsically necessary and strong intrinsically necessarily remaining mode (i.e., a substance) is only a modality of an entity eternal in a strong intrinsically necessary and strong intrinsically necessarily remaining mode.

Just like the Idea of the Chi is an eternal (in a strong intrinsically necessary and strong intrinsically necessarily remaining mode) but extrinsically necessary emergent entity whose efficient cause lies in the substance that is God, the ideational essences other than the Idea of the Chi are eternal (in a strong intrinsically necessary and strong intrinsically necessarily remaining mode) but extrinsically necessary emergent entities the efficient cause of which lies in the Idea of the Chi. Just like the Chi stands as the transition between the materially incarnated Being and the other material entities (including the universe), God stands as the transition between the ideational Being and the ideational essences (including the Idea of the Chi).

The universe is a God-production (i.e., a temporal-starting-endowed entity whose efficient cause lies in God) and even a God-creation (i.e., a temporal-starting-endowed entity whose efficient cause lies in God and whose introduction in the material realm has been bringing novelty there in terms of what characterizes the properties other than moment-relative); but it is so not in that the universe would be in God an emergent property (and even strong emergent property introducing such novelty in the material realm) that finds its efficient cause in God—but instead in that the universe stands as a God-incarnation. More precisely, the universe is God-created neither as a product (i.e., a production to which its efficient cause or causes remain strictly external) nor as an emergent property; but instead as a production in which God gets completely incarnated while remaining completely external to His incarnation. In any entity, the whole is only the unified sum of the parts: except in the case of the universe and in the case of the substance.

As much the substance taken as a whole as its parts (and therefore the ideational essences it contains) are eternal in a strong intrinsically necessary mode and strong intrinsically necessarily remaining mode; but the substance taken as a whole exists independently of its parts though simultaneously to its parts, to which it communicates its eternity intrinsically necessary of the strong kind and remaining throughout existence by strong intrinsic necessity.

When considered independently of their incarnation-relationship to God, as much the universe taken as a whole as its very first parts (i.e., those of its parts that, including the Chi, appeared with the “big bang”) are self-created; but the universe taken as a whole exists as much simultaneously to its parts as independently of its parts: including its very first parts, which are intrinsically necessary while the universe itself is extrinsically contingent. The substance, as it is intrinsically necessary, is self-caused and efficiently uncaused; but the substance, as it is not only intrinsically necessary but remaining eternal throughout its existence by intrinsic necessity of the strong kind, is not only self-caused and efficiently uncaused but devoid of any self-produced character. The incarnation-relationship from God into the universe is, in God, neither an efficiently uncaused strong-emergent relational property nor, generally speaking, an emergent relational property; though it is indeed efficiently uncaused.

While the universe (when considered from the angle of its incarnation-relationship to God) is an emergent extrinsically necessary entity finding in God its efficient cause, which is not only irreducible (in its properties other than moment-relative) to (all or part of the properties other than moment-relative in) God but introducing novelty (in terms of what characterizes the properties other than moment-relative) in the material realm, the incarnation-relationship from God into the universe is, for its part, an eternal and strong-kind intrinsically necessary relational property.

When considered from the angle of its relationship to the nothingness chronologically prior to the universe, the latter is an extrinsically contingent emergent entity whose existence is even devoid of any efficient cause; but, when considered from the angle of its relationship to God, the universe is an extrinsically necessary emergent entity whose existence is the forced rather than random effect of the combination (concomitantly to the universe’s material existence in the strictly vertical time applying to the ideational realm) between God’s existence, God’s incarnation-relationship to the universe, and the character of that incarnation-relationship as an eternal and strong-kind intrinsically necessary property in God.

When considered from the angle of its relationship to the nothingness chronologically prior to the universe, the Chi is an intrinsically necessary emergent entity whose existence is therefore devoid of any efficient cause; but, when considered from the angle of its relationship to God, the Chi is an extrinsically necessary emergent entity whose existence is the forced rather than random effect of the combination (concomitantly to the Chi’s material existence in the strictly vertical time applying to the ideational realm) between God’s existence, God’s incarnation-relationship to the universe, and the character of that incarnation-relationship as an eternal and strong-kind intrinsically necessary property in God.

The Role of Genetic Similitude in a Society’s Cohesion—and in Providence’s Outworking

The way the sorting, actualizing, pulse operates in the ideational realm expresses a part of God’s will, but only a part precisely. Namely that part of God’s will that is acting (i.e., using means for the purpose of goals); and which must be distinguished from that part of His will that involves goals without involving any means. The Providence is to be taken in the sense of the acting part of God’s will as His will’s acting part is at work in cosmic and human history. War is to be taken in the sense of a physical, coercive, struggle between groups (whether the latter are groups of living beings).

When he presented war as “the world’s only hygiene,” Marinetti would have done better to present it as “one of the world’s hygienes,” alongside famine and epidemics notably. Above all, he should have specified that the hygiene of war is “God’s hygiene for His incarnation as the latter is a world tirelessly in search of progress in order and complexity.” For war is one of the hygienic apparatuses (and even one of the privileged ones) through which the Providence strives to maximize as much as possible the probability in the universe (throughout the universe’s existence) that the least sophisticated groups in terms of order and complexity (both internal and at the level of intergroup relations) at some point, instead of encumbering God for the rest of the universe’s days, end up disappearing in the short run or, failing that, in the long run.

Also, war is one of the incentive apparatuses (and even one of the privileged ones) through which God strives to maximize as much as possible the probability in the universe (throughout the universe’s existence) that geniuses in the cognitive field be promoted (rather than devalued) in society; and, accordingly, their sexual reproduction (and therefore their genetic frequency) favored rather than hindered in society. Another incentive apparatus through which the Providence strives to maximize as much as possible the probability in the universe (throughout the universe’s existence) that geniuses in the cognitive field be promoted (rather than devalued) in society consists of a culture that values (instead of disdaining), if not the search for exploit in the military field, at least the transposition of the search for military exploit to the cognitive field; in other words, a culture that values (instead of disdaining), if not the search for exploit on the military battlefield, at least the search for exploit on the respective cognitive battlefield of painters, mathematicians, engineers, writers, philosophers, physicists, or movie directors (among other examples). I will come back to those two incentive apparatuses later.

In addition to its character as hygiene for the world, a nevertheless fallible hygiene, war is one of the laws which God (infallibly) wanted for this world and which He (infallibly) wanted to frame the human’s reparation and completion of the divine creation. With regard to those wars implemented among societies of living beings, they as much involve societies characterized by a degree of kin-relatedness such that their members form an “extended family” or even a single family (or what is strongly or moderately a single family) as societies whose members form neither an “extended family” nor (were it only to some strong or moderate extent) a family stricto sensu.

Just like a group whose all members, at some point, are kin-related (to each other) is to be taken in the sense of a group whose members, at some point, are all biological brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, sons, daughters, or first cousins with each other, a group whose all members, at some point, are kin-related (to each other) to some extent (rather than to a complete extent) is to be taken in the sense of a group whose members, to some extent (rather than to a complete extent), are all biological brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, sons, daughters, or first cousins with each other at some point.

Just like the degree of kin-relatedness at some point in some group is to be taken in the sense of the degree to which people in the group in question are all kin-related (to each other) at some point, the degree of genetic similitude at some point in some group is to be taken in the sense of the degree to which the respective sets of genes present in each of the members of the group in question have similitude with each other at some point.

Setting aside the case of a hypothetical future group whose reproduction would occur through cloning (whether solely or partly), the level of genetic similitude in some group is necessarily a reflection (and measurement) at the genetic level of the level of kin-relatedness in the group in question. The levels of kin-relatedness and of genetic similitude are both part of the substantial natural material essence in any group of living beings. The notion that selection over the course of biological evolution (i.e., over the course of the evolution of the respective genomes in each of the individual members of the different species) only occurs at the level of the individual’s genes and at the level of those genes shared in individuals who are completely kin-related or, failing that, kin-related to a strong or moderate extent can be understood in two distinct ways strictly.

On the one hand, a modality of the notion in question claiming that the struggle for life and reproduction (whether it occurs in a coercive, physical, way) only involves individuals facing other individuals and groups whose members are, at every point, all kin-related (were it only to a strong or moderate extent—rather than to a complete extent) facing other groups of that kind. On the other hand, a modality claiming that survival in the short run (i.e., over the scale of a few decades) is impossible to any group whose members are neither completely nor strongly nor moderately all kin-related to each other. Both modalities are wrong. While the former is disproved by the fact that, in some species (including the human), the intergroup struggle for survival occurs between groups who are not systemically composed strictly of individuals who are, at least to some strong or moderate extent, all kin-related to each other, the latter is disproved by the fact that, in some species (including the human), the intergroup struggle for survival doesn’t witness—whether it is in the long run or in the short run—a systematically compromised situation nor a systematic disintegration of those groups whose members are not, were it only to some strong or moderate extent, all kin-related to each other.

A commonly invoked argument in favor of the claim that, in humans, those groups whose members are not all, were it only to some strong or moderate extent, kin-related are unlikely (though not unable stricto sensu) to survive in the short run is that a gene or team of genes can favor instead of compromising its propagation in the decades yet to come (and, generally speaking, in the centuries or millennia yet to come) only through predisposing the individual to one or more behavioral patterns favoring instead of compromising said propagation.

Yet the fact that such groups sometimes manage to survive in the short run (or even in the long run, i.e., in the centuries or millennia yet to come) doesn’t only disprove the claim that those groups whose members are not all, were it only to some strong or moderate extent, kin-related to each other are unable to survive in the short run. It also corroborates the claim that, in humans, a gene or team of genes can favor instead of compromising its propagation in the long run (and therefore in the short run) not systemically through predisposing the individual to one or more behavioral patterns that favor instead of compromising the propagation of its genes or, failing that, those of its genes shared with a group whose members, whether completely or to an extent that is strong or moderate, are all kin-related to each other; but instead through predisposing the individual to one or more behavioral patterns that favor instead of compromising the propagation of those genes it shares with (and in) a group whose members, while being not all kin-related to each other to an extent that is either complete or strong or moderate, still possess some level of genetic similitude that allows speaking of the concerned group as an “enlarged kinship,” “extended family.”

Society is to be taken in the sense of that kind of group (not necessarily human), sometimes called a “superorganism,” that unites (and encompasses) children, parents, and grandparents; and which hypothetically falls within some larger group like, say, an empire. In view of a number of male partners for a queen oscillating between three and eight in the vespula maculifrons, or between four and ten for a queen in the acromyrmex octospinosus (hence a genetic similitude between sisters around 33%), or even between seven and twenty for a queen in the apis mellifera (hence a genetic similitude between workers around 30%), societies in the hymenoptera are not all a case of a society whose all members are completely (or, at least, strongly or moderately) kin-related to each other.

A thus corroborated claim is that the duplicative success (in the very next decades) of those genes shared among the members of a hymenoptera society, instead of being systemically the result of kin selection (i.e., the result of that kind of group selection dealing with the genes common to some group in which the degree of kin-relatedness is either complete or strong or moderate), is not systemically proportionate to the degree to which people in a hymenoptera society are all kin-related to each other. Yet it seems that, in some species like the wasp, the ant, the bee, and the human, the duplicative success of those genes shared among the members of a society can be the result of a kind of group-selection dealing with those genes common to groups whose members, without being all kin-related to each other to a degree that is either complete or strong or moderate, nevertheless possess a certain degree of genetic similitude which remains strong enough to allow speaking of said members as forming an “extended family,” “enlarged kinship.”

Group cohesion for an individual in some group is to be taken in the sense of the joint fact of identifying oneself as a member of that group one happens to belong to, of acting on behalf of one’s perceived group-interests (i.e., the interests of one’s group such as one perceives them), of privileging in one’s relationships (including economic and professional) the other individual members within one’s group, of behaving in a way that favors (instead of compromising) the survival of one’s group (were it through compromising one’s own survival or one’s reproduction), and of being faithful, docile, with respect to the axiological and organizational principles foundational in one’s group.

The average level of group-cohesion in a group’s individual members is part of the group’s substantial natural material essence. It is regrettable that, all too often, the (other) investigations of the genetic and instinctual underpinnings of a society’s group-cohesion (i.e., group-cohesion among the members of a given society) in homo sapiens remain anchored in the confusion between group-selection and kin-selection; and in the mistaken approach to the intensity of group-cohesion in a given human society as (positively) proportionate to the degree of genetic similitude in the concerned society.

The differences between human societies in the degree of intra-society genetic similitude are no more systemically at the origin of the differences between human societies in the intensity of intra-society group-cohesion than the inter-species differences in the intra-species average degree of genetic similitude in the intra-species societies are systemically at the origin of the inter-species differences in the intra-species average degree of group-cohesion in the intra-species societies.

It is true that a complete degree of genetic similitude in some society (whether it is one human) and a high degree of genetic similitude in some society (whether it is one human) cannot but result respectively into a correspondingly complete degree of group-cohesion—and a correspondingly high or complete degree of group-cohesion—in the concerned society; but it is just as true that a low degree of genetic similitude in a human society doesn’t result into a correspondingly low degree of group-cohesion in said society systemically.

In the human, those societies who manage to survive (whether it is in the short run only or in the long run), what necessarily requires a degree of group-cohesion that is either strong or complete, are societies who are, if not composed of people all kin-related to each other to an extent that is complete, strong, or moderate, at least composed of people in which group-cohesion is strong or complete. In the human, just like those societies in which group-cohesion in people is complete (and those societies in which group-cohesion in people is high) are not systemically societies in which all people are kin-related to an extent that is either complete or strong or moderate, those societies in which the displayed degree of genetic similitude is such that their members form what can be called extended kinships are systemically societies in which the extent to which people are all kin-related to each other is neither complete nor strong nor moderate.

What’s more, in the human, those societies in which group cohesion is complete include (strictly) as much societies with an either complete or strong or moderate level of kin-relatedness as societies who—instead of approaching or forming a (single) kinship stricto sensu—are forming an extended kinship as societies who are neither approaching a single kinship nor forming a single kinship nor forming an extended kinship. Likewise those societies in the human in which group-cohesion in people is high include (strictly) as much societies with an either complete or strong or moderate level of kin-relatedness as societies who—instead of approaching or forming a (single) kinship stricto sensu—are forming an extended kinship as societies who are neither approaching a single kinship nor forming a single kinship nor forming an extended kinship.

Whatever the degree of group-cohesion and whatever the degree of genetic similitude, it nonetheless turns out that, in the human (and perhaps in some other species), culture is never totally independent from genetics. Culture is to be taken in the sense of the set of those behavioral patterns in a society that are inculcated in the society in question (whether it is one human). Some of the cultural patterns (but not all) in a society are part of the society’s substantial natural material essence.

When it comes to a culture totally or partly endowed with an endogenous origin, culture is not only able to contradict, in part, the average genetic features—but wholly able to include patterns that have no connection to genetics (setting aside the issue of knowing whether such patterns can be in contradiction with genetics). More precisely, it is then, on the one hand, wholly able to include behavioral patterns that are not genetically rooted at all (setting aside the issue of knowing whether such patterns can be in contradiction with genetics); on the other hand, unable to contradict the slightest average biological-ability in the group but able to contradict a part (but only a part) of those average genetic features that are about emotions and emotional needs (rather than about abilities).

When it comes to a culture totally endowed with a foreign origin, culture is wholly able to include patterns with no connection to genetics (setting aside the issue of knowing whether such patterns can be in contradiction with genetics); but, also, it is wholly able to contradict the average genetic features—except that it cannot go against the average levels of biological-abilities.

In turn, culture (whether its origin is completely exogenous—or instead completely or partly endogenous) has an effect on genetics in that it hampers the social integration (and therefore sexual reproduction) of those individuals unsuited to the established cultural patterns; in that it influences the tenor of the fertility gap in those individuals managing to reproduce; and in that it influences the propagative success of a certain genetic mutation through influencing the ability of those individuals endowed with the genetic mutation in question to reproduce (and their reproduction’s magnitude). It is regrettable that the (other) investigations of the gene-culture coevolution (i.e., the mutual influence between gene and culture over the course of their respective evolutions) all too often overlook the complexity of said coevolution, treating (more or less surreptitiously) a group’s culture at some point as strictly equal to the group’s average genetic features at that point in time.

In humans, just like one way a gene or team of genes can favor instead of compromising its duplication (in the long run besides in the short run, i.e., over the scale of several centuries or millennia besides over the scale of several decades) is through predisposing the individual to one or more behavioral patterns that favor instead of compromising the propagation of those genes it shares with (and in) a group whose members, while being not all kin-related to each other (were it only to some strong or moderate extent), still possess some level of genetic similitude allowing to speak of them as forming an extended kinship, one way the duplication of a gene or team of genes can be compromised rather than favored (in the short run besides in the long run) is through the individual’s inhabiting a society whose members, besides being not all kin-related to each other to a degree that is either complete or strong or moderate, exhibit some level of genetic similitude that is not sufficient to allowing to speak of them as forming an extended kinship.

A human society whose members exhibit neither a level of genetic similitude that allows speaking of them as forming an enlarged family nor a level of genetic similitude that allows speaking of them as forming or approaching a single family is necessarily compromising (rather than helpful) in the short as much in the long run to the duplication of the genes present in its members; regardless of whether the society in question manages to survive (over the scale of several centuries or millennia or, failing that, over the scale of several decades) and regardless of whether group-cohesion is strong in the society in question. Group-identification here means the fact of identifying oneself as a member of some group (whether the latter is real).

I assume that two instincts for group-identification successively emerged over the course of the biological evolution of homo sapiens: two instincts which are now superposed and in conflict with each other. Namely an earlier instinct for group-identification to one’s kinship—and a tardier instinct for group-identification to indeterminate groups whose level of genetic dissimilitude exceeds the level found in a kinship or in a group whose members are all kin-related to some strong or moderate extent.

At first, the tardier instinct for group-identification was a blessing (rather than a curse) to the long-run duplication of genes in humans in that it contributed (and was necessary) to the constitution of societies with a strong or complete group-cohesion who, while being not restricted to kinship nor to some strong or moderate level of kin-relatedness, exhibit a level of genetic similitude that remains strong enough to allow speaking of those societies as being extended kinships.

Over time, that instinct, thus becoming both a blessing and a curse to the duplication of genes (whether it is in the long run or in the short run), ended up contributing to the constitution of societies with a strong or complete group-cohesion who, besides being not restricted to people kin-related to an either strong or moderate or complete degree, don’t qualify either as extended kinships; what has been compromising (rather than helpful) to the duplicative success of genes in the short as much in the long run in that it has been allowing for such societies to survive in the long run (besides in the short run) at the expense of the duplicative success in question.

In the cosmos taken independently of its incarnation-relationship to God, the emergence of that second instinct for group-identification that is the instinct for group-identification to (indeterminate) groups standing below any level of kin-relatedness that is either strong or moderate or complete is only a double-edged sword to the duplication of genes; but in the cosmos as incarnation, the cosmos as God incarnated, the emergence of such instinct is also a cunning of God. More precisely, a trick on His part falling within His wider strategy of detaching the human society, if not from any enlarged kinship, at least from any strong, moderate, or complete level of kin-relatedness, in order to bring about (and experiment) unprecedentedly high and sophisticate new forms of order, complexity, in the cosmos.


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website.


Featured image: “The Undiscovered Country/The City of Light,” by Evelyn De Morgan; painted in 1894.

On The dignity Of Man: The Idea Of The Good And Knowledge Of Essences. Part III.

Ayn Rand And Willard V.O. Quine On Analyticity

At that stage, I will develop my understanding of the issue of knowing whether definitions are true or wrong independently of reality (i.e., true or wrong in an apodictic mode); then on the issue of knowing whether material existence can be deduced from ideational essence. In this regard, I will compare and evaluate Ayn Rand’s and Willard V.O. Quine’s respective criticisms against the notion of analyticity (i.e., the notion of truth independent of reality by the sole operation of the logical laws admitted in some system of formal logic). Then I shall return to my assessment of Plato’s approach to the Idea of Good. Just as a statement allegedly true in an apodictic mode is a statement allegedly true in a mode independent of reality; a statement allegedly true in an analytic mode is a certain variety of an allegedly apodictic statement: namely a statement that the laws of formal logic are sufficient to make it true and to make it apodictically true.

In Viennese empiricism, two kinds of purported analytical truth are recognized: on the one hand, tautologies, i.e., statements which, in the eyes of a certain system of formal logic, are true by the sole operation of the accepted logical laws in the system in question. On the other hand, statements that are allegedly reducible—independently of reality—to a tautology via the play of the synonymy between two terms or between a term and a sequence of terms. Whereas the former are allegedly analytical by the sole reason of their tautological character, the latter are allegedly analytical by the sole reason of their alleged reducibility independent of reality to an analytical truth of the tautological type.

Faced with the notion of the existence of these two varieties of analytical truth, at least two questions arise: on the one hand, would a statement that, via the play of synonyms, would be effectively reducible (independently or not of reality) to a tautology have a meaning equivalent to the one of a tautology? On the other hand, are the laws of any mode of formal logic actually sufficient to make a tautology analytically true—and is the play of synonyms effectively sufficient to make a statement reducible (independently of reality) to a tautology? Whoever investigates the relation of definitions to reality cannot refrain from seeking the answer to those two questions: the former because, if a definition were indeed of a meaning equivalent to the one of a certain tautological statement, then a definition would be of no interest with regard to what the tautology in question already says; the latter because, if a definition were effectively reducible independently of reality to a tautological analytical truth (via the play of the synonyms recognized in the language), then reality would be of no interest in judging the truth of a definition.

A fault in the Randian critique against the notion of apodicticity (which it amalgamates with the notion of analyticity) is that said critique distorts the theses and arguments in favor of said existence to the point where it attacks ghosts. Here I will leave aside the tasks of listing and dissecting the many scarecrows of Ayn Rand on that subject. Another fault in the Randian critique against the idea of apodicticity is that it lacks a clear distinction between the generic entity and the singular entity; but the inclusion of a clearer (or completely clear) distinction on that subject does not require the Randian argument against the idea of apodicticity to be significantly overhauled.

The argument in question (especially developed in Leonard Peikoff’s article “The Analytic-Synthetic Distinction”) is, in essence, the following. A concept encompasses all the characteristics of its object and not only those that have to be included in its (true) definition; a concept and its true definition are therefore not true synonyms (any more than terms considered to be synonymous in a certain language are really synonymous—although neither Rand nor Peikoff, to my knowledge, say so openly). Accordingly, a statement associating a concept with a true definition is neither reducible to a tautology via the play of synonyms nor endowed with a meaning equivalent to a tautology. Yet the definitions are true or false depending on whether they are in agreement with the entities exhibited in the sensible experience—and in agreement with the logical laws objectively deduced from the ontological laws objectively exhibited in the sensible experience.

According to Rand, all human knowledge (including that of the ontological laws underlying the valid logical laws) is an account of sensible experience articulated according to logical laws deduced from ontological laws themselves known through sensible experience. A definition in agreement with the concerned entity is a definition that subsumes those characteristics of the entity that are best able to distinguish the entity in question in view of what is currently known about it through the sensible experience. Because a definition that correctly subsumes those characteristics (from sensible experience) is therefore in (perfect) agreement with reality, it cannot be refuted by progress in knowledge; it can certainly be complemented, not be refuted. Conclusion: there is no truth independent of facts; but any definition that correctly subsumes the characteristics best capable of distinguishing the object in view of the present state of knowledge about the universe is true—and true in an objectively undoubtable mode.

The Randian answer to the two questions mentioned above is therefore the following. On the one hand, there is no true synonymy because the meaning of a concept is its object taken from the angle of all of its properties. A statement that would be reducible to a tautology via the play of synonyms is absurd; but the meaning of a statement associating a concept with its true definition is actually irreducible to the meaning of a tautology. On the other hand, tautologies are not analytical (nor apodictic) but remain objectively certain when constructed from logical laws objectively grasped in sensible experience; just as definitions and those statements which are limited to associating terms deemed synonymous (for example, “no single person is engaged”) are not analytical (nor apodictic), but remain objectively certain when faithfully descriptive of the sensible experience.

The Randian criticism arrives to a partially true conclusion; but its argument is wrong on two levels, at least. On the one hand, a concept encompasses only those characteristics of its object that have to be included in the definition; but it does not only encompass them, it identifies them as constitutive of its object. Accordingly, a statement reducible to a tautology does have a meaning that is not equivalent to that of a tautology; but not for the reasons given by Ayn Rand.

On the other hand, a definition admittedly subsumes the characteristics that it considers best able to distinguish the correspondent concept’s object in view of what one currently knows or believes to know about the universe; but, in addition to the fact that it precisely amounts to subsuming those characteristics which seem to be constitutive, it does not render true nor objectively certain a hypothetical definition correctly subsuming the characteristics in question. To complement a definition always amounts to refuting it, just as to relativize it always amounts to refuting it.

For example, replacing a definition of the swan as “a large web-footed bird, with white plumage, long flexible neck” with a new definition of the latter as “a large web-footed bird, with white or black plumage, long flexible neck” amounts to relativizing the first definition; but to substitute for a definition of the swan as “a large web-footed bird, with white or black plumage,” a definition of the latter such as, this time, “a large web-footed bird, with white or black plumage, with a long flexible neck” amounts to complementing the first definition. In both cases, the second definition comes to refute the first.

Finally, I think the following answer is the correct one to the two questions mentioned above. On the one hand, if certain statements were effectively reducible to a tautology via synonymy, that reducibility would be no more independent of reality than it would make the statements in question equivalent in their sense to a tautology. A statement reducible to a tautology via synonymy is not impossible stricto sensu (as Rand wrongly asserts); but neither its reducibility nor its truth would be independent of reality. On the other hand, a tautological statement can neither be analytical nor true independently of the facts (since the logical laws themselves cannot be valid independently of the facts); just as no statement can be reduced to a tautology independently of the facts.

A mistake by Rand is to represent to herself that synonymy does not exist between a concept and its true definition (because a concept allegedly means its object taken from the angle of all its properties—and not only from the angle of all those properties that are to be related in its definition if true). But the fact is that such synonymy does exist (because the meaning of a concept is strictly confused with its object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties, those which are to be related in a true definition). As we will see more closely a few lines later, another mistake on her part is to represent to herself that sensible experience allows us to objectively grasp ontological laws that objectively establish valid logical laws; and that there are indeed statements that are true by the operation of those laws alone, but that those statements, though objectively certain, are not apodictic.

Quine’s criticism against the analytic-synthetic distinction, which is (quite in a convoluted, fuliginous mode typical of the so-called analytical philosophers) presented in his article, “Two dogmas of empiricism,” is carried out at two levels. Quine, who amalgamates the notions of analyticity (i.e., truth by the sole operation of logical laws independently of reality) and apodicticity (i.e., truth independent of reality), does not deal with the first above-evoked question but only the second one. On the one hand, Quine addresses the case of those statements that are claimed to be—independently of reality—reducible via a synonymy relation to a tautology (i.e., a statement that some system of formal logic holds to be true by the sole operation of the admitted logical laws in the system in question); and which are claimed to be thus inheriting the purported analytical character of the tautology in question.

Quine rightly points out that the notion that some statements are, independently of reality, reducible to tautological analytical statements via synonymy relations actually supposes the notion that synonymous terms are synonymous independently of reality—and that the notion that synonymous terms are synonymous independently of reality actually supposes the notion of a truth independent of reality. Hence a logical circle when it comes to elucidating, characterizing, the way a statement allegedly reducible to a tautological analytical statement would be indeed reducible to a tautological analytical statement. (Quine then rightly shows that any other conceivable way of alleging some statement to be reducible to a tautology results into a logical circle as well).

On the other hand, Quine addresses the case itself of tautologies and logical laws. He points out that the logical laws one resorts to at some point in the pursuit of knowledge are actually interdependent (and totally interdependent) with the whole of the ongoing scientific theories—and that the former are completely and only dependent on the latter and the latter, in turn, completely (but not only) dependent on the former. The logical laws are accordingly susceptible to be themselves revised when a new scientific theory with a better empirical corroboration comes to replace a former one. Hence the tautologies are neither analytical (i.e., true by the sole operation of the logical laws) nor objectively certain; but instead faced with the tribunal of experience themselves and objectively uncertain. Just like that criticism on Quine’s part is actually exaggerated on the issue of logical laws and tautologies, it unfortunately stops along the way on the issue of synonymies.

To be completely dependent (qualitatively speaking) on something is one thing; to be only dependent (either completely or partly) on it is another thing. The fact for some house under construction of being completely dependent on those specific bricks specifically available in some building-supply store is one thing; the fact for the house in question of being dependent (or partly dependent) on nothing else than those bricks—for instance, cement—is another thing. When two things are interdependent only to some extent, the dependence is either partial on both sides or complete only in one side; when they are dependent only of each other, the dependence is exclusive on both sides.

It is true that, if a statement were actually reducible to a tautology via the play of synonyms independently of reality, its analyticity couldn’t but be supposed by its reducibility; but Quine does not identify what is the reason for such impossibility. Namely that, when two terms (or a term and a sequence of terms) are in some language claimed to be synonymous with each other, the latter are actually synonymous depending on whether reality confirms (instead of refuting) what the considered language claims to be their synonymy.

As for the issue of tautologies (i.e., the issue of those statements that the logical laws one follows claim to be true by the sole operation of those laws), Quine’s claim that the logical laws (i.e., the rules one follows in the construction of reasonings in order to reason in a coherent mode) as they stand at some point are (completely) interdependent with the whole of the ongoing scientific theories—and dependent only on them (though not reciprocally)—is actually exaggerated.

Instead, the logical laws one makes use of at some point are obtained strictly as much through one’s empirical impression or empirical conjecturing as, besides, through one’s hypothetical suprasensible impression, through one’s hypothetical conjecturing from one’s hypothetical suprasensible impression, and through one’s hypothetical conjecturing from other hypothetical conjectures (whether they are borrowed—and whether they are scientific claims) from sensible experience, other hypothetical conjectures (whether they are borrowed—and whether they are also empirically conjectured) from suprasensible impression, and other hypothetical conjectures (whether they are borrowed—and whether they are also empirically conjectured) from sensible impression—and are therefore dependent to some extent (and only to some extent) on the ongoing scientific theories, but not only dependent on the ongoing scientific theories. While the latter are obtained strictly as much through one’s conjectures from one’s logical laws, as through one’s hypothetical sensible impression as through one’s hypothetical suprasensible impression, as through one’s conjectures from sensible experience as through one’s hypothetical conjectures from (hypothetical) sensible impression, as through one’s hypothetical conjectures from (hypothetical) suprasensible impression, as through one’s hypothetical conjectures from hypothetical other conjectures from (hypothetical) sensible experience, hypothetical other ones from some logical laws, hypothetical other ones from (hypothetical) suprasensible impression, and hypothetical other ones from (hypothetical) sensible impression (whether those hypothetical other conjectures are one’s conjectures or borrowed to someone else)—and are therefore dependent (in a complete mode) on one’s logical laws, but not only dependent on one’s logical laws. Hence the logical laws are interdependent to some extent (and only to some extent) with the scientific theories—and notably (but not only) dependent on them, and reciprocally.

Other problems with “Quine’s epistemological holism” should be addressed, which I’ll leave aside here. Regarding the question of whether a logical law can be objectively certain, O.W. Quine is right against Ayn Rand that no logical law can be objectively certain. The Randian ontology (which Quine, to my knowledge, does not address) is notably flawed in that it believes the traditionally admitted logical laws in formal logic (namely the laws of identity, non-contradiction, excluded-middle, etc.) to be deduced from ontological laws objectively grasped through sensible experience.

The fact is that sensible experience allows us to notice that those entities inhabiting our fragment of the universe are characterized with identity (i.e., the fact of being what they are—and only what they are—at some point in some respect), non-contradiction (i.e., the fact of not being both what they are and what they are not at some point in some respect), excluded-middle (i.e., the fact of being either something or something else, but not both, at some point in some respect), etc.; but allows us to notice neither that those characteristics are (either intrinsically or extrinsically) necessary in that moment of the universe nor that they are (either intrinsically or extrinsically) necessary in any moment of the universe nor that they are necessary in any entity inhabiting the universe at any moment of the universe.

Though the human mind can conjecture (from sensible experience) or have the impression (from sensible experience) that those characteristics are present in all entities at any moment and intrinsically necessary (in a strong mode), or come to the belief that they are present in all entities at any moment and intrinsically necessary (in a strong mode) following suprasensible experience (which is, at best, approximative), it cannot grasp those alleged omnipresence in time and space and intrinsic necessity through sensible experience. Just as both Quine and Rand are right that no logical law one makes use of at some point can be true independently of reality, both unfortunately miss the fact that is suprasensible experience (in some humans) and the fact that a logical law used, trusted, at some point in someone’s mind (whether it is one universally admitted in the community of scientists and scholars at the considered moment) is sometimes the fruit, notably, of suprasensible experience (or notably its fruit to some extent).

Another flaw in Randian ontology is that it conceives of the claim that the world is eternal (i.e., endowed with no temporal beginning and with no temporal ending) and intrinsically necessary as a claim merely describing an objective component of sensible experience. Yet sensible intelligence allows us to notice that there is existence around us, but not that “existence exists” in an eternal, intrinsically necessary mode; such claim is really a conjecture from sensible experience or an account of a sensible impression, not a description of all or part of sensible experience. Sensible experience does not even allow us to notice whether those entities around us are existent outside of the sensible experience we have of them, i.e., are existent as external rather than simulated entities.

Just like a concept correspondent with reality is one whose object with its constitutive properties such as posited in the concept’s attached definition exists in reality (whether one speaks of the material realm of reality), a concept not-correspondent with reality is one whose object with its constitutive properties such as posited in the concept’s attached definition lacks in reality (whether one speaks of the material realm of reality). (Since a concept’s meaning, i.e., its object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties, is socially held as synonymous with the concept’s socially attached definition, saying that a concept’s object is correctly or incorrectly posited, defined, in the concept in question is a convenient way of saying that it is correctly or incorrectly posited, defined, in the concept’s socially attached definition).

In contradiction with its own claim that no statement can be true or wrong independently of reality, the Randian ontology surreptitiously conceives of some kind of statement as being one wrong (and proven wrong) independently of reality. What the Randian ontology calls a “stolen concept” is a concept that, in some statement, finds itself used in such a way that the statement in question finds itself both asserting the validity of that concept (i.e., its correspondence with reality) and denying the validity (i.e., the correspondence with reality) of another concept on which “it logically and genetically depends.” According to the Randian ontology, the self-contradiction present in any statement stealing a concept B from a concept A is not only independent of reality; it proves (despite itself) the validity of the concept A (i.e., the correspondence of the concept A with reality).

Further, according to the Randian ontology, the Proudhonian statement that “property is theft,” as well as, for instance, the statement that “the laws of logic are arbitrary,” are such cases of a statement stealing a concept B from a concept A. While the allegedly self-contradictory character of the statement that “property is theft” allegedly proves the legitimate, not-stolen character of peacefully acquired private property, the allegedly self-contradictory character of the statement that “the laws of logic are arbitrary” allegedly proves the existence of objectively certain laws in logic. A fact worth recalling as a prelude to identifying the flaws of the Randian ontology on the issue of the “stolen concept” is that most concepts are endowed with a general meaning and sub-meanings, i.e., modalities of the general meaning, such as the general meaning itself taken in isolation. (The several sub-meanings contained in a same concept are not to be confused with the several concepts a same word subsumes).

Thus the concept of color includes a sub-meaning for which the correspondent definition in language is a “visual characteristic distinct from the size, the thickness, the transparency, and the shape”—as well as a sub-meaning for which the socially correspondent definition is a “visual characteristic associated with a wavelength.” (Since a meaning or sub-meaning is socially deemed to be synonymous with the socially attached definition, saying that the concept of color includes the sub-meaning, for instance, of a “visual characteristic distinct from the size, the thickness, the transparency, and the shape” is a convenient way of saying that the definition socially attached to one of its sub-meanings is as put above).

The statement that “the red is not a color” is one that the Randian ontology would qualify as a theft of concept. Said ontology would have us believe that, in “the red is not a color,” the concept of color is a necessary condition for the concept of red; and that the statement in question is thus rendered self-contradictory and that the contradiction in question proves the existence of “color” in the world.

The statement that “the white and the black are not colors” is also one that the Randian ontology would qualify as a theft of concept. It would have us believe that, in such statement, the concepts of white and black are “stolen;” and that their allegedly stolen character proves the correspondence of the concept of color with reality. Yet the statement that “the red is not a color” is admittedly self-contradictory (in that the concept of color—regardless of which sub-meaning for the concept of color is retained in the statement in question—serves as a necessary condition for the concept of red); but that self-contradictory character does not prove the concept of color to be correspondent with reality.

A statement saying two things that contradict each other does not prove the existence of one or other of those things—including when it comes to a statement both denying the correspondence (with reality) of a concept A and claiming the correspondence (with reality) of a concept B for which the concept A serves as a necessary condition. The self-contradictory character of such statement proves no more the correspondence of the concept A than it proves the correspondence of the concept B.

As for the statement that “the white and the black are not colors,” instead of such statement being necessarily self-contradictory, it is actually self-contradictory when taking the concept of color in the general meaning of “a visual characteristic distinct from the size, the thickness, the transparency, and the shape;” but not when taking that concept in the more precise meaning of a visual characteristic that—besides being distinct from the size, the thickness, the transparency, and the shape—finds itself associated with a wavelength. In such statement, the concepts of white and black find themselves “stolen” when it comes to the concept of color taken in the above-evoked general meaning, not when it comes to the above-evoked more precise meaning. Even when the concept of color finds itself taken in the above-evoked general meaning, the statement that “the white and the black are not colors” does not prove the concept of color to be correspondent with reality.

The Randian claim that a statement stealing a concept B from a concept A proves (despite itself) the correspondence of the concept A—and that those statements that are “property is theft” or “the laws of logic are arbitrary” accordingly prove the respective correspondence of the concepts of (legitimate) property and of (objectively certain) logic laws—is flawed at two levels. On the one hand, it misses the fact that a statement stealing a concept B from a concept A does not prove the concept A to be correspondent with reality; on the other hand, it misses the fact that a same statement can be both a statement stealing a concept B from a concept A when A or B is taken in a certain sub-meaning—and a statement making use of the concept B coherently with the concept A when A or B is taken in another sub-meaning. Thus if, in the statement “property is theft,” one takes the concept of property in the sub-meaning of “private property,” and the concept of theft in the sub-meaning of “the private property of what is given to everyone without any distinction,” then the use made of the concept of theft is actually coherent with the concept of property.

The statement “property is theft” is indeed to be taken then in the sense that “private property is the private property of what is given to everyone without any distinction, what allows to speak of private property as a theft of what is everyone’s property.” Likewise, if one, in the statement “the laws of logic are arbitrary,” takes the concept of laws of logic in the sub-meaning of “the laws one expects oneself and others to follow in the construction of reasonings,” and the concept of arbitrary in the sub-meaning of “the fact of not being objectively corroborated or, at least, of not being objectively certain,” then the use made of the concept of arbitrary is actually coherent with the concept of laws of logic. The statement “the laws of logic are arbitrary” is indeed to be taken then in the sense that “the laws one expects oneself and others to follow in the construction of reasonings are, if not deprived of an objectively corroborated character, at least deprived of an objectively certain character, what allows to speak of them as arbitrary.”

The Idea Of The Good And The Jump From Ideational Essence To Material Existence

In its investigation of the relationship of concepts (whether they are “stolen” or coherently used) to reality, the Randian ontology systemically misses the fact that concepts are corroborated rather than confirmed by reality; and the fact that definitions when updated are not left intact on that occasion but instead dismissed then rectified—whether the update consists of extending or relativizing them.

If we were to discover an animal that, without being a bird, would be endowed with a beak, then the definition associated with the (generic) concept of beak would be rectified from such discovery (rather than updated in a paradoxical mode leaving intact the definition). The concept in question would define, henceforth, its object no more as “a horny, teeth-less mouth only found in birds;” but instead as “a horny, teeth-less mouth like the one, for instance, of a bird.”

On that occasion, the concept of beak would evolve with its definition and, accordingly, the sequence of terms “a horny, teeth-less mouth only found in birds” would be no more claimed in the language to be synonymous with the term “beak.” Yet the Randian ontology would have us believe that, in the statement “I saw a kind of animal which looked like a bear except it was endowed with a beak like a bird,” the concept of beak is “stolen” from the concept of bird. The fact is that, in such statement, the concept of beak is implicitly updated in such a way that the use made of said concept in said statement is one coherent with the concept of bird (rather than one stealing the concept of beak from the concept of bird). Holding such statement does not prove that a beak is indeed a horny, teeth-less mouth that is notably (but not only) constitutive of a bird, which is also constitutive of a certain genre of animal that (except it is endowed with a beak like a bird) looks like a bear.

Yet the human knowledge of an individual material entity’s material essence (i.e., the sum of an individual entity’s constitutive properties over the course of its existence—whether those are generic or unique, and whether those are intrinsically necessary or extrinsically contingent or extrinsically necessary) only occurs through conjecturing from the sensible datum (or from sensible impression)—and through suprasensible intuition. It cannot occur through mere sensible intuition as the latter, while allowing us to touch, see, etc., some individual entities, gives us empirical access neither to the material essences of those empirically accessed individual entities—nor to their ideational essences.

While the material essence of an individual material entity is the sum of all the entity’s constitutive properties over the course of its existence, the ideational essence of an individual material entity, which finds itself inscribed in an ideational model, is the sum of all the entity’s properties over the course of its existence (including those properties that are accessory rather than constitutive). Humans could deduce the material essences from empirical intuition if—and only if—empirical intuition of the universe’s whole infinite content and whole past, present, and future history were possible to humans; but such mode of empirical intuition is impossible to them.

What they are left with if they are to grasp the material essences is the following two options. On the one hand, conjecturing what are those material essences from our sensible intuition of a certain portion of the universe—namely that portion of the universe that is empirically offered to us at a certain point of its history. (Induction is part—and only part—of such conjecturing process). On the other hand, grasping suprasensibly the ideational essences of the individual material entities—more precisely, the modeled constitutive properties inscribed within those ideational essences contained in ideational models. Both processes are doomed to be endless ones which can only obtain results that are, at best, approximative. Just like suprasensible experience can only grasp a deformed, mutilated echo of the ideational realm taken as a whole or of an ideational entity within it, sensible experience can only grasp a singular entity as it stands at some point, not its material essence nor the universe taken as a whole at some point nor the universe taken as whole in its whole past, present, and future history.

As for the (material) existence of some entity at some point of the universe, it is no more a product of the fact that the correspondent ideational essence includes the property of existing than it can be deduced from the fact that the concept for the singular material entity in question includes (if correctly constructed) the property of existing. The existence itself of God, whom I perhaps should clarify is not to be confused with what, following Plato’s wording, can be called “the Idea of Good,” cannot be deduced from the fact that the concept of God (if correctly constructed) includes the impossibility for God not to exist in an eternal mode.

In essence, Plato correctly referred to the Idea of Good as being itself not an ideational model for some hypothetical singular entity—but instead the ideational entity allowing for several ideational models to exist, to be what they are, and to be an object of knowledge. It should be added that the Idea of Good is, more precisely, a sorting, actualizing pulse that, while encompassing (and expressing itself through) the whole realm of the ideational models (both generic and singular), chooses in an atemporal, virtual mode which of the hypothetical material singular entities are to be concretized at some point in the material, temporal realm.

Also, it should be added that the universe taken as a whole—and perhaps each parallel universe taken as a whole—are a material, temporal incarnation of the Idea of Good (which thus serves as an ideational model for the universe taken as whole—and perhaps for other universes parallel to ours); and that the Idea of Good nonetheless remains completely external to the universe while incarnating itself into the universe. The same applies to those ideational models for possible singular material entities which are concretized—namely that they incarnate themselves into the correspondent material singular entities while remaining completely external to them and completely virtual.

While our universe is temporal and endowed with a temporal beginning from the nothingness, the Idea of Good whose incarnation it is is both atemporal (i.e., subject to a time in which past, present, and future are simultaneous) and eternal (i.e., subject to a time with no beginning and no end); but neither the Idea of Good nor the universe nor any material singular entity can have its existence deduced from its concept. The existence of a hypothetical material entity (within the universe) modeled in some correctly posited, defined, concept could be deduced from the inclusion of the property of existing in the concept in question if—and only if—the property of existing inscribed in an ideational essence were implied by all or part of the non-existential properties inscribed in an ideational essence. Just like the same applies to the universe, the same applies to the Idea of Good and to God himself: namely, that the (ideational) existence of the Idea of Good could be deduced from the fact its (correctly defined) concept includes its existence (in an eternal, intrinsically necessary mode with an eternal, intrinsically necessary permanence) if—and only if—its property of existing were implied by all or part of its non-existential properties; but an existential property has something to do with all or part of the non-existential properties neither in the Idea of Good nor in God nor in any hypothetical singular material entity modeled in an Idea nor in any material singular entity present at some point within our universe.

Our universe is not only made of the presence of those material singular entities inhabiting it at different stages of its history; it is also made of the absence of those material singular entities which, in an other scenario for the universe, would have been perhaps present but that, in the actual universe, are lacking at any stage of its history. Any (purely) fictional entity in our universe is an entity whose absence is a component for our universe; but not any absent entity is a fictional entity, i.e., an entity present in the fictional realm imagined in our universe. Whether an absent entity is fictional, its absence is an ingredient of our universe; whether it is fictional, its absence cannot be deduced from the fact its concept (if correctly posited, defined) includes its property not of (materially) existing.

Each ideational model in the virtual, atemporal plane includes a set of existential properties, i.e., a set of properties about whether the concerned modeled entity is modeled as an existing entity (and about the modeled mode of existence in the general sense for the concerned modeled entity—if the latter happens to be modeled as an existing entity); but the fact for a certain ideational model of including the property that the concerned modeled entity is endowed with existence does not render said entity an actually existing entity in our universe. Reciprocally, the fact for a certain ideational model, of including the property that the concerned modeled entity is deprived of existence, does not render said entity an actually inexistent entity in our universe. Just like, in an existent singular material entity, the property of existing is not implied by all or part of the non-existential properties, the presence of the property of existing in a modeled hypothetical entity is not implied by all or part of the included non-existential properties.

The fact that the presence of the property of existing in some ideational essence has nothing to do with what are the non-existential properties present within the ideational essence in question serves as a necessary, sufficient condition for the fact that the fact for an existent singular material entity of being has nothing to do with the fact for said entity of being what it is (in addition to its existential properties).

The only way for material existence of being deduced from the presence of the property of existing within the ideational essence would be that the property of existing included in the ideational essence is implied by all or part of the included non-existential properties; but none of the existential properties included in the ideational essence has something to do with the non-existential properties included in the ideational essence. If the fact for the ideational model of some hypothetical singular entity of including the modeled property of existing were a product of all or part of the non-existential properties modeled in the ideational model in question, then the hypothetical singular entity in question would be rendered materially existent by the sole presence of the property of existing within its ideational essence, then its material existence could be deduced from the sole fact its ideational essence includes the property of existing.

Conversely, if the fact for the ideational model of some hypothetical singular entity of including the modeled property of existing has nothing to do with all or part of the modeled non-existential properties inscribed in the ideational model in question, then the hypothetical singular entity in question is not rendered existent by the sole presence of the property of existing within its ideational essence, then its existence cannot be deduced from the sole fact its ideational essence includes the property of existing. The sorting, actualizing pulse that is the Idea of Good is instead what renders actually existent some modeled hypothetical singular entity endowed with the property of existing; just like it is what renders actually inexistent some modeled hypothetical singular entity endowed with the property of not existing—and some modeled hypothetical singular entity nonetheless endowed with the property of existing.

When selecting which immaterial, atemporal Ideas are concretized in our material, temporal universe, it is quite conceivable that the Idea of Good does not only get incarnated into our universe, but also into other universes parallel to ours. Thus it is quite conceivable that, in some universe parallel to ours, there can be found some singular entities that instead belong to fiction in ours and some fictional characters that are instead real in ours: for instance, there may be some parallel universe in which Tong Po and Attila are real, but Mohamed Qissi and Abdel Qissi fictional characters…

Conclusion—And The Idea Of The World’s Contingency

The “dignity of man” lies in his intermediate position between a beast (but one with chaotic instincts) and a being-like-divine (but who is only like-divine rather than divine strictly speaking). Whether when it comes to combatting bad magic in the name of good magic, or bad technique in the name of good technique, “the former is the most deceptive practice,” but “the latter is the deepest and the holiest philosophy.” “The former is sterile and vain,” but “the latter firm, trustworthy and unshakeable.” God does not only expect the human to hunt the material essences, the knowledge of which in humans can be approximative, but can never be achieved; he also expects the humans to co-create the universe alongside God himself, what is an endless task which asks to be carried out through knowledge, technique, and magic—and in complete submission to the laws that God established in its work and faces Himself.

The universe is neither meaningless nor God-forsaken; but the cosmic march proceeding under an ideational sun whose materialized light it is proceeds through mistakes which man as the bearer of a torch imitating the sun is expected to repair in complete humility to the sun. The question of whether the universe is contingent is, precisely, to be asked, on the one hand, from the angle of meaning: is the universe meaningful—rather than gratuitous, vain? On the other hand, it must be asked from the angle of factuality: is the universe’s existence intrinsically necessary, i.e., self-sufficient and inescapable? Yet the universe—in that it is God’s incarnation—is driven by God’s persistent, fallible attempt to engender increasingly higher order and complexity within the universe, an attempt that is carried out in turn for what is the tendency towards entropy in the universe’s isolated systems. Thus the universe is endowed with meaning—the meaning that is purposeful creation of order and complexity, in which the human is invited to take part. Also, the universe’s existence is endowed with a temporal beginning—and therefore devoid of that mode of intrinsic necessity that is the one consisting of existing in an uncreated, inescapable mode.

If the universe had created itself from nothingness without its existence being inescapable, then its existence would be neither intrinsically nor extrinsically necessary; instead it would be extrinsically contingent. If the universe had created itself from nothingness without its existence being escapable, then the universe’s existence would be intrinsically necessary (rather than extrinsically necessary, intrinsically contingent, or extrinsically contingent); but the involved mode here of an intrinsically necessary existence would be the one consisting of existing in a self-created (rather than uncreated), inescapable (rather than avoidable) mode. If the universe was a product by God, then the universe would be extrinsically necessary (rather than intrinsically necessary or extrinsically contingent); whether it was created by God as permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode—or instead as provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode or even as permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode.

For my part, I claim the universe was created by God—but created neither as an emergent property of God nor as a product of God, but instead as an incarnation of God. Though God’s self-incarnation is a relational intrinsically necessary property co-eternal with God, the universe’s existence is not eternal—but instead endowed with a temporal beginning. Though the relational, innate property that is God’s self-incarnation finds itself occurring in a strong intrinsically necessary mode, the universe’s existence is both intrinsically contingent (and therefore extrinsically necessary)—and permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode—with regard to God; and extrinsically contingent—and permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode—with regard to the nothingness chronologically prior to the universe’s chronological start.


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website:  gregoirecanlorbe.com.


Featured image: “Earthbound,” by Evelyn De Morgan, painted 1897.

On The dignity Of Man: The Idea Of The Good And Knowledge Of Essences. Part II.

Causality, Necessity And Permanence

Existence at some point in material entities is both endowed with an originated character (i.e., the character of finding its origin somewhere—whether the entity is created rather than uncreated); and with the character of being either permanent (i.e., doomed to continue) or provisory (i.e., doomed to end). Also, material entities (such as the human intellect represents them to itself in its impressions or in its conjectures, if not from sensible experience, at least from what it thinks to be sensible experience taken as such, i.e., naked, mere sensible experience) are engaged in causal relations; what is tantamount to saying that they’re endowed with causal relational properties. Though some men are able to have suprasensible access (to the ideational realm), their access is irremediably made, strictly, of “impressions” (i.e., illusions produced by suprasensible experience), which are approximately true at best.

As for the human intellect’s contact with sensible experience, it is (strictly) made of observations and of impressions (i.e., illusions produced by sensible experience, which look like sensible experience but are instead deformed echoes of what is actually observed). Yet Hume’s assertion, in essence, that the concept of (efficient) cause in the human intellect is the strict account of the impression of a sequence necessarily repeated identically that is only produced in it by the regular sensible experience of a chain repeating itself identically (under identical circumstances) is false on at least two levels.

On the one hand, that affirmation confuses the concept of (efficient) cause and the concept of an efficient cause whose effect is not only necessary at time t but necessarily identical to itself over the course of time. On the other hand, it is mistaken about the relation of the human intellect to sensible experience, which it wrongly conceives of as a strict relation of observation and impression by habit. One thing is to say that the impact of the ball with the pool cue is the efficient cause of the movement of the ball at time t, but another is to say that the impact in question necessarily causes the movement in question at the concerned time.

Yet another is to say that, if, in the future, the shock is repeated strictly identically under strictly identical circumstances, then the effect itself will necessarily repeat itself each time (and, each time, will necessarily repeat identically); regardless of the time the shock identically repeats under identical circumstances.

As for the relation of the ontological concepts of the human intellect (including the efficient cause—and the efficient cause jointly necessary and necessarily identical to itself under identical circumstances over time) to sensible experience, it is most likely that each ontological concept taken in isolation, whatever it may be, finds its complete origin, either in one or more human instincts, or in conjectures of the human intellect in contact with (naked) sensible experience, or in one or more sensible impressions (i.e., one or more impressions produced by the sensible experience on the human intellect), or in conjectures of the human intellect in contact with one or more sensible impressions, or in a legacy of the acquired culture, or in one or more suprasensible impressions, or in a mixture between all or part of those things.

Whatever its origin, the human intellect opts for trusting an ontological concept in its possession if (and only if) it judges the latter as being confirmed by the sensible (and hypothetically suprasensible) experience or judges it as being (highly) corroborated by the sensible (and hypothetically suprasensible) experience or judges it as being (highly) corroborated in the panoramic sense.

Even if the concept of (efficient) cause were actually the strict fruit of the account of a certain (sensible) impression made on the human mind, the presence of that concept in the human intellect cannot have as a necessary condition the account of the (sensible) impression made on the human intellect by the specific mode of chaining that is a chain of events repeating itself identically under identical circumstances; because any observed sequence making an impression on the human intellect, whether the sequence in question is repeated (and whether it is identically repeated under identical circumstances), would then be capable of producing the impression of the action of an efficient cause. But, although sensible experience is only able to corroborate our ontological concepts and the suprasensible is only made of impressions, the relation of the human mind to the latter is actually active (and not only passive, i.e., not only made of observations and impressions).

Our intellect is active towards them in that it assesses them and relies on them. Whether the human intellect confuses sensible impression with sensible experience when thinking some ontological concept (for instance, the concept of efficient cause) to be (highly) corroborated by sensible experience changes nothing to the fact that it then thinks the ontological concept in question to be (highly) corroborated by sensible experience; just like the fact that it confuses sensible impression with sensible experience when thinking some ontological concept (for instance, the concept of efficient cause) to be confirmed by sensible experience changes nothing to the fact that it then thinks the ontological concept in question to be confirmed by sensible experience.

Yet the human intellect doesn’t only endorse this or that ontological concept according to whether it thinks or not the latter to be empirically confirmed or (either empirically or panoramically) corroborated; it also tries to articulate them with each other in the way that makes most sense in view of each other, in view of sensible experience, and in view of corroboration in a panoramic sense. I intend to show (a few lines later) that those causal relational properties that are identically repeated when identical circumstances are repeated make most sense when understood as constitutive properties that are, besides, correspondent to intrinsically necessary dispositions that—in addition to their presence at the “substantial” level in the entity—apply to any moment witnessing the presence of some circumstances. I cannot say more about it for now.

Just like those causal relational properties identically repeated (when identical circumstances are repeated) are part of the constitutive properties of a (singular) material entity endowed with such properties, they’re part of the constitutive properties of a generic material entity endowed with such properties. Therefore they as much belong, so to speak, to the adequate definition for the concept whose object is the singular entity in question as they belong, so to speak, to the concept whose object is the generic entity in question.

The “eye of the world” that is the human (not in the sense that he is a way for the universe of seeing, knowing, the universe—either correctly or approximately—but in the sense that he is able, mandated, to approach exact knowledge of the universe without ever reaching it) is notably able (and mandated) to approach exact knowledge of the material essences in material entities without ever reaching said knowledge. (Approximative) knowledge of the “laws of nature” is, precisely, part of the (approximative) wider knowledge of “material essences.”

What “material essence” exactly means in the article is the set of the constitutive properties in a material entity (which—as I intend to develop a few lines later—are not all “natural” properties and are not all “substantial” properties). Grasping perfectly (or almost perfectly) a material essence in a material entity amounts to obtaining a perfect (or almost perfect) definition of the concept for the material entity in question.

When a material entity is rendered the object of a concept, the concept in question always means, indeed, the entity in question strictly taken from the angle of its constitutive properties, i.e., strictly taken from the angle of its material essence. As for the definition socially correspondent (in some language) to a concept whose object is a material entity, it exposes what the language in question thinks are the constitutive properties of the material entity in question. Hence the concept in question and its socially correspondent definition are held as synonyms in the language in question.

Part of the cognitive process leading to move closer to perfect knowledge of a material essence consists of selecting some socially admitted definitions and questioning their validity. It is worth specifying that pseudo-definitions must be distinguished from actual definitions. While the latter only deal with constitutive properties (and with the totality of the constitutive properties), the former deal with any kind of property.

Also, while the latter notably include ones socially admitted, which, in some language, are attached to correspondent concepts and accordingly held to be synonymous with the concepts in question, the former are of strictly private use. Just like the fact that some language deems some definition to be true (i.e., to expose adequately the totality of the constitutive properties in the correspondent concept’s object) doesn’t render the definition in question true, the fact that some language deems two terms or a term and a sequence of terms (when taken in a certain conceptual acceptation) to be synonymous (i.e., endowed with equivalent senses) doesn’t render them true synonyms. While a concept (strictly) means its object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties (setting aside for now the case of those concepts with meaning-modalities), its definition (strictly) exposes what the definition in question claims are the constitutive properties in the concept’s object.

Whether a concept deals with a singular entity (either material or ideational), a genre (either material or ideational), or a property (either material or ideational), its socially admitted definition (in some language) is socially deemed to be synonymous with its meaning, i.e., with its object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties.

For instance, if some language defines the genre duck as “a waterbird with a broad blunt bill, short legs, webbed feet, and a waddling gait,” then the term “duck” (when taken in the right conceptual acceptation) and sequence “a waterbird with a broad blunt bill, short legs, webbed feet, and a waddling gait” will be held as synonymous in the language in question. In other words, the concept duck’s meaning (i.e., the object referred to as duck taken from the angle of its constitutive properties) will be deemed to be synonymous with the meaning of the above-evoked sequence.

Just like any concept for a genre (whether it deals with a genre of ideational singular entities or a genre of material singular entities) deals with some of the generic properties of some singular entity, any concept for a singular entity (whether it deals with an ideational singular entity or a material singular entity) deals with the whole of the constitutive properties in its object.

The set of those generic properties in a singular entity (whether it is material or ideational) that are constitutive is only part of the constitutive properties; but, while the constitutive properties are only part of the properties in a material singular entity, all properties in an ideational singular entity are constitutive properties.

Just like any material entity is a singular (rather than generic) entity, any ideational entity is a singular (rather than generic) entity. Also, just like any entity (whether it is material or ideational) falls within some genres, the expression “generic entity” is only a convenient way of designating a genre to which some entity (either material or ideational) happens to belong. For instance, the singular material entity that is a singular duck belongs to the “generic material entity” that is the genre duck; and the singular ideational entity that is the singular Idea for some singular duck belongs to the “generic ideational entity” that is the generic Idea for the genre duck.

In both cases, the genre in question—instead of being an entity strictly speaking—is only a set of constitutive properties. Also, in both cases, those generic properties that are constitutive are only part of the constitutive properties; but, while the constitutive properties of a singular material duck are themselves only part of the duck’s properties, all properties in the singular ideational model for the singular material duck in question are constitutive properties.

A concept for an alleged singular entity (whether it is material or ideational) always deals (only) with the set of the constitutive properties in its object; but, while a concept for an ideational singular entity deals with all properties in its object (as all properties in its object are constitutive), a concept for a material singular entity deals with only some part of the properties in its object. The hypothetical entity modeled in an ideational entity must be distinguished from the ideational entity. Here I won’t deal with what are the properties in an ideational singular entity apart from those related to how it designs the hypothetically materialized entity modeled within it.

All properties in a genre or in a property are constitutive, not all properties in a singular entity; but here I will leave aside the case of those concepts dealing with a property (apart from noting that those concepts also deal with their respective object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties). Just like a same word can subsume several concepts (for instance, the word “duck”), a same concept can subsume several meanings—namely a general meaning and its several modalities (paradoxically including the general meaning itself taken in isolation).

For instance, the concept of color includes a general meaning for which the socially admitted correspondent definition is “a visual characteristic distinct from those visual characteristics that are the size, the shape, the thickness, and the transparency;” and subaltern, specific meanings—including one for which the socially admitted correspondent definition is “a visual characteristic that, besides being distinct from those other visual characteristics that are the size, the shape, the thickness, and the transparency, finds itself associated with a wavelength.”

If correctly constructed (what is tantamount to saying: if correctly defined), a concept for some material entity (or for some generic material entity) endowed with only one meaning is then perfectly mirroring the modeled constitutive properties inscribed in the ideational essence of its object (without the ideational essence containing only those properties in the modeled entity that are constitutive); just like, if correctly constructed (what is tantamount to saying: if correctly defined), a same concept for several material entities (or several generic material entities) endowed with a general meaning and some modalities for the latter is then perfectly mirroring the modeled constitutive properties inscribed in the respective ideational essence for the respective object of each of its meaning-modalities (without the respective ideational essences containing only those properties in the respective modeled entities that are constitutive).

Just like a good definition generally speaking (i.e., a good definition as much in the case of ideational as in the one of material objects, as much in the case of generic objects as in the one of singular objects, as much in the case of entities-objects as in the case of properties-objects, and as much in the case of real objects as in the case of unreal objects) strictly deals with the correspondent concept’s object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties (or with the constitutive properties of one of the correspondent concept’s objects), the set of the constitutive properties in a (singular) material entity form what may be called its material essence.

Yet a proper presentation of the way the essence in any material entity is subdivided into four distinct essences (namely the ideational essence, the material essence, the natural essence, and the substantial essence) requires preliminary partial presentation of the subdivision between the several kinds of property totally or partly present in any entity (whether ideational or material)—and of the subdivision between the several kinds of origin and of permanence (or provisority) for existence in an existent entity (whether ideational or material).

The properties in an individual entity (at some point) are notably classified as follows:

  1. Constitutive properties vs. accessory properties.
  2. Intrinsically necessary properties vs. intrinsically or extrinsically contingent properties.
  3. Extrinsically necessary properties vs. intrinsically necessary or extrinsically contingent properties.
  4. Unique properties vs. generic properties.
  5. Relational properties vs. non-relational properties.
  6. Existential properties vs. non-existential properties (i.e., qualities).
  7. Fundamental properties vs. secondary properties.
  8. Innate properties vs. emergent properties (whether in the general sense of posteriorly appearing properties—or in the precise sense of posteriorly appearing properties bringing about novelty in the world in terms of non-existential characteristics, i.e., in terms of qualities).
  9. Permanent properties in an intrinsically necessary mode vs. properties with an extrinsically necessary permanent character or an intrinsically necessary provisory character.
  10. Provisory properties in an intrinsically necessary mode vs. properties permanent in an extrinsically or intrinsically necessary mode.
  11. Compositional properties (i.e., about what the entity is made of) vs. formal properties (i.e., about how the entity is shaped from its matter).
  12. Dispositional properties (i.e., about what the entity would do if put in presence in some circumstances at some moment) vs. concrete properties.

As for the modes of origin and permanence (or provisority) for an entity, they’re notably classified as follows. 1) Intrinsically necessary entities versus intrinsically or extrinsically contingent entities. 2) Permanent entities in an intrinsically necessary mode versus entities provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode—or permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode.

An intrinsically necessary property of the strong kind is one that an entity (whether it is material), at some point, cannot but possess independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent (if it is to possess the property in question), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

An intrinsically necessary property of the weak kind is one that an entity, at some point, cannot but possess independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent and intact (if it is to possess the property in question), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

Just like the entity’s existence at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for any intrinsically necessary property of the strong kind that is then present in the entity, the entity’s existence and integrity at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for any intrinsically necessary property of the weak kind that is then present in the entity. An intrinsically necessary property (whether it is of the strong kind) that is dispositional is a modality of an intrinsically necessary property; but not any dispositional property is an intrinsically necessary property.

An extrinsically necessary property is one that an entity, at some point, cannot but possess due to the entity’s existence and to the combination, at some point before, between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property (for instance, a dispositional intrinsically necessary property) in the entity, and one or more relations in which the entity finds itself engaged at that anterior moment.

For instance, the property for a point mass, at some point, of exerting an attraction force towards another one that is “proportional to the product of the two masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them” is a relational extrinsically necessary property that is a forced product of the entity’s existence at that point and of the combination (at some point before) between the entity’s existence, another relational property (namely the presence of another point mass somewhere), and a dispositional intrinsically necessary property (namely the property of exerting an attraction force such as described above when another point mass is present somewhere).

An intrinsically contingent property is one whose existence, at some point, in an entity finds a necessary, sufficient cause in the fact that the entity’s existence at that point is added to the occurrence, at some point before, of a combination between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in the entity, and one or more relations on its part at that anterior moment.

Just like any intrinsically contingent property is one extrinsically necessary, any extrinsically necessary property is one intrinsically contingent. An extrinsically contingent property is one that is present at some point in an entity as a random product of the fact that the entity’s existence at that point is added to the occurrence, at some point before, of a combination between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property, and one or more relations; but which finds in that fact whose random product it is a necessary (though not-sufficient) cause.

No relational property (except in the case of God) is one intrinsically necessary; but any relational property (except in the case of God) is either extrinsically contingent or extrinsically necessary. A property that an entity, at some point, possesses because of its present existence and of the combination (at some point before) between a free volition on its part, its existence, one ore more relations on its part, and an intrinsically necessary property in it is a modality of an extrinsically contingent property.

Just like a property that is, at some point, permanent is a property that is, at the considered moment, doomed to continue to exist in the entity without any interruption (so long as the entity will keep up being existent), a property that is, at some point, provisory is a property that is, at the considered moment, doomed to cease to exist in the entity, either in a determinate (or more or less determinate) future moment in which the entity will be still existent, or in an indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate) future moment in which the entity will be still existent.

An intrinsically necessary property (whether it is of the strong kind) is either permanent or provisory; just like an extrinsically necessary property is either permanent of provisory—and just like an extrinsically contingent property is either permanent or provisory.

A permanent property is either permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode or permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode; just like a provisory property is always provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode.

A property that, at some point, is permanent in a strong intrinsically necessary mode is a property that, at the moment in question, is doomed to continue to exist in the entity (so long as the latter will keep up existing) independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent (if the property in question is to be presently permanent), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

A property that, at some point, is permanent in a weak intrinsically necessary mode is a property that, at the moment in question, is doomed to continue to exist in the entity (so long as the latter will keep up existing) independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent and intact (if the property in question is to be presently permanent), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

Just like the entity’s existence at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for the permanence of any property that is presently permanent in a strong intrinsically necessary mode in the entity, the entity’s existence and integrity at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for the permanence of any property that is presently permanent in a weak intrinsically necessary mode in the entity.

A property that, at some point, is provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode is a property that, at the moment in question, is doomed to cease to exist in the entity (at a future moment—either determinate (or more or less determinate) or indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate)—in which the entity will be still existent) independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent (if the property in question is to be presently provisory), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

The entity’s existence at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for the provisory character of any property that is presently provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode in the entity. A property that, at some point, is permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode is a property that, at the considered moment, is permanent because of the entity’s present existence and because of the combination (at some point before) between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in the entity, and one or more relations on its part. Any property permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode is also permanent in an intrinsically contingent mode—namely that those things form a necessary, sufficient set of causes for its permanence.

An intrinsically necessary entity is one that, at some point, cannot but exist independently of what are the other entities in the universe (and in the ideational realm) at any point (and independently of whether other entities are existent at any point in the universe and in the ideational realm).

As for an extrinsically necessary entity, it is one that, at some point, cannot but exist due to the combination, at some point before, between another entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in that other entity, and one or more relations in which that other entity finds itself engaged (at that anterior moment).

Just like an entity that cannot but exist in an eternal mode (i.e., in a mode devoid of any beginning in time and any ending in time) is a modality of an entity that is intrinsically necessary, an entity that is self-created but cannot escape its self-creation is another modality of an entity that is intrinsically necessary.

An intrinsically contingent entity is an entity whose existence at some point finds a necessary, sufficient condition in the fact that a combination occurs, at some point before, between another entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in that other entity, and one or more relations in which that other entity finds itself engaged (at that anterior moment).

Just like any intrinsically contingent entity is one extrinsically necessary, any extrinsically necessary entity is one intrinsically contingent.

An extrinsically contingent entity is an entity that, at some point, finds itself, either existent because of the entity’s random self-creation from nothing at some point before, or existent because of the entity’s random apparition, at some point before, from a combination happening even earlier between another entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in the latter, and one or more relations on the latter’s part; and whose present existence finds a necessary, sufficient cause in the fact of having been engendered in one or the other of those ways.

Just like God is an intrinsically necessary entity in an inescapable eternal mode, the universe is both an extrinsically necessary entity with regard to God—and an extrinsically contingent entity in a randomly self-created mode with regard to the nothingness preceding the universe.

No entity apart from the universe can be one, at some point, both extrinsically necessary (from some respect) and extrinsically contingent (from some respect). Just like an entity permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode at some point is an entity that, at the considered moment, is doomed to continue to exist independently of what are the entity’s relations (and independently of whether the entity has relations), an entity provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode at some point is an entity that, at the considered moment, is doomed to cease to exist at a future moment—either determinate (or more or less determinate) or indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate—independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence).

As for an entity permanent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode at some point, it is an entity that, at the considered, is doomed to continue to exist because of the entity’s present existence and because of the combination (at some point before) between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in the entity, and one or more relations on its part; and which finds in the set of those causes a necessary, sufficient set of causes for its permanence.

Just as an existent entity that is permanent at a certain moment is an entity that, at the concerned moment, is doomed to continue to exist without any interruption, an existent property that is permanent in a certain entity at a certain moment is a property that, at the concerned moment, is doomed to continue to exist without any interruption in the entity (so long as said entity will exist).

Just as an existent entity that is provisory at a certain moment is an entity that, at the concerned moment, is doomed to cease to exist either at a determinate (or more or less determinate) moment or at an indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate) moment, an existent property that is provisory at a certain moment is a property that, at the concerned moment, is doomed to cease to exist in the entity either at a determinate (or more or less indeterminate) moment in which the entity will still be existent, either at an indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate) moment in which the entity will still be existent.

Just as an existent entity, at a certain moment, is, at the considered moment, either existent in an intrinsically necessary mode, or existent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode, or existent in an extrinsically contingent mode, an existent property in a certain entity, at a certain moment, is, at the considered moment, either existent in an intrinsically necessary mode, or existent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode, or existent in an extrinsically contingent mode.

Just as an existent entity, at a certain moment, is, at the considered moment, either permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode, or provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode, or permanent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode, an existent property in a certain entity, at a certain moment, is, at the considered moment, either permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode, or provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode, or permanent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode.

Rings that, at any time, would render anyone who wears them immortal would provide an extrinsically necessary permanence to the human wearing them on his wrists at a given time; but a machine that provisorily keeps someone alive provides neither any extrinsically necessary permanence nor any permanence at all. The universe is permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode with regard to God; but permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode with respect to the nothingness preceding the universe. No entity other than the universe can be permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode.

In its general sense, “the mode of existence” for an entity here means the set of its existential properties over the course of its existence; but, in its stronger sense, here means the set of those existential properties over the course of its existence that are about the origin for an entity’s existence—plus those about whether and how it is permanent or provisory. Unless specified otherwise, the article will resort to that concept in that stronger sense exclusively.

The mode of existence (in the above-evoked strong sense), at some point, for an entity that is, at that point, existent is an existential innate property with strong intrinsic necessity and with strong intrinsically necessary permanence. Yet a material entity is endowed with four essences.

Firstly, the ideational essence—namely the sum of all the properties of an entity over the course of its existence.

Secondly, the material essence—namely the sum of all the constitutive properties of an entity over the course of its existence.

Thirdly, the natural material essence—namely the sum of all those constitutive properties of an entity over the course of its existence that are intrinsically necessary properties, whether of the weak kind or of the strong kind.

Fourthly, the substantial natural material essence—namely the sum of all those intrinsically necessary constitutive properties of the strong kind that are both innate and endowed with intrinsically necessary permanence of the strong kind.

The mode of existence (i.e., those existential properties about whether and how a material entity is necessary or contingent—and about whether and how it is permanent or provisory) is part of the substantial natural material essence. Just like not any existential property in a material entity is part of the substantial natural material essence, not any substantial natural material property is an existential property; but when a material entity loses all or part of its substantial natural material properties, it always loses its property of existing on that occasion—and reciprocally.

In other words, a material entity ceases to exist when (and only when) it loses all or part of its substantial natural material properties. Any substantial property is a constitutive property; but not any constitutive property is a substantial property. Any intrinsically necessary property is a constitutive property; but not any constitutive property is an intrinsically necessary property. Some generic properties are constitutive properties; but not any generic property is a constitutive property.

Some generic properties are intrinsically necessary; but not any generic property is intrinsically necessary. The natural material essence in a material entity is the sum of all the intrinsically necessary constitutive properties (whether intrinsically necessary of the strong kind) in the entity—including (but not only) those intrinsically necessary constitutive properties in the entity that are generic.

My quadripartite approach to the essence in a material entity allows solving a number of ontological problems—including (but not only) the problem of how and when an entity ceases to exist, namely, that a material entity ceases to exist when (and only when) it loses all or part of its substantial natural material properties, a loss that always brings about the one of the property of existing (though the latter is no more part of the substantial essence in a perishable—and, accordingly, provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode—entity than is the property of dying).

What is more, my approach to the essence in a material entity allows solving the ontological problem of the universe’s jump from nothingness. If someone has voluntarily put a hat on his head at some point and wears it right now, the property in him of wearing a hat is an extrinsically contingent property that is the random product of his present existence and of an earlier combination between an intrinsically necessary dispositional property (namely the ability to put and wear a hat in the ongoing context), existence, and several relations (including the relational property of finding himself in a place where the wind doesn’t prevent him from wearing a hat).

More precisely, it is a modality of an extrinsically contingent property that is an extrinsically contingent property associated with free will—namely the considered human’s free decision to wear a hat. So long as the hat remains pulled down on his head, the hat is then permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode.

As for the universe’s birth from nothingness, just like the toothpaste’s gush from the tube at some point is a non-existential extrinsically necessary property in the toothpaste, the universe’s gush from nothingness at some point (namely at the initial instant in our universe) is, with regard to the nothingness chronologically preceding the universe, an extrinsically contingent mode of origin for the universe that is an existential property intrinsically necessary of the strong kind in the universe.

More precisely, it is a modality of an extrinsically contingent existence that consists of existing in a randomly self-created mode. Yet the universe is (at any point) endowed with intrinsically necessary permanence of the strong kind with regard to the nothingness preceding it. The universe, when considered with respect to the nothingness chronologically anterior to the universe, is therefore a material entity endowed with the innate, intrinsically necessary (of the strong kind) property of being extrinsically contingent—and of being permanent in a strong intrinsically necessary mode.

A third ontological problem that my approach to the essence in a material entity allows solving is the problem of the ontological origin for what is commonly called the “laws of nature”—namely the inescapable regularities (when identical circumstances are repeated over the course of time) in causation from a material entity. I explain those regularities as follows.

Among those relational extrinsically necessary properties that are causal and correspondent to a dispositional innate property with intrinsic necessity (of the strong kind) and intrinsically necessary permanence (of the strong kind), some are unique to a number of times in which the circumstances are identically repeated; but the others apply to any moment in which said circumstances are identically repeated. While the latter are of what may be called a strong type, the former are of what may be called a weak type. While the latter are correspondent to a dispositional innate property with strong intrinsic necessity and strong intrinsically necessary permanence that is, in turn, of the strong type, the former are correspondent to a dispositional innate property with strong intrinsic necessity and strong intrinsically necessary permanence that is, in turn, of the weak type.

For instance, when the ball’s shock with the pool cue causes the ball’s movement, a relational property then present in the pool cue is a causal relational property that consists of causing the ball’s movement; and which is not only a causal relational extrinsically necessary property correspondent to a dispositional innate property with strong intrinsic necessity and with strong intrinsically necessary permanence—but one of the strong type.

In other words, it is a causal relational property that occurs as the forced product of the pool cue’s present existence and of the earlier combination between the pool cue’s existence, a number of relations on its part (including the shock with the ball), and a dispositional innate property (as much with strong intrinsic necessity as with strong intrinsically necessary permanence) that consists of causing the ball’s movement whenever some circumstances are present. Among the substantial natural material properties in an entity, those dispositional innate properties with strong intrinsic necessity and with strong intrinsically necessary permanence that are of the strong type precisely serve as the ontological foundation for the “laws of nature.”

The problem of knowing whether “existence precedes essence” in a material entity is a fourth ontological problem that my approach to the essence in a material entity allows solving. The problem is best understood when put as follows: does a material entity (whether it is endowed with a temporal beginning—and whether it is endowed with intrinsically necessary permanence) have its essence already predefined, preprogrammed, at all stages of its existence?

My take on that issue is the following one. Namely that, in a material entity, the ideational essence indeed precedes material existence (i.e., is indeed predefined, preprogrammed, at all stages of its existence); and that, in a material entity, the substantial natural material essence—and only the latter in the material essence—is also predefined, preprogrammed, at all stages of the entity’s existence.

In other words, while the ideational essence integrally “precedes” material essence, only that component in the material essence that is the substantial natural material essence indeed “precedes” material existence. All other components in the material essence—including the existential property about when the material entity in question ceases to exist in the case where the latter’s mode of existence includes the existential substantial natural material property of being provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode—find themselves “preceded” by material existence for their part. Since the properties covered by the natural material essence are dependent, if not on the entity’s material integrity, at least on the entity’s material existence, they are predefined at no stage of the material entity’s existence—though its existence is a necessary, sufficient condition for those natural properties in the material entity that are intrinsically necessary in a strong mode.

Correctly defining the concept to which some material entity is correspondent consists of correctly presenting those properties in the material entity in question over the course of its material existence that are constitutive—including (but not only) those constitutive properties in the entity that are intrinsically necessary (and therefore natural), whether the latter are intrinsically necessary in a strong mode.

As for correctly defining the concept to which some genre of material entity is correspondent, it consists of correctly presenting those properties in the genre in question that are constitutive; what amounts to (correctly) presenting the whole of the properties present in the genre in question (in that all are constitutive properties), whether they’re intrinsically necessary properties. I will address the respective issues of how a singular man and the generic man should be respectively defined at a later occasion.


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website: gregoirecanlorbe.com.


The featured image shows, “The Tribute Money,” by Masaccio; painted in 1425.

On The dignity Of Man: The Idea Of The Good And Knowledge Of Essences. Part I.

Here I intend not only to return to topics such as essence, apodicticity, and the impossibility to deduce material existence from concept—but to address and (positively) evaluate Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s take on the “dignity of man.” Let us start with reminding the reader that, in my approach to God, the latter is an infinite field of ideational singular models (with generic and unique properties) for singular entities (with generic and unique properties), which finds itself in presence of a (strictly) vertical time (i.e., in which past, present, and future are (strictly) simultaneous); and which finds itself unified, encompassed, traversed, and driven by a sorting, actualizing pulse that is itself ideational and which (in a strictly atemporal mode, i.e., in presence of a strictly vertical time) selects which ideational singular models are to see their correspondent hypothetical material entities being materialized at which point of the universe.

While the operation of that pulse is strictly ideational and strictly atemporal, the universe in which the ideational field incarnates itself is strictly material and strictly temporal (i.e., in presence of a strictly horizontal time, in which past, present, and future are successive rather than simultaneous). While incarnating itself wholly into the material, temporal realm, the one of the universe, God remains wholly ideational, atemporal—and wholly external to the material, temporal realm. While endeavoring to engender increasingly higher order and complexity in the universe, God is capable of mistakes in that task—mistakes which man is expected to repair in complete submission to the order that God established within the universe. Also, the atemporal operation of the sorting, actualizing pulse is completely improvisational, what leaves the universe without any predecided, prefixed direction.

The Dignity Of Man

The Mirandolian affirmation that the “dignity of man,” in essence, consists of his finding himself constrained and able to become what he freely decides to become, “like a statuary who receives the charge and the honor of sculpting [his] own person,” is not to be taken in the sense that the human being is a strictly formless, quality-less, matter who can become absolutely whatever pleases him. It is not to be understood either as the negation of the objectively beneficial or harmful character (for the accomplishment of the human being as a human) of certain things and actions.

In the Mirandolian conception of the human, the latter, instead of being completely formless, quality-less, is so only to the extent that he finds himself torn between the beast and the divine. Instead of his freedom being that of becoming absolutely whatever he wishes to become, it boils down to the one to “regress towards lower beings in becoming a brute, or to rise in accessing higher, divine things.” Instead of nothing being objectively good or bad for the fulfillment of the human as a human, certain things and actions—including temperance, the golden mean, free mind, obedience to the divine law, knowledge of the cosmic order, white magic, or literary, artistic creation—elevate him towards humanity (and thus towards a so-called “divine” character in the sense of the character of being like-divine, of being made in the image of the divine); others are degrading and change (or maintain) him into a beast, separating him altogether from his virtual humanity.

One cannot but notice the similitude with what is part of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche’s message when he says of the human being that he is “a rope stretched between the beast and the superman;” and that such is what makes him “great.” The conception of the human according to Pico della Mirandola, that of a tightrope walker between the beast and the human-as-divine, is not less similar to what will be the one according to Konrad Zacharias Lorenz and Robert Ardrey when they say of the human, in essence, that he is free to give in to the chaotic, suffocating voice of his instincts or to impose a creative discipline on himself with the help of civilization and of knowledge.

The Mirandolian approach to the human, in which the human’s “nature” lies in its “intermediate position” between the beast and the human-as-divine, and in which the human accomplishes himself, notably, through exerting, developing his ability to think in an independent, critical mode, has nothing to do with Sartrian “existentialism,” in which the human’s “nature” lies in its absence of the slightest “nature;” and in which, nonetheless, the human accomplishes himself, notably, through complete servitude (including intellectual) in an economically communist society. It has nothing to do either with Heideggerian “existentialism,” in which the human’s “nature” notably lies in a virtual role as “shepherd of the Being” that is (according to Heidegger) as much foreign to the crowning of the cosmos through knowledge or through technique as incompatible with any high level of technical development; and in which the human is called to accomplish himself, not as the “lord of the beings” (either in a cognitive sense or in the sense of technical mastery), but as the one who muses over the mystery of the presence of those things that are.

The human’s self-accomplishment does not occur through technique stricto sensu in the Mirandolian approach to the human (which, indeed, doesn’t really address the topic of technique—to my knowledge); but it genuinely occurs, for instance, through mastery over nature in a cognitive sense (i.e., through that kind of mastery over nature that is the knowledge of nature), while said mastery is thought in Martin Heidegger to bring absolutely nothing to the human’s self-accomplishment.

In the Heideggerian approach to the human, the latter indeed occurs, notably, through meditating over the mystery that there is “something rather than nothing;” but neither through crowning the beings with knowledge nor through crowning them with high technique, which Heidegger even envisions as indissociable from the “forgetfulness of the Being.” The Being is here not to be taken in the sense of an uncreated entity that can neither escape existence (in the general sense of being) nor escape existence in an eternal mode; but in the sense of what allows for existence in existent entities (whether they’re material entities, i.e., materially existent entities) without being itself an entity. The essay will resort itself to that definition when speaking of the “Being.”

How the Being is actually articulated with the sorting, actualizing ideational pulse is a topic I intend to address elsewhere; but, in that the ideational realm incarnates itself into the material realm (to which it however remains external), the presence of the Being as a background for the ideational realm incarnates itself into the presence of the Being as a background for the material realm (while remaining external to its presence as a background for the material realm). While a property is what is characteristic of an existent or hypothetical entity at some point (whether time is horizontal or vertical), a quality is a property of a non-existential kind, i.e., a property unrelated to the entity’s existence.

A certain modality of the theory of evolution has this negative characteristic (for the spiritual elevation of the human) that it reduces the challenges of the human existence, either individual or collective, to sexual reproduction (and the transmission of genes), thus evacuating the challenge for the individual that is the preparation of oneself for the life of the soul after the death of the body.

Another negative characteristic at the level of spiritual elevation is that the modality in question reduces nature to an axiologically neutral battlefield: a land that confronts us with fierce, ruthless physical struggle for the transmission of genes (either individual or collective); but which, remaining rigorously indifferent to human existence and suffering, no more assigns to humans some end to pursue, some model of life to endorse, than it mourns their earthly misfortunes or rejoices in it. The classic axiological ideal of the pursuit is accordingly evacuated—both at the group and individual level—of a life of moderation in accordance with what is allegedly nature’s expectations: the ideal of the pursuit of the golden mean both in the individual exercise of the mental and bodily faculties—and in the group’s organization and conduct.

A golden mean that nature allegedly assigns to us, the transgression of which is allegedly at the origin of most of our earthly ills. The ideal offered in return is that of savagery and excessiveness in the “struggle for survival” and for reproduction, whether it is those of the individual or of the group: Arthur Keith noting in that regard that the “German Führer” was actually an “evolutionist,” who strove to render “the practices of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.”

That said, not any modality of the theory of evolution is actually incompatible with the classic ethics of the golden mean—in that a modality (rightly) envisioning the group’s axiological valorization, expectation, of the pursuit of the golden mean both on the individual’s part (in his individual life) and on the group’s part (in its conduct and organization) as an inescapable ingredient to the group’s success in intergroup competition for survival is actually at work, to some extent, in the considerations of “eminent evolutionists” such as Ardrey and Lorenz.

The obvious failure of Nazi Germany in the collective struggle for survival is a testimony to the degree to which a group’s imperilment expands as the group deviates from the golden mean. As for the issue of knowing whether the idea of the universe as an axiologically positioned place, i.e., one ascribing us some duties (and some proscriptions), is incompatible with any possible modality of the theory of evolution, I believe my approach to God allows to think of the universe as a place both completely positioned axiologically and—as claimed in the theory of evolution—completely neutral axiologically.

In my approach, indeed, the universe is, on the one hand, completely neutral axiologically in its existence considered independently of the spiritual realm incarnating itself completely into the universe; on the other hand, completely positioned axiologically in its existence considered as an incarnation of the spiritual realm remaining completely external to the universe. What the universe (when considered as a divine incarnation) is axiologically about is, notably, creation; and the fulfillment of creation through the human being, notably, as the latter is made “in the image of God.”

It is worth specifying that human creation (in an intellective, mental sense) occurs as much, for instance, at the level of cognition (in a broad sense covering as much art and literature as physics, mathematics, philosophy, magic, etc.) as at the level of technique; just like it is worth specifying that human creation is never so great as when it occurs in the mode of an exploit. What is here called “exploit” is a successful deed that is both exceptionally original, creative, and exceptionally risky, jeopardizing (for one’s individual material subsistence), and which is intended to bring eternal individual glory to its individual perpetrator, whether the exploit occurs on the properly military battlefield or on the battlefield between poets, the one between entrepreneurs, the one between magicians, etc.

Properly understood heroism is not about readiness to die anonymously for something “greater than oneself;” but about readiness, instead, to self-singularize and self-immortalize oneself through holding an eternally remembered life of exploit despising comfort and the fear of death. Though Pico della Mirandola rightly conceives of cognitive creation (and independence) and of the golden mean as both constitutive of the human kind’s elevation, thus reminding his reader of those ancient aphorisms that are “Nothing too much,” which “duly prescribes a measure and rule for all the virtues through the concept of the “Mean” of which moral philosophy treats,” and “Know thyself,” which “invites and exhorts us to the [independent, creative] study of the whole nature of which the nature of man is the connecting link and the “mixed potion”,” he didn’t make it clear, sadly, that the human life is never so creative, independent mentally, never so held in accordance with the golden mean, as when it is a life of exploit.

It should be added that, when it comes to the pursuit of exploit (especially in the warlike, political fields), a man’s mental creativeness, independence, his inner equilibrium, self-discipline, are never so great as in the one who, quoting Macchiavelli, knows “how to avail himself of the beast and the man” depending on the circumstances, something that “has been figuratively taught to princes by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron to nurse, who brought them up in his discipline.”

To put it in another way, when it comes to war and political fight, a man is never so distanced from the beast that stands at the other end of the rope towards the superhuman as when he finds himself oscillating between the beast and the man with complete flexibility and self-mastery; a point that is regrettably absent in the Mirandolian Oration on the Dignity of Man (but, fortunately, explicit in Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli’s The Prince).

Again, Nietzsche’s message doesn’t fail to present some similitude with Florentine thinking when (in his Posthumous Fragments) he says that “at each growth of man in greatness and in elevation, he does not fail to grow downwards and towards the monster.” Whether one speaks of “transhumanism” in the notion’s general sense (i.e., in the sense of the promotion of the human being’s “overcoming” through genetic, bio-robotic engineerings), the one I will refer to in the present article (unless specified otherwise), or in the specific sense of an “overcoming” through genetic, bio-robotic engineerings that is specifically intended to emasculate the human being instinctually and mentally, the transhumanist project is obviously incompatible with the Mirandolian, Machiavellian approaches to the human (just like it is with the Nietzschean approach—on another note).

Both Pico della Mirandola and Machiavelli (but also Nietzsche) were fully attached to an ethics of exploit with which transhumanism is fully incompatible (a fortiori in the case of the above-evoked specific modality of transhumanism, which I especially addressed in a previous article); just like both (though not Nietzsche) were fully aware that the human was God-established as a worthy master of the cosmos himself put under God’s aegis, an intermediary rank that transhumanism fiercely rejects in its rebellion against the cosmic order.

Though the human is God-mandated to crown the beings with knowledge and technique, he is also God-mandated to perform his creativity in the respect of the God-implemented order and laws in the cosmos; in other words, God-mandated to accept himself as being “made in the image of God” (rather than made divine stricto sensu) and to act accordingly. None of the God-implemented laws in the cosmos can be actually transgressed; but attempt to transgress them is, for its part, not only possible but an actual cause of many misfortunes for the human.

A plane or bird can no more afford to disdain gravity (if it is to fly) than a human society (if it is to be functional) can afford to dismiss, for instance, the law of the inescapability of genetic inequality in any sexually reproducing species; the law of the instrumental necessity in any vertebrate species of “equal opportunity” for the purpose of the group’s success (in intergroup competition for survival); the law of the impossibility of (rational) central economic-planning; the law of the impossibility of (rational) central eugenics-planning; the law that what can be measured in intelligence is only part of intelligence; the law of the impossibility for the human mind to progress in knowledge (or in any field) without making use of an independent, creative mode of thinking (which is neither measured by the “QI” nor measurable); the law of the impossibility for the human mind (as it has been made by—and positioned within—the cosmos) to do any correct, precise prediction on the consequences of genome-editing; the law of the impossibility for the human mind to gather all the information required for the purpose of eugenics planning (or semi-planning) or economic planning (or semi-planning); the law of the unavoidable perverse-effects of any state-eugenics measure of a coercive, negative, or engineering kind; the law of the impossibility for the human being to master nature (to the extent possible) without submitting himself to nature; the law of the impossibility for the human being’s suprasensible grasp not to be approximative at best; or the law of the impossibility for the human being to reach some knowledge of the cosmos (or of the ideational realm) other than conjectural.

It cannot be denied that transhumanism and the afore-addressed modality of the “theory of evolution”—along with other memetic edifices of the so-called Modernity such as Marxism, Keynesianism, Heideggerianism, or Auguste Comte’s “positivism”—are part of the spiteful ideological mutations that got involved in the human’s corruption over the course of the three last centuries. Almost no longer any “positivist” dares, admittedly, to support or take seriously the notion dear to the earliest positivists, from the time of Auguste Comte, that “science,” far from requesting the slightest imagination, boils down to conducting observations (of regular causal relations) and to inducing them within theories constructed in accordance with “the” laws of formal logic; and that science provides objective certainties instead of being actually conjectural and corroborated.

The other articles of the original positivist creed—just as illusory—nevertheless remain deeply engraved in contemporary “neo-positivists.” Just as the so-called positivist spirit represents to itself that nothing exists but what is knowable (under the guise of claiming to restrict itself to knowing what is within the reach of human knowledge), it represents to itself that nothing is knowable but what is completely observable and completely quantifiable, entirely subject to a perfect and necessary regularity (at least, when identical circumstances are repeated over time) and to the identity, non-contradiction, and exclusion of the third middle (at least, in a certain respect at a certain moment). In that, “positivism” is not only unsuited to the (irremediably conjectural) knowledge of the human being, a creature subject (to a certain point) to free will, in whom everything by far is not quantifiable (or completely quantifiable); it is just as much to the (not less irremediably conjectural) knowledge of atomic and subatomic creatures, which, while behaving in a completely quantifiable mode, nonetheless remain free from the exclusion of the third middle (as highlighted by Stéphane Lupasco), perhaps even subject to their own free will to some extent (if one believes Freeman Dyson, Stuart Kauffman, John Conway, Simon Kochen, or Howard Bloom).

Positivism is equally mistaken in its conception of science as an undertaking systemically distinct from metaphysics—and in its conception of science as the key to a total human mastery with regard to nature and to an infinite liberation of his creative and exploitative powers. Just as those theories in astrophysics which relate to the beginning of the universe (including the theory of the “Big Bang”) actually tackle, in that, the issue of the “first causes,” the interest that “science” has in the allegedly necessary regularities in the causal relations between material entities (in a broad sense including atoms), what is commonly called “laws of nature,” is never more than a modality of the interest in “essences” which occupies a part of ontology.

To say of material entities that they follow a perfectly necessary regularity in all or part of their causal relations which is inherent in what they are actually falls within the discourse on “essences.” As for the mastery over the universe that science is able to bring to man, it is no more total than science is able to provide objectively certain theories. Far from science being able to render the human a god, it can only render him “as master and possessor” of nature: render him as-divine within the limits assigned to science and to the human by the order inherent in the cosmos, an order to which human submission is necessary condition for the liberation (to the extent possible) of his own creative and exploitative powers.

A scientific statement is never objectively certain nor a strict description of the sensible datum; but is instead a conjectured, corroborated statement. Precisely, what defines a scientific statement is not its object—but the fact it is conjectured, corroborated, and the way it is conjectured, corroborated (namely that is panoramically conjectured, corroborated). A claim or concept is conjectured when it is guessed from something which objectively doesn’t prove it.

A claim or concept conjectured at an empirical level (what is tantamount to saying: a claim or concept conjectured in an empirical sense) means a claim or concept conjectured from sensible experience; just like a claim or concept conjectured in a panoramic sense (what is tantamount to saying: a claim or concept conjectured at a panoramic level) means a claim or concept conjectured as much from sensible experience as from some logical laws as from hypothetical sensible impression (i.e., from sensible impression perhaps) as from hypothetical suprasensible impression (i.e., from suprasensible impression perhaps) as from hypothetical conjectures from sensible experience as from hypothetical ones from sensible impression (i.e., from ones perhaps from sensible impression) as from hypothetical ones from suprasensible impression as from hypothetical ones from hypothetical other conjectures from sensible experience, hypothetical other ones from some logical laws, hypothetical other ones from suprasensible impression, and hypothetical other ones from sensible impression, whether those hypothetical other conjectures are one’s conjectures or borrowed to someone else.

A claim or concept is corroborated when it is backed in a way that (objectively) doesn’t confirm it nonetheless. Corroboration at an empirical level (what is tantamount to saying: corroboration in an empirical sense) for a concept or claim means its corroboration through sensible experience; just like corroboration in a panoramic sense (what is tantamount to saying: corroboration at a panoramic level) for a concept or claim means its corroboration as much through sensible experience as through some logical laws as through hypothetical sensible impression (i.e., through sensible impression perhaps) as through hypothetical suprasensible impression (i.e., through suprasensible impression perhaps) as through hypothetical conjectures from sensible experience as through hypothetical ones from sensible impression (i.e., through ones perhaps from sensible impression) as through hypothetical ones from suprasensible impression as through hypothetical ones from hypothetical other conjectures from sensible experience, hypothetical other ones from some logical laws, hypothetical other ones from suprasensible impression, and hypothetical other ones from sensible impression, whether those hypothetical other conjectures are one’s conjectures or borrowed to someone else.

The logical laws used, trusted, in one’s mind are completely interdependent with the universe such as empirically conjectured in one’s mind or represented in one’s sensible impression, such as represented in one’s hypothetical suprasensible impression, such as conjectured from one’s logical laws, and such as represented in one’s hypothetical conjecturing from one’s sensible experience, in one’s hypothetical conjecturing from one’s (hypothetical) sensible impressions, in one’s hypothetical conjecturing from one’s (hypothetical) suprasensible impressions, and in one’s hypothetical conjecturing from hypothetical other conjectures from sensible experience and from hypothetical other ones from suprasensible impression and from hypothetical other ones from sensible impression (whether those hypothetical other conjectures are one’s conjectures or borrowed to someone else).

The scientific claims and concepts (what is tantamount to saying: the scientific theories and concepts) sometimes think of themselves as being conjectured only from the sensible datum and corroborated only from the latter; but they’re actually claims and concepts panoramically conjectured (including from the sensible datum) and panoramically corroborated (including from the sensible datum). As for the metaphysical claims and concepts, they’re neither systemically conjectured in a panoramic mode nor systemically corroborated in a panoramic mode; but, when they’re empirically corroborated, they’re also panoramically corroborated (and panoramically conjectured).

Any scientific claim or concept is panoramically conjectured, corroborated; but not any panoramically conjectured, corroborated, claim or concept is scientific. A scientific claim or concept is a modality of a panoramically conjectured, corroborated, claim or concept that not only allows for not-trivial quantitative positive predictions expected to be repeatedly verified under the repetition of some specific circumstances; but sees itself doomed to get empirically disproved in the hypothetical case where all or part of those predictions would be empirically refuted at some point.

From White And Black Magic To White And Black Technique

Technique is here taken in the sense of any apparatus intended to increase the human’s transformative or exploitive powers—whether it is through extending, sophisticating the social division of labor or through devising, deploying new technologies or through organizing society in a certain way aimed at increasing said powers. Most opponents to technique claim that they have something only against preferring technique over meditation on the Being, i.e., meditation on the mystery of the existence of things; or that they have something only against after preferring technique over the moderation of sensitive, material appetites, or over “heroism” understood as the capacity to die for one’s community or for something greater than oneself. Precisely, an error on their part lies in their more or less implicit assertion that a high level of technical development (i.e., a high level of development in all or part of the aforementioned modalities of technique) is necessarily incompatible with the meditation on the Being, the mastery of the sensitive, material appetites, or the sense of self-sacrifice—as if there were a choice to do between high technique (i.e., high technical development) and one or the other of those things.

Another error on their part lies in their more or less explicit approach to Being, the glade of existence, as a closed, complete glade, which only asks the human to meditate on the fact that there is something rather than nothing, that there is a glade rather than the night. Actually, the Being is open, incomplete, waiting for the human to pursue what exists prior to the human and to make himself the brush-cutter and arranger of the glade. Technique is no more external to the opening of the human to the Being than a high level of technical development necessarily breaks said opening. Heidegger simply failed to notice that the technique opens us as much to the Being as does meditation of the fact of existence; and that the human fulfills his role of “shepherd of the Being” as much in the astonished consideration of the presence of things as in the cognitive, technical completion of the present things. Meditative astonishment at the mystery of existence is not doomed to disappear as knowledge and technique are boarding (and prolonging) what exists; but its vocation in “the history of the Being” is to stand at the side of technical development as asked by the Being itself.

Two things, at least, should be clarified. Namely that, on the one hand, the axiological, organizational hegemony of the market (which can only be majorly at work, not completely) doesn’t lead to the axiological, organizational promotion (either complete or major) of intemperance in society; and that, on the other hand, not all technique is good technic from the joint angle of the Being, of the divine order, and of the “human dignity.” (What is bad technique from the angle of the Being is also bad technique from those two other angles. Ditto for what is bad technique from the angle of the divine order—and bad technique from the angle of the “human dignity.”)

A society that is strictly industrious in its foundations, i.e., where the industrious activity (instead of the military one) is the dominant activity in the organization and the foundational code of expectations, is not systemically a society that notably values, expects, intemperance and which articulates its industrious activity around it notably. Such society is instead a modality of the industrious society. With regard to the modality where the market is largely liberated and largely hegemonic at the organizational and axiological levels, that hegemony of a largely liberated market not only does not imply that a complete or high intemperance is valued in the foundational expectations or put at the core of social organization; but, besides, is simply incompatible with such an organizational or axiological hegemony of intemperance.

A largely liberated market notably requires (as would be the case of a perfectly liberated market) for its proper functioning the presence of (quantitatively) numerous and profitable outlets, what notably requires the presence of a virtuous circle where high levels of savings obtained notably through high or perfect temperance create—notably through a correct entrepreneurial anticipation of the respective consumption and investment demands—high levels of entrepreneurial and capital income, themselves reinjected in part into savings and in part into consumption. The modality of an industrious society where the market is largely hegemonic at organizational and axiological levels (in other words, the modality of an industrious society that is the majorly bourgeois society) is therefore a modality whose code of expectations condemns the slightest intemperance (instead of encouraging or tolerating it) and whose organization is based on high or full temperance (rather than high or moderate intemperance).

What one may call the Keynesian modality of an industrious society, where the economic system is largely based on economic policy measures whose interference with the market intentionally encourages high levels of consumption (to the detriment of levels of savings which be high or moderate), is actually a modality that axiologically praises high intemperance notably and which notably relies on it in the organization; but that modality, precisely, is neither one where the market is majorly (or completely) liberated nor one where it is majorly (or completely) hegemonic in values.

It is true that a society where the market is majorly hegemonic (both organizationally and axiologically) is a society where the valued, expected code of conduct in the foundations of said society includes—apart from self-sacrifice on the battlefield in intergroup warfare—concern for pursuing as a priority, placing above all else, a perfectly temperate and perfectly responsible subsistence, which be so long as possible and which avoid danger as much as possible; but intemperance, whether high, complete, low, or moderate, is just as incompatible with such code of conduct as (strictly) high or complete temperance is indispensable to the organization of a society where a largely liberated market is largely hegemonic.

Just as the bourgeois code of conduct and indulgence with regard to such-or-such level of intemperance (were it the lowest) are wholly distinct (and even wholly incompatible) things, a (completely) Keynesian market and a widely liberated market are wholly distinct (and even wholly incompatible) things. Just as a largely liberated and largely hegemonic (axiologically and organizationally) market requires quantitatively numerous and profitable outlets for its proper functioning, it requires qualitatively numerous and profitable outlets: in other words, profitable outlets that are “diverse and varied” (rather than homogeneous). It is not only false that a largely liberated and largely hegemonic (axiologically and organizationally) market requires for its proper functioning a (strictly) complete or high intemperance; it is just as much false that a largely liberated and largely hegemonic (axiologically and organizationally) market requires standardized outlets for its proper functioning.

Whatever the level of liberalization of the national or global market, a double cause-and-effect relationship that is at work both in the national and global market is effectively the following. Namely that the more the profitable outlets are qualitatively numerous (i.e., diversified at the level of their respective attributes), the more they are quantitatively numerous; the less they are qualitatively numerous, the less they are quantitatively numerous. The highly standardized character of goods and services in the contemporary global market is precisely a dysfunctional pattern in the globalized market; and that dysfunctional motive is itself the consequence of the fact that, however globalized it may be, the globalized market is largely hampered juridically—and hampered for the benefit of a narrow number of companies and banks enjoying fiscal and legal advantages that are such that those companies and banks are largely sheltered from competition. Both at the national-market level and at the global-market level: the more competition is juridically locked, the less the profitable outlets are qualitatively, quantitatively numerous; the less it is, the more they are.

Just like a society that majorly prefers technique over exploit, i.e., which majorly disdains exploit for the benefit of technique, is majorly detrimental to the human’s elevation towards the superhuman, a society that completely prefers technique over exploit (as is the case of a majorly bourgeois society—and as would be the case of a completely bourgeois chimerical society) is completely detrimental to the human’s elevation towards the superhuman. Technique is not more to be preferred (completely or majorly) over exploit than the latter is to be preferred (completely or majorly) over the former. Both are compatible and should go hand in hand (as is the case in some modalities of a society completely warlike foundationally). Yet the opponents to technique err not only in their amalgamating disdain for heroism with disdain for temperance; but in their understanding heroism as a conduct incompatible with (high) technique—and as a conduct turned towards self-erasure and self-sacrifice through anonymous death (even while heroism is really about self-singularization and self-immortalization through exploit such as defined above).

What’s more, they fail to notice that the problem with technique is not only to be aware not to prefer technique over that to which it should remain not-preferred; but to be aware not to indulge into what can be called black technique or bad technique (in comparison with that kind of magic that can be called black or bad). Precisely, the distinction that Pico della Mirandola takes up (and clarifies) between two kinds of magic, the one which “entirely falls within the action and authority of demons” and the one which instead consists of “the perfect fulfillment of natural philosophy,” must extend to technique. Namely that, while the good, white technique is the one which is only the crowning of the natural order, the completion of the Being, the bad, black technique is the one which (were it unwittingly) works to transgress the natural order, subvert the Being. The former contributes to fulfilling the human as a being-as-divine, but the latter, working (were it unwittingly) to render the human divine, contributes to corrupting him and handing him over to the demons. The former really institutes the human as a fortunate co-creator alongside the divine, but the latter, indulging in the chimerical project of escaping the cosmic order and equaling the divine, only makes to condemn the human and his work to misfortune.

Just as bad magic, to quote Pico, is, rightly, “condemned and cursed not only by the Christian religion [of the type of Catholicism of Pico’s time], but by all laws, by every well ordered state,” the bad technique must be legally, politically, religiously condemned unambiguously. The transhumanist, so to speak, must be led to the stake just like the Keynesian. From engineering on the genome of embryos to those neuro-robotic implants undermining free will, from genetic planning to any coercive, negative, or engineering state-eugenics measure, from economic planning to any economic-policy measure undermining such things as inheritance, free competition, saving, or the freedom itself to do saving, demonic-type technique must be banned in its entirety; but good technique, the one which elevates us towards God and the superhuman, must be authorized.


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website: gregoirecanlorbe.com.


The featured image shows, “Herod’s Banquet,” by Filippo Lippi; painted ca. 1452 and 1465.

The Natural Law, Impossibility Of Planned Eugenics, And The Chaos Of Transhumanism

We intend to develop here two reasons why a genetically or economically planned human society, which ignores both social inequality and intragroup competition, whether peaceful or coercive, is, in fact, intensely disadvantaged in its self-preservation, even doomed to failure. On the one hand, the projected success of a future sexuated individual in reproducing (and living long enough, and well enough, to become a mature, vigorous sexual reproducer), in the framework of a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction, can neither be measured nor be existing in the absence of decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities. And that, just as the rentability of a future allocation of capital goods can be neither measured nor even projected, in the absence of capital goods subject to the market price and to the right of private property.

To put it in another way, the calculation of the “fitness” of a future sexuated individual is not more possible to a eugenics planning body than the calculation of the economic rentability of a future allocation of capital is possible to an economic planning body. The implementation of a functional order in human society necessarily passes through the acceptance of these two cosmic laws that are the respective impossibilities of a (centrally) planned eugenics and of a (centrally) planned economy. On the other hand, there are at least two other cosmic laws whose acceptance is necessarily required for a functional social order in the human species: namely the fact that physical-mental inequality necessarily characterizes a sexually reproducing species; and the fact that decentralized intragroup competition for preeminence, survival, and reproduction is indispensable for the success of a group of vertebrates in intergroup competition for survival and preeminence.

A Word On State Eugenics

Before we get to the heart of the matter, it is useful that we proceed with some conceptual clarifications on state eugenics, which admits a positive modality (i.e., dedicated to promoting, or requiring the transmission of, traits considered positive) and a negative modality (i.e., dedicated to disadvantaging or prohibiting the transmission of traits considered negative).

The goal of state eugenics, either positive or negative, is not only to reach a population carrying exclusively the traits that it considers positive (or to come as close as possible to it); but to ensure that the members of the population in question are virtually capable of winning individually in a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction (that nevertheless corresponds to the socio-natural environment of said population), or of compromising their own individual survival and reproduction in the reproductive interest of the population (taken as a whole).

By “planner-type state eugenics” or “planning-type state eugenics,” we mean state eugenics that enjoys ownership of individual genetic capital, and which decides who has the right to reproduce and who should reproduce with whom. We will call “state eugenics of the semi-planner type” (or “state eugenics of the semi-planning type”) state eugenics that shows itself to be planning, either in the sole field of positive eugenics, or in the sole field of negative eugenics, but not in both fields. To our knowledge, whereas planner-type (rather than semi-planner type) state eugenics has been found only in fiction, semi-planner (rather than planner) state eugenics has genuinely existed: in England, America, Germany, and elsewhere. It continues to exist at least in China, where the communist administration, notably, renders the authorization for those couples deemed dysgenic to marry conditional on permanent contraception.

By “incentive-type state eugenics,” we mean state eugenics that uses incentives (fiscal, for example), but leaves mating decisions to be carried out in a decentralized mode, thus recognizing the authority of the family’s patriarch (over the mating of his offspring) or the freedom of individuals in the choice of their mating partners. To our knowledge, the actually implemented state eugenics of the semi-planner type have classically been (and, as in contemporary China, continue to be classically) state eugenics that, while showing themselves to be notably planning (and not only inciting) in the field of negative eugenics, prove to be only inciting (rather than planning) in the field of positive eugenics.

Without establishing the state as the owner of individual genetic capital, a semi-planner-type state eugenics exercises a planning confined, either to the positive field of eugenics, or to the negative field. A state eugenics of the semi-planner type allows that, as far as strictly concerns a given field of eugenics, either the positive or the negative field, decentralized decisions are taken in the allocation of individual genetic capital towards reproductive sexual unions, decisions that he will potentially undertakes to influence (via non-coercive incentives).

When it comes to following a criterion in its planning of reproductions, a planning-type eugenist state has no other possible choice than to take as the criterion of its decision to order or prohibit a certain reproductive union the reproductive success that the offspring that would result from that reproductive union under the planning eugenist state (if the latter were actually ordered by the planning eugenist state and carried out) would reach in a decentralized competition for survival and reproduction (if the offspring in question were founding itself participating in such a competition instead of finding itself under the supervision of a planning eugenist state).

For the reason that a (centralized) planning of reproductions is necessarily deprived of a criterion for centralized planning (i.e., a criterion for the centralized selection of those reproductions required, and therefore, authorized) that it can find in itself, which is therefore not borrowed from its representation of the individual planning of an organism meeting decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction and wanting the best “fitness” for its offspring, a planning eugenist state (what amounts to speaking of a genetically planning state) is necessarily incapable of taking a criterion for selecting ordered (and therefore, authorized) reproductions other than the representation of the reproductive success that the offspring of a hypothetical ordered reproductive union would achieve in the presence of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction.

By “entrepreneurial economy” or “decentralized entrepreneurial economy,” we mean an economy where the allocation of capital takes place in the context of capital goods subject to private property rights (and to free entrepreneurial competition for monetary profit) rather than in the context of the absence of property rights over capital goods or in the context of central planning by a state that owns capital goods.

By “decentralized competition for survival and reproduction,” we mean an (individual) competition for survival and reproduction in the presence of the formal possibility of everyone to take part in said competition and in the context of decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities (rather than centralized due to central planning by a state that owns the genetic capital replacing any sexual opportunity for decentralized reproduction).

Just as a planning eugenist state aspires to do as well (or aspires to do better) in terms of “fitness” as decentralized competition for survival and reproduction would, so a state planning the economy aspires to do as well (or aspires to do better) in terms of economic rentability as decentralized entrepreneurial competition would do. Because those two types of central planning are both incapable of planning action, both are doomed to failure in their respective ambitions.

The “fitness” of an individual designates his success in generating an offspring qualitative (i.e., itself happy in said reproductive success) and numerous in the context of a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction, therefore in the presence of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction (what nevertheless includes the scenario where there is only one fertile sexual partner for all individuals of the opposite sex, a scenario comparable to the “natural monopoly” in an economy). Just as the market prices of capital goods can no more exist outside a market for capital goods than the rentability of a certain allocation of capital can be calculated in the absence of market prices, decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities can no more exist outside a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction than an individual’s “fitness” can exist (and can be calculated) in the absence of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction.

Just as a state planning the economy intends to dispense with the existence of a market for capital goods in its projection or verification of the rentability of the allocated capital, a state planning eugenics intends to dispense with the existence of a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction in its projection or verification of the “fitness” of an individual, i.e., the success an individual, if he were in a context of decentralized struggle (for survival and reproduction), would reach in the begetting of a numerous and qualitative descent. Whereas the “fitness” of the individual to be born of the allocation of a certain genetic capital (towards a certain reproductive union) is irremediably prevented (and not only rendered non-measurable and non-plannable) by the absence of decentralized reproductive sexual opportunities under a state planning eugenics, the economic capital allocated by a state planning economy remains allocated profitably or not; but the rentability in question is irremediably rendered non-measurable (and, in that regard, rendered non-plannable) by the absence of market prices for capital goods.

The fact that a state planning eugenics is necessarily incapable of forming an idea of “fitness” (since the decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction are necessarily absent under a state planning eugenics) will not be without incidence on the genetic quality of the engendered population in terms of the ability to live long enough (and healthy enough) to become a mature (and vigorous) reproductive breeder. As the central planning of the allocation of genetic capital to reproductive sexual unions, because of its necessarily erratic character, will generate individuals who would be less and less able to prevail in a decentralized competition for survival and reproduction (corresponding to the socio-natural environment of the concerned population), it will engender individuals who—in the concrete context of planned eugenics—will be less and less able to become vigorous and attractive sexual reproducers or to live long enough to reach sexual maturity.

From Gnosticism To Transhumanism

In the weak sense, transhumanism covers any doctrine that promotes the “overcoming” of homo sapiens via genetic engineering and bio-robotic engineering (including the implantation of electronic devices in the human brain, what one may call “neuro-robotic engineering” or “the neuro-robotic compartment of bio-robotic engineering”). In the strong sense, transhumanism covers any doctrine that promotes the instinctual, mental emasculation of homo sapiens, and its genetic homogenization (in terms of IQ and physical aptitude), via eugenics and the aforementioned genetic and bio-robotic engineerings—and that, for the purpose of obtaining an allegedly pain-free human existence. By the project of homo sapiens’s instinctual emasculation, we mean the project (dear to transhumanists in the strong sense) of reconfiguring human instincts in such a way that the virile mind (i.e., independent and capable of criticism and dissent) and the virile instincts of territoriality, independent thought, war, selfishness, the enjoyment of luxury and of sexual pleasure, the taste for power and for competition, or the desire to distinguish oneself, are eradicated from the psyche human.

To do that, transhumanists advocate, if not planning-type state eugenics, at least eugenics and genetic and bio-robotics engineerings. A transhumanist ideal in the strong sense is not necessarily an ideal in favor of planning state eugenics or even an ideal in favor of state eugenics as such: in other words, the transhumanism in the strong sense adopting state eugenics (either of the planning type or not) is only a modality of transhumanism in the strong sense. But whether it adopts state eugenics or not, transhumanism in the strong sense is doomed to engender a dysfunctional society for the reason that such a society would collide with the cosmic order. Strong transhumanism, and even weak transhumanism, is nothing else than a revolt against the cosmic order: a revolt all the more pronounced in the case of strong transhumanism. In the following lines, we will above deal with transhumanism in the strong sense and use the term “transhumanism” in its strong sense exclusively.

The project of “overcoming” homo sapiens via both genetic and bio-robotic (including neuro-robotic) engineering necessarily succumbs to what Friedrich A. von Hayek called the “fatal conceit” of omniscience, i.e., the conceit that genetic and neuro-robotic engineering is able to understand and predict a phenomenon that, in reality, is irremediably beyond human understanding as it is made (and positioned) in the cosmic order. As for the modality of neuro-robotic engineering that consists of implanting behavior-regulating chips in the human brain, it is needless to specify that it falls within the “road to serfdom.”

To that cognitive hybris with regard to the cosmos is necessarily added a conceit of omnipotence when the “overcoming” of homo sapiens in question consists more precisely of replacing the human being as he stems from decentralized and spontaneous biological evolution with a “new man” as much emasculated in his instincts and behavior as undifferentiated genetically, socially, and physically-mentally. Here, the cosmos is definitely seen both as totally disorganized and as infinitely shapeable: a clay that is both chaotic and malleable at will.

To put it in another way, transhumanism, while denying that there is a certain order in the universe (and a harmony within which humans must find their place), affirms that homo sapiens is able to provide the universe with the order which it supposedly lacks; and, while denying that human existence has any meaning within the universe, asserts that homo sapiens is able (and has) to “overcome” himself—via eugenics and via genetic and bio-robotic engineering—and to become a being no less omnipotent (and omniscient) with regard to the cosmos than “freed” from his virile instincts and from genetic inequality. In that regard, transhumanism comes as a secularized outgrowth of Gnosticism, an outgrowth where rebellion against an evil demiurge turns into rebellion against a vain and chaotic universe; and where the “liberation” from the divine sparks that are human souls with regard to the prison of material bodies, accomplished through knowledge, magic, and the rejection of Yahweh’s commandments, turns into “liberation” (via knowledge, technology, and eugenics) both of human biological nature with regard to the instincts, aptitudes, and inequalities of homo sapiens and of the creative powers of the human with regard to the limits assigned to them by his biological condition.

It is worth specifying that Gnosticism is only a part of the larger current of Judeo-Hellenic esotericism that fermented in Alexandria before continuing notably in the Kabbalah, a current that a certain literature hostile to Judaism believes it can amalgamate in its entirety, wrongly, with the only Gnostic modality. Contrary to what some of those studying the distant esoteric roots of contemporary transhumanism claim, Gnosticism and transhumanism stand in stark contrast to the Old Testament’s (and by extension, Talmudic and Kabbalistic) conception of the human being and the role that he is in a position to play in the cosmos.

In the mindset of the Old Testament, it is true that the human is seen as commissioned by God to co-create the cosmos; but precisely, the mandate of creation that is in question here consists, not of destroying and replacing the work of God (including human nature as God designed it), but of completing and sustaining the cosmos that God has created and delivered to humans. Hence the metaphor of the Garden of Eden that expresses the role of gardener of the cosmos devolved to humans: the role of preserving and crowning divine creation. Here, the human is certainly made in the image of God, or even directly linked to God; but precisely, far from the human being divine or called to render himself divine, he finds himself only in a relationship of (virtual) resemblance to God, a resemblance that he is called to concretize through submitting nature to himself (in the understanding nevertheless of the divine wisdom inherent in the arrangement of creation) and through submitting to the commandments of God: commandments which aim to enable man to discipline his instincts and, in that regard, to accomplish what renders him virtually made in the image of God and virtually capable of co-creating and exploiting the cosmos.

That conception of the way in which humans can and must behave with regard to nature contrasts just as much with the sacralization of nature (prohibiting its lesser exploitation by humans) constitutive of certain paganisms as with the condemnation of nature (and its perception as an enemy to be eradicated) constitutive of transhumanism. It is notably perpetuated into well-understood traditional Catholicism, namely the Catholicism of the papal reform of the 11th century, and into American-Protestantism. A secularized echo of that is the notion that man, if he intends to submit to nature to the extent possible, is forced himself to submit to nature and to the knowledge of nature. That echo does not only suggest what is possibly the symbolic meaning of the biblical text; it expresses what is a completely “scientific” appreciation both of the way in which the human is inscribed in the cosmos and of the degree to which the human can render himself creator and dominator and of the conditions under which that is possible to him.

Far from order being unknown to cosmic and biological evolution (such as conjectured the “theory of evolution” in a corroborated mode), a certain order governs inter-particle relations just as much as, to quote Robert Ardrey, “the movement of stars within galaxies, galaxies in their relations with others,” “the orbits of planets about their sun, moons about their planet,” and the “transactions of animals.” Neither the random nature of genetic mutations, nor the undesigned character of evolution, change anything to the facts “that animal treaties are honored; that baboons do not commit suicide in wars of troop against troop; that kittiwakes successfully defend their cliff-hung properties and raise their young; that lions and elephants restrict their numbers so that a habitat will not be exhausted by too numerous offspring,” or, finally, “that when species can no longer meet the challenge of environment, they must quietly expire.”

It is true that there are some doctrinal defenses of transhumanism that, instead of denying the order present in the nature, fully recognize the existence of said order, and even conceive of evolution as a designed process and the cosmos as organized on purpose. But precisely, those are inconsistent theoretical devices that, instead of drawing from the existence of the natural order the necessary implication, namely that the submission to the natural order limits and conditions the liberation of the creative and exploiting powers of humans, see homo sapiens as a virtually omnipotent being who will be able (with technical progress) to substitute for the natural order and the present version of the human species a new cosmos and a “new man.”

In that regard, the expectation of the “Singularity” (i.e., the day when artificial intelligence will allegedly overtake human intelligence and will henceforth be able to self-maintain and self-improve) in certain modalities of transhumanist faith comes as a twisted and secularized millennialist pattern, the expectation of the biological homogenization of humans and of their instinctual cyborgization and reprogramming when the era of the Singularity comes superseding the expectation of communist equality and of the mental regeneration of humans in the abundance of “grace” when the millennial era preceding the “last judgment” comes.

The natural impossibility of planning in eugenics is nevertheless a disappointment for the hopes of the type of transhumanism that favors planned eugenics. The natural impossibility of genetic equality (in a sexually reproducing species) and the natural indispensability (to the functionality of a vertebrate-society) of decentralized intragroup competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence are so many disappointments for the hopes of transhumanism generally speaking, which falls within what Ardrey, without thinking of transhumanism (to our knowledge), called the “philosophy of the impossible.” Namely that, in defiance of properly understood science, “we have pursued the mastery of nature as if we ourselves were not a portion of that nature;” as if nature were not our “partner” (rather than our “slave”) and the “laws applying to us” were not “applying to all.”

An ambiguous notion, “natural law” can designate, among other things, an allegedly objective categorical injunction (such as the injunction “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife nor his servant”); a necessary regularity in the cosmic order; a categorical injunction allegedly objective and allegedly inferred from human nature (as the principle of non-aggression allegedly is); a functional and universal human rule of law; or a functional human rule of law rendered functional by its formulation and implementation of all or part of the implications of a certain cosmic regularity for the functionality of human society.

In the present article, we will call “natural law” a certain necessary regularity of the cosmic order that, on the one hand, renders functional a certain rule of human law formulating and implementing all or part of what that factual regularity implies in order for human society to be functional; which, on the other hand, renders dysfunctional any rule of law undertaking to transgress all or part of the implications of that factual regularity for a properly functional human society.

Any functional human rule of law is functional in that it contributes, if not to the preeminence of the group, at least to its survival (in specifying that preeminence is an asset for survival). Any functional human rule of law does not derive its functionality from the fact it formulates and implements an implication of a cosmic regularity; but any human rule of law that (like the collective ownership of economic or genetic capital) undertakes to get rid of a certain implication by a certain cosmic regularity is ipso facto rendered dysfunctional.

Precisely, the necessity of the calculation (of monetary profit or of profit in terms of “fitness”) for planning action in economy or in eugenics is one of the “natural laws” (in the aforementioned sense) that jointly render dysfunctional the legal basis of decentralized entrepreneurial competition and the legal basis of decentralized organismic competition for survival and reproduction; and jointly render dysfunctional the collective ownership of capital goods and the collective ownership of genetic capital.

Just as economic planning is in rebellion against the natural law of the need for anticipated market prices in the elaboration of economic plans (what may also be called “the law of the impossibility of planning (centrally) an economy”), planning in eugenics—and, in that regard, transhumanism of the type turned towards planned eugenics—are in rebellion against the natural law of the need for anticipated sexual reproductive opportunities in the elaboration of anticipations on the “fitness” of a projected newborn (what may also be called “the law of the impossibility of planning (centrally) eugenics”). Whether or not it is of a type supporting planned eugenics, transhumanism is also in rebellion against at least two other natural laws.

Although Robert Ardrey sometimes lacked clarity as to the meaning in which he spoke of “natural law,” and although he did not tackle (to our knowledge) the theme of transhumanism, we owe him in The Social Contract the identification of those two other natural laws against which transhumanism rebels (in vain): namely “the law of inequality” in species with sexual reproduction; and “the law of equal opportunity” in vertebrate species. The law of inequality is the law that genetic inequality, and therefore physical-mental inequality, is inevitable in a sexually reproducing species. For its part, the law of equal opportunity is the law that the equal opportunity of the members of a vertebrate society to take part in the “disorder” of the decentralized intragroup competition to survive, reproduce, and occupy a high position in the “pecking order” is an indispensable instrument for sorting out and making good use of individual aptitudes for the success of a group of vertebrates to perpetuate itself.

By “decentralized intragroup competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence,” we mean an intragroup competition (peaceful or coercive) for survival, reproduction, and preeminence that is formally open to everyone in society; and which operates in the company of unhindered social inequalities (including innate ones), in the context of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction, and in the presence of a hierarchical order formally open to social mobility and to the recomposition of elites. In view of those two natural laws that are the law of inequality and the law of equal opportunity, a human social order that hinders or ignores any social inequality (including hierarchical) will be rendered not less dysfunctional than a human social order that hinders or ignores any formal system of intragroup decentralized competition (including decentralized competition for preeminence).

A transhumanist social order, i.e., repressing just as well any genetic inequality (in addition to any social inequality) as any genetic existence of a virile instinct (in addition to any social existence of decentralized intragroup competition), will be rendered all the more dysfunctional. Besides, whether the planning of reproductions consists of planning acts of carnal mating between individuals or of planning in vitro fertilization, a transhumanist social order of the planning type (i.e., of the type in favor of planned eugenics) will be rendered dysfunctional as much by its attempt to transgress the natural laws of identity and equal opportunity as by its attempt to transgress the natural law of the impossibility of planned eugenics.

On that subject, the society depicted in Brave New World comes as a borderline case of a transhumanist society of the planning type, in which genetic inequality is accepted (albeit planned) and in which instinctual emasculation remains incomplete (albeit largely advanced), with notably the quest for sexual pleasure persisting in society. The fact remains that, precisely, genetic reproductions and inequalities are planned there (and that, without the novel portraying the nonetheless erratic character of genetic planning, which is necessarily incapable of planning); and that intellective emasculation (i.e., the suppression of any mental capacity to think in a virile, therefore independent and critical, mode) is complete there, with no human stemming from planned eugenics in the depicted society proving able to think for himself.

What dismays the transhumanist with genetic inequality (and, by extension, social inequality) and intragroup or intergroup competition (and the instincts associated with it) is fundamentally that those things create “suffering,” “wickedness,” “violence,” and “tearing” in the world. When it comes more precisely to intergroup warfare or the decentralized intragroup competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence, another reason for dismay in the transhumanist, not less fundamental, is that the disorder associated with it is thought to be an outright aberration, a horror that should be replaced with a total order.

To the indispensability of economic and juridico-political inequalities (including those attached to birth) for a functional human society responds, however, the not less indispensable character of the disorder linked to an “equal opportunity” offered to all members of society. But “the equal opportunity” whose implementation is in question here (if one wants human society to be functional) does not reside in the equality of formal or material starting conditions, what would contravene the aforementioned principle to allow all inequalities to flourish, including those associated with birth. “The equal opportunity” that is in question here consists of a formal equal opportunity to take part in a decentralized intragroup competition for survival and reproduction, as well as for the escalation of the group’s hierarchical order and the occupation of a high position within said hierarchical order.

That struggle for preeminence takes the form of what biologist Vero Copner Wynne-Edwards described as a “struggle for conventional prices by conventional means.” A fact which (to our knowledge) was not raised more in Mises than in Ardrey or Wynne-Edwards, the entrepreneurial competition for monetary profit only makes to deploy (in the economic field) the competition for “conventional prices” (in that case, monetary profit) by “conventional means” (in that case, the allocation of economic capital) that is at work in any functional vertebrates society, the losers in entrepreneurial competition (i.e., those entrepreneurs who are most mistaken or are the latest in the allocation of capital in anticipation of changes in investment or consumption demand) seeing themselves constrained to a low or negative income (and, in that regard, a inferior social position) just as the losers in the struggle for preeminence are relegated to a lower social rung generally speaking.

Ultimately, what renders free entrepreneurship functional (in terms of the group’s success in sustaining itself and in facing the challenges met by its survival, including the challenge of preeminence) is notably that such social institution accords with the three natural laws that are the law of inequality (in the sense that entrepreneurial income inequalities germinate from genetic inequalities without paralleling them), the law of equal opportunity (in the sense that entrepreneurial freedom offers everyone an equal formal opportunity to take a chance as an entrepreneur), and the law of the impossible central planning in economy (in the sense that entrepreneurial plans are exercised in place of a central planning body, which would be precisely incapable of planning). To put it in another way, what renders entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial freedom beneficial to the group is notably the fact that they fit into harmony with the cosmic order.

The Impossibility Of Planned Eugenics: A Neo-Misesian Argument

Ludwig von Mises defended freedom (including entrepreneurial) at a time when the academic consensus was that the central planning of an economy works, as well as a semi-planning state eugenics of the sterilizing type and of the transhumanist type (although the term “transhumanism” would only be forged in the 1950s, by a Julien Huxley approving the totalitarian world prophesied and denounced by his own brother Aldous). The officials of the Communist Party of China, as well as the men of the superclass, are both counting on the renewal of such consensus. In addition to his convincing demonstration of the impossibility of economic calculation for a planning committee, Mises had some very appropriate remarks on state eugenics of the planning or semi-planning type: namely that the latter, as Mises writes in his epilogue to Socialism, “aims at placing some men, backed by the police power, in complete control of human reproduction;” and that “as every supporter of economic planning aims at the execution of his own plan only, so every advocate of eugenic planning [or semi-planning] aims at the execution of his own plan and wants himself to act as the breeder of human stock,” the criteria retained to judge the physical or psychological traits that deserve to be preserved varying from one eugenics plan to another.

It is nevertheless regrettable that Mises did not distinguish between state eugenics of the planning (or semi-planning) type and state eugenics of the inciting type, implicitly reducing any state eugenics measure to a eugenics of the planned or semi-planned type in his references to “eugenics.” It is not less regrettable that he did not point out that the variance of the criteria retained in state eugenics devices to judge the traits worthy of being transmitted was, in part, due to the own variance of the criteria for social selection of surviving individuals (as opposed to those of selection criteria for individual survivals that relate to the natural and climatic environment), which vary according to society (as the natural selection criteria of those who will survive long enough to achieve sexual maturity vary depending on the natural environment).

Also and above all, Mises did not notice (or did not come across as noticing) that his argument in favor of the impossibility of economic planning (i.e., the central planning of the allocation of economic capital to the branches of activity, within the framework of the collective ownership of said economic capital) was transposable to genetic planning (i.e., the central planning of the allocation of genetic capital to reproductive sexual unions, within the framework of the collective ownership of genetic capital ). A planning eugenic state is certainly able to get an idea of the success of a hypothetical future newborn in reaching sexual maturity and vigor in the joint framework of its social selective environment and of its natural selective environment. It remains incapable as much of giving oneself a criterion for selecting the required (and therefore, authorized) reproductions other than the “fitness” of the offspring associated with them (i.e., the degree to which the offspring associated with them would be able to engender numerous and qualitative offspring if it were placed in the context of a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction) as of getting an idea of said “fitness” in the absence of anticipated sexual opportunities of reproduction.

Under a state planning eugenics, when an individual organism was just born and would be (in all the probable life scenarios) incapable of encountering a decentralized sexual opportunity of reproduction (within the framework of a decentralized competition for survival and reproduction corresponding to the socio-natural environment of said individual organism), seized or not, it is probable that the same organism will fail (even if the planning eugenist state leaves it in peace) to reach sexual maturity or to become a vigorous, attractive sexual reproducer. A state “planning” eugenics is, in fact, necessarily incapable of planning (and, in that regard, necessarily erratic), from which it follows that it will obtain organisms whose “fitness” would be weaker and weaker—and, in that regard, a population who, in the concrete context of planned eugenics, will be less and less qualified for sexual attractiveness and vigor or less and less likely to reach sexual maturity.

One easily imagines a defender of planned eugenics retorting that a planning eugenist state may well be incapable of planning, but that all that matters is the success of said state in ensuring that all or part of its population reproduce and that the physical-mental traits that it values are thus transmitted. Yet, the fact is that the only objective criterion for establishing the biological success of an individual organism is that said organism, if it were confronted with a decentralized competition for survival and reproduction corresponding to its own socio-natural environment, would achieve individual reproductive success in at least one probable life scenario (or, in at least one probable life scenario, would contribute to the group’s reproductive success through spontaneous sacrifice). Because over time, the probability necessarily increases that the majority of the individual organisms to be derived from planned eugenics are objective biological failure (due to the fact that the calculation of the “fitness” of a future individual organism is irremediably impossible for the planner), the planning eugenist state is doomed to reach less and less success in producing individual organisms which, in the concrete context of planned eugenics, live long enough to transmit the physical-mental traits that the planning eugenist state values. At least, the ones of those valued traits that are the rarest and most sophisticated. That fatality is comparable to that of shortages and waste in a planned economy, where collective ownership of capital renders economic calculation impossible.

Although Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich A. von Hayek agree to consider the existence of a market for capital goods as a very useful assistant (and in the strict case of Mises: even a necessary condition) of the calculation of the rentability of decisions in the allocation of capital, their respective arguments in favor of such conclusion diverge significantly. Whereas Hayek asserts that in the absence of present market prices for capital goods, the information present on the economic conditions (i.e., demographics, technology, consumer and investor priorities, etc.) of the moment find themselves difficultly communicable to a planning committee trying to calculate the rentability of a certain allocation decision, Mises argues that in the absence of a capital market, a planning committee—regardless of the accuracy of its knowledge of present economic conditions or the accuracy of its anticipation of future economic conditions—finds itself necessarily deprived of an indispensable tool for economic calculation.

In the Misesian approach to economic calculation, those of the market prices that are properly required for economic calculation constitute future market prices (rather than present market prices); and economic calculation is based on the uncertain anticipation of said future market prices (rather than on the certainty of current market prices). But even in the case where a planning committee would enjoy complete omniscience as to present economic conditions and perfect accuracy in its anticipation of future economic conditions, he would remain incapable of calculating the rentability of an allocation decision. In the Hayekian approach to economic calculation, a planning committee would be quite able to practice economic calculation in the presence of perfect omniscience as to the current economic conditions (and that, despite the uncertainty weighing on future economic conditions).

Mises’ argument against the possibility of economic calculation under a central planning regime goes even further and affirms the praxeological rather than cognitive origin of the impossibility of economic calculation for a planning committee—namely that the latter, even in the presence of perfect omniscience about the present and of a perfectly correct anticipation about the future, would remain deprived of an instrument indispensable to the type of action that is economic calculation. In other words, market prices as Mises sees them, present or future, do much more than communicate a certain information: they render said information usable for economic calculation, while a planning committee is necessarily incapable of integrating into an economic calculation the information he has about the present or the forecasts he makes about the future (however perfect they are). Besides, those of market prices that are important for the economic calculation as conceived by Mises are the future market prices, the entrepreneurial task including the anticipation of the latter and the allocation of capital on the basis of said anticipation.

For our part, we are of the opinion that in the presence of perfect omniscience about the present economic conditions, the economic calculation would certainly be dispensable to a planning committee in the strict case of a static economy, where the committee’s blind “groping” would allow it in the long run to determine the correct allocation of capital; but that economic calculation, even in that scenario of a static, perfectly known economy, would still remain impossible. When it comes to planning in a dynamic economy, economic calculation is indeed indispensable for the committee—even in the case where the committee has perfect information about the present conditions and an exact anticipation of future conditions.

In the absence of a capital market, economic calculation is not less impossible in the context of a static economy (and that, regardless of the accuracy of the information in the hands of the committee) than in the context of a dynamic economy, and that, regardless of the accuracy of the committee’s knowledge of the present and the accuracy of its anticipation of the future. On the question of economic calculation under a regime of collective ownership of capital, we therefore subscribe to Mises’s argument rather than to Hayek’s one. In the presence of moving economic conditions, a task incumbent on the one who allocates a capital good is to anticipate future changes in economic conditions, changes that are irremediably uncertain. In the absence of ex ante anticipation of future market prices and of ex post verification of those expectations (via the profit experience: positive or negative), it is respectively impossible to adapt ex ante the allocation of capital to the idea that one has of future changes in economic conditions–and impossible to adapt ex post the allocation previously carried out to the actual changes encountered.

The problem for the one who allocates some capital good is not only to be able to (correctly) anticipate the future; it is also to be able to proceed with economic calculation in view of the elaborated expectations (and that, whether the calculation is correct or incorrect), the impossibility of economic calculation applying as much to a planning committee with incorrect forecasts as to a committee with correct forecasts. It is not fortuitous that the joint perception of time as cyclical—and of any technical or economic innovation as a transgression of the cosmic order—has been characteristic of some of the historical societies ignoring, if not the private ownership of capital, at least the use of money. Such “cosmological” beliefs are quite consistent with a static (or relatively frozen) economy.

Through Western Christianity, especially the Catholicism of the papal reform and American-Protestantism, individualist economic law (inherited from Rome) and the Old Testament’s conceptions of time as linear—and of the human as mandated to bring to the world as much technical and economic as cognitive progress (and, in that sense, to co-create divine creation)—played a decisive role in the cultural awareness process through which the West started encouraging and judging possible, even inevitable, economic and technical progress in a capitalist framework. Precisely, a chimaera of the USSR—in congruence with its “cosmological” beliefs of the Marxist-Leninist type, a secularized outgrowth of Christian millenarianism—was to expect to conciliate the establishment of collective ownership of capital with the perpetuation of the economic progress associated with prior capitalist economies.

Like Nazi Germany in its day, there is little doubt that Xi Jinping’s China would like to conciliate, in due time, the central planning of genetic capital with the perpetuation of the biological progress previously associated with the decentralized process of mutation and selection. The implementation of such an enterprise of eugenics planning, under the aegis of a Beijing committee, would be no less erratic than the economic planning of Mao Zedong’s time. Whether it pursues the establishment of a perfect physical-mental homogeneity or remains attached to a certain inequality in that area, whether it is concerned with engendering exclusively servile individuals or intends to engender (also or only) geniuses, therefore independent and creative minds, genetic planning, i.e., the planning of reproductive unions and births, is simply unable to anticipate with certainty the future of genetic conditions. Besides, it is rigorously impossible for its expectations, true or false, to translate into a calculation of “fitness.”

Mises, who in Human Action correctly noted that “men cannot improve the natural and social conditions which bring about the creator and his creation,” but that it is both “impossible to rear geniuses by eugenics, to train them by schooling, or to organize their activities” and possible to “organize society in such a way that no room is left for pioneers and their path-breaking,” nevertheless refrained from investigating the reason why (central) planning in the genetic domain—in other words, state eugenics of the planning type—cannot be able to plan the genetic occurrence of geniuses. At the very least, the genetic occurrence of geniuses who are not objective failures of biological evolution, i.e., are not organisms who, if they were placed under the circumstances of a decentralized struggle (for survival and reproduction) corresponding to their socio-natural environment, would not be up (to survive and reproduce) in any probable life scenario.

The absence of a Misesian argument against the possibility for planning eugenics to plan the genetic occurrence of geniuses who would be up to the task in a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction (or would be so in at least one probable life scenario in the context of said struggle) is all the more regrettable as Mises only had to point out that the impossibility of economic calculation for the economic planner was transposable to the calculation of “fitness” for the eugenics planner.

The anticipation of a profitable market price in monetary terms is to the entrepreneurial allocation of economic capital to a branch of activity what the anticipation of a sexual opportunity reproductive (i.e., engendering offspring), decentralized (i.e., whose establishment is not a matter of central planning, but of the spontaneous interaction between individuals: whether peaceful or coercive), and eugenic (i.e., optimal in terms of the offspring’s genetic quality) is to the organismic allocation of genetic capital towards a sexual union. It is no more possible to calculate the rentability of the projected decisions in allocating the capital in the absence of anticipated market prices than it is to calculate “fitness” (i.e., the rentability in terms of the number of qualitative descendants engendered in a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction) of a projected newborn in the absence of the anticipation of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction.

The evolution of economic conditions (in the context of a dynamic economy) is no less uncertain than the evolution of genetic conditions. Besides, a planning committee, whether it is responsible for planning the allocation of economic capital (to various branches of activity) or the allocation of genetic capital (to various reproductive unions), is doomed to wander in the dark—for lack of being able to take into account anticipated market prices in the calculation of the projected rentability of an economic capital soon allocated to a branch of industry or anticipated decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction in the calculation of the projected “fitness” of the individual who will be born hypothetically from the forthcoming allocation of a genetic capital towards a mating.

Anticipation of future costs and benefits (in terms of rentability) in a programmed allocation of economic capital based on the uncertain present anticipation of future economic data is no less impossible outside of a decentralized, peaceful competition between owners (or borrowers) of productive goods anticipating in monetary terms the expected costs and benefits than the anticipation of future costs and benefits (in terms of reproductive success in a decentralized struggle for life and reproduction) in a programmed allocation of individual genetic capital grounded on the present uncertain anticipation of future genetic data (including future mutations) outside of a decentralized competition—whether peaceful or coercive—between individual organisms anticipating the number of descendants resulting from the seizure of an anticipated sexual opportunity, whether coercive or voluntary.

In society, individual planning in the presence of a peaceful, decentralized economic competition between entrepreneurs anticipating (in a climate of uncertainty) the future monetary prices attached to capital goods subject to private property rights is no less necessary for the establishment of a superior economic scaffolding (in terms of viability and complexity) than individual planning in the presence of a decentralized biological competition (for survival and reproduction), whether peaceful or coercive, between individual organisms anticipating the uncertain future of genetic data (including future genetic mutations) is necessary for the establishment of a superior genetic scaffolding (in terms of viability and complexity).

In genetics as in economics, the decentralized order is more viable and more complex than the planned order, which is doomed to remain rudimentary (at best) by reason of the fact that the action of planning is impossible for a planning central body. What renders economic or genetic planning impossible is not the volume (and the dispersion) of information about the present genetic or economic data: in other words, it is not the fact that said information is too large and too much dispersed in order for it to be communicable to a human brain, or even to a computer, responsible for economic or genetic planning. Nor is it the uncertainty weighing on the future.

Whatever the information (about the present genetic or economic data) in the hands of the planner or of the planning committee; whatever the accuracy of the anticipation (about future genetic or economic data) on the part of the planner or of the committee, planning is irremediably incapable of a planning action (i.e., incapable of determining and handling means for planning purposes)—and that, by reason of the fact that, outside of anticipations of future profits and losses (in monetary terms or in terms of the qualitative descent linked to the seizure of a decentralized sexual opportunity), it is impossible for anyone, even a computer, to calculate “fitness” or economic rentability.

The changes to come in economic conditions are just as uncertain and unpredictable as the genetic mutations in a future newborn. Neither the planning of reproductions, nor intervention on the genome of the embryos, can allow a central planning committee to remedy such uncertainty. But, besides, in order to calculate the “fitness” of a future newborn, the committee would have to come to terms with anticipating the decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction in the future existence of said newborn, which is for it structurally impossible for the reason that central planning supersedes the possibility of such opportunities. Just as a man and a woman who have just mated cannot anticipate with certainty the genetic condition of the offspring hypothetically resulting from their carnal relationship (and that, whether their mating is unplanned or falls within the decision of a reproductions-planning committee), a biologist working on the genome of an embryo cannot anticipate with certainty the genetic mutations that his intervention will cause (and that, whether the biologist in question carries out his intervention in the context of a central planning of births or in the presence of decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities).

Besides, if the intervention or mating is carried out under a regime of central planning of reproductions (i.e., a regime of collective ownership of genetic capital), a biologist-interventionist or a duo of future parents cannot calculate the “fitness” of the future newborn on the basis of their anticipations about said newborn. What renders central planning in economy or in genetics impossible is a “praxeological” rather than cognitive problem: a central body of economic planning is no less deprived of the possibility of planning action (i.e., the action consisting of determining and using means in view of a pursued planning) than is a central body of genetic planning.

Outside of the ex ante anticipation of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction (in the future life of the future newborn) and the ex post verification of that anticipation, it is respectively impossible to have an ex ante idea of what would be the reproductive success of said newborn (in a situation of decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction) and to verify ex post the idea that one had of the “fitness” of said newborn. In that regard, it is respectively impossible to adapt ex ante the allocation of genetic capital to the forecast of the future offspring’s “fitness” and to adapt ex post the allocation of genetic capital to the actual “fitness” of said offspring.

Likewise, outside of the ex ante anticipation of the monetary profit associated with future market prices and the ex post observation of the monetary profit (positive or negative) finally encountered, it is respectively impossible to form an ex ante idea of the rentability of a certain planned allocation of economic capital and to verify ex post the idea that one had of the rentability of that allocation. In that regard, it is respectively impossible to adapt ex ante the allocation of economic capital to the expected rentability and to adapt ex post the new decisions in the allocation of capital to the actual rentability of the previous allocation.

As pointed out by Ludwig von Mises in Human Action, even in the scenario (which Mises seems to find conceivable but improbable) where an economic planner, in solving the differential equations of a general equilibrium model, would manage to “solve” without economic calculation “all problems concerning the most advantageous arrangement of all production activities,” and where “the precise image of the final goal he must aim at [would be] present to his mind,” it would nevertheless “remain essential problems which cannot be dealt with without economic calculation.”

These problems are the ones that relate to the identification and implementation of the “successive steps” through which the planned economy should pass so that “the given economic system” be transformed “in the most appropriate and expedient way” and, ultimately, replaced with “the system aimed at.” Contrary to what Vilfredo Pareto and Enrico Barone affirmed, the calculation (via the resolution of differential equations) of an optimum in the distribution and use of the factors of production cannot allow a central planning body to bypass the absence of a market for capital goods. For want of being able to count on anticipated market prices, a central planning body having a perfect knowledge of the optimum to be reached cannot more practice the calculation indispensable to the discovery and adoption of the path leading to the optimum than a mountaineer deprived of his equipment, but knowing perfectly the coveted mountain, can reach the top of said mountain.

It is not only false that in the absence of a market for capital goods, it is only difficult (rather than impossible stricto sensu) to know in their entirety the data that the differential equations of the general equilibrium must take into account. Even though knowing said data in their entirety were indeed possible for a central planning body, the Hayekian assertion that economic planning is only arduous (rather than impossible stricto sensu) would still remain refuted by the fact that, in the absence of anticipated market prices, it is quite simply impossible for the planner to channel a planned economy towards the state of optimum, regardless of the information the planner has about the optimum.

It is regrettable that Mises did not consider extending to planned eugenics his remark on the impossibility (in the absence of anticipated market prices) of optimizing a planned economy. In the absence of decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities, it is impossible for a eugenics planning body to practice the calculation (of “fitness”) indispensable to the roaming the path leading to an optimum (in terms of the group’s survival and reproduction) in the genetics of a given population.

The optimum itself, whether genetic or economic, cannot be discovered outside of the organismic or entrepreneurial experience of profit and loss (in terms of “fitness” or in monetary terms). Just like, from the preferences of the “demanding” people to the most satisfactory and economical use of the technology in force, a part of the economic data from which the differential equations of the “general equilibrium” of a given economy can be constructed—and therefore the economic optimum itself—are not discoverable outside of the entrepreneurial experience of monetary profits and losses, a part of the genetic data (i.e., a part of the data that characterize the nature and function of genes) in a given population (in that case, those genetic data which directly contribute to individual reproductive success in a decentralized competition for reproduction or to individual success in a derived form of said competition, and those which directly contribute to the reproduction of the group to the detriment of individual reproductive success) and therefore the genetic optimum itself cannot be discovered outside of the organismic experience of profits and losses in terms of “fitness” (i.e., in terms of the success in seizing decentralized and reproductive sexual opportunities that allow a large, qualitative offspring) or outside of the account of said organismic experience.

In defense of the possibility of economic planning, Oskar Lange proposed a solution to the problem of economic calculation consisting for a communist state in simulating market prices, in calculating the respective supply and demand for the latter, and in determining forward the price adjusting supply and demand. In the opinion of Ludwig von Mises, responding to Lange, his solution wrongly reduced economic calculation to the one practiced by simple managers, thus ignoring the own economic calculation on the part of entrepreneurs and speculators, which is nevertheless indispensable for the allocation of capitals.

The activities of entrepreneurs and speculators, added Mises, cannot be simulated since in the absence of individual responsibility in that area, i.e., the fact of putting their own money at stake, no one would be motivated to behave as an entrepreneur or as a speculator. While Mises’ response to Lange’s solution consisted in pointing out that his model of a communist economy, in addition to ignoring the need for entrepreneurship and speculation, would nonetheless remain unrealistic if, taking into account said necessity, he would ask disinterested and disempowered actors to “play” the entrepreneurs and investors, Hayek’s response was that Lange’s model proposed an impracticable approach due to lack of the required information.

For our part, we go further than the respective counter-arguments of Mises and Hayek. Even in the presence of perfect information about the present and perfectly correct anticipation of the future, even in the presence of disinterested and nonetheless involved actors, equilibrium prices cannot be simulated—and that, for the reason that one can no more simulate entrepreneurship or speculation than one can simulate, generally speaking, the things of life. It is simply impossible to know the preferences of the demanding people in the absence of the observation of concrete purchasing activities (and the associated profit, whether positive or negative), and therefore, to simulate the entrepreneurial experience of demonstrated preferences.

The impossibility of simulation applies as much to the decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction as it does to market prices. Surreptitiously, Lange recognized that only a capitalist economy is functional; and that for that reason, a communist economy has no choice but to simulate a capitalist in order to render itself functional. But precisely, one cannot more simulate the entrepreneurial discovery of equilibrium prices than one can simulate the organismic discovery of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction. Simulating an entrepreneurial competition in order to discover its result is not less absurd than simulating a military battle or a decentralized competition for reproduction in order to discover its result. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a general, or an organism, there is no other choice than “going to the front lines” in order to be in the picture.

Transhumanism: A Revolt Against The Crowned Cosmos

The impossibility for the external observer of a current individual organism (at the stage of childhood or embryo) or the external anticipator of a future individual organism to calculate the “fitness” of the observed or projected organism in the absence of the anticipation of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction in the future existence of said organism founds the impossibility of planning genetic evolution, said impossibility in turn founding the two “natural laws” stated by Robert Ardrey. Namely “the law of inequality” (in the strict case of species with sexual reproduction) and (in the strict case of vertebrate species) “the law of equal opportunity.”

Unbeknownst to Ardrey (who approached the grasp of this law without ever conceiving it clearly), the impossibility of planning genetic evolution is truly the first of natural laws, the one from which follows the two Robert Ardrey rightly formulated. Whereas transhumanism, in default of necessarily rebelling against the law of the impossible genetic planning, necessarily rebels against “the law of inequality” (i.e., the necessary counterpart of sexual unions, decentralized or not, that is physical-mental inequality), as well as against “the law of equal opportunity” (i.e., the instrument necessary for the exercise of individual physical and mental aptitudes in a way contributing to the collective functionality that is decentralized intragroup competition for preeminence, survival, and reproduction), genetic planning necessarily rebels not less against the law of equal opportunity than against the law of the impossibility of planning genetic evolution.

When it strictly comes to genetic planning of the transhumanist type (what amounts to speaking of transhumanism of the planning type), it is necessarily in rebellion against each of the aforementioned three laws. Planned eugenics necessarily joins transhumanism in hostility to “the law of equal opportunity;” and that, in that planned eugenics—without it being necessarily in favor of genetic equality—necessarily aspires to ensure that the social (including hierarchical) destiny of any newborn to come is pre-known and pre-decided from its conception instead of being revealed and engendered by the result of a decentralized competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence.

Since decentralized sexual reproduction opportunities are necessarily absent in the context of collective ownership of genetic capital substituted for decentralized competition for reproduction, it is not more possible to escape the impossibility of planning genetic evolution in intending to planning for a negative “fitness” (in the reproductive interest of the group) than in intending to planning for one that is positive (if not in the group’s reproductive interest, at least in the individual’s reproductive interest); and that, just as it is not more possible to escape the impossibility of planning genetic evolution in resigning oneself to proceeding without the anticipation of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction than in resigning oneself to simulating decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction.

The decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction that an organismic allocator experiences cannot be simulated alongside a planning committee replacing decentralized competition for reproduction, no more than the profitable prices (in monetary terms) that an entrepreneurial allocator experience can be simulated alongside a planning committee replacing decentralized competition for monetary profit. Genetic planning is not less in rebellion against a natural law (in that case, the law of the impossibility of planning genetics) than is economic planning: in that case, the law of the impossibility of planning economy.

Genetic or economic planning shares with transhumanism a spirit of rebellion against the natural order, and therefore the order created by God from an Abrahamic perspective. Whoever rebels against all or part of the natural order intends to replace it (in whole or in part) with a new, allegedly better order, thus rebelling against God himself or adhering to the idea that God, if it existed, would deserve one rebels against Him. The Bible can either be taken literally or taken symbolically (as the sages of Alexandria began to do).

The mandate of divine origin assigned to humans, according to the Old Testament, to crown creation while respecting the law of divine origin can either be taken literally; either taken symbolically in the sense that the human has a capacity of creation which complements cosmic creativity, but that his own capacity of creation will turn against himself if it comes to believe to be able to transgress the natural laws of this world. Likewise, the transhumanist, communist, anarcho-capitalist, or plannist rebellion against the natural order can present literal gnosticist motives—as is the case, for example, in Karl Marx’s poem titled “Human Pride,” where the poet praises the “demonic confusion” of his own speech and promises to work for the joint fall of the world and of God, “that pygmy giant,” and for the building of a new era on “the ruins of the [elder] world” in “giving to [his] words power of action.” Just like it can present secularized gnosticist motives, in which case said rebellion will start from the idea that God, in default of existing, would deserve to be fought if he did exist.

Whether one takes into account the followers of a properly secularized modality of transhumanism or those of a modality that retains “religious” motives, the human feelings that govern adherence to the transhumanist discourse (beyond its various modalities) remain strictly the same: the rejection of the natural order, therefore the order created by God from a literal gnosticist (or semi-gnosticist) perspective; and a misguided mode of compassion for the weak and the degenerate here below, therefore the failures of evolution from a transhumanist perspective, either secularized or not. Not the compassion that aims to alleviate the fate of those who do not keep up with the decentralized struggle for life, reproduction, and preeminence (more precisely, the specific form that said struggle takes in view of their socio-natural environment); but the compassion that, abhorring selection and the struggles associated with it, represents (and intends to achieve) a society of late times where (both physical and mental) inequalities would be eliminated, where war, power, and sexual pleasure would cease to be pursued things pursued.

A dream that inspires the transhumanist program of a final era of humanity in which an emasculated, peaceful, and egalitarian way of life would be established via genetic manipulation and via cyborgization. The idea of a chaotic, cruel nature, from which man must and can emancipate himself (in rendering himself divine and in replacing nature with an order that is exclusively of his own doing), delights the transhumanist, who comes as an intramundane, technophile variant of the gnosticist in that he believes that instead of spiritually detaching himself from the allegedly chaotic nature, the human must—via genetic and bio-robotic engineering—subvert and replace the material world.

Yet, far from nature being chaotic, it is subject to an order that—however cruel and selective it is—nonetheless remains an order. An order that, despite the disorder that accompanies it, is nevertheless accomplished through said disorder notably; and as Robert Ardrey has described it, “what contemporary evolutionary thought can bring to social philosophy is [notably] the demonstrable need for structured disorder within the larger structures of [social] order” so that “without that degree of disorder tolerating and promoting to fullest development the diversity of its members, society must wither and vanish in the competitions of group selection.”

The idea that we would continue our promethean gesture of domination of nature in emancipating ourselves from said nature (and the associated selection procedures) is not less deceptive. Dominating our natural environment through technology and economy establishes us, not as deniers, but as continuators of nature, what differs substantially from the transhumanist project of escaping from the selection process (and therefore, of denying, escaping nature). In Abrahamic terms, while the first perspective extends and honors divine creation, the second is of satanic obedience.

Transhumanists are not less mystified by the idea that, in view of the contradictory nature of human instincts, a morality concerned with being based on evolution would only end up erecting mutually contradictory instincts as mutually contradictory norms; and that because of the fact our instincts contradict each other, they are simply dysfunctional and should be eliminated by genetic engineering. That opinion, which stems from yet another misunderstanding of evolution by transhumanists, is wrong as to the sense of an evolutionary morality, i.e., a morality that takes into account evolution and human instincts as they have been produced by evolution.

Homo sapiens being a species with instincts not less incomplete (in terms of ensuring the viability of social organization and, more broadly, success in group selection) and weakened (in terms of being the only influence to weigh on human behavior: instead of acquired culture or reason) than chaotic, i.e., in contradiction with each other (and that, despite a certain hierarchy operating itself instinctively, which remains too much relative), “evolutionary” morality will not consist of establishing a certain instinct as a norm: in the mode of the inference “It is natural, therefore it is good.” Said morality instead consists in identifying those behaviors, partly instinctual, partly associated with reason or acquired culture, which will render a group functional (and increase its chances of winning in group selection).

Such a functionality, while it is operated in a rigorously instinctual mode in the case of animal societies (other than human), is not assured in the case of human societies, which are jointly constrained to complete the work of nature in this area and susceptible to fail in that area. In other words, “evolutionary” morality is not about morally justifying an instinct on the grounds that it is the product of evolution; but about fulfilling the wisdom towards which the instincts of homo sapiens, “suspended,” according to Robert Ardrey’s wording, “between dicta three billion years old and a foresight nouveau riche, swinging between [instinctual] wisdoms of most ancient origin and a power of both learning and ignorance,” tend imperfectly—due to the weakened, incomplete, and chaotic character of said instincts of homo sapiens, “animal of doubtful future.”

Genetic or neuro-robotic engineering, the planning of births, physical-mental equalization, or instinctual emasculation are so many horizons coming as a technophile, intramundane variation of gnosticism and bathing in the illusion that the cosmos is simply chaotic and stochastic; and that human beings, although they are a haphazard product of the evolution that takes place in this random, disordered world, are nevertheless able to render themselves the gods of this universe through technology and knowledge, i.e., able to substitute for the allegedly vain and disorderly nature an effective and senseful order.

For those hearts misled by gnosticism or its derivatives, it is worth remembering that the cosmos is at the same time evolving and organized, random and senseful, achievable and intransgressible. We human beings, who are made, if not in the image of God, at least in the image of the cosmos, are certainly bound to pursue cosmic creativity (through knowledge, technique, art, or social change); but also to keep in mind that we neither are nor will be gods: that the human pursuit of cosmic creativity must be accomplished with respect for a certain natural order, the transgression of which necessarily results into an immanent punishment.

Crowning divine creation, but not subverting it, that is the way for us who, symbolically (if not literally), are both made in His image and made for His law. Subverting divine creation and claiming to render oneself divine in place of God, that is the ill-fated path of hearts misled by a rebellion of satanic obedience, from transhumanists to economic or genetic planers. God wanted for us neither servility towards the universe nor disobedience towards universal wisdom; but the humble crowning of divine creation, the bringing of the final touch, by the creature who remains in its place, i.e., who accepts that it is irremediably like divine instead of claiming that it can render itself divine. From Silicon Valley engineers to superclass men and to the officials of the Chinese Communist Party, transhumanists are in rebellion against the divine creation. An elected nation, America must fight against the “destructionist” forces of transhumanism as it has long fought against those of communism.

The project on the part of the most radical of transhumanists to suppress all violence and all domination of the world stage could only achieve its ends through suppressing or “reprogramming” the atoms and the stars themselves. For, as highlighted by Howard Bloom (without him, to our knowledge, addressing transhumanism from this angle), the very first hierarchical orders, far preceding the pecking orders of chicken, manifested in the assembly of atoms or galaxies. While the proton dominates the electron, of which it determines the central point of the orbit, the black hole or the gravitational center dominates and controls a galaxy. As for the sun, he is metaphorically the king in the feudal order of the solar system: the monarch before whom the planets bow, which see the moons bow before the planets. It is true that, since it seems that it is not felt or conscious (but what do we actually know of it, as it stands?), the violence of stars or atoms as such does not concern transhumanism.

But given that violence in the physical sense constitutes a fractal pattern declining at each emergent level of the universe, which sentient or conscious beings have only inherited, the fact remains that transhumanism can reach its goal only in drying up the source of that fractal pattern and reprogramming or replacing the elementary particles. If it turned out that they could not do it, it is likely that they would then opt for a return to nothingness in due form. They would come to terms with setting out to destroy the universe itself—in default of being able to prove to God that they could replace His creation with a morbid and dried up universe.

Ardrey did not believe that he was saying so well when he warned us against the “dreary” morning that, “knowing or not,” many of our contemporaries are putting in place, the one “when you and I awake and leopards are gone; when starlings in hordes no longer chatter in the plane trees gossiping about the adventures of the day to come; when the lone tomcat fails to return from his night’s excesses; when robins cease to cry out their belligerent challenges to the bushes beyond the lawn; when the skies lack larks and the shrubbery lacks sex-obsessed rabbits hopping after each other; when hawks cease their eternal, circling searching and the gullery by the rocks falls silent; when the diversity of species no longer illuminates the morning hour and the diversity of men has vanished like the last dawn-afflicted star.” Ardrey expressed himself there in metaphorical terms; but the future he envisioned is literally the future that the most radical of transhumanists want for all of us… humans, leopards, bears, bees, flowers, or dachshunds.

Conclusion

The attitude of the transhumanists towards the cosmos is that of a capricious, angry three-year-old child towards a tower a few centimeters high built with kaplas (namely blocks made of Landes pines), that the adults have constructed with the idea that the kid continues their construction through building the roof of the tower with additional kaplas. Because he will refuse to take into account gravity, the weight of the boards, the need to balance the kaplas so that they hold together, the little capricious will fail to build the roof, or even cause the collapse of a part of the tower.

Deploring the impossibility of manipulating the kaplas as he pleases, he will get angry with the boards and the tower. With a kick (for example), he will break the tower or what is left of it—unless the adults themselves take charge of destroying the tower (or what is left of it) to give a “good lesson” to the kid, the one that the cosmos has its laws and that they limit and allow the constructive and dominating powers of the human being, and that he must therefore learn (and learn to respect) the cosmic laws if he intends to render himself “as master and owner” of the boards.

Just as Mises (rightly) called “[Charles] Fourier complex” the psychological state of fleeing economic reality into an imaginary world that ignores the laws of ours in the economic field, therefore ignores the scarcity of resources, the unpleasantness of work, and the indispensability of market prices for economic calculation, one may call “Julian Huxley complex” the psychological state of fleeing biological reality into an imaginary world that ignores the laws of ours in the field of biological evolution, therefore ignores as much the genetic inequality between the members of a sexual species and the need (for a functional order) of the relative disorder of the decentralized intragroup competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence among the members of a vertebrate species as the indispensability of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction for the calculation of “fitness.”

About the mental immaturity of the transhumanist, who got stuck or regressed to the mental level of the aforementioned brat, one can say what Mises wrote (rightly) about the socialists’ own neurosis. Namely that, “This being the character of the socialist dream, it is understandable that every one of the partisans of socialism expects from it precisely what has so far been denied to him. Socialist [or transhumanist] authors promise not only wealth for all, but also happiness in love for everybody, the full physical and spiritual development of each individual, the unfolding of great artistic and scientific talents in all men, etc.

Only latterly did Trotsky state in one of his writings that in the socialist society “the average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.” The socialist paradise [just like the transhumanist paradise] will be the kingdom of perfection, populated by completely happy supermen. All socialist [or transhumanist] literature is full of such nonsense.

But it is just this nonsense that wins it the most supporters. One cannot send every person suffering from a Fourier complex [or from a Julian Huxley complex] to the doctor for psychoanalytic treatment; the number of those afflicted with it is far too great. No other remedy is possible in this case than the treatment of the illness by the patient himself. Through self-knowledge he must learn to endure his lot in life without looking for a scapegoat on which he can lay all the blame, and he must endeavor to grasp the fundamental laws of social cooperation [or of biological evolution].


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website: gregoirecanlorbe.com.


The featured image shows, “L’antigrazioso (The Anti-graceful),” by Umberto Boccioni, painted in 1912.

God And The World: Renovating Philosophy

I intend here to return to my renovation of Platonism—and to confront some classical arguments in favor of God’s existence, then present how my claims on God and on the supraworldly realm are corroborated by cosmic evolution. I will also deal with the issue of apodicticity in mathematical knowledge—and in the knowledge of essences.

The Identity Argument

A classical argument for the existence of God goes like this. At a given moment, in a certain respect, any existing entity is necessarily what it is, rather than what it is not. It follows that any existing entity is necessarily an entity which has always existed, or an entity which was engendered by another entity; and that an entity that changes is necessarily an entity that owes its change to the action of another entity. In other words, no existing entity is an entity born out of nothing, nor an entity that changes spontaneously.

It is thought one can deduce the existence of God from this argument. Some of the entities in that world change or appear seemingly in a spontaneous manner (i.e., change or appear without finding the origin of their change in another entity existing in that world) and the universe itself has not always existed. The apparently spontaneous change and appearances, and the appearance of the universe itself, are therefore, it is said, the result of an entity eternal and external to the universe. And that entity would be God (conceived of as supramundane).

This argument is refuted as follows. The alleged fact that any entity is necessarily what it is rather than what it is not in some respect, at a given time, does not imply that any entity necessarily remains identical to itself (unless an external action to make it other than what it is at a given moment, in a given respect); nor does it imply that any entity is either uncreated or created by another entity. In other words, if one proved that our world is indeed subject to the law of identity, the fact that it is subject to the law of identity would not result in the impossibility for the entities within it—or for our world taken as a whole—to change spontaneously or to create itself spontaneously.

The aforementioned argument in favor of the existence of God—which concludes the existence of God on the grounds that entities in that world change in an apparently spontaneous mode and that new entities appear spontaneously (and that the world itself was created), and that the law of identity allegedly makes spontaneous change or creation impossible—is therefore false. The existence of God (conceived of as supramundane) would not be implied by the law of identity if it existed. The apparition of the universe from nothing would not be rendered impossible by the existence of the law of identity.

The Movement Argument

Another classic argument in favor of the existence of God, which for its part was proposed by Aristotle and taken up by Saint Thomas Aquinas, goes like this. Any existing entity that happens to be moving (in the broad sense of displacement, action, or change) necessarily finds the origin of its movement in another entity that, temporally, precedes it or is simultaneous with it. Yet an infinite regression of movers is inconceivable, whether on the worldly or supraworldly level. It follows, it is said, that the existence of a prime and supramundane mover, itself immobile, is necessarily supposed by the existence of movement in the world.

The premise of the impossibility of spontaneous movement is ambiguous from several points of view. It strictly admits two interpretations with regard to the question of the supramundane extent of said impossibility. The first interpretation is that any existing and moving entity, whether on the plane of that world or on the supramundane plane, finds the origin of its movement in another entity. The second interpretation is that in that world, and only in that world (rather than on the supramundane plane), any existing and moving entity necessarily owes its movement to another entity. To those two distinct interpretations of the premise of the impossibility of movement correspond two distinct interpretations of the argument. Either way, the argument does not hold up.

As for the first interpretation, the argument is thus refuted. The alleged facts that, on the worldly and supramundane planes, every movement (in the broad sense, therefore beyond the sole fact of moving in space) is (strictly) the fruit of another mover, and that, on the mundane and supramundane planes, every mover is necessarily either a first engine or a non-prime engine (otherwise there would be an infinite regression in the number of movers, which is allegedly inconceivable), are false. Moreover, they exclude each other, i.e., cannot coexist; and, for that, their necessary implication is self-contradictory. The force of attraction exerted in that world by quarks, stars, or apples, which falls within movement in the broad sense, is not the result of an external mover.

As for an infinite regression (in any domain), it is quite conceivable that it is possible in that world as much on the supramundane plane—and possible in that world as in other possible worlds. Besides, the allegation that movement, in that world as well as on the supramundane plane, is inconceivable in the absence of a prime mover contradicts the allegation that an external mover, in that world as much as on the supramundane plane, is necessary to generate the movement of a given entity. And that to affirm simultaneously those two premises necessarily amounts to affirming, notably, that the movement of a certain mundane or supramundane entity requires the movement consisting for a primary and supramundane mover to provoke (directly or indirectly) the movement of the above-mentioned entity, but that the movement of the first and supramundane agency will itself necessitate the movement of another agency prior to that first mover. Which is a self-contradictory, and therefore absurd, assertion.

Instead of these two premises implying that the existence of a first and supramundane agency, itself immobile, is a necessary condition for the movement of entities in that world—they imply that the movement of entities in that world has, as a necessary condition, a prime and supramundane agency, and that the latter is itself a non-immobile agency which has as a necessary condition for its movement a mover prior to that prime mover. In other words, the necessary implication of those two premises is that there is a prime and supramundane mover, itself mobile, which is both prime and non-prime, which is absurd. It is, admittedly, quite conceivable that there exists a supramundane and mobile agency which—instead of being prime—is itself moved by another supramundane and mobile agency preceding it, and that that other supramundane and mobile agency is itself moved by another supramundane and mobile agency preceding it; and so on.

But that speculation is neither the conclusion that effectively flows from the premises mentioned above (namely that any intramundane or supramundane movement is the result of an external agency, and that an infinite regression is possible neither on a worldly plane nor on a supramundane plane); nor the conclusion that the movement argument (thus interpreted) believes, wrongly, to be able to infer from said premises. The concept of an immobile mover is itself contradictory: every mover exerts a movement in so far as it exerts an agenting activity.

When it comes to concluding that there is a primary and supramundane agency, the argument from movement, if we now interpret it in these terms, is more coherent. In such a world, but not on the supramundane plane, any moving entity (in the broad sense) is necessarily moved by another entity. Yet an infinite regression of the movers is inconceivable, whether on the worldly or supraworldly plane. It follows, says the argument of movement thus interpreted, that the movement in such a world necessarily presupposes a primary and supramundane mover, itself immobile, whose agential activity is not due to another mover preceding it.

Here, the premises are now compatible, but are again wrong. Endless regression is not more inconceivable on the mundane level than on the supramundane level. Moreover, it is wrong that any moving entity in that world (as it is reasonably conjectured) finds the origin of its movement in another entity. As for the suggested inference, it is almost consistent. What the above-mentioned premises necessarily imply is in fact that movement in such a world necessarily presupposes a primary and supramundane mover itself mobile, whose agential activity finds its origin in itself. They do not imply what the argument from movement (thus interpreted) claims to be able to infer from it—namely, that they do not imply that movement in such a world necessarily presupposes a primary and supramundane driver, itself immobile. They even imply that it is wrong (and absurd) that the prime and supramundane mover be itself immobile.

As correct as the inference is that intramundane movement necessarily presupposes a primary and supramundane mover, which is at the origin of its own movement—the premise of the necessary impossibility of spontaneous movement in such a world, and the one of the inconceivability of an infinite regression of the agents on the worldly or supraworldly plane, are both false. Therefore, that alleged proof of the existence of God is not valid. Here, I will leave aside Saint Thomas Aquinas’s four other arguments for the existence of God.

The Perfection Argument

The argument of perfection, most often known as the “ontological argument,” goes like this. It is in God’s concept to be perfect. If God lacked the property of existing, something would be lacking in him; he would therefore not be perfect. It follows, it is said, that it is in the essence of God (i.e., among the constitutive properties of God) to exist. That classic argument, which dates back at least to Anselm of Canterbury, was the subject of a refutation attempt by Immanuel Kant. For my part, I claim that the Kantian critique is not more valid than is the argument from perfection itself.

The Kantian criticism goes like this. The term “is” is not a “real predicate,” i.e., a logical predicate corresponding to an alleged attribute of the object contained in the concept of the logical subject. In Kant’s terms, it is not “a concept of something which can be added to the concept of a thing.” The term “is” is either “the copula of a judgment,” i.e., a word which establishes a link between the logical subject and the logical predicate, without itself being a logical predicate; or a logical predicate which poses the object of the concept of the logical subject without itself, being a real predicate. In other words, the fact that an existing entity exists is not an attribute of said entity; and the fact that the logical predicate “exists” to be used does not add anything to the concept of the logical subject, nor does it make explicit what the concept of the logical subject contains.

The concept of perfection is certainly contained in the concept of God; but the judgment “God is” is a synthetic judgment (in the Kantian sense, i.e., in the sense of a judgment which associates with the logical subject a logical predicate, not included in the concept of said subject), which does not associate a “real predicate” to the concept of God.

Therefore, if God existed, it would not add any attribute to God that was not already formulated in his concept. Just as “a hundred real thalers contain nothing more than a hundred possible thalers,” the perfection of God, if he existed, would contain nothing more than the perfection constitutive of God according to his concept. In other words, the fact for God to exist (instead of being only possible through the concept of God) would not increase the perfection of God; but would only make it happen with all the properties which are attributed to him according to his concept, without adding or subtracting anything from his properties.

In Kant’s words, “even if I were to think in a thing, all of reality, except one; that one missing reality would not be supplied by my saying that so defective a thing exists, but it would exist with the same defect with which I thought it; or what exists would be different from what I thought. If, then, I try to conceive a being, as the highest reality (without any defect), the question still remains, whether it exists or not.” Therefore, it is impossible to infer the existence of God from the concept of perfection, included in the concept of God, just as it is impossible to infer the existence of one hundred real thalers from the concept of one hundred thalers. “Whatever, therefore, our concept of an object may contain, we must always step outside it, in order to attribute to it existence.”

Kant’s critique of the ontological argument (as Kant calls it) comes to a correct conclusion, but infers it (correctly) from a false premise. It is quite true that the existence of God would not make him more perfect than he already is according to his concept; and that the fact the concept of perfection is included in the concept of God does not render his existence necessary. Nonetheless, it remains false that existence is not a property of existing entities; and that the logical predicates “is” or “are” are not “real predicates.” Existence and the mode of existence are genuinely properties of existing entities: just as the fact of not existing and the mode of non-existence are genuinely properties of non-existent entities.

To say that Donald Duck is a fictional character genuinely consists of attributing “a real predicate” (namely “fictional character”) to the logical subject, “Donald Duck.” In other words, it genuinely consists of attributing to the logical subject, “Donald Duck,” the “real predicate” of inexistence; and, more precisely, the “real predicate” of the mode of non-existence consisting of being a fictional character (rather than a real person).

To say of a human who really existed that he was born in this or that year and died in this or that year genuinely consists of attributing to the logical subject the “real predicate” of a certain mode of existence (namely, the fact of coming into existence through birth and of existing for the duration of a human lifetime); and the “real predicate” of a certain mode of non-existence (namely the fact of having ceased to exist after death).

The flaw in the perfection argument is the following one. An existing entity that would be perfect in every way would not need to exist to be perfect. In other words, the perfection constitutive of a perfect existing entity would not render its existence necessary: the attribute of existence existence and the attribute of perfection would be in said entity independent of each other. Therefore, the fact that perfection is included in the concept of God does not imply that the existence of God is necessary. Just as Botticelli’s Venus does not need to exist to be perfectly beautiful, so God does not need to exist to be perfect. The existence of Botticelli’s Venus would not render her more beautiful than she already is according to her painting; the existence of God would not render him more perfect than he already is according to his concept.

So, what is going on with these concepts, including the attribute of existence – for example, the concept of substance, which includes the attribute of existence in an eternal and uncreated mode. In a certain existing entity, the attribute of existence is not implied by those attributes distinct from the attribute of existence. Therefore, the non-existential attributes of an entity, alleged by a certain concept, including, and thus alleging, existential attributes imply neither the allegation of the alleged existential attributes, nor the existence of the alleged existential or non-existential attributes. It follows that in a certain concept whose object corresponds to a certain existing entity, and whose object is defined by an attribute of existence, the inclusion of the attribute of existence does not render the object real; i.e., that the existence of the object is not implied by the inclusion of the attribute of existence. In other words, it follows that a certain concept will be true or false, depending on whether its object exists or not—and not depending on whether the attribute of existence is included or not. Jesus existed depending on whether he existed or not—and not whether or not the concept of Jesus says of Jesus that he was born in Bethlehem on December 25 shortly before the year one. Venus existed depending on whether or not she existed—and not on whether or not Botticelli’s painting shows the birth of Venus in a seashell. Substance exists according to whether it exists or not—and not whether or not its concept describes it as an uncreated, eternal entity.

The World As Incarnation

I intend now to return to my conception of God—and to argue in its defense. My conception of God, which I already introduced elsewhere, can be put as follows. Let us imagine that someone starts to write a book in an improvised mode. His story begins with a character rolling a six-sided dice, which lands on the face with three dots. On the one hand, the fact that the dice lands on that face is due to chance in the world of the story considered independently of the writer. On the other hand, in the world of the story, considered in relation to the writer, that fictional event is rendered necessary by the fact that the writer decides to land on the face with three dots.

Then the writer wonders what the possibilities are for the rest of the story, i.e., wonders what such a beginning for his story renders possible and impossible for the rest of the story. One possibility is that the character, having thrown the dice, finds himself in a casino; another one is that the character does not find himself in a casino, but in a bedroom with the dice on a bedside table. The number of possibilities is tremendous, but the writer cannot identify each of them. He finally decides that the character finds himself in a field of daisies and has thrown the dice on a wooden table. Then he continues to expand the created fictional universe by identifying possible implications and by actualizing some of them. The situation of God in relation to His creation is to some extent similar to the situation of that writer in relation to his story.

The notion of reality has a strong sense and a weak one. In the weak one, reality is the totality of what exists—whether supramundane or intramundane, and whether material or spiritual. I claim there are two levels of reality in the weak sense. One is like the letters written in a novel; the other is like the fictional world created by those letters. In the strong sense, reality is the material, worldly plane. For the sake of semantic clarity, the rest of the article will make use of the notion of reality only in the strong sense. I claim reality (understood in the strong sense) to be the incarnation of a supraworldly, spiritual plane that is like a book whose letters produce a fictional world.

Two things must be specified when doing that comparison. On the one hand, the letters of a novel do not incarnate themselves into the occasioned fictional world. But the supramundane plane, for its part, incarnates itself into the real world it occasions (while remaining virtual and external to the world). On the other hand, the letters in a novel are placed one after the other. But the supramundane plane is, for its part, atemporal—in the sense that its past, its present, and its future are simultaneous rather than successive. The supramundane plane is composed of an infinity of ideational entities—and endowed with a pulse to select some of those ideational entities and to turn the selected ones into material entities.

In selecting and materializing some ideational entities, the supramundane plane proceeds like the aforementioned writer. It starts with materializing some ideational entities (what occasions the apparition of the world from nothingness); then deciphers the possible implications from those very first materialized ideational entities. It selects some of those implications and actualizes them, what is tantamount to materializing some other ideational entities; then it actualizes some of the new offered possibilities, and so on. The world is the material, temporal incarnation of the virtual, atemporal pulse through which the supramundane plane sorts and actualizes its own content.

The pulse through which the supramundane plane sorts and actualizes its own content is also the pulse through which the supramundane plane is united. That virtual and atemporal supramundane plane united by its own sorting, actualizing pulse—and selectively incarnated into a material, temporal world to which it however remains external—is what I deem to be God. Like the aforementioned writer, God improvises His creation; and like the aforementioned writer, God plans and renders necessary those events in our world that happen in a random, unplanned manner.

As random and unplanned as are genetic mutations in our world considered independently of the supramundane plane, they are decided and forced in the supramundane plane and incarnated into our world. In improvising the course of unplanned, random events, God tries to generate ever-higher levels of order and complexity in the world; that is how an undirected, random cosmos is persistently, but fallibly, evolving towards order and complexity. Just like mistakes happen in some improvised fictional narratives, mistakes happen in the march of the improvised universe; it is not a perfect universe, nor a universe with a predefined arrival line. It is an irremediably imperfect universe, partly random (and irremediably random); but relentlessly, surprisingly evolving towards order and complexity, without the final stage of cosmic history being preset.

Again, the cosmos is a temporal, material improvised incarnation of an atemporal, virtual improvised pulse; a pulse whose past, present, and future stages happen simultaneously. The operation of that pulse does not exclude the operation of some intermediate demiurges between God and the humans; but every pulse in the world happens as an incarnation of a single pulse. Whether it comes from a demiurge, a human, a bacterium, or a dog—every pulse in the mundane realm comes as a temporal, material, singular illustration of the divine pulse, incarnating itself into the whole cosmos and remaining however external to the cosmos.

I will not venture to try to prove the existence of God (such as described here); but I believe I can show that my approach to God is highly corroborated (in default of being proven) by two things, at least. On the one hand, cosmic evolution, as conjectured nowadays in Western science, is an undirected, largely random process that however leads, more or less, to ever-higher levels of order and complexity. By itself, such a process is highly unlikely to result in such high levels of organization as those conjectured.

My approach to God proposes a solution to that paradox and transcends the opposition between the thesis of the “intelligent design” and those theoretical conceptions known as “Neo-Darwinism.” Cosmic evolution (including biological) is indeed undirected and largely random, as so-called Neo-Darwinists claim; but it is also the shadow, so to speak, of a directed, spiritual process. The latter is not present in the world, in which evolution is really undirected and (partly) random—unlike what the proponents of the “intelligent design” thesis believe. Instead, the divine process, which is purposeful and nonetheless fallible, is incarnated into the cosmos, which remains undirected and largely random for its part.

On the other hand, my approach to God takes into account the existence of suprasensible intuition, i.e., the experience of the supraworldly, ideational realm through unempirical perception. Suprasensible intuition is especially practiced in the knowledge area known as mathematics—as Pythagoras and Plato claim. For the sake of semantic clarity, the rest of the article will call “entities” only those distinct beings that are material and intramundane.

The distinct beings within the supraworldly, ideational realm will not be called entities. The distinct ideational beings include numbers and figures; but, also, the ideational models for the entities within the worldly realm—as much those that used to exist as those presently existing and as those existing in the future. The ideational models within the supraworldly realm also include models for those entities corresponding to possible worlds that the sorting, actualizing pulse chooses not to actualize. The issue of knowing whether some truths in that world remain true in all the possible worlds is an old one. Mathematical truths are often thought to be such truths—and, more precisely, thought to remain true in all the possible worlds through being apodictic statements. I intend now to turn to that issue.

Mathematics As Suprasensible Intuition

An allegedly apodictic statement is a statement allegedly true by its sole terms—and therefore true by right and true whatever may be. An allegedly analytical statement is a statement that, allegedly, is true or wrong depending (and depending only) on the (correct) laws of formal logic. In Kant’s approach to analyticity, an analytical statement is, more precisely, a statement in which the predicate is included in the concept of the subject. In the approach of logical empiricism, an analytical statement is, more precisely, a statement that is either tautological (i.e., true for any distribution of the truth-values in the calculation of predicates), or reducible to a tautology (i.e., a statement true for any distribution of the truth-values in the calculation of predicates). In Leibniz’s approach, an analytical statement is, more precisely, a statement whose opposite is self-contradictory.

An allegedly synthetic statement is a statement that, allegedly, is true or wrong depending (and depending only) on whether it is congruent with reality. In Kant’s approach to syntheticity, a synthetic statement is, more precisely, a statement in which the predicate is not included in the concept of the subject. In the approach of logical empiricism, a synthetic statement is, more precisely, a statement that is neither tautological nor reducible to a tautology. In Leibniz’s approach, a synthetic statement is, more precisely, a statement whose opposite is not self-contradictory.

The problem with the notion of apodicticity is dual. Firstly, the problem is to know whether an apodictic statement is possible. Secondly, it is to know whether an apodictic statement (if it is possible) is necessarily an analytical statement. Kant is commonly thought of as claiming the mathematical statements to be apodictic ones that are nonetheless synthetic in the Kantian sense, i.e., endowed with a predicate that is not included in the concept of the subject.

According to my understanding of Kant’s approach to mathematics, he really conceives of mathematical statements as synthetic statements that are not apodictic; but which can nonetheless be proven true or false independently of sensible experience. And that by reason of the fact their concepts are constructed exclusively within the “pure forms of sensible intuition” that are, according to Kant, space and time, i.e., the fact that their concepts are constructed not on the basis of sensible experience, but only within the a priori spatial, temporal framework that the human mind, according to Kant, confers onto sensible experience. What Kant has in mind when speaking of an “a priori synthetic judgment” is not an apodictic synthetic judgment, but a synthetic judgment that, while being a priori (i.e., independent of sensible intuition) and while being not apodictic, can be proven true or false when—and only when—constructed within the human mind’s “pure forms of sensible intuition.”

Kant’s thesis (that mathematical judgments exclusively deal with concepts the human mind spontaneously constructs within the spatial, temporal framework of the human mind) is notably opposed by the one—notably shared by Pythagoras and Plato—that mathematical statements are exclusively the fruit of suprasensible experience. I will leave aside the issue of knowing whether Pythagoras and Plato also think of mathematical statements as apodictic ones.

In my opinion, Kant’s thesis suffers two flaws, at least: on the one hand, a logical flaw (i.e., a flaw in terms of internal coherence); on the other hand, an analytical error, i.e., a mistaken appreciation of reality. On the one hand, it claims the (true) mathematical synthetic judgments to fall both within unapodictic statements (i.e., those statements that are not true by the sole reason of their terms) and a priori, objective knowledge (i.e., objectively true knowledge logically anterior to sensible experience); but is really unable to account for the alleged ability of the human mind to determine in an a priori mode (i.e., independently of sensible experience) whether its mathematical synthetic judgments are true or wrong.

If mathematical judgments were, indeed, both unapodictic and (exclusively) constructed within the alleged spatio-temporal framework of the human mind (as Kant claims), the fact would still remain that such origin for mathematical judgments would not allow the human mind to determine in an a priori mode whether those unapodictic judgments are true or wrong. Thus, Kant’s thesis leaves unexplained an alleged fact it proposes to explain: the alleged character of (true) mathematic judgments as a priori, unapodictic, objectively true knowledge.

On the other hand, Kant’s thesis is partly mistaken about the origin of mathematical synthetic judgments. Those are really the fruit of suprasensible perception to some extent; and the fruit of the human mind to some extent. Here I will leave aside the issue of knowing whether the mathematical statements the human mind is able to conceive (and able to conceive of as true) are necessarily an extension of statements the human mind is able to conceive of as true by the sole operation of certain admitted logical laws. Or the issue of knowing whether any true mathematical statement, i.e., any mathematical statement congruent with reality, is necessarily an extension of certain admitted logical laws congruent with what may be called the ontological structure of reality. My only points here are the two. First, the truth of a mathematical statement—such as “7 + 5 = 12”—is not apodictic. Second, our mathematical concepts and statements are to some extent the product of the suprasensible perception which Plato and Pythagoras refer to; and to some extent the product of the human mind itself.

At least in that world, perhaps also in all the possible worlds (which remains to be determined—and I will leave aside that issue here), an apodictic statement (i.e., a statement true by its sole terms—and therefore true whatever may be, and true by right) cannot exist. At least in our world, a true statement can be true only by virtue of its conformity to reality. Hence, there can be no statement true by reason of its sole terms. A certain statement that holds true, whatever may be, is true by virtue of a certain fact that remains whatever may be, i.e., a certain fact that remains in all the possible worlds; but it is not true in an apodictic mode.

The same applies to logical laws and to definitions. An objectively valuable logical law, i.e., a logical law that objectively allows for coherent lines of reasoning, is objectively valuable because it is in line with the ontological structure of (our) reality; but it is not rendered objectively valuable by its sole terms. The law of identity, the law of non-contradiction, the law of the excluded middle, the modus ponens, the modus tollens, etc., cannot be logically valuable unless the corresponding alleged ontological facts (i.e., the alleged fact that any existing entity is necessarily what it is, rather than what is not, etc.) are real. Likewise, an objectively valuable definition is necessarily a true definition, i.e., a definition that is congruent with reality; it cannot be rendered objectively valuable by its sole terms.

An allegedly analytical statement is an allegedly apodictic statement that allegedly owes its apodicticity to being true by the sole operation of some (allegedly correct) logical laws. An admitted logical law is not analytical, i.e., is not rendered true or false by its own operation; but it is true or false, depending on whether it is congruent with the ontological structure of our world. A tautological statement is a statement that certain admitted logical laws (whatever they may be) deem to be true (or deem to be false) for any distribution of truth values. A tautological statement necessarily expresses what it claims to be—a certain illustration (in our world) of the ontological structure common to all the possible worlds. For instance, “a cat is cat” expresses a certain illustration of the ontological law of identity—and implicitly claims such law to be common to the ontological structure of all the possible worlds.

A tautological statement is not analytical, i.e., is not rendered true or wrong by the sole operation of certain admitted logical laws; but it is true or false, depending on whether it is congruent with an actual illustration (in our world) of a certain ontological law of our reality—and on whether that ontological law is common to our world and to all the possible worlds. “A cat is a cat” is true depending on whether the alleged fact that a cat is a cat is an actual illustration (in our world) of an actual ontological law in our world—and on whether that ontological law is common to the ontological structure of all the possible worlds.

A definition is a statement of some alleged properties in the object of a certain concept. An admitted definition in a certain language is contentless and conventional from the angle of that language, considered independently of reality; but it is informational and speculative from the aspect of that language considered in relation to reality. An admitted definition is not analytical, i.e., is not rendered true or false by the sole operation of certain admitted logical laws; but it is true or false depending on whether it is congruent with the object of the definition. A mathematical statement is not analytical either; but it is true or false depending on whether it is in line with what may be called the mathematical field of reality.

Here I will leave aside the issue of knowing whether a mathematical statement and a definition can be reduced to a tautology; but let us admit they can be reduced to a tautology, i.e., a statement that certain admitted logical laws deem to be true for any distribution of truth values. Their reducibility would not render them analytical—since they would be reducible to a (tautological) statement that is not analytical. Saying that a statement is true for any distribution of truth values, in regards to certain admitted logical laws, is tantamount to saying that the latter is true in all the possible worlds in regards to those laws. Yet a statement is not rendered effectively true in all the possible worlds by the fact of being tautological in regards to certain admitted logical laws.

The only way for a statement to be true in all the possible worlds (i.e., true whatever may be) is to be congruent with a fact that remains in all the possible worlds. A tautological statement is not contentless (as Ludwig Wittgenstein and others claim). If it were a contentless statement, it would be neither true nor wrong; but a tautological statement is true or false depending on whether it is congruent with an actual illustration (in our world) of an ontological law common to all possible worlds.

Wittgenstein’s claim that a tautological statement exhibits (but does not tell) the ontological structure of our world (and only that of our world) is doubly wrong. Instead, a tautological statement tells (instead of showing) what it claims to be—the ontological structure common to our world and to all possible worlds. If any possible mathematical statement is reducible to a tautology, then any possible mathematical statement speaks of the ontological structure allegedly common to our world and to all possible worlds. Any possible mathematical statement is true or false, depending on whether it is congruent with an actual illustration (in our world) of an ontological law common to all the possible worlds.

Going back to Kant’s claim about the origin of mathematical judgments, I suspect that the human mind is indeed endowed with a spatio-temporal framework which it uses to structure the sensible content; and that such framework is innate or acquired through experience or culture. But the human mind is not the only originator of its mathematical statements and concepts; they are to some extent the fruit of suprasensible intuition (in people highly gifted with suprasensible perception). On the one hand, the human mind’s spatio-temporal framework hosts within it the fruit of suprasensible intuition; on the other hand, the human mind works from the fruit of suprasensible intuition and generates its own mathematical concepts and statements.

The necessarily flawed character (to a varying degree) of a suprasensible intuition is one of the reasons why our mathematical knowledge is necessarily perfectible—and why revolutions can happen in mathematics. The fact the human mind, when it does not host the necessarily flawed fruit of a suprasensible intuition, only deals with its own invented concepts and statements, is another reason for the perfectibility of our mathematical knowledge. It is true that our mathematical concepts and statements, whether they stem from suprasensible intuition or from the human hind itself, can be corroborated by reality, such as it is observed or conjectured; but our observations of reality and our conjectures about reality can only corroborate our groping mathematical knowledge. They cannot confirm it. Such affirmation deserves further clarification, which I intend to deal with elsewhere.

The Issue Of Essences And Definitions

Besides containing ideational numbers and figures, the ideational domain also contains ideational models for existing entities (as well as for those that used to exist and for those that will exist). The essence of a (material) entity is what a (material) entity is. More precisely, it is both what an entity is—and what makes said entity be what it is, rather than be what it is not.

The essence of an entity is dual: it has an ideational component on the one hand; and a material one on the other hand. The ideational essence, i.e., the ideational component of an essence, contains the sum of all the properties of the considered (material) entity. The material essence, i.e., the material component of an essence, only contains the sum of all the constitutive properties of the considered (material) entity. I intend now to deal more extensively with the subject of ideational and material essences.

A mistake by Plato was to conceive of essence as only ideational—and to conceive of ideational essence as only containing the constitutive properties. More precisely, those constitutive properties that are general in the strong sense, i.e., attached to the genre under which a considered entity falls. An ideational essence instead contains the sum of all the properties of the considered entity—and not only those properties that are both constitutive and general in the strong sense.

As for the material essence, it only contains those properties that are constitutive—but as much those constitutive properties that are general in the strong sense as the rest of those properties that are constitutive. Another mistake by Plato was to conceive of the material entity as partaking of its ideational model. Any material entity is instead the incarnation of its ideational model, which incarnates itself into the corresponding material entity while remaining ideational and external to the corresponding material entity.

The definition of a material entity can be unique to some individuals, or can be generally admitted, i.e., admitted in a certain language and common to all the people participating in that language. Any definition deals with some properties of the defined material entity; more precisely, those properties whose inclusion into the considered definition allows the latter to make the considered entity easily distinguished (and recognized) when referred to in a certain statement. The properties evoked in a certain definition do not necessarily coincide with the constitutive properties of the defined entity. But the definition of a certain entity is true or false, depending on its conformity to the properties of the entity. Here, I will leave aside the issue of defining properties rather than entities—and the issue of defining ideational models rather than material entities.

A property is what is characteristic of a certain (material) entity at a given moment of the entity’s existence. Among the properties of an entity, some are constitutive of said entity, i.e., part of what makes that entity what it is (rather than what it is not); others are accessory, i.e., external to what makes that entity what it is (rather than what it is not).

Among the constitutive properties, some are innate to an entity, i.e., are attached permanently to said entity over the course of its existence (unless its integrity is broken); others are emergent in the weak sense, i.e., become attached (whether permanently or temporarily) to said entity over the course of its existence. Among the emergent properties in the weak sense, some are constitutive; others are accessory. Among the emergent properties in the weak sense, some are emergent also in the strong sense, i.e., they introduce qualitative novelty into the world; others are emergent only in the weak sense, i.e., are properties that become attached (instead of being permanently attached to the considered entity over the course of its existence), but which are not novel qualitatively.

Among the properties of an entity, some are necessary, i.e., are forced to be attached permanently to the entity, or are forced to become attached to the entity; others are contingent, i.e., are attached permanently to the entity, or become attached, but without being forced to be attached permanently or forced to become attached. Among the necessary properties, some are constitutive, permanent properties; others are constitutive, emergent (in the weak sense) properties. Among the constitutive properties, some are general in the strong sense, i.e., are attached to the genre within which the considered entity falls; others are unique, i.e., are attached to the considered entity but are not attached to its genre.

While any constitutive, permanent property is also a necessary property, any necessary property is not a constitutive, permanent property. While any general property in the strong sense is also a constitutive, necessary property, any constitutive, necessary property is not a general property in the strong sense. Among the properties of an entity, some are fundamental; others are secondary. Among the constitutive properties of an entity (whether they are permanent or emergent in the weak sense, and whether they are general in the strong sense or unique), some are fundamental; others are secondary.

The ideational model of a certain entity contains the sum of all the properties of said entity over the course of its existence—as much those constitutive, as those accessory; as much those permanent, as those emergent in the weak sense; as much those emergent only in the weak sense, as those emergent also in the strong sense; as much those necessary, as those contingent; as much those general in the strong sense, as those unique; as much those fundamental, as those secondary. Any admitted definition in a given language is true or false depending on the quality of the reality—whether or not that definition only deals with all or part of the constitutive properties of the defined entity. Any admitted definition is both a contentless statement from the aspect of language considered independently of reality—and an informational statement from the aspect of the confrontation of language with reality.

What is more, any admitted definition is both conventional from the aspect of language considered independently of reality—and conjectural from the aspect of the confrontation of language with reality. No definition (whether it is generally admitted or not) is analytical, i.e., true or false by the sole operation of certain admitted logical laws. But any admitted definition in a given language is thought (by that language) to be synthetic, i.e., to be true by being congruent with reality. No definition (whether it is generally admitted or not) is rendered true by the fact that the involved language deems that definition to be true; but any definition is true or false depending on reality.

Any definition is likely to get updated when progress is made in the knowledge of reality—whether such progress is made through (sensible) observation, through corroborated conjecturing, or through suprasensible perception (i.e., through the suprasensible grasp of ideational models). As for those (impracticable) definitions dealing with all the properties of a certain entity—a perfectly true definition of that kind is a definition perfectly mirroring the whole ideational model of the defined entity. And as for those definitions only dealing with all or part of the constitutive properties of the defined entity—a perfectly true definition of that kind is a definition perfectly mirroring all or part of the constitutive properties formulated within the ideational model of the defined entity. The ideational entities within the ideational domain are too much complex with respect to what a human mind is really able to understand (no matter how powerful a human mind is). Hence, the suprasensible grasping of a certain ideational model by a certain human mind is necessarily imperfect. In other words, only a more or less misrepresentative portrait of a grasped ideational model can be obtained through suprasensible intuition.

Conclusion—And A Few Words On The Kabbalah

The problem of knowing whether the world emerges from God is different from the problem of knowing whether God necessarily occasions the existence of the world. Besides, the latter arises differently, depending on the answer given to the former. If God, conceived of as substance (in the sense of an uncreated, necessarily existing entity), creates the world, the question of the necessary or contingent character of the world’s causation then applies to a world distinct from God. If God, conceived of as substance (in the sense of an uncreated, necessarily existing entity), sees the world emerging from God, the question of the contingent or necessary character of the world’s causation then applies to a world that constitutes a constitutive emergent property in the strong sense, i.e., a property that, while being constitutive of God and introducing novelty, is not co-eternal with God.

For my part, I claim that the world is neither created nor emergent, but that it incarnates God (conceived of as uncreated and as necessarily existing), who nevertheless remains distinct from said world (as the Father remains distinct from the Son, who is nevertheless His incarnation). That relation of incarnation is necessarily occurring. Hence, the world is necessarily occasioned. Besides, that relation of incarnation is co-eternal with God—although the world has a temporal beginning.

The cosmos is neither an emergent property of God (as in the medieval Kabbalah), nor a product of God (as in the modern Kabbalah). The cosmos is an incarnation of God— more precisely, an incarnation of the book, that is—both in a simultaneous and improvised mode—written in God’s mind. The Kabbalah’s idea that the cosmos is created through letters is thus deepened in this way: the cosmos is created through an improvised, atemporal writing process, incarnating itself into the temporal, (partly) random cosmos.

As for the Kabbalah’s idea that man is made in the image of God and is mandated both to repair the world and to respect God’s law, is deepened in this way: the writing process incarnating itself into the world aims to accomplish ever-higher levels of order and of complexity, but is likely to commit mistakes. It is up to man to repair those mistakes to the extent possible—and to respect at the same time the cosmic order, which is part of God’s law to humans.

When some men are trying to repair the creation, they are really the incarnation of God trying to repair His own work through them. Yet some men are more linked to God than others—and therefore, more able than others to grasp the writing process through suprasensible intuition. Those men are as such because they have a more yechidah soul.


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. His work and interviews often appear in the Postil.


The featured image shows, “Young Man Holding a Roundel,” by Sandro Botticelli, painted ca. 1475.

Libertarian Errors: A Critique Of Hoppe And von Mises

A fundamental belief of libertarianism/liberalism [from “classical liberals” to anarcho-capitalists] is that there exists a certain human nature, the observation of which allows one to draw a certain objective conception of the “good life,” with that conception being seen as the only objective one possible, and the only possible, valid one. Also, the observation of human nature allegedly allows one to draw an objective categorical norm with regard to the right model for the positive law (with that categorical norm being seen as the only possible objective categorical norm, and the only valid categorical standard, as concerns the right model for the positive law); and objective instrumental standards for the purpose of the “good life.” Namely, moral ownership of oneself and of what one acquires non-violently as concerns the alleged objective categorical norm for the model of the positive law; rational and peaceful subsistence as concerns the content of the “good life;” and prioritized, peaceful pursuit of (material) subsistence, property, non-violence, responsibility, savings, mutual charity within the social division of labor as concerns the alleged objective instrumental standards for the purpose of the “good life.”

Another fundamental belief of libertarianism is that human conduct, while being not subject to any law as to its content (by reason of the alleged free will of humans), is nevertheless characterized by a number of laws as to its structure. Those laws are allegedly the object of what Ludwig von Mises called “praxeology;” and are allegedly apodictic. Thus completing—with an apologetic goal—praxeology with an investigation of the content of human action, Hans Hermann Hoppe endeavored to show that the experience of the type of human action that is argumentative action is necessarily the occasion for any human individual engaged in a given argumentative action to notice the existence of apodictic truths (i.e., that their terms are sufficient to render true, and which are therefore true by right and true whatever may be) in the domain of the knowledge of good and evil; and not only in the field of formal logic with the allegedly apodictic laws that are notably identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded third.

The Claim Of The Non-Aggression Principle’s Apodicticity

In addition to coming as an outgrowth of praxeology, Hoppe’s thesis intends to complete, or even replace, the jusnaturalist libertarian defense of the categorical principle of non-aggression, i.e., the defense of the categorical principle of non-aggression as a law that allegedly lets itself be deduced from human nature. While a loophole of libertarian jusnaturalism lies in its violation of the logical impossibility of deducing a categorical imperative (for instance, the principle of non-aggression) from an alleged state of affairs (for instance, human nature such as libertarianism represents it to itself), Hoppe’s thesis intends to fill that gap. And to prove the purported objectivity of the principle of non-aggression despite the impossibility of deducing an ought (in a categorical sense) from an is, i.e., without trying to deduce a categorical ought from an is.

According to Hoppe, in substance, the moral law non-aggression (i.e., the categorical principle that every man is the sole moral possessor of himself and of the goods which he acquires peacefully, and that no one is therefore morally entitled to showing violence towards someone, his integrity or his property acquired without violence) takes on the character of an apodictic truth just like the logical laws in the first-order logic (i.e., identity, non- contradiction, excluded third party, etc.). The performative contradiction that Hoppe judges to be necessarily associated with the contestation of the principle of non-aggression is alleged to endow the principle of non-aggression with a character of apodictic truth, i.e., to render the principle of non-aggression true by its sole terms, true whatever may be, true by right.

It is worth specifying that in first-order formal logic, the criterion necessarily retained to judge the apodicticity of a proposition consists of knowing whether it is tautological (i.e., true for any distribution of the values of truth), the laws of first-order logic serving as laws followed and assumed by the calculation of truth values. The incremental criterion contingently retained consists of knowing whether a proposition is reducible to a tautology via relations of synonymy, that second criterion being contingent in that it is conditioned on the recognition of those propositions, reducible (to tautologies) as being propositions themselves tautological.

Likewise, it is worth specifying that at least two modes of performative contradiction are conceivable. On the one hand, the act of acting in such a way that one proves in spite of oneself that one considers to be false some statements one however makes at the moment of the concerned action. On the other hand, the act of acting in such a way that one proves in spite of oneself the falseness of statements which one however makes at the same time. At last, it is worth specifying that the categorical form in a categorical statement—whether it is a moral law (for instance, the non-aggression principle) or a logical law (for instance, the identity principle)—does not endow such statement with an objective or apodictic character.

The Hoppean Fallacy

Hoppe’s argument in favor of the alleged apodicticity of the categorical principle of non-aggression, an argument known as “the ethics of argumentation,” does not consist of undertaking to prove the tautological character of the non-aggression principle or its reducibility to a tautology. Instead, it consists of affirming that the fact of displaying an argumentation for (or against) a given thesis necessarily supposes subscribing to the principle of non-aggression; and that the performative contradiction in the first above-evoked sense (i.e., in the sense of the saying of words that contradict the beliefs that the conduct accompanying those same words supposes and manifests) associated with any argumentation against the non-aggression principle proves, in spite of itself, the aforesaid principle’s apodicticity.

Those two assertions are false. On the one hand, far from the fact of displaying an argumentation necessarily supposing that one adheres to the principle of non-aggression, such an activity can very well suppose (for example) that one agrees as an Arian to listen to (and dismantle) the pro-Trinitarian arguments of his slave; but that one does not recognize him as having the right to express himself again on that subject (once the conversation is over), let alone quietly leave the palace to which his servitude attaches him. On the other hand, a performative contradiction (in the above-evoked sense), whatever it is, never proves that the belief one reveals in spite of oneself through the conduct consisting of contradicting that belief (or accompanying the fact of contradicting it) is true, even less apodictic. It only proves that there is an adherence to the aforesaid belief (whose true or false character remains to be determined).

Even if, indeed, the fact of engaging in some argumentation necessarily implied adhering to the principle of non-aggression, that assumption would only amount to believing (in spite of oneself) in the truth of the principle of non-aggression, not to proving (in spite of oneself) the aforesaid principle’s apodicticity. To put it in another way: even if the principle of non-aggression were necessarily a belief underlying any argumentative activity (and therefore, were necessarily be a premise, secret or avowed, of the statements held within the framework of some argumentative activity), the fact of arguing against the principle of non-aggression would only amount to inferring conclusions, contradicting the premises that one reveals in spite of oneself when drawing those conclusions. That would not render apodictic (i.e., true by their sole terms, true whatever the reality, true by right) the aforesaid premises.

A Variation Of The Hoppean Argument—And How It Is Fallacious As Well

Another attempt to prove the non-aggression principle, inspired by the “ethics of argumentation,” consists of invoking the second mode of performative contradiction: namely the fact of adopting a behavior such as to prove the falsity of statements one makes at the very moment of the aforesaid conduct. While it is no longer a question here of proving the alleged apodicticity of the non-aggression principle, the offered argument is nevertheless not less unsatisfactory than is the attempt to demonstrate the aforesaid apodicticity. The argument in question consists of asserting that the fact of arguing against the non-aggression principle, therefore the property of oneself, is an action that mobilizes, if not the voice or a pen, at least the mental abilities; and which, like any action, proves that one is in possession of one’s own body (including one’s brain). That relation of possession allegedly proving, in turn, that any suffered aggression is immoral—given it undermines the aforesaid possession of oneself.

Here again, each of these two statements is false. The fact of acting only shows that an order is given to the body (and executed), and not that the aforesaid body finds itself to belong to the aforesaid order’s author. (We will leave aside whether the author in question merges with the brain, the nervous system, or the soul). As for moral possession, i.e., the entitlement to be the possessor of a given good, therefore to hold it (and use it) without suffering any coercion, does not derive from factual possession as such (i.e., the actual possession of a good regardless of whether or not one is entitled to possess it), nor from the earliest factual possession (i.e., the fact not only of owning a given good, but of being the first to own the good in question). Even if a human (or another animal) were actually the factual possessor—and a fortiori the first factual possessor—of his own body, the aforesaid factual possession would in no way imply moral possession; therefore an entitlement not to be subjected to violence nor to a deprivation of liberty.

The act of arguing against the principle of non-aggression does not reveal the alleged moral possession (or even the alleged factual possession) of oneself any more than it does reveal the aforesaid principle’s alleged apodicticity. More generally, the moral possession of oneself is not more ascertainable or provable than the principle of non-aggression is apodictic. The fact of observing human nature, taken or not from the point of argumentative action, does not more allow us to notice the alleged moral (or even factual) possession of oneself any more than the principle of non-aggression is reducible to a tautology, or than the contingent presupposition of the principle of non-aggression in any argumentation attacking the truth of the aforesaid principle confers on the aforesaid principle an apodictic character.

That is just as true for the laws of first-order logic: the fact of observing reality does not more allow us to notice the ontological counterpart of the aforesaid logical laws (including the alleged necessity for any entity considered in a given respect at a given moment to be what it is rather than what it is not) than their contingent presupposition in any argument attacking the truth of the aforesaid logical laws does confer on the aforesaid logical laws an apodictic character. They are only assumed—rather than true by their terms alone or demonstrated.

Two Expected Objections

An objection from a proponent of “the ethics of argumentation” may be that the laws of first-order logic—just like tautologies (i.e., propositions remaining true for any distribution of truth values) or propositions reducible to tautologies—are indeed apodictic; nevertheless, insofar as the aforementioned laws are objectively evident by themselves (and only insofar as they are objectively evident by themselves). Whereas tautologies and propositions reducible to tautologies are apodictic insofar as they are demonstrable as true for any distribution of truth values (and only insofar as they are demonstrable as true for any distribution of truth values). And whereas the reducibility of propositions effectively reducible to tautologies may consist, for those propositions, of being reducible insofar as their terms are synonymous, but also of being so insofar as they are likely to be revealed via a performative contradiction, i.e., likely to be the object of an adhesion likely to get revealed in spite of oneself via a performative contradiction.

Another objection may be that the laws of first-order logic—identity, non-contradiction, excluded third, etc.—are certainly assumed (rather than demonstrated or true by their sole terms), and that they are assumed, if not by any argumentative activity, at least any senseful argumentative activity; but that denying the apodicticity of the aforesaid laws, or one of the propositions which those laws suffice to render true, is precisely senseless for our reason, insofar as those laws are a necessary condition of any senseful argumentative activity. Just like it is allegedly senseless for the reason to deny the apodicticity of the principle of non-aggression, insofar as the prior supposition of that principle is a supposedly necessary condition, if not of any argumentative activity, at least any senseful argumentative activity.

That ultimate argument in favor of holding the non-aggression principle and the laws of the calculus of predicates as apodictic does not pretend to prove their alleged apodicticity. It proposes that we act as if they were apodictic, i.e., proposes that one conventionally holds them as apodictic; and that, on the grounds that they are allegedly necessary conditions for any senseful argumentative activity. (In other words, that argument proposes that the first-order logical laws and the moral law of non-aggression be held to be apodictic conventionally rather than sincerely, i.e., by convention rather than conviction. It happens, nevertheless, that the same argument, which can be qualified as performative, is mobilized in favor of sincerely holding as apodictic the first-order logical laws and the moral law of non-aggression. In that case, the fact that those logical and moral laws allegedly come as necessary conditions of any objectively senseful argument allegedly proves that those laws are objectively apodictic).

How Performative Contradiction Is Not Tantamount To Tautology

Regarding the previous argument, the fact of adhering conventionally or sincerely to the laws of first-order logic (also called the calculation of predicates), i.e., the fact of holding them to be true by convention or by conviction, does not imply one adheres sincerely or conventionally to the idea that performative contradiction is a criterion of reducibility to a tautology.

Whereas the propositions that first-order logic is necessarily led to consider as true propositions by the operation of laws alone are the sole tautological propositions (i.e., true for any distribution of truth values), the propositions that first-order logic is contingently led to consider also as true propositions by the only operation of the logical laws include only those propositions reducible to tautologies via synonymy. Those propositions which are revealable via a performative contradiction, but which are neither tautological nor reducible to a tautology, are necessarily excluded outside the propositions that the calculation of predicates is necessarily or contingently likely to consider as true propositions by the sole operation of the logical laws.

To put it in another way, the revealability of a given proposition via a performative contradiction (i.e., via an action which proves that one implicitly adheres to that proposition even though one is in the process of denying it at the time of said action) does not render that proposition reducible (to a tautology) any more than it renders it tautological. Given that only a proposition reducible to a tautology is contingently conceivable as tautological (within the framework of first-order logic), and given that a proposition revealable via performative contradiction is not necessarily a proposition reducible to a tautology, performative contradiction cannot be a criterion of apodicticity in first-order logic: neither necessarily nor contingently.

Or again, adhering to the laws of first-order formal logic necessarily implies adhering to the idea that the tautological character of a proposition is a criterion of its apodictic character, and contingently implies (i.e., implies in the case where we admit that a proposition reducible by synonymy to a tautology is also render tautological by the sole fact of its reducibility) of adhering to the idea that the characteristic of a proposition to be reducible to a tautology is an additional criterion for apodicticity. Nevertheless, it does not imply adhering to the idea that performative contradiction is a criterion for apodicticity—and that, given that a proposition revealable through performative contradiction is not rendered reducible to a tautology by the sole fact of being revealable through performative contradiction.

Or again, in the eyes of the first-order logical laws, the fact of articulating a given statement (for instance, the negation of the non-aggression principle) while acting in a way that reveals one subscribes to the opposite of such statement only amounts to, simultaneously, expressing (verbally) a thing and (behaviorally) its contrary. It does not amount to proving the apodictically true character of the statement behaviorally expressed. The joint fact of expressing verbally the negation of the non-aggression principle and subscribing behaviorally to the non-aggression principle does not more render the non-aggression principle apodictically true than it proves the wrongness or the truth of the non-aggression principle. Expressing (verbally) p and (behaviorally) non-p does not more prove the wrongness or the truth of non-p than it renders p apodictically true. It only amounts to expressing two things excluding each other.

(As for the idea that the laws of first-order logic are self-evident: introspection allows us to see that those laws are not self-evident nor seem to be self-evident. The fact of being seemingly self-evident is, instead, a characteristic of what can be called the alleged ontological counterpart of said laws, i.e., a characteristic of the alleged ontological facts that are, for example, the impossibility for a given entity not to be what it is in a given respect and at a given time).

The Conventional Character Of Logic Laws

Regarding the argument that the moral law of non-aggression and the logical laws of first-order logic (i.e., identity, non-contradiction, excluded third, etc.) are both necessary conditions for an argumentative discourse which be genuinely senseful, and that it is therefore senseless to deny their apodicticity (despite the fact that said apodicticity is neither provable nor self-evident), the laws of first-order logic and the principle of non-aggression admittedly have in common that they claim to be the necessary conditions for an argument that makes sense. But precisely, the fact that an argument makes sense in the opinion of the laws of first-order logic only proves that it makes sense in the opinion of said laws: just as the fact that an argument makes sense in the opinion of the principle of non-aggression (in that it supposes and respects the categorical imperative to refrain from the slightest coercion towards the interlocutors and towards anyone) only proves that it makes sense in the opinion of said principle.

The fact that the laws of first-order logic or the principle of non-aggression serve as necessary conditions for arguments which are meaningful in their opinion does not imply that they serve as necessary conditions for argumentations which be objectively senseful. An argument which supposes a formal logic refusing all or part of the aforementioned laws will make sense in the opinion of the own laws of its own formal logic, which will not prove that it is objectively senseful: just like the fact that an argumentation assuming other categorical imperatives than the principle of non-aggression makes sense in the opinion of its own moral presuppositions does not prove that it is objectively meaningful.

It is worth pointing out that (convinced or conventional) adherence to the idea of the apodictically true character of the laws of first-order logic does not imply adhering (sincerely or conventionally) to the idea of the apodictically true character of the principle of non-aggression (and vice versa); and that the sincere (rather than conventional) adherence to the idea of the objectively true character of the laws of first-order logic is, sometimes, both motivated by the two reasons Aristotle proposes for sincerely adhering to the (idea of the) objective truth of the logical laws of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded third. Reasons that are performative (i.e., the laws in question are, in Aristotle’s opinion, necessary conditions for a senseful argumentation, what allegedly renders them apodictic) and ontological (i.e., the laws in question are, in Aristotle’s opinion, also founded by their ontological counterpart: for example, any entity, according to the respect considered and the moment considered, is necessarily what it is rather than what it is not).

Finally, one cannot but notice the failure of the performative argument in favor of the idea of the insane character of rejecting (by convention or conviction) the apodicticity of the laws of the first-order logic, or the law of the non-aggression principle, i.e., the argument consisting of pointing out the alleged necessity to assume (by convention or by conviction) both the laws of first-order logic and the principle of non-aggression so that an argument be objectively senseful.

It makes perfect sense to believe that the conformity of a given argument to the principle of non-aggression does not render the aforesaid conformity objectively senseful. Just like it makes perfect sense to believe that the conformity of a given argument with the laws of first-order logic does not render the aforesaid conformity objectively senseful; or to believe that the objectively senseful character of conformity to the laws of first-order logic—if it were attested—would not prove the objectively senseful character of conformity to the principle of non-aggression.

Beyond Aristotle And Rudolf Carnap

In practice, the performative argument in favor of holding conventionally or sincerely as apodictic the laws of first-order logic is sometimes accompanied by an ontological argument in favor of holding them (sincerely, and only in a sincere mode) for apodictic, which consists of pointing out the alleged ontological counterpart of the laws of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded third middle; and of justifying on the basis of said ontological counterpart the fact of sincerely holding them as apodictic. It also happens that, quite simply, one takes for the alleged apodictic character of the aforementioned laws what is actually the apparent self-obviousness of the ontological counterpart of said laws.

In both cases, the alleged ontological counterpart of the aforesaid laws would render said laws true by their conformity with reality (rather than true by their terms alone). It would not justify considering the aforesaid laws to be apodictic truths: whether by conviction or by convention. The alleged ontological counterpart is itself unfounded: given it is quite simply induced from a certain characteristic common in things and people in the field of reality which is offered to our senses (more precisely, the field immediately offered within what, in reality, is available to our senses). Namely, the characteristic of being necessarily what one is (i.e., the ontological counterpart of the principle of identity); of being necessarily incapable of being both what one is and what one is not at a given moment and in a given respect (i.e., the ontological counterpart of the principle of non-contradiction); and of being necessarily constrained to be either something or something else, but not both simultaneously, in a given respect and at a given moment (i.e., the ontological counterpart of the principle of the excluded third).

Since an induction is not a valid inference, it is wrong to generalize such characteristic to all the entities that inhabit reality on its various stages. Given the human mind is capable of conceiving the Trinity (which necessarily violates the laws of non-contradiction and of the excluded third), or the included third in quantum mechanics (with the fact for a photon of being simultaneously a wave and a particle, or for an electron of occupying two distinct positions simultaneously); it is nevertheless able (to a certain point and only in some people) to extract itself from those logical laws in order to try to apprehend the nature of the entities inhabiting other floors of reality.

To the Aristotelian thesis that the logical laws of identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded third have a not less performative foundation (i.e., they are allegedly the necessary conditions for a senseful discourse, from what it supposedly follows that they are apodictic) than ontological (i.e., they are allegedly based on the impossibility for a given entity to be both what it is and what it is not in a given respect and in a given moment, etc.), incidentally respond the following Carnapian remarks. Namely, that it is “a sure sign of a mistake if logic has need of metaphysics and psychology—sciences that require their own logical first principles;” and that in logic, “it is not our business to set up prohibitions, but to arrive at conventions,” Rudolf Carnap explaining, in this regard, that “prohibitions can be replaced by a definitional differentiation” and that “in many cases, this is brought about by the simultaneous investigation (analogous to that of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries) of language-forms of different kinds—for instance, a definite and an indefinite language, or a language admitting and one not admitting the Law of Excluded Middle.”

For our part, we defend a synthetic position. Namely that the principles of formal logic are admittedly conventional and that they, admittedly, cannot be proven ontologically; but that while coming as strict convention (instead of serving as objective criteria of what is objectively senseful or insane among the conceivable modes of argumentation), they are nevertheless confrontable with the noticed or soundly conjectured reality, which corroborates them (in default of confirming them objectively) and allows their gradual improvement as they are objectively refuted.

We believe the same applies to moral principles: at least those instrumental (rather than the categorical moral principles), including those designed for the purpose of a “good, viable” life in society. Whereas the categorical moral principles cannot be put to the test (since what is can neither confirm nor invalidate what must be categorically), the instrumental moral principles are confrontable with the reality observed or reasonably conjectured, which is able to refute them and help their enhancement (and even, perhaps, able to confirm them for some of them).

As regards more particularly the rules of law (among the instrumental moral principles effectively contributing to the “good life” in society), we believe that the Aristotelian jusnaturalist approach—ignoring the muddy, chimerical conceptions of a reason folded in on itself and endeavoring to identify, more modestly, the normal rules of law, functional with regard to the natural order (as a scrupulous observation reveals it and as a solidly corroborated imagination guesses it), and those which transgress the order of nature—is transposable and adaptable to a cosmos subject to intra-species biocultural evolution and inter-species biological evolution. It is true that liberalism lays claim to the observation of human nature to prove the alleged objectivity of its categorical ethical principle for the shaping of law (i.e., the categorical moral law of non-aggression), as well as of his conception of the “good life” and of the instrumental ethical principles associated with it. But the idea that it has of human nature is a fantasy and owes nothing to observation or to solidly corroborated imagination. We will come back to that subject elsewhere.

The Fallaciousness Of The Hoppean Criticism Of Logical Empiricism

In addition to his vain pretension to demonstrate the objectivity and the apodicticity of the categorical principle of non-aggression, and his most complete hermetism with regard to a jusnaturalist approach which be properly of Aristotelian obedience, Hoppe is mistaken on logical empiricism. And makes unjustified accusations against the Vienna Circle, the idea he has of the latter coming as a straw man.

The Hoppean argument against logical empiricism (presented in his article “Austrian rationalism in the age of the decline of positivism”) consists of presenting as self-contradictory the claim that any proposition is either a contentless, analytically true proposition, or a synthetic, empirically true proposition, or a normative proposition—so that the knowledge of the world can have no apodictic basis. And the claim that knowledge is always hypothetical to the point that experience can never have any value when it comes to assessing our theories. It turns out that each of two claims is neither self-contradictory nor attributable to the Vienna Circle’s logical empiricists. The first claim implicitly conceives of itself as a synthetic proposition, what is fully coherent with the tripartition it proposes. As for the second claim, it implicitly supposes that it comes as an exception to the rule it formulates: hence it escapes self-contradiction as well.

While the notion that analytical truths are contentless is, indeed, characteristic of the Vienna Circle, the latter nonetheless believed that logical laws served as an apodictic foundation for science. While Wittgenstein (who was not intellectually, institutionally affiliated to the Circle) conceived of the analytical truths as exhibiting the structure of the universe, in default of being endowed with signification, it seems to us that neither Rudolf Carnap nor any other member of the Circle came to endorse the view that analytically true propositions (such as “a bachelor is unmarried” or “two plus two makes four”) served as factual statements. The fact still remains that they did not reject the idea of an apodictic, a priori foundation for science as Hoppe claims. As for the idea that experience is wholly impotent regarding the confirmation of knowledge, it is not more characteristic of the Viennese empiricism—whose research agenda was precisely to show how experience could assess in probabilistic or instrumentalist terms the truth of a scientific statement.

That said, Carnap would come to conceive of formal logic in conventionalist terms. While Karl Popper would come to dismiss induction and to conceive of experience as able only to weaken our theories—and Willard Van Orman would come to dismiss the distinction between analytical and synthetic truths and to conceive of experience as unable to confront our propositions taken in isolation. The Vienna Circle’s project, i.e., the project of establishing the reducibility of meaningful statements to science and the reducibility of any scientific proposition to an empirically testable proposition, was admittedly a failure. But that project had nothing to do with the Hoppean description of the aforesaid project.

Praxeology In The Misesian Sense

Along with jusnaturalism in the Rothbardian or Randian sense, evolutionism in the Hayekian sense, or the Hoppean claim of the non-aggression principle’s apodicticity, praxeology in the Misesian sense constitutes one of the mirages of contemporary liberalism—about which one can say that one of its wrongs is to prefer the illusions of Ludwig von Mises to the clairvoyance of Vilfredo Pareto. Unwittingly, sociology in the Paretian sense addresses and demystifies each of the major axes of Mises’s theoretical edifice.

Praxeology in the Misesian sense, not content with claiming to elaborate propositions a priori true (in the sense of being true by reason of their sole terms), intends to focus exclusively on the structure of human action—and to deduce, progressively, its theoretical corpus from the sole proposition that humans act (in the sense of giving oneself ends and of choosing and using means with regard to the aforesaid ends). Besides, it denies the existence of human instincts and therefore their interference with human action (be it the determination of ends or the choice and handling of means), apart from an alleged instinctual effort of the part of every man to achieve the idea he has of greater happiness.

While denying, in that regard, that the field of the “sociology of instincts” (what, nowadays, would rather be called “sociobiology” or “evolutionary psychology”) can have any relevance, Mises envisages what he calls the “categories” of human action (i.e., the structures inherent in any particular human action) as the fruit of biological evolution in a context of selection by the natural environment. Thus, he paradoxically anticipates what is the fundamental credo of evolutionary psychology as it stands: namely the computational theory of the human mind, i.e., the theory that the human mind is fundamentally composed of “modules” dedicated to information processing, anchored into the human brain, and selected over the course of our species’ genetic evolution.

When it comes to the constitution of human civilizations, Misesian praxeology considers the division of labor as the most fundamental of social bonds: the very cement of society (what does not mean that it denies the rest of social ties, but that it recognizes a secondary place for them). As for the idea that Misesian praxeology has of progress, it notably sees in it the enhancement of the social division of labor (and of the human mutual aid operated within it) via the development of economic institutions (including money)—and via the substitution of “cooperation through contractual bonds” to “cooperation through hegemonic bonds.”

Misesian Praxeology’s Epistemological Claims—And Their Fallaciousness

Since none of the methodological claims of praxeology in Mises’s sense are realistic, none can prove compliant with the actual approach of Mises or his followers. Admittedly, it seems, the facts pertaining to the structure of human action—for instance, the successive assignment of a subjectively homogenous good’s acquired units to less and less priority objectives—are self-evident by reason of the nature of those very facts. But that apparent self-obviousness is precisely an attribute of those discovered facts (which, nonetheless, become self-evident only once they have been discovered and described); not a property of the proposition describing them. If one subscribes to first-order formal logic, the latter is not an apodictic proposition either—given it cannot be reduced to a tautology in the sense of first-order logic, i.e., a proposition which remains true whatever the distribution of truth values.

As for the discovery of the structural facts pertaining to human action, introspection allows us to notice that the discovery process admittedly requires deduction (notably from the proposition that men act); but that deduction is far from being sufficient for the aforesaid process and that a supplement of observation and intuition is both possible and indispensable for it. Most often, the Misesian praxeologist’s inquisitive mind only gives, a posteriori, a hierarchized, axiomatic-deductive presentation to the theories it previously acquired (via inculcation, intuition, or observation), what amounts to assembling the previously discovered pieces of a dispersed puzzle.

The methodological principle that praxeology (and therefore economics as a branch of the latter) only deals with the structure of human action is just as disproven via the examination of the theoretical propositions subsumed by praxeology (at least, in its Misesian version). Outside the praxeological edifice’s most fundamental propositions (such as the assertion that any engaged action tries to select the most suited means and endeavors to substitute a more satisfactory state of affairs to a less satisfactory one), praxeology and economics actually deal with the content of (the different types of) human action: especially the content of the type of human action known as entrepreneurship.

Why Pareto (And Not Mises)?

Sociology in the Paretian sense sets itself the implicit goal of covering both the structure of human action (with Pareto’s distinction between actions that are logically structured and those with an illogical structure) and its content, Pareto endeavoring notably to identify the nature of the instinctual “residues” which dictate—often surreptitiously—human ends, as well as the means mobilized for those ends; and that very often generate “illogical actions.”

While Mises conceives of praxeology as a strictly deductive approach whose starting point merges with the sole affirmation that man acts (in the sense of pursuing ends and mobilizing means), Pareto conceives of the study of human action as “logico-experimental,” that is to say, it is focused exclusively on observation and induction. Both converge as concerns the idea that human actions are not necessarily logical and that they sometimes—especially as a result of reasoning processes disoriented by emotion—adapt improperly the choice (and use) of means to the pursued ends.

Mises nevertheless limits himself to identifying rationality’s instrumental function (i.e., the function of determining the respective content of ends and means), while Pareto proposes a more extended analysis of rationality which identifies—in addition to the instrumental function of rationality—a concealment function, which consists of developing fictitious justifications for our illogical acts with the idea of passing off them as coherent. Besides, Mises, quoting Ludwig Feuerbach on that occasion, denies human instincts (and their incidence in human action) apart from a general “instinct of happiness,” while Pareto, thus anticipating sociobiology, imputes human emotions—and the illogicality they do not fail to introduce into our actions—to a web of instincts that we share very widely with animals.

Apart from the methodological pretensions, Pareto is quite superior to Mises on each of the above-mentioned points: Pareto’s only naivety is to believe that the effective methodology of his “sociology” is strictly “logical-experimental,” while the involved process mobilizes intuition and deduction as much as induction. As we have noted above, Mises’ pretension to resorting exclusively to deduction (from the sole assertion that man acts) is not less chimerical—himself coupling actually deduction with induction, as well as with intuition.

Let us add that, unlike Mises, in whose eyes the effect of any economic law is strictly independent of the social context of economic actions, Pareto rightly points out that economic laws—while remaining absolute—see the interdependence between economy and (the rest of) society countering the effect of those very laws. Protectionism thus causing a recomposition of political and industrial elites for the benefit of those individuals the most gifted to encourage the nation’s industrial development, what potentially compensates for the loss income linked to protectionism. Besides, Mises mistakenly imagines the social division of labor, and therefore economic facts, to be the only cement of society, and therefore the most fundamental social fact of all; while Pareto not less lucidly remarks that in addition to the social division of labor, the cement of society also includes, at least, the juridical hierarchical order within which the struggle for political preeminence is constantly being played out.

Yet another cleavage relates to the possibility for human action to create a world leaving behind it the interindividual (or interstate) struggle for physical power and the associated expropriation. Pareto admittedly recognizes a slow progress in the direction of a greater rationality of human actions—in the senses of greater objectivity in knowledge of the world, and greater skill in the choice and the use of means. An impression which emerges from his work is nonetheless that the “cycle of elites” capturing physical power and expropriating the good of others constitutes in his eyes a timeless trait of human societies.

For his part, Mises has the naivety to believe possible, if not inevitable, the entry of humanity into an era in which men will have abandoned the quest for physical power (including political) and in which the violence of states will subsist only to protect persons and their goods (and to chastise assassins and thugs). Thus, he stands at the midpoint of the millennialist hopes of his anarchist heirs (including Murray Rothbard), who believe to be feasible and even inevitable the coming entry of humanity into an era in which states themselves will have disappeared, the protection of persons and goods finding itself henceforth taken charge of by organizations without a coercive monopoly.

Conclusion—And Clarifying Natural Law And Quantum Physics

The revealability of a proposition via a performative contradiction (in the sense of the saying of statements that contradict a proposition whose endorsement is both supposed and manifested by the action accompanying the saying of those statements) is not equivalent to a tautological character nor equivalent to the reducibility to a tautology, i.e., a proposition true for any distribution of truth values in first-order logic. Just like the fact of conforming to certain logic laws or certain moral laws in a given argumentation intended to debunk those very laws does not render them apodictic. Hoppe’s case for the apodicticity of the non-aggression principle, i.e., the principle that no one is entitled to exert coercion toward someone or his non-violently acquired property, is not less fallacious than is his pretension to align the positive legal rules with a categorical, objective norm.

Basically, Hoppe does not better understand natural law (i.e., law based on nature) than do liberal jusnaturalists—even though he avoids the fallacious deducing of an ought from an is. Natural law should not be understood as apodictic, nor should it be understood as an objective categorical principle serving as a universal model for positive law. Natural law is admittedly objective; but it is neither categorical, nor distinct from positive law, nor applicable to the individual (taken independently of society), nor totally universal, nor discoverable a priori. Instead, it comes as a certain modality of positive law: namely those of positive legal rules which effectively contribute to the survival and functionality of a given society in view of the biocultural specificities of that society; but also in view of human nature (as it has been made by biological evolution) and in view of the cosmic order in which any human society takes place.

In other words, natural law is a hypothetical rather than categorical norm. It serves as an imperative required for the survival and functionality of a given society (in intergroup competition). Far from being external to positive law or applicable to the individual taken independently of society, it is only applicable to society and serves as positive rules of law effective for the success of a given society in intergroup competition. Besides, it is partly universal, partly circumstantial. It is universal when it comes to those positive rules of law which, to contribute to the success of society (in terms of survival and functionality), take into account human nature or the cosmic order. It is circumstantial when it comes to those positive legal rules which, in order to contribute to the success of society (in terms of survival and functionality), take into account the biological specificities of a given society or the cultural traditions of said society. Those same traditions finding themselves constrained to take into account human nature, cosmic order, and the biological specificities to ensure the success of said society (in terms of survival and functionality).

Natural law is not discovered via conjectures independent of experience. Instead, reason discovers it—imperfectly—via careful and comparative observation of the different human societies; as well as via the identification of the functional societies and those dysfunctional (as concerns their rules of law) and via the connection of functionality (and dysfunctionality) to cosmic order and to human nature such as observation and solidly corroborated imagination allow us to conceive them. In a sense, the same applies to logical laws—namely that they are not discovered via a priori, independent conjectures (i.e., conjectures which are both independent of experience and independent of science), but via conjectures both confronted to the experienced reality and to the scientifically, solidly conjectured reality. In that sense, Quine’s epistemological holism, i.e., the claim that experience only confronts a theoretical edifice (from its logical laws to its protocol sentences) taken as a full-fledged unit, is true.

As for praxeology such as devised and bequeathed by Mises, it is inept for many reasons: including its apodictic pretension; its rejection of the interference of instincts with human action; its frivolous treatment of the difference between rational and irrational actions (which ignores Pareto’s residues and derivations); its ignorance of the interdependence between economic and social facts; or its laicized millennialism. But also, its restriction of the field of action (i.e., the field of behaviours defining and deciding to reach some goals, and determining and using some means for those goals) to human beings alone.

Instead of action being unique to conscious beings (and a fortiori humans), quarks, atoms, bacteria, and the cosmos itself (taken as a whole) have made decisions and acted long before the onset of consciousness—as our friend Howard Bloom says in essence. A particle takes decision about the selection and the realization (via quantum decoherence) of one of the different states it simultaneously maintains—just like a homo sapiens when acting selects and realizes one of the possible futures of his action. And just like the cosmos itself has been deciding at each incremental level of emergence—starting with the emergence (known as inflation) which saw the cosmos going from nothingness to immensity and accomplishing a primordial decoherence, i.e., a primordial decision as to the one of the simultaneous states which would be retained.

Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. His work and interviews often appear in the Postil.


The featured image shows, “La récolte des pommes à Éragny (Apple harvest at Eragny),” by Camille Pissarro, painted in 1888.

Archeofuturist Liberalism: A Manifesto

The following was published a few years ago – but in a very different version. We are publishing a significantly updated version, which the author has fully elaborated with the benefit of hindsight.


The obsession of liberals [libertarians, either “classical liberals” or “anarcho-capitalists”] to condemn only economic or “cultural” Marxism is a dead end. Saving Western civilization requires the wisdom to identify, and the courage to name, the other contemporary enemy of the West: namely cosmopolitanism. Cultural Marxism – in the sense of Antonio Gramsci’s doctrine that Marxists must reach cultural hegemony before attempting the Revolution – is certainly influential in the West; but not more than is cosmopolitanism itself – in the sense of the doctrine that political and moral boundaries must be dissolved for the benefit of the individual’s “emancipation.”

Economic Marxism – in the sense of communism (or semi-communism) and planning within a national framework – is certainly on the rise again in China; but China itself is an ally to the global superclass promoting cosmopolitanism. The “global superclass,” according to the expression popularized by Samuel Huntington, consists of a transnational network of uprooted and denationalized people, whose gestation dates back at least to the beginning of the 20th century and whose constitution accelerated with the fall of the Soviet bloc. Here, we will seek to elucidate the conceptual relations between liberalism [libertarianism] and cosmopolitanism; and will outline the contours of a new variety of liberalism – namely a liberalism simultaneously directed against bourgeois nationalism and against cosmopolitanism.

Definition Of Cosmopolitanism

By cosmopolitan ideology, one must understand here an ideology that rejects humanity divided into nations. As such, cosmopolitanism condemns the particular mode of organization that characterizes a nation as a nation, i.e., which confers on a group of individuals the identity and the unity of a nation. This unity consists of the following: a relative genetic homogeneity, as well as cultural one; a chain of social and juridical tiers that goes back to a sovereign political authority (i.e., the supreme authority within the government); and a territory that is covered by, and which limits, that hierarchical and homogeneous organization.

Cosmopolitanism attacks national territory, and therefore borders, by forbidding governments to defend nations against indiscriminate free trade or free immigration. It also attacks the juridico-political hierarchy of a nation, either by calling for inequalities reduced to income, merit, and occupation inequalities, or in advocating the substitution of nations with a world government. Finally, cosmopolitanism condemns as much the admitted moral frontiers (between good and evil, beauty and ugliness, honor and dishonor) as the genetic and cultural differences between nations. Not content with advocating the relativism of values (i.e., the abolition of moral boundaries), it praises the leveling of races and cultures.

It is a mistake to believe that the cosmopolitan elite would subscribe to the ideal of a humanity reduced to its animality, i.e., a humanity in which only the spontaneous (rather than diverted) aspirations of those instincts we inherited (from our primate ancestors) are expressed in human behavior – and expressed only in an unleashed (rather than rationalized) manner.

In effect, the ideology of the world superclass abhors the spontaneous aspirations of those human instincts that are expressed as territory and domination, identity and adventure – or even abhors those instincts as such, which come as distinct modalities of the aggressiveness coded in our genome.

The ideal inspiring cosmopolitanism is actually that of a humanity in which the spontaneous aspirations of our instincts for territory and identity – and therefore the attachment to frontiers – are no longer expressed. And of a humanity in which the spontaneous aspirations of our instincts for adventure and domination – and therefore the taste for military, economic, or intellectual competition – are no longer expressed. A humanity deprived of its national and cultural rooting, but also, more fundamentally, of its biological rooting – that is the horizon of the cosmopolitan ideology.

In the area of values and moral boundaries, let us point out that the version of cosmopolitanism advocated by the world superclass diverges from pur et dur cosmopolitanism. The ideology of the world superclass indeed counterbalances the call to get rid of any moral boundary (on behalf of individual emancipation) with the concern for preserving some of the typically bourgeois values – as much as with the concern for promoting ecologism and worldwide communism.

The wording “cosmopolitanism” was brandished for the first time by the Cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope. Nonetheless, we will leave aside the question of knowing whether Diogenes understood “cosmopolitanism” in its current sense of an ideology which preaches the relativism of values and the leveling of races and nations; or rather, for instance, in the sense that everyone – at a moral and biocultural level – belongs (and must belong) to a given nation, while belonging to the entire humanity at a “spiritual” level.

The Stoic philosophers and the Alexandrine Jewish philosophers were certainly partisans of the federation of nations under the aegis of a certain universal law. Nonetheless, they were not cosmopolitan in the current sense, i.e., they were not proponents of the dissolution of nations under the aegis of moral relativism.

What will concern us here will be cosmopolitanism as it is currently understood – and as it adapted and set up by the world superclass. Also, we will examine liberalism envisaged in its relation to the world superclass’s cosmopolitanism, i.e., the world superclass’s ideology advocating biocultural leveling and a certain moral relativism, but remaining attached to those bourgeois values that are the priority pursuit of material subsistence and the materialist approach to reality.

The Three Heads Of The Equalitarian Hydra

The overwhelming majority of liberals (be they academics or simply followers of the liberal philosophy) refrain from denouncing cosmopolitanism and envision Marxism as the only enemy to fight. What is more, they indulge in cosmopolitanism at various levels, whether or not they use the term cosmopolitanism – and whether that ideological leaning is conscious on their part or is so natural that it goes unnoticed in their own eyes. Does this mean then that liberalism conceptually ends up as cosmopolitanism? In other words, that cosmopolitanism comes as the logical outcome of liberalism, and that the endorsement of cosmopolitanism among liberals is – conceptually – necessary rather than contingent?

Before we answer these questions, it is important to highlight the kinship of liberalism, socialism, and cosmopolitanism. Those three ideologies (or philosophies) are ultimately the three distinct manifestations of the same egalitarian ideal.

Liberals, socialists, and cosmopolitans are indeed “in-fighting relatives,” animated by a common passion for (arithmetical) equality. And that, even though it is a faith, an ideal, which they proclaim in three distinct ways (universality of law for liberals; equality of incomes, or, at least, equal subjection to central planning, for socialists; the leveling of races and nations for cosmopolitans – let us add that liberalism, socialism, and cosmopolitanism – as they have unfolded since the French Revolution – also converge in their common adherence to the hegemony of economy in the scale of values. Such hegemony is not wishful thinking on the part of egalitarian ideals.

Concomitantly, with the dissipation of intermediate juridical inequalities (in accordance with the liberal ideal of equality in law), economy has lifted itself – in the wake of the Revolution of 1789 – at the summit of Western values. On the same token, the welfare state has gained ground (in accordance with the socialist ideal of economic equality); and concomitantly with the rise of the world superclass, cosmopolitanism itself has finally contaminated the intranational mores and the relations between nations. The world superclass also promotes ecologism, transhumanism, and communism – but here we will leave aside those aspects of the world superclass’s ideology.

Let us be clear about what makes the singularity of each of the three faces of the equalitarian ideology. The universality of law – or the equality of human beings with regard to the rules of law that must apply to them – serves as the fundamental categorical value of liberalism. In other words, liberalism fundamentally promotes the value of equality taken in a legal sense, i.e., taken in the sense of the equal freedom of all, the equal right of all not to suffer coercion (towards their life or their peacefully acquired goods).

For socialism, it is equality in an economic sense, i.e., income equality and central planning, which serves as a fundamental categorical value.

And for cosmopolitanism, it is equality taken in a biocultural and “communitarian” sense: the equality of men in the sense of their biological and cultural indifferentiation – and in the sense of their non-belonging to another collective than Humanity. That everyone be culturally and racially identical, and that no one be a member of a nation within Humanity; that everyone be a member of Humanity considered as a collective in its own right (and that he be a member of that collective only), and that the individual be released from the moral boundaries that his affiliation to one or other nation assigns to him; and finally that everything which “thwarts” and separates individuals be removed., That is the egalitarian creed of cosmopolitanism.

From Classical Liberalism To Anarcho-Capitalist Cosmopolitanism

In its purest form, so to speak, liberalism merges with an anarchism that respects private property – including the private ownership of the means of production. That said, it is an insoluble problem of knowing whether the “true” manifestation of a political movement lies in the “extremist,” fully coherent (doctrinally speaking) branch of that movement, or lies instead in a moderate, “pragmatic” branch of the latter. Determining whether the “true” implementation of a doctrine lies with the radical branch of its proponents (or lies instead with a moderate branch) falls within arbitrary consideration, “subjective preference.”

Therefore, it would be futile to ask whether the movements promoting anarcho-capitalism are “truer” than those promoting classical liberalism. But it is not futile to try to determine whether integral liberalism, in addition to being wholly anarchist, is wholly cosmopolitan (out of conceptual necessity). We shall see that anarcho-capitalism only exacerbates the amount of cosmopolitanism already present in classical liberalism – but that both anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism remain distinct from integral cosmopolitanism.

Classical liberalism (that of John Locke, Adam Smith, J-B. Say, Mill, father and son, Robert Torrens, Frederic Bastiat, Yves Guyot, Ludwig von Mises, or Friedrich A. von Hayek) does not only affirm its attachment to equality in law, i.e., universality of the rules of law, universal freedom of all – but it promotes an extended division of labor and praises the entrepreneur as the one who coordinates the division of labor (on the basis of his anticipation of the fluctuations in demand), and who spurs the allocation of factors in anticipation, and in the direction of, the long-term equilibrium – that is, the type of equilibrium where capital is used and allocated in such a way that, besides the equilibrium market prices corresponding perfectly to the entrepreneurial anticipations, each factor is used and allocated in the most satisfying manner in view of current expectations on the part of consumers and investors.

Anarcho-capitalism inhabits the same terrain as classical liberalism, except that it rejects the “minimal state” promoted by classical liberals – and instead calls for privatizing (and opening up to competition) the “regalian” functions, i.e., putting an end to the state’s legal monopoly on the use of force to sanction attacks against physical integrity and against property rights.

The greatness of classical liberalism (which culminates in anarcho-capitalism) lies in its double demonstration of the superior productivity of an extended division of labor and of the need for the free market – a fortiori the free market for capital goods, in the absence of which there can be no anticipation and no calculation on the profitability of allocation decisions – to extend the division of labor and to coordinate it in the direction of the optimal satisfaction of consumption and investment needs.

The mediocrity of classical liberalism notably lies in its contempt for the practice of war – and in its pacifist ideal that degrades human nature, for it is true, as Hegel knew so well, that “the movement of the winds preserves the waters of the lakes from the danger of putrefaction, which would plunge them into a lasting calm, as would do for the peoples a lasting peace and a fortiori a perpetual peace.”

As for the relations between Western nations, the pacifism of classical liberalism eventually triumphed after the end of the Second World War. But the disappearance of war among Western nations only completed the preliminary disappearance of what may be called the individualist conception of war – or the Indo-European ethos in the practice of war. We will turn to that issue a bit later.

Anarcho-capitalists, like classical liberals, by the very necessity of their doctrine, indulge, to some extent, in cosmopolitanism, which, let us recall, is defined (in its complete form) by its call to abolish moral boundaries, to dissipate political boundaries, and to level races and cultures. While classical liberalism merges with a relative cosmopolitanism, anarcho-capitalism merges with a more pronounced cosmopolitanism (which remains incomplete).

Classical liberalism accepts, to some extent, the existence of nations. It accepts them except it promotes the indiscriminate opening of borders to goods and to migrants (in the name jointly of freedom and of the ideal of a division of labor whose scope transcends political boundaries) – all the while prohibiting (on behalf of freedom) any coercive measure intended to preserve biocultural identity.

For its part, anarcho-capitalism accepts biocultural homogeneity in a group of people; but it refuses the existence of nations as political edifices (if not as biocultural entities). The reason for this refusal lies in the fact that anarcho-capitalism finds all the implications of equality in law, which is tantamount to saying that it aspires to an equality in law that it be perfect, or “die-hard.”

As for moral boundaries, both anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism promote bourgeois values – although they do not necessarily call them “bourgeois,” and although they claim such values to be universally adapted to human beings (rather than adapted to the sole bourgeois type of man). These values include the categorical (equality before the law), and the instrumental or conditioned ones, which are intended to set up the (bourgeois idea of) “good life.” Ayn Rand rightly summed up the bourgeois conception of the good life as the peaceful “survival of man as a rational being.” We will at this concept, and the instrumental values it implies, a little later. For now, let us simply note that classical liberalism, like anarcho-capitalism, are cosmopolitan to some extent with respect to political boundaries – and that anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism are axiologically engaged with cosmopolitanism, rather than being morally cosmopolitan.

Classical liberalism, as it accepts the state, accepts a first infringement of equality in law. Officials and taxpayers, indeed, do not see themselves judged by the same rules of law in the sense that the former are exceptionally empowered to live on coercion and to enjoy privileges, such as, the more extended right to strike, very advantageous pensions and health care benefits, or guaranteed employment.

However, classical liberalism does not only accept the state; it accepts the state within a national framework. In other words, it accepts the state as territory of a given nation, federated by a relative cultural and genetic homogeneity. With notable exceptions, like Mises, classical liberalism does not promote the disappearance of national states for the benefit of a world state. As such, in addition of accepting the inequality in law between civil servants and taxpayers, classical liberalism accepts the inequality in law between domestic residents and foreigners. Yet anarcho-capitalism does not even want those two infringements of equality in law. The only inequalities that it deems legitimate are the inequalities of income, diploma, and profession. And that, because it regards any inequality in law as a fault, including the distinction between the official and the taxpayer and the one between the national citizen and the foreigner.

The relative cosmopolitanism that characterizes classical liberalism, and the adherence to a world government are both perfectly clarified by Ludwig von Mises, his treatise, Liberalism: “The metaphysical theory of the state declares – approaching, in this respect, the vanity and presumption of the absolute monarchs – that each individual state is sovereign, i.e., that it represents the last and highest court of appeals. But, for the liberal, the world does not end at the borders of the state. In his eyes, whatever significance national boundaries have is only incidental and subordinate. His political thinking encompasses the whole of mankind. The starting-point of his entire political philosophy is the conviction that the division of labor is international and not merely national. He realizes from the very first that it is not sufficient to establish peace within each country, that it is much more important that all nations live at peace with one another. The liberal therefore demands that the political organization of society be extended until it reaches its culmination in a world state that unites all nations on an equal basis. For this reason he sees the law of each nation as subordinate to international law, and that is why he demands supranational tribunals and administrative authorities to assure peace among nations in the same way that the judicial and executive organs of each country are charged with the maintenance of peace within its own territory.”

Anarcho-capitalism condemns the official and the taxpayer, along with the national citizen and the foreigner. Although anarcho-capitalism is necessarily cosmopolitan only in part (and necessarily condemns moral relativism), anarcho-capitalist cosmopolitanism is however a much more asserted, much more radical cosmopolitanism than classical-liberal cosmopolitanism.

As for biocultural identity, both anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism necessarily oppose coercive measures intended to preserve the latter – for instance, a ban on miscegenation, which is not tantamount to morally approbating miscegenation (or the loss of biocultural identity generally speaking).

That said, one cannot but notice – in addition to those cosmopolitan tendencies that flow from a conceptual necessity – the following propensity on the part of anarcho-capitalists in practice – namely, their propensity to deny the existence of the aggressive instincts (i.e., identity and territory, adventure and domination), as well as the existence of races and cultures – and to morally condone, or even encourage, cultural leveling and miscegenation. And that, on the grounds that there should only exist “individuals” – that is, individuals who are not only born tabula rasa and undifferentiated, but who have no other social link than the division of labor and trade, the genetic and cultural links of the nation being denied in particular.

Such an approach deserves, in our opinion, the qualifier of “liberal Lysenkoism.” It is found among anarcho-capitalist but also among hybrid liberals, i.e., those liberals who are allied to the minimal state (or minarchy) of classical liberalism and who are nevertheless seduced – like are anarcho-capitalists – by the ideal of racial, cultural leveling.

From The National-Liberalism Of 1789 To Pseudo-Nationalist Anarcho-Capitalism

Pure radical liberalism can be defined as egalitarianism which – on behalf of the equal freedom of all – recognizes as legitimate sole economic and academic inequalities, i.e., income, diploma, and occupation inequalities.

Among anarcho-capitalists, some however care (more or less openly) for the coercive preservation of biocultural identities – and endeavor to develop a system that reconciles the coercive preservation of biocultural identities with the universality of law. Such is the case of Hans Hermann Hoppe especially.

Such version of anarcho-capitalism remains a modality of cosmopolitanism – and therefore, a modality of liberal cosmopolitanism, i.e., a cosmopolitan modality of libertarianism. Nevertheless, there is indeed a liberalism that reconciles the ideal of the nation, the rejection of all sorts of cosmopolitanism, with equality in law, i.e., the equal, universal freedom of all – and that liberalism is none other than the one which inspired the Revolution of 1789 and the posterior European nationalisms.

We have seen that classical liberalism affirms the existence of nations and advocates that they cultivate pacifism and free trade – and that they reject warmongering for the benefit, not only of peace, but of a social division of labor that limits nothing and which extends beyond frontiers. In other words, one in which men and capital circulate without the slightest restriction.

The national-liberalism of 1789, which serves as the matrix of the various European nationalisms of the 19th century, differs from classical liberalism on the question of free trade and free immigration. Unlike classical liberalism, it does not intend, indeed, to open borders to goods and people indiscriminately. It is also parts company with classical liberalism on the question of pacifism. Napoleonic imperialism and the conflict of 1914-1918 came as grand manifestations of the warmongering inherent in bourgeois nationalism. The disagreement between classical liberalism and national-liberalism over pacifism reflects one more fundamental of bourgeois values. The latter include, on the one hand, a categorical principle, namely, the equal freedom of all, and on the other hand, a series of instrumental principles (i.e., social division of labor, non-violence, responsibility, frugality, etc.) that allow for the bourgeois conception of the “good life,” i.e., peaceful and rational material subsistence.

While classical liberalism and anarcho-capitalism wholly subscribe to these principles, the national-liberalism of 1789 counterbalances its subscription to these principles with its endorsement of what may be called a gynecocratic cult of the nation, i.e., a veneration of the nation as a motherly deity, all of whose children are equal – and equally expected to die anonymously for the nation on the occasion of wars. Thus, the national-liberalism of 1789 – while enshrining bourgeois values within the nation – adheres to the infringement of the bourgeois prioritization of material subsistence, when it comes to the relations between the nations.

Besides, the national-liberalism of 1789 combines the ideal of free enterprise with that of a perfectly unified nation, i.e., one deprived of its intermediary bodies and its intermediary rank inequalities. It intends to exacerbate national sentiment so that the feeling of belonging to some nation henceforth arouse a greater pride than that of belonging to some caste or some class within that nation. It also seeks to erode the traditional intermediate inequalities of status, so that the nation only knows inequalities in income and in profession – and thus reducing individuals to mere cogs in the division of labor.

The national-liberalism of 1789 also promotes a policy of cultural homogenization. For example, by combating regional dialects and imposing the use of a single “national language.” It can even promote the unification (into a single nation) of a geographical area, and being composed of culturally and genetically related nations. Italy and Germany offer us two eminent examples of such unification. In line with its attachment to political measures intended to increase cultural homogeneity, the national-liberalism of 1789 can also promote political measures intended to preserve biocultural homogeneity.

Apart from the forced unification of a region (into a single nation), the forced cultural homogenization, and the forced preservation of biocultural identity; as well as apart from the counterbalancing free enterprise (and the extended social division of labor) with restrictions to free trade and free immigration, and apart from the counterbalancing the bourgeois ethos of prioritizing material subsistence with the principle of forced self-sacrifice for the sake of the motherly nation – the national-liberalism of 1789 converges with classical liberalism as to the promotion of bourgeois values. As Vilfredo Pareto invites us to do, it is always worthwhile to distinguish between the “residue” and the “derivation,” i.e., the (sometimes instinctual) feelings that any ideology serves and the rhetorical tricks it hypothetically uses to conceal those feelings – or to conceal the compromises with reality that the ideology in question is hypothetically obliged to make.

In fact, the national-liberalism of 1789, which claims its strict attachment to bourgeois values and equality in law, endeavors to legitimize (and enshrine) a society that does not ignore inequality in law, but only intermediate bodies and intermediate castes (between the government and the individual), in which juridical, economic, and academic inequality is such that the ruling class is henceforth the bourgeoisie. What is more, such a society is not fully absorbed by the priority pursuit of mutual, peaceful subsistence between formally equal proprietors, but which counterbalances that bourgeois ethos with the principle of compromising one’s material subsistence (and the smooth running of the social division of labor) for the sake of the national gynecocratic cult. The national-liberalism of 1789 endeavors to defend the bourgeois juridico-political edifice – and the gynecocratic, sacrificial wars of bourgeois nations – under the guise of a mysticism of peace and equality.

A certain version of anarcho-capitalism, which may be called pseudo-nationalist anarcho-capitalism, takes into account biocultural identities – and paradoxically intends to preserve them coercively. The anarcho-capitalism à la Hoppe indeed conceives of the anarcho-capitalist order as a “covenant,” jointly based on property right and on the contractual obligation to verbally, behaviorally adhere to a certain set of “conservative” values. Therefore, anyone formulating ideas contrary to those values, or behaving in contradiction with them. is likely to get expelled from the “covenant,” though the latter is established in a wholly peaceful, voluntary manner.

Hoppe (to the best of our knowledge) does not raise the following implication openly – that such an anarcho-capitalist “covenant” – besides allowing the rallying around some shared values (which are, in fact, the bourgeois values) – also allows for the coercive preservation of biocultural identity. For instance, through the conceivable contractual obligation not to miscegenate oneself – or the one not to convert to Islam. As for immigration (whose political channeling is part of the coercive measures to protect the nation’s biocultural identity), Hoppe makes the case that a policy authorizing indiscriminate free immigration is necessarily incompatible with the enforcement of property rights. On the grounds that such policy violates the right of proprietors to decide who is entitled or not to cross the limits of their respective properties.

At first sight, the Hoppean covenant may look like an honorable, though chimerical, attempt to reconstruct the nation in an anarcho-capitalist framework. Actually, such is not Hoppe’s intent. And rightly so – for one cannot overestimate the inanity of that conceivable intent. National boundaries are, indeed, not enshrined by the owners themselves (as is the case in the Hoppean covenant), but by the governments. Nonetheless, the nation is not a fantasy used by governments (to legitimize their authority over a given territory) no more than it is created by a voluntary association of coowners. What necessarily characterizes a nation (as a nation) is that it comes as a certain space, federated by a given pecking order, a certain juridico-political order, and by a territorial instinct which is expressed as much among those “at the bottom of the social ladder” as among those who compose the ruling class and the state administration. A certain space which is, besides, occupied by people who are genetically homogeneous – as well as culturally homogenous – to some extent, and who share a common worldview, a certain canvas of memes. Claiming to rebuild nations on the sole basis of property right (and the contractual adherence to some values) simply becomes a modality of cosmopolitanism.

For an introduction to the theory of pecking orders, one may consult Robert Ardrey’s The Social Contract:

“In 1920 the British amateur ornithologist Eliot Howard presented the natural sciences with the concept of territory in animal affairs. In 1922, just two years later, a Norwegian scientist, T. Schjelderup-Ebbe, published in Germany his study of the social psychology of the chicken yard. It centered on his discovery of the pecking order in a flock of hens. From alpha to omega there is a rank order of dominance within the flock, and each hen has the right to peck those below it in the order, while none has the right to peck back. Thus alpha has the right to peck all, whereas none can peck her. And omega, of course, the last in line, gets pecked by everybody and can peck back at none. In just two years the twin principles of territory and dominance, the concepts at present most absorbing for students of animal behavior, came into being. Howard, despite his study of innumerable bird species, was conservative in confining his conclusions to bird life, the world he knew. Like Howard, Schjelderup-Ebbe went on to study sparrows, pheasants, ducks and geese, cockatoos, parrots, canaries. He was anything, however, but conservative. ‘Despotism,’ he wrote, ‘is the basic idea of the world, indissolubly bound up with all life and existence.’ He went beyond life: ‘There is nothing that does not have a despot… The storm is despot over the water; the lightning over the rock; water over the stone it dissolves.’ He even recalled a proverb that God is despot over the Devil.”

For an introduction to meme theory, it is worth quoting our friend Howard Bloom:

“As genes are to the individual organism, so memes are to the social organism, or superorganism, pulling together millions of individu¬als into a collective creature of awesome size. Memes stretch their tendrils through the fabric of each human brain, driving us to coagulate in the cooperative masses of family, tribe and nation… History, either natural or human, has never been the sole province of the selfish individual, essentially preoccupied with preserving his genes. For history is the playfield of the superorganism – and of its recent step-child, the meme.”

Although it is concerned with the coercive preservation of biocultural identity (and the coercive discrimination of immigration), the Hoppean version of anarcho-capitalism remains a modality of cosmopolitanism. The Hoppean covenant (which, anyway, is wholly chimerical, unrealistic) is nothing other than an intended substitute for the nation.

As for the argument that free immigration is incompatible as much with an anarcho-capitalist “covenant” as with the state’s respect for intranational property rights, that argument comes more as a rhetorical trick, a “derivation,” than as a rigorous, factual reflection. It implicitly assumes, indeed, that a nation and an anarcho-capitalist order both constitute – necessarily – a coownership (or a club), in which the decision to authorize (or refuse) the entry of someone is made by the coalesced owners (or the gathered members of the club). Yet that is a false conception as much of the anarcho-capitalist order as of the national edifice. The former is not more necessarily a club than it is necessarily a coownership. In other words, an anarcho-capitalist order organized as a coownership (or as a club) only comes as a certain kind of organization for an anarcho-capitalist order.

As for the nation, it can in no way be a club or a coownership – in view of the juridical hierarchy necessarily present within it and the necessarily coercive character of the state (even democratic). On the basis of such a premise (i.e., that a nation or an anarcho-capitalist order necessarily comes as a coownership), one could just as easily argue that free trade necessarily violates property rights as much in a nation as in an anarcho-capitalist order – and that a policy opening up the nation’s frontiers to goods necessarily denies the right of the owners to decree which goods are allowed or not to cross the boundaries of their respective properties.

Free immigration and free trade must be limited – not in the name of a properly understood anarcho-capitalism, but in the name of the rejection of the relative cosmopolitanism that is inherent in classical liberalism and exacerbated in all varieties of anarcho-capitalism. Liberalism must be counterbalanced, limited by civilizational and geopolitical considerations.

In this respect, it is worthwhile recalling that the expansion of cosmopolitanism into Western nations only comes as the culmination of a process of subversion of Western civilization which began with the abandonment of the Indo-European order, i.e., the warlike and sacerdotal order – and with the advent of the bourgeois industrious society. Classical liberalism is engaged in the march of cosmopolitanism, in the sense that it has been leading the march towards free trade and free immigration. For its part, the national-liberalism of 1789 has been involved in the march of the bourgeois industrious society – with neither classical liberalism nor anarcho-capitalism coming to oppose intellectually the bourgeois society and to take up the defense of Indo-European tradition. Quite the contrary.

The National-Liberalism Of 1789 In The Face Of Indo-European Tradition

The Indo-European tradition is one that is both organizational and axiological. Organizationally, it comes as the tradition of a tripartite and hierarchical organization of society, in which the sacerdotal caste (for instance, the druids in Celtic society, the brahmins in Vedic society, and the magi in Persian society) takes precedence – spiritually – over the warlike caste; and in which both the warlike and sacerdotal castes take precedence – juridically – over the productive caste. The authority to decide on spiritual and otherworldly issues is up to the priests (and only up to them), who notably serve as magicians and esotericists.

As for political power (i.e., the power of command and decision, as well as the authority to decide on secular issues), it always lies with the warlike caste (which can share it, more or less, with the sacerdotal caste, depending on the considered society). For their part, merchants, peasants, and workers find themselves subservient – through their inferior position in the tiering of juridical ranks – to the warlike and sacerdotal castes.

Axiologically, the Indo-European tradition comes as that of an ethos which may be called individualist-warlike (or aristocratic-warlike, or quite simply aristocratic). That ethos consists (for a given aristocrat, i.e., a given member of the hegemonic warlike caste) of undertaking to singularize oneself through the exercise of military domination (with regard to the productive caste’s members); and through the pursuit of eternal glory on the battlefield, i.e., the pursuit of military exploits, occasioning eternal remembrance of one’s name and one’s fame.

The juridical enfeoffment of the productive, industrious caste to the magus and the warrior is traditionally accompanied with a twin primacy of sacerdotal and aristocratic values, i.e., magic (including esotericism) and warlike individualism (as defined above).

The national liberalism of 1789 set up a reversal of the Indo-European tradition by placing the productive function at the top – both from an axiological and organizational point of view. Thus followed the marginalization of sacerdotal and individualist-warlike values (but not of war itself); the disappearance of intermediate juridical inequalities (but not of the state as such); and the triumph of what may be called the bourgeois materialist spirit. As concerns war, the overthrow of the Indo-European triad (for the benefit of economy) meant, not the decrease of war itself, but actually the necessary marginalization of the warlike-individualist ethos, which is by necessity the contempt of the warlike-aristocratic ethos (and therefore for the aristocrat himself).

While a bourgeois nation does not necessarily ignore the practice of war, it is necessarily prey to the replacement of the Indo-European warlike-individualist ethos (i.e., the ethos of rendering oneself glorious and immortal through military exploit) with what may be called the warlike-sacrificial ethos, i.e., the ethos of anonymizing oneself within the mass of soldiers, dead for the Motherland.

Besides, far from encouraging the global outburst of human instincts, the hegemony of economy thwarts the spontaneous, natural aspirations of those instincts that are territory and identity, domination and adventure – and requires the forced hypertrophy of the economic instinct, i.e., the instinct which leads us to seize peaceful opportunities of trade and production. Such hypertrophy goes against the spontaneous, natural hierarchy of man’s instinctual needs. To humans, identity and territory, adventure and domination, matter – naturally – more than material enjoyment and economic cooperation.

Nowadays, the defense of “warlike heroism” is most often accompanied by a sacrificial conception of the heroic ideal. The “hero” is indeed perceived as the one who is ready to die for society (the nation, the fatherland, the Republic) and who forgets, or denies his individuality, standing aloof from any selfishness in his conduct. This conception, which is celebrated as much in bourgeois democracies as in totalitarian regimes, diverges completely from the idea that pagans had of heroism in the ancient world. Far from sacrificing himself for society, the hero, the aristocrat, established the ruling caste (which could be interpenetrated with the sacerdotal caste). In a sense, the society was sacrificed for the benefit of the hero, in that social organization was designed for the benefit of the warlike and sacerdotal castes, the latter living off the work of slaves and the productive caste’s efforts.

Besides, war was valued, and perceived, not as a way of self-denial but quite the contrary, as a way of supernatural fulfillment of an individual. In other words, a way for him to render himself divine (or to reveal, confirm his divinity), and to have his exploits sung forever by other people. The clairvoyance (i.e., ability for divination) and sorcery of the priest were regarded as another modality of the supernatural fulfillment, i.e., another mode of deification for an individual.

But, what may be called bourgeois materialism, won the spirits, as bourgeois nationalism was extending its grip over the Western world. The bourgeois materialist state of mind can be negatively defined as a state of mind mocking and refusing the warlike-individualist spirit, and denying the reality of magic and that of clairvoyance – as well as the reality of supernatural fulfillment. It can be positively defined as a state of mind reducing the world to its material aspects and putting above everything else – including above the pursuit of (military, intellectual, artistic, technological, or even economic) exploits – the pursuit of material subsistence – more precisely, the pursuit of reciprocal material subsistence among peaceful, formally equal proprietors.

Not content with rejecting (intermediate) inequalities of law, and advocating the reduction of inequalities to the income, diploma, and occupation inequalities under the aegis of the state, the national-liberalism of 1789 advocates a materialist and sacrificial conception of human existence, in that the individual must renounce an heroic life (i.e., a life primarily dedicated to the pursuit of singularizing, immortalizing exploit – even at the expense of his subsistence), and devote himself only to enrichment, as much his own as that of the nation, while proving ready to sacrifice his life for the nation from time to time. More precisely, the individual is, on the one hand, allowed (and even encouraged) to satisfy peacefully his “personal interest” at the economic level – with the well-understood economic interest of individuals coinciding allegedly with “the interest of the nation” – but on the other hand, expected to be ready to set his life at stake at a military level – and to sacrifice himself for his motherland.

While war in a traditional Indo-European society is either the work of the warlike nobility and its mercenaries, or the work of a conscript army that respects and incorporates within it the status divisions, conscription comes as a necessary trait of the bourgeois nation. As the bourgeoisie dethrones the sacerdotal and warlike castes, and rank inequalities dissipate (for the benefit of the sole economic inequalities), war becomes the business of all.

On the same token, the heroic ideal, i.e., the ideal of supernatural self-affirmation through war or through the practice of magic, is dismissed (or marginalized); and it is expected from war that it will be henceforth a path exclusively (or semi-exclusively) of self-denial – the path of self-sacrifice “in the interest of the nation.” It is worth noting that the bourgeois nationalism of 1789 thus counterbalances the materialist bourgeois mindset (which is perfectly hostile to the compromising of one’s material subsistence, whether it be compromised for warlike-individualist motives or for sacrificial motives) with a spirit of self-sacrifice for the national deity – the latter being admittedly an earthly, gynecocratic deity.

The mediocrity of classical liberalism, as seen above, notably lies in its pacifism. The mediocrity of the national-liberalism of 1789, which has nothing to do with pacifism, notably lies in its sacrificial conception of heroism. The transition from a warlike and sacerdotal order, such as the France of the Old Regime, to a bourgeois order does not mean that bellicosity necessarily dissipates; but that the warlike and sacerdotal castes are necessarily dissolved and the state necessarily falls into the hands of the bourgeoisie.

It also means that the warlike function – if it does not disappear – is necessarily and only put at the service of the productive function, i.e., used to keep the economy operating – or put at the service of the promotion of the nation’s founding ideals, i.e., used to impose those ideals upon the world. In other words, war ceases to be practiced for the purpose of the individual’s supernatural fulfillment, so that “warlike heroism” is henceforth understood and praised in sacrificial terms; and so that the chivalrous, warlike-individualist spirit of the warlike aristocracy is jointly abandoned for the benefit of the bourgeoisie’s materialistic spirit and for the benefit of the motherland’s sacrificial cult.

In the framework of the transition from warlike-sacerdotal France to bourgeois France, the Napoleonic wars were prey to contrary forces. On the one hand, they occasioned an ultimate resurgence of the warlike-individualist culture of traditional France – as noted and praised by Nietzsche while on the other hand, they enshrined the bourgeois industrious order and the abandonment of the warlike-individualist ethos, for the benefit of an all-encompassing pursuit of material subsistence, counterbalanced by occasional self-sacrifice for the Nation.

In The Nomos of the Earth, Carl Schmitt rightly noticed that the Jacobins “decried the classic interstate war, purely military, of the 18th century as a cabinet war of the Old Regime and… rejected as a matter of tyrants and despots the liquidation of the civil war and the limitation of the external war accomplished by the state. They replaced the purely state war with the people’s war and the democratic mass uprising.”

The national-liberalism of 1789 is therefore a nationalism which breaks with the Indo-European tradition; and that subverts the traditional hierarchy in values and in juridical ranks. More precisely, it combines the ideal of free enterprise and of an extended division of labor with the ideal of a bourgeois nation. In other words, a nation in which juridical, professional, economical, and academic inequalities have such nature that the bourgeois class (i.e., the “merchants” in the broad sense: entrepreneurs, capitalists, executives, consultants, bankers) is henceforth the politically dominant class; and in which the bourgeoisie’s materialist state of mind and the moralism (i.e., the contempt for the cultivation of supernatural, virile values), constitutive of such a mind, henceforth serve as reference values. Here, Vilfredo Pareto proposed the phrase “virtuism.”

talian Futurism, which culminated in Fascism, was certainly revolted against bourgeois society and its materialist, virtuist spirit: “We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight moralism, feminism, and all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice,” wrote Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. To the extent that Soviet nationalism strictly subordinates the warlike function to the productive function, i.e., reduces war to a sacrificial instrument for keeping the economy operating (in addition to serving the territorial expansion of the memes of Marxism-Leninism), nationalist socialism lies in the lineage of the nationalist liberalism of 1789. It combines the ideal of the collective ownership of the means of production, and of central planning, with the ideal of a proletarian nation, i.e., a nation in which it is the proletarian’s materialist state of mind which axiologically prevails, and in which the ruling class is exclusively composed, if not of proletarians, at least of intellectuals, claiming to rule in the name of proletarians. (It is worth noting that, in practice, the Stalinian regime believed in magic and solicited the gifts of magicians – in contradiction to the materialism of its foundational Marxist-Leninist ideology).

As for Hitlerian nationalism and Fascist nationalism, they were certainly socialist nationalisms linked to proletarian nations; but their socialist nationalism was traversed by contrary forces with regard to the warlike function. On the one hand, they witnessed resurgence of the Indo-European warlike-individualist spirit – as exemplified in the following lines of Mario Carli’s Fascismo Intransigente. “The warlike spirit [warlike-individualist spirit] is the fundamental character of the Italians; it is not a fascist invention nor a post-bellum attitude. Find me a single moment in history in which we have not fought – it doesn’t matter for whom or for what… It took a century of democratic dysentery to drown the individual worth of Italians in egalitarian and humanitarian soup. But today, it is making its return… Mussolini, Minister of War! That is what seems to me the supreme and most splendid embodiment of the Mussolinian spirit!”
On the other hand, that resurgence of the Indo-European warlike-individualist spirit was counterbalanced with the implementation of a sacrificial, gynecocratic approach to war – expecting the individual to be ready to anonymize himself within a mass of faceless soldiers, compromising their subsistence for the sake of the nation’s economic interests, or for the sake of its ideological interests (i.e., the expansionist pretensions of the nation’s foundational memes).

As such the socialism of Nazi Germany as the socialism of Mussolinian Italy were therefore, in part, a socialism of the rupture with the Indo-European tradition. In the case of Nazi Germany, the subordination of the warlike function to the productive function was described in these terms by Ernst Jünger, in The Worker. “The armed defense of the country is no longer the obligation and the privilege of the sole professional soldiers; it becomes the task of all those who are likely to bear arms… On the same token, the image of the war, which represents it as an armed action, is blurred more and more in favor of the much broader representation which conceives of it as a gigantic process of work. In addition to the armies fighting on the battlefield, new kinds of armies are emerging: the army in charge of communications, the one responsible for the supply, the one that supports the equipment industry – the army of labor in general.”

Further Qualifications Of Heroism And Bourgeois Society

With regard to the precise symptoms of the productive function’s hegemony in contemporary Western society, it has been commonly argued that such hegemony implied the predominance of the “utilitarian” lifestyle associated with the merchant; and the dissipation of the “heroic” way of life associated with the warrior.

To begin, the distinction between the hero (seen as the one who is ready to die for others) and the merchant (seen as selfish and calculating), developed by Werner Sombart, does not stand up to scrutiny. The hero in the traditional sense is the one who performs military exploits, i.e., exceptional deeds on the battlefield, singling him out and endowing himself with eternal fame, and who manages – through self-mastery and inner harmony – to properly, intensively satisfy his territorial and adventurous, identity-minded and domineering instinctual drives.

Only the hero in the modern sense, the hero as defined in bourgeois nations, is the one who dies for others. Achilles is ready to die, but for the singularization of his existence and the immortalization of his name. Whether in fiction or in History, many Indo-European heroes have been merchants, the emblematic example remaining to this day, being Cosmo de Medici – the noble who rose to the top of Florence by virtue of his skill in finance and founded a dynasty of Tuscan rulers. (It goes without saying that when we defend heroism in the traditional, pagan sense, we do not intend, nonetheless, to castigate the sacrificial acts of generosity in society – including the devotion of the saint and that of the mother. We only intend to distinguish between what is specifically heroic and what is sacrificial).

At first sight, it may seem paradoxical to denounce the virtuism of the bourgeoisie, while celebrating the warlike-individualist spirit of the great captains of industry. In fact, the “bourgeois” who applies a chivalrous code (i.e., a warlike-individualist code) in business is bourgeois only at an economic level. Morally and psychologically, he is instead a warrior, a kshatriya, a knight. The soap opera, The Young and The Restless, very popular in France, features a businessman, Victor Newman, cultivating a warlike-individualist, Nietzschean morality, in the puritanical and sententious environment of Protestant America. It cannot be denied that the “will to power,” when understood as the simple fact of aspiring to hegemony in society, is common to bourgeois, proletarians, warriors, and magicians. Friedrich Nietzsche points to that when he – rightly – writes that “the oppressed, the lowly, the great masses of slaves and semi-slaves desire power.”

On the other hand, the “will to power,” when understood as the fact of aspiring (and being able) to harmonize the inner chaos of instincts and to display courage (before the risk of death) and high, flexible intelligence (in military tactic and in seduction) is unique to aristocrats and magicians – and to those of “bourgeois” who have an individualist-warlike soul. Not less rightly, Nietzsche deplores that “one stigmatizes with the most insulting names the great virtuoso of life (whose sovereignty of oneself constitutes the most marked contrast with the vicious and the debauchee). Even today it is thought necessary to disapprove a Caesar Borgia – that is laughable. The Church excommunicated German emperors because of their vices, as if any monk or priest could afford to discuss all that a Frederick II has the right to demand of himself. A Don Juan is sent to hell – it is naive. Has one noticed that all the interesting men are missing in Heaven?”

The hegemony of merchants in contemporary Western society necessarily means the hegemony of a class whose will to power cannot be denied when taken in its first sense; but who lack manliness, courage, temperance, and a creative, independent mindset – in short, the will to power taken in its second sense.

In a fundamentally industrious society, the primacy of economy over war (what is constitutive of such type of society) does not necessarily imply that a strictly utilitarian way of life (i.e., unconcerned as much with the concern for meditating on the mystery of existence as with the idea of dying for someone or something) predominates. That primacy does not necessarily imply, either, that the instincts of homo sapiens are unleashed – and that man regresses to the “animal stage.”

When the productive function becomes predominant, it necessarily follows that a way of life impervious to the warlike-individualist ethos (i.e., the ethos of rendering oneself glorious and eternal through the execution of exploits – and compromising one’s material subsistence in the name of immortality) becomes predominant. It does not necessary follow that a way of life strictly utilitarian becomes predominant – and that the practice of war or meditation on Heideggerian Being disappears (or gets marginalized).

Besides, the economic instinct (i.e., the instinct that leads us to seize peaceful opportunities of trade and of production) is, indeed, necessarily solicited as the productive function, and which becomes hegemonic; but it is then solicited against the natural prevalence of our aggressive (i.e., territorial and domineering, adventurous and identity-minded) instincts. Hence it is a properly counter-instinctual way of life which is finally solicited – the human animal privileging spontaneously, instinctually, naturally the satisfaction of his aggressive instinctual inclinations (for dominance and territory, identity and adventure) rather than the satisfaction of his instinctual inclination for economic cooperation. Those are the true necessary symptoms of the hegemony necessarily acquired by the productive function in a fundamentally industrious society.

It is to the anthropologist and philosopher Robert Ardrey that we owe the remarkable elucidation of man’s priority, his instinctual needs: territory and domination, but also identity (i.e., knowing and proving who we are, experimenting with, and seeing recognized, the uniqueness of our personality) and adventure (i.e., leading an exhilarating, meaningful life). It is true that those aggressive instincts very largely dictate our consumption choices – for the good reason that in the enjoyment of material goods itself, aggressiveness (i.e., the concern for identity, territory, domination, and adventure) naturally matters more than material subsistence (i.e., housing, clothing, food, health, financial security).

It is true that Promethean growth (i.e., based on the domestication of nature through coal and nuclear industries) and modern capitalism (i.e., capitalism of the entrepreneurial, financialized, digitized, and globalized type) have allowed consumer goods to satisfy the aggressiveness of the masses as never before. Let us think of the social status afforded by the possession of an iPhone alone, or of a luxury watch; or the adventure offered by an opus of the video-game saga, The Legend of Zelda. The fact still remains that as such, economic life – and a fortiori consumption – can only, in an imperfect, diverted manner, satisfy the aggressive instincts of man; and that those instincts (i.e., territory and domination, adventure and identity) actually are thwarted, not fulfilled, as economy becomes ascendant in the scale of values.

Besides, the hegemony of the productive function with regard to war does not only imply that on the battlefield, the warlike-individualist ethos (which does not fail to surface occasionally among soldiers) is scorned. The primacy of economy implies that the warlike-individualist ethos is despised in the realm of war, literally; but also in the field of economics, and in these softened and derivative forms of war that are entrepreneurial or financial competition (not to mention intellectual, cognitive competition).

A society that has become completely hostile to heroism does not praise more the business kshatriya than it admires and protects the John Rambo-style soldier, i.e., those of soldier who lives according to a warlike-individualist ethos. From the soldier, such society expects that he be ready to die for the homeland (instead of pursuing immortalizing exploit and looking for the thrill of blood and adventure); and from the entrepreneur, that he simply make profits (instead of “dreaming” himself as heir to Alexander the Great).

The social contempt for military, economic, and intellectual heroism necessarily characterizes the productive function’s hegemony; and that contempt culminates in the importance taken by diplomas in contemporary Western society. The culture of the diploma indeed ensures the access of devirilized individuals to key positions in companies, governments, universities, and armies. Basically, the culture of the diploma has enshrined the spiritual and moral hegemony of the vaishya over the kshatriya and the brahmin.

Some people welcome the decline in violence that – despite the Terror and the Great War – accompanied the rise of the bourgeoisie and the break with the Indo-European tradition. The pacification of Western society would be a marvelous gift of the bourgeoisie to the world. Yet the consubstantial violence of traditional Indo-European societies was a sign of their virility – the sign that the circulation of warlike elites was ongoing and that the military struggle for social, juridical preeminence was doing well. The gradual pacification of the white world after coming out of the Renaissance should not be interpreted as progress in every respect. The decline in intra-Western violence necessarily implies the decline in the virility of the world’s elites – as it necessarily implies the pullback of those traditional ways of ascent that are war and the Florentine virtù. It necessarily implies the prevalence of the diploma and entrepreneurship among the processes of selection of elites. As the circulation of elites is pacified, the selected elites emerge more and more emasculated and less and less heroic – to our greatest misfortune before the invaders from Africa and the Middle East. When it is not simply humanitarian cowardice that motivates the elites of Western nations to let terrorists and non-indigenous settlers prosper with impunity on Western soil, they behave as emissaries of the world superclass: for which the “great replacement” of the Western man is a clearly established goal.

Towards A New National-Liberalism: Territorial-Aristocratic Liberalism

But can one conceive a nationalism that combines the ideal of free enterprise and of an extended division of labor with the warlike-sacerdotal order on which Tradition is built? We will try to show that, yes, such a nationalism is conceivable; and we will outline the contours of that radically new doctrine.

But first, we must specify that we must use the distinction of Julius Evola, that of between an aristocratic nationalism (based on the warlike-sacerdotal aristocracy and on a heroic, supernatural conception of existence) and a plebeian nationalism (based on equality and materialism). Within national-liberalism, we believe that the same distinction shows itself, between a national-liberalism of the plebeian kind (that of the French Revolution), and a national-liberalism of the aristocratic kind – the one we defend and which is biding its time. The common category of national-socialism allows subsuming Stalinian and Maoist nationalisms as well as Hitlerian and Mussolinian nationalisms – and national-socialism itself only comes as a modality of plebeian nationalism.

In its new, aristocratic version, national-liberalism approves the prosperity and the “recognition” of merchants, while rejecting their juridico-political and moral hegemony. It rejects the enfeoffment of the warlike function to the productive and reproductive function; and intends to restore the twin primacy of warlike and sacerdotal values in society, as well as the juridical hegemony of magicians and warriors. In addition, it defends property right and modern capitalism, i.e., capitalism of the entrepreneurial, globalized, financialized, and “digitized” kind. It intends to preserve the organizational and axiological features of Indo-European tradition in the context of modern capitalism.

Such nationalism rejects any type of egalitarianism – including the universality of law, which serves, let us recall, as the fundamental value of liberalism. To the extent that such nationalism affirms its attachment to free enterprise and the extended division of labor, and recognizes the true value of the coordinating role of the entrepreneur (who adjusts the division of labor in an optimal direction in view of people’s expectations, in terms of consumption and investment), it is all the same allowed to regard that doctrine as a modality of liberalism – a borderline case of liberalism.

Since this version of liberalism defends the nation, therefore the natural, spontaneous aspiration of our territorial instinct, and defends the juridical, moral hierarchy constitutive of Indo-European tradition, therefore the warrior-sacerdotal aristocracy and the spontaneous, natural aspirations of our domineering, adventurous, and identity-minded instincts, it is permissible to baptize that doctrine, as “territorial-aristocratic liberalism.” It may also be called a “territorial, aristocratic monarchy,” embracing some of the liberal values – those retained values, i.e., private property, free enterprise, and the extended division of labor, finding themselves counterbalanced with the twin primacy of vales that are sacerdotal (i.e., magic and esotericism) and warlike-individualist (i.e., the pursuit of eternal, individual glory on the battlefield at the expense of material subsistence).

While the national-liberalism of 1789 combines the ideal of free enterprise with the rejection of intermediate castes (between the state and the individual), and with a materialistic, egalitarian conception of human existence (i.e., a conception which rejects the supernatural ends and that jointly devalues the magus and the warrior for the benefit of the merchant), territorial-aristocratic liberalism simultaneously preaches free enterprise and the return to Indo-European intermediate castes and to the Indo-European system of values. Far from denying race, the national-liberalism of 1789 recognizes the bonds of blood on which the nation is built.

More precisely, it rejects the distinctions of rank within the nation – and thus rejects caste consciousness for the benefit of mere race consciousness. That state of mind culminates into the “racism” of 1789 towards warlike nobility, who sees itself conveniently likened to a foreign race. For its part, territorial-aristocratic liberalism advocates race consciousness, but also caste consciousness and the restoration of sacerdotal, warlike nobility. Nevertheless, it remains attached – like the national-liberalism of 1789 – to free enterprise and the extended division of labor. Besides, it denounces hard ecologism and promotes Promethean growth, i.e., the kind of growth that does not rest on the extension of the division of labor, but on the emancipation of human productive powers (through the exploitation of fossil, nuclear energies) with respect to the cycles of nature.

Man, as territorial-aristocratic liberalism envisions him, is not that puppet of the theory of a David Hume, a John Locke, or a Murray Rothbard, who strictly pursues his private interest (what, in their theoretical framework, insidiously boils down to the requirements of material subsistence), while deliberately and calmly cooperating with others in the framework of an extended social division of labor, protected by universal rules of law.

But man, as territorial-aristocratic liberalism envisions him, is fundamentally aggressive. First and foremost, he is territorial and domineering, adventurous and identity-minded, rather than concerned with his comfort and his material subsistence. Besides, this new liberalism sees man, not as a rational agent whose determination of goals – and whose choice (and use) of means – are deliberate at every moment, but as an agent most often acting (i.e., determining goals and choosing and using means) under the effect of uncontrolled impulsions with an emotional, “residual” origin – and only giving a deceptive appearance of rationality to his actions through “derivations.”

Territorial-aristocratic liberalism nonetheless envisions (and praises) the magician, the aristocrat, and the warlike-individualist entrepreneurial type as those minority anthropological types actually capable of rationality and self-mastery. It accordingly subscribes to Éliphas Lévi’s statement that “free men are to rule the slaves, and the slaves are called to liberate themselves; not of the government of free men, but of that servitude of brutal passions, which condemns them not to exist without masters.”

Therefore, territorial-aristocratic liberalism cannot hold society for that “spontaneous order” dear to Friedrich A. von Hayek. That murky expression actually refers to a materialist, juridically egalitarian order, in which the struggle for the juridical rank is eclipsed for the benefit of sole economic, academic competition, and in which the aristocratic cultivation of a warlike-individualist ethos is eclipsed for the benefit of the bourgeois prioritizing of material subsistence – and the bourgeois mocking of supernatural values.

Society, as envisaged by the new liberalism, is necessarily organized around a pecking order, a hierarchy of castes (be it a hierarchy which ignores the intermediate ranks), and never around universal rules of law. But while rejecting formal egalitarianism, i.e., the universality of the rules of law, territorial-aristocratic liberalism does not accept castes without social mobility, i.e., without a system of competition for status. Besides, it intends to preserve the identity of the peoples, as it does not forget that a relative genetic and cultural homogeneity, as well as a common territory, are an integral part of the social link, and that one cannot boil down everything to the division of labor and commerce.

If so many anarcho-capitalists indulge in “multiculturalism,” it seems that it is due to the fact that conversely, they represent to themselves the division of labor as the cement of society – and that they consider that genetic and cultural proximity plays a secondary, or even insignificant, role in socialization processes. Besides, they deny the territorial instinct. They therefore imagine that all sorts of heterogeneous races and cultures can cohabit peacefully within the division of labor established on a given space.

Let us talk about the state. Its vocation in territorial-aristocratic liberalism is not to guarantee an egalitarian right (i.e., universal freedom), nor is it to administer economy or to redistribute incomes. The state, as territorial-aristocratic liberalism deems it, comes as the guardian of a hierarchy of castes nonetheless opened to social mobility. That hierarchy subordinates (on a juridico-political level) merchants to warriors and magi, while warriors and the political sovereign (unless he himself stems from the sacerdotal caste) are spiritually subordinated to the magi.

Thus, the state brings form and harmony, “a differentiated and hierarchical order of dignities” (according to the formula of Julius Evola), to a preexisting multitude, who proves relatively homogeneous at a genetic and cultural level. Thus, too, the state puts into practice the two laws (dear to Robert Ardrey) that life in society renders necessary in all vertebrate species, namely, the inequality of socio-juridical statuses (for the benefit of the juridico-political domination of the “alphas” that are warriors and magicians), and the opened competition for status – instead of an automatically hereditary perpetuation of socio-juridical ranks.

Further, territorial-aristocratic liberalism is fully open to consumerism and technological innovations. It envisions the cosmos as an active entity, striving relentlessly towards order and complexity – and the human being as a catalyst for cosmic creation. It believes that the cosmos mandates man to perpetuate and multiply the creative gesture of nature – notably through the accumulation of capital and through the cheap provision of qualitatively new goods and services for the masses. (On that point, it is worth specifying that territorial-aristocratic liberalism positively assesses the influence of Judaism on the Indo-European mind. More precisely, the influence of the Judaic conceptions of time as linear; the state authority as profane; and man as jointly expected to prolong the divine creation and to subdue to the legal, natural order that Yahweh established. We will come back to that subject elsewhere).

Territorial-aristocratic liberalism considers that a nation can prove both “consumerist” (in the sense that it pursues the enjoyment of consumer goods) and faithful to Indo-European tradition – i.e., as cultivator of virile, supernatural values, while maintaining the connection with the spiritual realm. As it defends traditional, pagan heroism (against the parody that is sacrificial “heroism”), it also envisions heroism as a contingent attribute of the productive function – and not only as a necessary attribute of the warlike function. It believes that it may from time to time bring forth an entrepreneur who possesses a warrior-individualist spirit. Not content with praising the men who build a commercial or financial empire, it promotes the enthronement of the great samurais of finance and the great captains of industry among the ranks of the warlike ruling caste.

Further Qualifications Of Territorial-Aristocratic Liberalism

In the end, our liberalism is archeofuturist, in the sense that it conciliates warlike society and consumer society, with hegemony of the magus and prosperity of the merchant. With the overthrow of the Indo-European triad, the magus has lost his spiritual authority for the benefit of the bourgeois. The moral authority henceforth lies with the bourgeoisie, who seek professional advice from the magus, i.e., solicits his gifts of clairvoyance for the smooth running of business.

Our liberalism, which re-engages with the spiritual, suprasensible order and breaks with bourgeois materialism, is a liberalism of the Indo-European tradition. It intends to restore the traditional juridico-political order, which enshrines the spiritual primacy of the magus over the warrior and the producer – and sets up the juridical primacy of the magus and the warrior over the producer.

Our liberalism also prohibits itself from intervening in the choices of individuals with regard to pensions and health care, with the sole exception of exceptional prophylactic measures to be taken in the case of a serious pandemic. Besides, it believes that education must respond to warlike and aristocratic values.

Some additional clarifications deserve to be brought out about globalization. The inequalities of law associated with society prior to 1789 amounted to exceptional laws for the benefit of the warlike and sacerdotal nobility, which existed within nations and sustained links of solidarity beyond nations. The contemporary inequalities of law amount to exceptional laws for the benefit of the bourgeoisie (who has taken control of governments through the dissipation of intermediate rank inequalities); but also, for the benefit of a small number of companies and banks, whose executives compose what has been judiciously called a world superclass, i.e., a class that sits above the nations.

It would be wrong, however, to conceive of those inequalities of law (for the benefit of the world superclass) as consubstantial with the phenomenon of globalization. The grip of the world superclass comes as an accidental feature of the globalization as we live it – and not its necessary visage. Territorial-aristocratic liberalism intends to restore the traditional inequalities of law and to couple them to globalization. It is not a question of restoring those inequalities against globalization.

Quite often, the denunciation of “globalism” and of the “reign of merchants” proceeds from the vilest petit-bourgeois resentment. Behind the moralizing speeches against Starbucks, KFC, Volkswagen, Sony, Amazon, or Apple, one can guess the second-class entrepreneur, jealous of the power of multinationals. Multinationals actually do represent a danger – for the nation’s biocultural preservation – so long as they behave as agents of influence for cosmopolitanism. But they are by no means harmful (from that angle) in the cold pursuit of their economic interests. It is sound, and even imperative, to counter the cosmopolitan lobbying of multinationals. It is insane to denounce the strategy of multinationals to apportion activities on a global scale.

Specializing the regions of the world according to the comparative advantages does not harm, but benefits, the prosperity of nations. Far from deploring the power of multinationals, territorial-aristocratic liberalism knows that the power of a nation implies a hegemony that is economic not less than military and cultural. It is hardy outrageous that the firms, an ambitious nation gives birth to, conquer an international market, implement subsidiaries around the world, and grant favors from foreign governments.

Concerning protectionism, territorial-aristocratic liberalism recognizes that the facilitation of trade between nations, which amounts to facilitating the extension of the division of labor (across borders), as well as the coordination of the division of labor (via the entrepreneurial reallocation of capital across borders), necessarily benefits consumers. It recognizes that the advantaged situation of the consumer means the mutual enrichment of nations engaged in free trade. Nevertheless, it knows that it is not true that such mutual enrichment implies that the gains of free trade are also mutual on a geopolitical level.

If openness to free trade allows the enterprises of a foreign nation to gain the upper hand over the enterprises of the nation adopting free trade, or the foreign labor force to replace the labor force of that same nation, then there is actually a balance of power which is established. Free trade is always a positive-sum game from the point of view of consumer enrichment; it is very often a zero-sum game from the point of view of the hegemony of the nation.

A wise government must seek the right balance between free trade and protectionism. It must ensure the enrichment of the consumer without losing sight of economic hegemony. It is quite legitimate to quote the wording of Voltaire. “To be a good patriot is to wish that one’s own community should enrich itself by trade and acquire power by arms; it is obvious that a country cannot profit but at the expense of another and that it cannot conquer without inflicting harm on other people.”

A word on currency. Applying the teachings of the Austrian School of Economics, territorial-aristocratic liberalism abstains from entrusting the monopoly of the issuance of money to a single organ, such as, the central bank in its present sense. It ensures the free competition and circulation of currencies in a strict concern for respect for property right. It can nonetheless entitle the state to ban the currencies disrespectful of private property, which unveil purchasing power, distort the production structure, and generate shortsighted behaviors. It can also entitle the state to approve the currencies allowed to circulate, without the state being entitled to intervene in the process of production, exchange, and circulation.

Territorial-aristocratic liberalism favors any currency likely to clarify in the mind of the nation that money – by reason of its character as a means of exchange and as a store of value – coordinates production, exchange, and the temporal preferences of individuals; and that it must obey, accordingly, a principle of relative rarity and of very high quality. The practice of the fractional reserve by the banking institutions will be prohibited. Banking regulations will be abolished to return to commercial law and to private law in the strictest respect for private property. Counterfeiting will be severely punished by law.

Finally, it is worth noting that our reform of liberalism joins a dual affirmation towards which the conception of socialism in Édouard Berth and Georges Sorel tended imperfectly – namely, the affirmation that the class struggle between bourgeois and proletarians, within the framework of entrepreneurial capitalism, instead of being overcome, must be preserved indefinitely (and ensure the regular sanitation of the bourgeois elite); and that the degree of kinship of the virtues required in economy and war, while it reaches a certain height in a certain relation to the labor of workers, is nevertheless brought to its pinnacle within the strict framework of a certain entrepreneurial practice. That in which, according to Sorel’s statement, come together “the indomitable energy, the audacity based upon an accurate appreciation of its strength, the cold calculation of interests, which are the qualities of great generals and great capitalists.”

As such, to borrow Berth’s wording, our liberalism comes as a “philosophy of producers” rather than as a salon culture dear to Marxist or anarcho-capitalist bourgeois. Both material and formal equality, both central planning (and the removal of capital goods from the market) and the abolition of “violence” come as mirages that only intellectuals, disconnected from production or from war, can take seriously.

Our wish for the working class is not the advent of a classless society (as though it were based on the right to property as the Proudhonists dream of), but rather the workers’ conquest of economic hegemony in the capitalist entrepreneurial order. And that, either through the construction of self-managed companies, taking the upper hand in catallactic competition, or through the interference of former workers in the ranks of the bourgeoisie, thus seizing power of the fin de race elements and expelling them from a healthily regenerated bourgeois class.

Conclusion

The enterprise of subversion of the city, which began with the overthrow of the Indo-European tradition (for the benefit of the advent of the bourgeois industrious society), finds its apogee in contemporary cosmopolitanism. Classical liberalism has genuinely encouraged that cosmopolitanism, while the bourgeois takeover has accompanied the implementation of the ideals of 1789. Saving the Indo-European identity of the West is through edifying a new national-liberalism, one which is not limited to defending the nation against cosmopolitanism – but that, besides, reconciles free enterprise and the extended division of labor, as well as “Promethean growth,” with the defense of the traditional nation, its warlike and sacerdotal order, against bourgeois society and against the modern nation. The work ahead is heroic.

Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website: gregoirecanlorbe.com.

The featured image shows, “Battle between the Scythians and the Slavs,” by Viktor Vasnetsov, painted in 1881.

Fatal Flaws In Marxism

Marxian thought has at least an economic component and an ontological one. I would like to address the topic of exploitation in Marxian economics, and in Marxian ontology I will examine the driving role of contradiction in human cultural evolution, the emerging forms of matter, and the reification within commodities.

The Marxian Theory Of Exploitation: An Assessment Of The Austrian Response

The Marxian conception of exploitation in capitalism conceives of the latter as the appropriation – within entrepreneurial profit – of a non-remunerated portion of the wage-earner’s daily working time.

The Austrian response to the Marxian conception notably consisted of highlighting the complementarity of the respective temporal preferences on the part of workers (preferring a smaller but quicker remuneration over a more tardy but greater one) and entrepreneurial capitalists (preferring the latter over the former). It also consisted of underlining the role of adjustment which operates freely determined equilibrium prices (via occasioned losses and profits). Friedrich A. von Hayek points to this when he speaks of Karl Marx’s alleged inability to apprehend “the signal-function of prices through which people [including entrepreneurs] are informed what they ought to do” by reason of “his labor theory of value” – namely, Marx’s theory that selling prices, at least in the long run, are fixed by production costs – and the alleged objective value of goods by the incorporated quantity of abstract labor.

It turns out that neither the complementarity of temporal preferences nor the adjustment role of equilibrium prices (in the direction of the long-run equilibrium, in which each factor finds itself to be optimally allocated) are actually inconsistent with the Marxian conception of exploitation.

The Marxian argument can be put as follows. Like any commodity, labor power is sold (at least in the context of the long-term equilibrium, i.e., the equilibrium in the presence of a completed, henceforth optimal allocation of capital) at its cost of production – therefore the employee’s living cost. In the long-run equilibrium, the entrepreneurial profit strictly appropriates the remuneration of the margin between the employee’s total working time and the working time strictly required to cover the employee’s living costs.

That said, when the economy, in the long run, does not find equilibrium, then salary and entrepreneurial profit will both oscillate around a level strictly equal to the production cost. Hans Hermann Hoppe’s answer (inspired by Eugen Richter von Böhm-Bawerk) can be put as follows. According to Hoppe, Marx’s analysis does note that the selling price of any produced good is (at least when demand is properly anticipated) greater than the wages paid to the workers involved in the production of that good. Therefore, the paid wages only cover the purchase of goods requiring fewer hours of work than those goods the wage-earners help to manufacture. Yet there is a complementarity of time preferences between the employee (who prefers a lower and faster remuneration to one more delayed and higher) and the entrepreneur (who prefers the latter to the former). It follows the selling price’s superiority, besides allowing for entrepreneurial remuneration higher than the wage bill, and supposes convergent interests in the wage earner and the entrepreneur.

Actually, Marx’s argument turns out to be misunderstood by Hoppe – and rigorously unaffected by the complementary of time he invokes. The exploitation phenomenon Marx describes does not lie in the difference between immediate salaries and postponed entrepreneurial remunerations, which is only a symptom of the aforesaid exploitation. Instead, exploitation lies in the furnishing of a salary which, instead of covering the whole daily working time (as it formally seems to do), strictly remunerates the working hours needed to cover the workforce’s subsistence costs. Marx believes incomplete remuneration to be at the origin of the subsistence – in the long-run equilibrium – of the margin between the selling price of goods and the remuneration of production factors, said margin allowing entrepreneurs to grant themselves a remuneration greater than the distributed wages.

As for the coordination of production factors, Marx fully recognizes adjustment spurred by short-run fluctuations in the rate of entrepreneurial profit (above and below its long-run level, strictly corresponding to unpaid, surplus labor time), and by the concomitant gradual equalization between production costs and the selling price of commodities – including labor power, whose remuneration is thus rendered equal to its subsistence costs in the long run. Not only does the labor theory of value (such as understood by Marx and before him David Ricardo) claim the fixation of selling prices by production costs to occur only in the context of long-run equilibrium, but the labor theory of value itself does not occupy the center of Marx’s political economy. The latter is in fact articulated around the notion of commodity fetishism, as pointed out by Soviet Marxian economist Isaak Illich Rubin.

The Flaws Of The Marxian Theory Of Exploitation

Despite the flaws of the Austrian criticism, Marx’s approach to exploitation remains wrong. Let us start with recalling the notion of “abstract working time” in Marxian economics – abstract working time boils down to working time conceived independently of the physical or mental effort associated with the considered task. Even assuming the alleged correspondence between abstract working time and (the long-term level of) exchange value, i.e., selling price, the Marxian elucidation of entrepreneurial profit as the margin (between the exchange value of a given good and the remuneration of the involved production factors) allowed by the payment to the workforce of a wage limited to strictly covering the aforesaid workforce’s subsistence costs is quite unsatisfactory.

The argument Marx invokes is that the exchange value of all goods (including manpower) revolves around a long-term level, strictly equivalent to the exchange value of the incorporated abstract working time – and therefore strictly equivalent to the production costs of the aforesaid goods, which in turn means the workforce’s subsistence costs in the case of manpower.

Hence – according to Marx – wages granted in the long-run equilibrium actually leave unpaid an entire section of the daily work-time of wage-earners. The equalization (in the long-run equilibrium) between the workforce’s subsistence costs and the workforce’s remuneration does not imply that the actual work-time on the part of a wage earner is partially remunerated.

Rather, it implies that in the long-term equilibrium, the one established once the allocation of capital in the various branches of industry – given a certain state of economic conditions, from preferences on the part of consumers and investors to technology and demography – has reached its completion, the correct, total remuneration for a wage earner’s complete performance is then fixed at a subsistence level.

It also implies entrepreneurial income is nullified at the long-term equilibrium, in which there is nothing left for the entrepreneur, once the factors of production have been wholly remunerated. Therefore, entrepreneurial profit can only exist within the framework of the process of capital allocation – with the aforesaid profit remunerating the speed (and the accuracy) of the allocation of production factors in anticipation of jointly mobile and uncertain demand. Austrian economics, especially Mises and Kirzner, extensively deals with the process through which the entrepreneur – when earning profit – adjusts the daily-generated equilibrium prices in the direction of the long-run equilibrium, in which the allocation of production factors is henceforth achieved and optimized, and in which each selling price is henceforth equal to the production costs.

The Austrian approach to equilibrium prices (and therefore the law of supply and demand) and their gradual entrepreneurial adjustment is sometimes praised for its purported realism. Yet the law of supply and demand, such as understood in Austrian economics (but also in neoclassicism), is hardly realistic. It claims, indeed, that any subjectively homogeneous product is sold at a unique price that happens to coincide with the intersection of supply and demand curves. But such claims make sense only in the framework of an auction market in which, indeed, an auctioneer may gather the different supply and demand propositions and determine the equilibrium price.

Besides, the Austrian conception of entrepreneurship applies only in the case of those of profit opportunities which are preexisting (and more or less manifested), while a number of entrepreneurs in the real world do not earn a profit through adjusting (towards the long-run equilibrium) the allocation of capital on the basis of preexistent profit opportunities, but through inventing new profit opportunities. In other words – that which results in the apparition of a new long-run direction for the economy, i.e., the breaking of the previously scheduled long-run equilibrium for the benefit of the economy’s re-direction towards a new long-run equilibrium.

A Word About The Partnership Of Opposites In Cosmic Evolution

Marxian thought is also ontological (besides its economic, political considerations). Marxian ontology stresses the driving role of contradiction in human cultural evolution – more precisely, the evolution of the emergent forms of matter in successive human cultures. Before looking more closely at the Marxian approach to contradiction in human evolution, let us turn to an example of the partnership between opposites in the cosmos. In addition to his unfortunate exclusively determinist view of human history, Marx precisely failed to notice the harmonious, collaborative character of opposites in the course of human cultural evolution – a harmonious character that at times accompanies conflictual character.

The concept of communication, generally defined in terms of consciousness, is an eminent example of a notion whose definition must be updated in view of a sharper distinction between those qualities of its object – the particular genre of things it subsumes – which are necessary, and those which are contingent. Conscious communication only comes as a modality of communication, so that the conscious character of a given conscious communication in the cosmos comes as a contingent (rather than necessary and constitutive) character of the genre of things called communication.

Communication should be redefined, consequently, as the interaction between two signals: the first acting as a stimulus; and the second providing a response which depends on its interpretation of the aforesaid stimulus. It is really the prerogative neither of humans nor even of animals endowed with consciousness. Like war, love, hierarchy, and sociability, communication preceded consciousness and a fortiori homo sapiens in the order of the universe. It was even prior to the point where the behavior of the Big Bang’s progeny, the elementary particles, was already (and has remained to this day) the behavior of communication.

Throughout the cosmos, individual and collective entities are communicating with each other by means of words, chemical signals, or gravitational force – and communicating according to patterns of opposition (integration and differentiation, fusion and fission, or attraction and repulsion), whose iteration pursues itself at each level of emergence. Let us take the very first entrepreneurs of the cosmos – namely the quarks (of which there happens to be six varieties) – communication – via the phenomenon known as “strong force” or “strong interaction” – between two quarks-entrepreneurs, which are of the same variety, will be a communication of their mutual repulsion.

Nevertheless, the communication between two quarks which are exactly different in the right way will be one of mutual attraction – and one of their attraction towards an additional quark which is of the type suitable for mounting the proton start-up (composed of two quarks “up” and one quark “down”), or the neutron start-up (composed of two quarks “down” and one quark “up”).

The Flaws Of Marxian Ontology – The Approach To Contradiction And Matter

Heraclitus understood the collaborative character of opposites. He nonetheless failed to grasp the perpetually declined (as well as complexified) character of their partnership – and the evolving character of the cosmos (including human societies).

Marxian ontology certainly has the merit of stressing the role of contradiction in the becoming of the forms which matter acquires in the world of humans – especially the industrial organization of the mineral or human material, as well as the ideology and the law structuring a human society. Nevertheless, it erroneously deals with the evolutionary process in question – and with the driving role of contradiction in the latter.

First, there is its denial of the informing action (and the existence) of the archetypal, supra-sensible forms. Second is its retention of only the passive ideological and legal “superstructures” of the sort of matter which happens to reside in the “relations of production,” which themselves serve as the passive organization that emerges from other sorts of matter that are the technological resources available at a given time.

What is more, Marxian ontology, thus delivering an incomplete understanding of the material foundations for law and ideology, reduces the aforesaid foundations to technology and to the “relations of production.” This renders Marxism entirely ignorant of the truly biological component of the material backing of ideologies and legal systems – that is, the set of genetic dispositions shaped and selected over the course of human biological evolution in groups and individuals.

As for contradiction in the process of human evolution, Marxian ontology exclusively conceives of it as a tearing apart whose particular version (characteristic of a particular time of human history) calls for its resolution through the “leap” (to quote Lenin) to a superior bearing of human history, the course of which is, besides, seen as rigorously determined – and thus seen as being spurred – through the successive resolution of the different encountered cases of contradiction – towards a prefixed final stage of human history.

Instead, contradiction should be envisioned as a harmonious (though sometimes it can be simultaneously tearing) partnership, between opposites, which perpetually manifests itself in various modes over the course of the wholly improvised process of human (and even cosmic) evolution.

Such misunderstanding in Marxian ontology is all the more devastating as the aforesaid ontology envisages the interindividual or intergroup conflict as rooted in economic life alone – and as fated to disappear through a purportedly inevitable return to primitive communism, while, nonetheless, conserving advanced technology.

Interclass struggle can no longer simply be reduced to a struggle that involves properly economic classes, technology; and the relations of production cannot be envisioned as the sole and necessary origin of ideologies. Thus, a given ideology does not necessarily accompany a given economic system – so that, for instance, capitalism of the globalized and digitized type is not necessarily accompanied by a cosmopolitan ideology (in the sense of moral relativism and universal leveling).

What is more, their perceived economic interests – instead of idealistic considerations or their perceived ethnic interests – do not serve as the only and necessary motives on the part of the dominant economic classes, for promoting the particular ideologies whose standard bearers they pretend to be. The fact is class struggle does not necessarily occur between economic classes and for economic motives – instead it comes as a derived form of the “struggle for life,” and likely to engage all kinds of classes and motives.

This point was remarkably raised in Vilfredo Pareto’s The Socialist Systems: “The class struggle is only one form of the struggle for life, and what is called ‘the conflict between labor and capital’ is only one form of the class struggle. In the middle ages, one could have thought that if religious conflicts disappeared, society would have been pacified. Those religious conflicts were only one form of the class struggle; they have disappeared, at least in part, and have been replaced by socialist conflicts.

Suppose that collectivism is established, suppose that “capitalism” no longer exists, it is clear that then it will no longer be in conflict with labor; but it will be only one form of the class struggle which will have disappeared, others will replace them. Conflicts will arise between the different kinds of workers in the socialist state, between “intellectuals” and “non-intellectuals,” between different kinds of politicians, between them and their citizens, between innovators and conservatives.”

The Flaws Of Marxian Ontology – The Approach To Commodity

In addition to excessive Marxian emphasis on economy when it comes to the backing of superstructures and the background of conflict, a word deserves to be said about the Marxian definition of merchandise. The latter retains (as necessary, constitutive characteristics of the merchandise genre) use-value and exchange-value, as well as the above-mentioned “fetish” character. This amounts to retaining the outlet for the purpose of offering goods for sale, where matter is the aforesaid merchandise – which, in the Marxian approach, sees itself notably assimilated to the “concrete” and “abstract” work incorporated in the manufacture of the aforesaid merchandise. Finally, its form, which is exclusively perceived as the reification of the relations of production.

Such conception notably commits the error of omitting the commodity’s efficient, external cause – namely the entrepreneurial expectations on the course of the demand for consumption or investment. Those expectations then become the only effective, rational aspect of economic calculation, which means that economic calculation is simply impracticable in the absence of the private ownership of capital – and the central planning Marx praises and prophesizes is necessarily dysfunctional and irrational.

Marxism also commits the error of developing a simplistic approach to the form of merchandise, which really consists of a reification above all of the immaterial capital of fantasy – the stock of dreams and legends which inspires the economic not less than cognitive development in humans.

Conclusion – And A Word On Herbert Spencer

The Marxian approach to exploitation in capitalism is flawed in that it misunderstands the alleged equalization (in long-term equilibrium) between subsistence cost and earned wage, as leaving unpaid a whole portion of the work-time. Instead, such equalization implies the work-time’s properly correct and total remuneration strictly equates a subsistence level in the long-run equilibrium. Thus, entrepreneurial profit does not exist outside the allocation of capital goods; it is not rooted in exploitation – but into the speed (and the accuracy) of anticipations before an uncertain, mobile demand.

As for the Marxian approach to the emerging forms of matter in human evolution, it neglects, for instance, the biological compartment of the involved matter – and restricts the material foundations of ideology and the law to the economic, technological component. Thus, Marxism believes ideologies come only and necessarily as the “superstructure” of the “relations of production,” themselves the superstructure only and necessarily of technology.

The truth is that a certain ideology or legal system is not necessarily indissociable from a certain economic system (just like a certain economic system is not necessarily indissociable from a certain ideology or legal system). By the way, Marxian ontology fails to notice – among merchandise’s reified components – the presence of the infrastructure of fantasy, thus neglecting the reification of human dreams and restricting itself to just one of the relations of production.

As for the Marxian approach to contradiction in human evolution, it commits the double mistake of restricting intergroup conflict to the struggle between economic classes for economic motives – and restricting contradiction to disharmony and tearing. It also commits the mistake of believing human evolution to be rigorously predetermined – and scheduled to gradually reach its predefined finish line through gradually solving and dissipating the different successive encountered cases of contradiction.

The Spencerian vision of cosmic and human history is materialist (in the sense of denying the ideational, archetypal field) like the Marxian vision of human history. It also has this characteristic in common with its great rival that it underlines the driving role of contradiction – although it conceives of the aforesaid contradiction as a harmonious tension manifesting itself perpetually. Nonetheless, the Spencerian also approach remains flawed.

Herbert Spencer rightly believed that the partnership between differentiation and integration, discerned by Karl Ernst von Baer in the growth of the embryo, to be transposable to the evolution of the cosmos and of humanity. Nevertheless, he made the mistake of considering that collaboration exclusively in the mode of the increase in the division of labor. As if, as the division of labor progressed on the scale of the world, individuals became more and more differentiated in their professions; but also more and more integrated in a humanitarian embryo leveling the nations and dissipating the borders. That faith in the advent of a division of labor. supplanting the nations (and thus war between the nations) to let subsist sole individuals producing and exchanging on the scale of the world, fits very well with Spencer’s anarcho-capitalism.

It fits less well with anthropological and historical reality – namely that, as the economic and military interaction between nations increases, those, far from disappearing (for the benefit of a humanity integrating increasingly uprooted, denationalized individuals), only further differentiate – and only further oppose each other.

Thus, the executed integration comes down to an intensification of the intergroup “struggle for life;” and applies as much to the individuals engaged in the global division of labor, as nations engaged in increasingly integrated military and economic competition.

Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. His work and interviews often appear in the Postil.

The image shows “Iron and Coal,” by William Bell Scott, painted can 1855-1860.

A Conversation With Pierre Bergé

Pierre Bergé (PB) was born on November 14, 1930, and he passed away on September 8, 2017. He was a French award-winning industrialist and patron. He co-founded the fashion label Yves Saint Laurent, and was a longtime business partner of the designer.

A supporter and personal friend of François Mitterrand, Bergé was often described as a social liberal. Bergé participated in all the campaign rallies of François Mitterrand (except in 1981, when he did not vote for Mitterrand). Bergé later served as President of the Association of the Friends of the Institut François-Mitterrand.

A longtime fan and patron of opera, Mitterrand appointed Bergé president of Opéra Bastille on 31 August 1988. He retired from the post in 1994, becoming honorary president of the Paris National Opera. Bergé was also president of the Comité Jean Cocteau, and the exclusive owner of all the moral rights of all of Jean Cocteau’s works. In 2010, he bought a stake in Le Monde newspaper, along with investors Matthieu Pigasse and Xavier Niel.

Bergé was also the author of several essays devoted to Yves Saint Laurent, as well as to freedom and republican values. He published a book in 2010, Lettres à Yves, which was translated into English as Yves Saint Laurent: A Moroccan Passion, in 2014.

The following conversation with independent scholar Grégoire Canlorbe (GC) was conducted in January 2017, in Paris. It was initially published in French in the March 2017 issue of the French journal, Revue Arguments. The Postil is very pleased to release the first English version of this interview.

GC: “A woman,” writes Yukio Mishima in Forbidden Colors, “is never as exhilarated with happiness as when she discovers desire in the eyes of a man.” As a fine connoisseur of the feminine soul, do you hold this remark as insightful?

PB: This Mishima’s quotation echoes what Yves Saint Laurent said about the beauty of a woman in love. “The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves.” Do not think I am bringing everything back to Saint Laurent, I am not so candid! But you will agree that the resemblance of his intuition with that of Mishima is striking. What Saint Laurent had in mind, with this statement, is that a woman does not need clothes to be happy, because the essential lies elsewhere.

You describe me as a fine connoisseur of the feminine soul. This may be true, but I nonetheless think I am more aware of the male soul. As to whether I agree with Mishima, it seems to me that he is somewhat reductive in his statement. I believe that it is every human being who is never so happy as when he discovers sexual attraction or admiration in the eyes of another human being, whether the latter is a man or a woman.

GC: It is not uncommon, among conservative circles, to deplore what they perceive as a pronounced disdain for the military and religious functions – the warrior and the priest – in post-1789 society, while “merchants,” i.e., entrepreneurs and capitalists, are excessively valued in the nation. Would you say that the captains of industry are precisely the warriors of the capitalist era, the samurai of modern times, by virtue of their conquering character, their sense of abnegation, and their competitive spirit?

PB: Georges Clémenceau said, of the French Revolution, it is to take “en bloc.” In other words, if one adheres to the values of the Revolution, one must also accept the bloodbaths that accompanied the promotion of the ideals of 1789; and what the Revolution has brought to the world is too great and too decisive for us to be entitled to deny it in the name of the atrocities committed during the Terror. I regret it obviously, but the Revolution is to be taken in its entirety, with its good and its bad sides.

Your question is interesting. Unfortunately, your idealist portrait of businessmen is far from reality. I am often taken aback when I hear a politician, such as those who present themselves during this campaign period, claiming to be concerned exclusively with the fate of France. The truth is that a politician cares, in the first place, for his own interests – and only secondly for France. But those you call captains of industry, for their part, have no ounce of patriotic consideration. They care so little about the interests of France that they do not hesitate to relocate their production sites or to settle in tax havens.

I may surprise you, but I am not admiring the business company. I remember talking about it with President Mitterrand, who had somewhat let himself be distracted at the end of his first seven-year term. “You would make a mistake,” I told him in essence, “if you thought the company was there to create jobs.” He was visibly intrigued by my remark. “In reality,” I continued, “the company is there to create profits; and the day it can make a profit without creating a job, it does it.” This is all the more true at the moment. Like the assembly line a century ago, the robotization is about to allow the companies to do without a considerable part of manpower; and this is what the company is there for.

The company is there to produce, sell, negotiate, and optimize; and all the rest, I tell you straight away, is bullshit. If you ask big business leaders, you will certainly hear them claiming great principles, such as, the fight against unemployment, the economic influence of France, or its leadership in technological innovation. No doubt they will agree that they are the samurai of modern times. But let them perpetuate the custom of seppuku, if they really want to walk in the footsteps of the samurai of old! I fear very much that you will not find many who have the courage to give themselves a “beautiful death,” or even to renounce some juicy profit, to do honor to France.

GC: Feminist sociologists are generally inclined to denounce all kinds of voluntary female behavior, particularly with regard to sexual preferences or dress habits, on the grounds that these behaviors reflect “symbolic violence” from males. Yet the veil often escapes their warnings, and they even see in it a mark of feminine dignity and resistance to the diktats of male lust. How do you explain this apparent complacency on the part of feminists towards Islam?

PB: Your ascertainment surprises me. It seems to me that it is a minority of feminists, not the majority of them, who make this complacent speech vis-à-vis Islam. You do well, however, to draw attention to the possible straying of today’s feminism. Our society, imbued with gender theory, wants to make women and men equal. But equality is a dreadful word. Men and women are certainly equal before the law; they are not equal in anything else.

We evoked above the Revolution of 1789. As beautiful as the triptych on the pediment of the French Republic is, the choice of the term equality was a regrettable error. The word justice would have suited our motto “freedom, equality, fraternity” better. No human being, male or female, is equal to another, except that everyone has the right to freedom and to the pursuit of happiness. Men and women are certainly unequal; it does not follow that women are inferior to men in dignity and freedom; they are simply different.

My friend Louise de Vilmorin used to say, in essence, that if men and women were not there to perpetuate the human race, if they had no sexual attraction, a woman would walk next to a man like a rabbit next to a hat. Women and men belong to two different worlds. I have many female friends, whom I respect; and I spent my life defending women. But in wanting to make women absolutely equal to men, one ends up preaching total nonsense. The search for parity is one such nonsense. Hiring a woman on the pretext that she is a woman cancels the exercise of judgment on her objective skills, and prevents a sincere appreciation of her work and her talents.

That said, that women are rarely at the level of men in working life, and there are persistent inequalities in treatment. I will not dispute it. After centuries of female oppression by religion and the law, society is marked by old power struggles; and one cannot seriously expect the gap between men and women in business, and elsewhere, to be leveled overnight. There is no denying injustice. But denouncing this state of affairs is not an alibi to promote the egalitarian feminism on which I have just expressed myself.

As concerns, more particularly, the Islamic veil, there is undoubtedly an attempt to standardize the hijab, even the full veil, in our Western lands. I obviously denounce this trend, because I see the Islamic veil for what it is: a perfect instrument of legal and religious oppression, which is out of place in a lawful society. No coherent defender of the freedom and dignity of women can rejoice at the trivialization of this dress custom in public space and in homes.

The contemporary complacency with regard to the Islamic veil takes on a paradoxical allure, when we know to what extent the emancipatory ideals of feminism, indisputably incompatible with traditional Islam, have moreover conquered our era, not without some excesses which I have spoken of above. In your question, you do well to suggest this tension. But it is much less the feminist intellectuals and activists, rather the previously mentioned “merchants,” who advocate a spirit of misguided tolerance. I recently spoke in the media to denounce the “Islamic fashion” that several major clothing brands adopted.

When the sense of priorities is reversed to the point that the spirit of profit prevails over the values of the Republic, one can effectively claim that the City is corrupted by an excessive valuation of the market function. I told you that I do not admire, personally, the business company. I admire art and creation; that’s true. But I hate commerce and marketing. In addition, I have always felt that a fashion designer was there to embellish women, to encourage them on their path of freedom, and not to be the accomplice of misogynistic manners that are hostile to the liberal principles which are theoretically those of Westerners and, in particular, of the French since the Revolution.

GC: “A very common error… consists in believing,” Konrad Lorenz tell us in his 1972 essay, Behind the Mirror, “that feelings of love and respect cannot be associated together… I have the absolute certainty to have never loved and respected a friend more deeply than the undisputed leader of our group of children of Altenberg, four years my elder… Even those of my age whom I would classify… as inferior to me, always had some something in themselves that impressed me and in what I felt them to be superior to me… I don’t think that one can truly love someone whom one looks down on, from all point of view.” In regard to your own experience, do you subscribe to this analysis of love?

PB: All those I have loved in my life were also people I admired. I endorse Konrad Lorenz’s wording: I do not believe either that one can truly love someone that one looks down on, from all points of view. It is true that one can have a very strong sexual attraction towards someone whom one despises. One can even get on remarkably well with him in the bedroom. But if one does not admire him, one may well be subject to his animal charm, sensitive to his dangerous side, but it will not be love – even if this means deluding oneself about the tenor of feelings that one experiences towards him.

I would add that one can love and admire someone who is self-destructing before one’s eyes. It happened to me; and it was with a heavy heart that I had to bring myself to leave Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s. Addiction is a disease just like cancer or depression. Would you stop admiring and cherishing someone because he has a tumor?

GC: It is not uncommon to hear that a “deregulated” market economy necessarily leads to growing income inequalities which state intervention is fortunately able to correct. Opposed to this first approach is notably that which estimates that, whatever the economic system considered, communism or capitalism, the market economy left to its own devices or accompanied by a redistributive system, the state of affairs is such that 20% of the population holds 80% of the national income. Which of these two opinions do you prefer?

PB: The second option that you evoke seems to me to present what has actually happened so far. All economic systems have experienced a highly unequal distribution of wealth. I do not know whether one should see in it the manifestation of an eternal law of human affairs, inscribed in the natural order of things. But as a man of the Left, I would prefer, of course, that it be possible to correct this tenacious tendency for the majority of national income to be concentrated in the hands of a minority of the population. That said, I am no longer fifteen; and I am no longer under the spell of communist or Proudhonian ideals. I will not tell you, like a François Hollande, that finance is my “enemy.” But I keep being shocked, in the age of globalization, by the indecent distribution of wealth and the dubious practices of certain companies.

GC: Which one, between Putin’s Russia, religiously Orthodox, and militant Islam, do you currently see as the greatest threat to the freedom of women and minorities?

PB: Both seem to me to be dangerous, beyond the shadow of a doubt; but the greatest danger assuredly comes from militant Islam. I am aware that the Orthodox Church is close to power and that the Patriarch of Moscow is making an authoritarian speech on social issues. Even though homosexuality was decriminalized in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR, the government expressly talks about fighting “homosexual propaganda,” in other words, the political and social demands by the LGBT community.

The fact remains that the terrorist acts which strike France and other countries in the world are concretely coming from the Muslim community. It is easy to notice that it is not the Orthodox who provoke a crash, besiege an embassy, assassinate journalists and caricaturists, take hostages in a supermarket, commit assaults in a performance hall, the street or a Christmas market, and enslave men and women.

GC: A fashionable assertion is that Western societies have secularized to the point of giving rise to a spiritual void unprecedented in human history. In the opinion of Vilfredo Pareto, in his 1917 treatise. The Mind and Society, the Christian religion has only given way to the democratic religion.

“The acts of worship of the Christian religion,” he writes, “have diminished among modern civilized peoples, but have been partially replaced by acts of the worship of socialist saints, humanitarian saints, and especially of the worship of the State and of the god, People… The Catholic processions have almost disappeared, but have been replaced by ‘processions’ and by political and social ‘demonstrations’… For many of those who deviate from the Christian religion, Christian enthusiasm has changed to ‘social,’ or ‘humanitarian,’ or ‘patriotic,’ or ‘nationalist’ enthusiasm; there is something for every taste.”

Do you subscribe to Vilfredo Pareto’s iconoclastic thesis, or to the common opinion that we have indeed come out of religion in the West?

PB: This analysis that you cite is perhaps iconoclastic, but it does not hold water. To begin with, it is wrong that the Christian religion is on the decline in the world. We mentioned earlier the Orthodoxy that is rising from the ashes. Furthermore, it is excessive to present democracy as a substitute for the Christian religion. In fact, democracy is simply not a religion. But it is quite true that the leftists regrettably tend to classify all Catholics as reactionary rightists.

I like to say that leftists, to whom the Republic very much owes its existence, have emptied the churches to fill the museums. I totally agree with it. But we certainly have not replaced Catholic worship with socialist worship. It is foolishness to pretend that we would worship a “State god” or a “People god.” The state does have a significant weight in society; and the ambient discourse is indeed articulated around the values of assistantship, secularism and the nation. But none of this has ever taken on nor could have ever taken on a religious character.

I fail to see how Christian practices and beliefs would have diminished on the grounds that democratic institutions were gaining ground. They have certainly decreased, at least in France, but if they have done so, it is certainly not in the context of a competition with the values and customs of the Republic. The reason for this relative decline of Christianity, more particularly Catholicism, is to be found in the obsolete side of its beliefs and practices. After having been in the spotlight for two thousand years, not without the support of force, to the extent that the Church burned heretics, they are simply going out of fashion.

In the end, what has changed with the secular Republic is not that a new official cult has tried to supplant Catholic worship, but that religious affairs have been relegated to the private sphere. This was not the case before. Let us not forget that the Catholic Church has persecuted the Protestant community from which I come. Even if religion now belongs to the intimate sphere, and no longer to the political sphere, the religious beliefs of Catholic citizens have of course an impact on their electoral preferences and on their positions about a given subject in society or a given draft law.

As evidenced by a recent survey, relayed last week by an article in Le Monde, it is however a biased perception that every Catholic is opposed to marriage for all or to surrogacy. In reality, there are multiple scenarios among Catholic voters. A number of them are politically right-wing, when it comes to the economy, and yet sensitive to left-wing concerns about so-called social issues. I think, therefore, that we have to take a step back from the overly obvious prejudices that we leftwing men commonly share about Catholics.

GC: Thank you for your time. Would you like to add a few words?

PB: You did well to request this interview. Now I would like it if you tell me about yourself.