What Made 18th-Century Britain So Innovative?

We are so very thankful to The Critic to allow us to bring to our readers a new series – History Talks – which are podcasts by Professor Jeremy Black, in conversation with Graham Stewart, The Critic’s political editor.

The purpose of these podcasts is to inform and also delight. Each month, Professor Black answers an important question, explores an interesting web of ideas, or simply tells us about things we may not know about. This means that each of his talks is nothing short of a “Grand Tour” of the past, providing exquisite nuggets of historical details that you can carry with you as delightful souvenirs.

We begin this month with an intriguing question – Why was 18th-century Britain so innovative? The ideas and inventions that emerged on this little island in the 1700s changed not only Britian but the entire world.

Things that we take for granted would have been impossible if they had not been invented and created in Britain, such as, free speech, a free press, consumerism, industrialization, urbanization. All this is finely summarized in Rupert Brooke’s famous words:

For England’s the one land, I know,
Where men with Splendid Hearts may go…

But why did all this not happen in any other country? Why did it happen only in Britain? Let’s listen to Professor Black for the answer.

What Made 18th-Century Britain So Innovative?

The image shows, A Philosopher Giving that Lecture on the Orrery, in which a Lamp is put in place of the Sun or The Orrery, by Joseph Wright of Derby, painted ca., 1766.

The Death of Liberalism? An Interview With Nicholas Capaldi

This month we are so very pleased and honored to present this interview with the renowned philosopher, Nicholas Capaldi, who is the Legendre-Soule Distinguished professor at Loyola University, New Orleans, USA. He is interviewed by Dr. Zbigniew Janowski, who himself is a philosopher and author of several important books and is currently working on a collection of articles, entitled, Gods Will Have Blood: Rise of Totalitarianism in America.

Zbigniew Janowski (ZJ): My image of Nicholas Capaldi is that of an American intellectual and academic, rather than a philosophy professor. The reason is, correct me if I am wrong, that in your books you always try to tackle a big intellectual problem, just like in your book on analytic philosophy, which you inscribed in the Enlightenment Project. It is not just narrow philosophical problems that you see, but you see them in a broad historical context. The same goes for your other books and the one you have just finished, The Anglo-American Conception of the Rule of Law. Is my description of you correct?

Nicholas Capaldi (NC): Yes! Thank you. Philosophical issues do not exist in a vacuum but within a larger context. It is always important to ask “why” an issue is an issue and for whom. The academic world, wrongly modeled along scientific grounds, forces people to know or think they know more about less and less. The result is a series of fashionable discussions akin to a carousel on which the riders and tunes change but there is no progress or direction.

ZJ: Your other book is a biography of John Stuart Mill, the father of the Liberal Idea. What made you write it?

NC: As an undergraduate seeking to find my own voice, I was inspired both by Mill’s defense of individual autonomy and by the critique of censorship. A career in academe has only reinforced the need to seek for the truth and to be free to articulate it, even more so as the academic world becomes increasingly politicized and intolerant.

ZJ: As the author of two books on Mill, you are well qualified to assess Liberalism as a doctrine. Liberalism travelled a long way from where it started in 1820, as a criticism of the establishment of the aristocratic Anglican order to what it became in Mill, and to where it is now, essentially a form of Politically Correct orthodoxy. One could probably find a number of other intermediate stages in the 20th century (welfare state, extension of suffrage, etc.) How do you explain its plasticity, the ability to adapt itself to the changing circumstances? In ten years, it will be roughly 200 years since the emergence of the Liberal Idea in Oxford in the 1820s, as Cardinal John Henry Newman explained it in his Apologia.

NC: I think it is a mistake to talk about Liberalism. It would be better to focus on the importance of individual freedom and how it emerged/developed historically within the European psyche, but most especially in the English world. Once you try to understand this as an isolated concept (philosophical, political, economic, etc.) you have created a contextless abstraction – and abstractions can be interpreted to mean anything. The best discussion I know is Oakeshott’s distinction between civil and enterprise association, wherein the former is a society without a collective end, but exists to allow individual members to pursue their own individual ends with a minimum of conflict.

The existence of people (anti-individuals) who are incapable or unwilling to live in such a world enables them to take an abstract concept and make it mean the opposite of its original meaning. I might add that intellectuals who are limited to using only Greco-Roman models have bought into an intellectual frame of reference that limits their ability to understand individual freedom. Such intellectuals want to be free to impose their own model on others – freedom of speech for them means freedom to impose their private vision on others.

ZJ: What, in your opinion, were the classical characteristics of Mill’s Liberalism and which are the ones which today’s Liberals promote?

NC: Mill sought to respect individual freedom; today, many so-called Liberals seek to “promote” individual freedom by collectivist means. Assuming they know what they are talking about, they are blind to the inherent contradiction of ‘forcing people to be free’ (Rousseau). It all goes back to what Voegelin called “Gnosticism.”

ZJ: Let me give you one example, from his On Representative Government. Mill was a great proponent of universal suffrage. Yet, he understood that it was not a God given right, like the American inalienable rights, but contingent upon certain factors – education, for example. “Universal teaching must precede universal enfranchisement.” In other words, basic education, which he considered to be the knowledge of basic mathematics, reading, geography, national and world history is the foundation on which suffrage rests. We, today, on the other hand, believe that it is a right, that democracy can function anywhere, and that regardless of our personal and intellectual qualities, democracy can function. Democracy in Mill’s writings appears to be a very fragile and complex mechanism. How would he see the democratic world today?

NC: Mill wrote the essay, On Liberty, in part, to call attention to the difference between the negative role of democracy in the eighteenth century (favored by the U.S. founders) and the “tyranny of the majority,” against which Tocqueville argued so eloquently. Mill also called attention to the difference between what the majority might think and what those who claim to speak for the majority (power elite) claim on behalf of the majority.

ZJ: We seem to be obsessed with the idea of wide participation of the masses. No exclusions; in fact, every exclusion is called discrimination. Mill, sympathetic as he was to the idea of extending the right to vote, was very clear that, first, criminals’ right to vote should be suspended, that people who live off others should not have a right to vote, and those who are unemployed for an extensive period of time (he thought of 3-5 years), should not have a right to vote either. Today, Mill would be accused of discrimination.

NC: Today, democracy has become a mask for oppression. So-called “identity politics” brings together all the of the anti-individuals (mentioned earlier – see Oakeshott) to undermine the achievements and prestige of autonomous individuals. Instead of transferring resources from the rich to the poor, we transfer power from individuals to the state (de Jouvenel). Political discourse has become Orwellian.

ZJ: Let me go back to his educational requirements – literacy, national history, global history and geography. This is what he thought was necessary in 1861 when he published his work! The world of 1861 and the world of 2020 are not the same, and by that, I mean the world is so much more complicated and complex that even the best educated among us cannot claim to be experts in political matters.

Let me draw a parallel, I am not sure how useful it is, between criticism of Socialism by Hayek and democracy’s ability to sustain itself. According to Hayek, one major reason why Socialist economics is not viable is because no one can have complete knowledge that goes into pricing, and therefore, only free market can provide us with correct price of goods. Planned economy can’t work. The idea that the masses somehow have enough knowledge to run the social and political realms seems to me Utopian in nature, in the same way that Socialism was.

NC: You are absolutely correct. Keep in mind that Hayek’s argument against planning is a restatement of his mentor Mill’s position that no one can be infallible (remember the context of 19th-century debate on infallibility). The U.S. was founded as a Republic (constitutional protection of individual liberties) as opposed to a DEMOCRACY (majority-tyranny).

ZJ: In the beginning of his On Liberty, Mill states: “The struggle between Liberty and Authority is the most conspicuous feature of history with which we are earliest familiar, particularly in that of Greece, Rome, and England. But in old times this contest was between subjects, or some classes of subjects, and the government.”

This idea sounds very familiar to the readers of Marx and Engels, who at the opening of the Communist Manifesto formulated their vision of progressive history as well. In their view history is a class struggle, between oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressors are in Mill’s scheme the Party of Authority, and the oppressed are the Party of Liberty. Is it a coincidence that Mill – the Liberal – and Marx and Engels sound so alike? Or does the similarity stem from the popular understanding of History as Progressive, a popular conception in 19th-century.

NC: Great question. There were different conceptions of history in the 19th-century debate. For the mature Mill, history evolved but did not progress; as in the common law, we constantly seek to retrieve, explicate, and restate for new contexts the inherent norms of our inherited civilization. For Marx, Comte, etc. “history” was understood “scientifically” as a form of teleology or progress. The great attraction of the latter view is that it allows you to invent self-serving narratives.

ZJ: Do you think there are consequences of such an interpretation of history? In Marxism it was called “Historical Inevitability,” which in practice gave the communist apparatchiks a theoretical tool to eliminate the enemies: If History is progressive, if it unfolds itself in a certain direction, there is nothing wrong in eliminating the enemies of Progress. The idea had serious consequences in real life. Millions of people killed! The Stalinist trials, for example, are a good exemplification of it.

Let me quote a few sentences from Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, a book about trials, in which Gletkin, the interrogator, explains what kind of historical thinking drives the communists and what justifies the elimination of the enemies: “My point is, one may not regard the world as a sort of metaphysical brother for emotions. This is the first commandment for us. Sympathy, conscience, and atonement are for us repellent debauchery… to sell oneself to one’s conscience is to abandon mankind. History is a priori amoral; it has no conscience.”

Thus, one can torture, kill. History provides justification. Are today’s Liberals heading in the same direction? Not necessarily by physically extermination, but by destroying everyone who disagrees with them? I am asking this question because their intolerance is growing; they attempt to shout down any critical voice; they become increasingly more violent; and the words, such as progress, progressive agenda, progressive policies, etc. are their only vocabulary.

NC: I fear that you are correct. All of this nonsense reflects the fact that the British and U.S. Revolutions were “conservative” in the sense I attributed to Mill above. The Russian and all subsequent Revolutions have been “radical,” that is, based on abstractions. Furthermore, the intellectual origin of all of this dangerous nonsense is what I have described as “the Enlightenment Project” – the belief that we could construct a social ‘science’ and thereby a social technology. You alluded to this in mentioning my other book. Like all bad ideas it originated in 18th-century France. If there is a social technology then dissent undermines utopia. Again, this appeal to infallibility is what Mill objected to in Comte.

ZJ: These dangerous tendencies in mass behavior are not new. They were noticed by philosophers, sociologists and psychologists. Let me begin with Mill who talks about tyranny of the majority in a democracy often in his On Liberty. How do you account for his favorable, even enthusiastic support for the rule of the majority, on the one hand, and his contempt for them (the collective mediocrity), as he refers to them?

NC: Mill saw political democracy as inevitable—curiously a product of industrialization. What he advocated was a cultural and political bulwark against its excesses.

ZJ: Was his contemporary, Nietzsche, a more perceptive critic of democracy and majority rule than Mill? Sometimes they sound the same, but Nietzsche took the masses for what they are – mediocrity, and saw what Mill refused to see – lack of aristocratic virtues. In fact, Mill hated aristocracy; wrote nasty things about it. Do you think it was a well-argued position, or was it a psychological suspicion of someone who did not belong to an aristocratic order, and who gave support with the power of his considerable intellect to the rule of mediocrity?

NC: lan Kahan has written a good book, Aristocratic Liberalism, in which he makes the case that Mill, Tocqueville, and Burckhardt were exemplars. I have argued that England (individual autonomy tradition) was different from the Continent (long history of collectivism). I see Nietzsche as responding to the more threatening Continental context.

Elsewhere, I (following many previous writers) have identified the extent to which intellectuals are attracted to holistic, collectivist, and Utopian thinking (e.g. Enlightenment Project, Hoffer’s men of words in his book True Believer). So, it is no surprise that the ‘Continental Disease’ has slowly infiltrated the Anglo-American world.

I also believe that the cultural dimension is more important than the purely intellectual one. In the U.S., many ordinary people understand and respond positively to Clint Eastwood’s Western films and to Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way.” This is behind Buckley remark that some of us would rather be governed by the first 300 people in the Boston telephone directory than the faculty of Harvard.

ZJ: Ever since the beginning of the 20th-century, that is, the rise of psychology and sociology, we know not only how, but why masses behave the way they do. Freud devoted an interesting book, The Group Psychology, to the topic. In a nutshell, man loses his individuality and identity in a crowd. Following Le Bon, Freud claims, man goes back to his primitive instinct and nature, and acts like a member of a herd, again, an expression that Nietzsche uses frequently to describe what he calls slave-morality. Only individuals, not crowds, not masses, have a moral compass. How does it square, in your view, with the idea of a democratic, mass society? Is such a society bound to be immoral?

NC: This is the very issue that Oakeshott addresses in his essay, “The Masses in Representative Government.” His conclusion was that “….[the anti-individual or mass man] remains an unmistakably derivative character…helpless, parasitic and able to survive only in opposition to individuality….The desire of the ‘masses’ to enjoy the products of individuality has modified their destructive urge.”

ZJ: Let me turn to something that has been on my mind, and which made me put out a new edition of Mill’s writings, where I think one can trace the trajectory of his development; namely, the idea of authority, which is so inimical to Mill. He made it, as the quotation from his On Liberty which I used before reveals, the centerpiece of his philosophy. Authority is the enemy of Liberty. Plato, in Book. VIII of his Republic, on the other hand, saw the dissolution of authority as the beginning of anarchy, which, in turn, is the result of expanding equality in a democracy.

Now, Mill, as you know, translated several of Plato’s dialogues and knew his philosophy well. Did he miss something? Did he expect democracy to last despite Plato’s warnings? Or did he think that everyone is rational? Or was he just too steeped in the English tradition of respect for law, order, conservatism in private life, etc.? Did he think that the social order is self-sustaining, that we will not cross a certain line? How would you explain his position?

NC: The intellectual and moral responsibility of the public intellectual, whether he/she be Plato, Mill, or us, is to (1) identify the social problem, (2) defend one alternative solution/policy against others, and (3) offer a rhetorical (artistic) expression, designed to persuade others to see the world as we do. Plato clearly did this in writing dialogues. You captured some of this in your collection of Mill’s more popular writings. You also capture this in some of your own cultural writing. It has been my great failing not to have done more of this in my own.

ZJ: Is the suspicion or hostility, in your view, as it is in Mill, characteristic of Liberalism? And if so, how far can the Liberals go, you think, without destroying social order?

NC: The greatest threat to tyranny is the capacity of a few people to stand up and say, “The Emperor has no clothes.” Keep it simple, clear, and authentic. It takes enormous courage to do this. In the end, the question is never how far tyrants will go, but how far we are willing to go to oppose them.

ZJ: Let me return to the idea of order. In Aristotle, we find a claim that the function of a good law giver is to make citizens good. In his defense, one of Socrates’ accusers makes the same point. When I taught those thinkers, it struck me that if Aristotle had a chance to read the American founding documents—pursuit of happiness, that is, leaving an individual to his own devices, without any moral compass—he would give the Founding Fathers an F. The idea that human behavior can be left unregulated would be preposterous to the ancients.

Now, given the American Founding Fathers’ brilliance, did they miss something? It is unlikely, which leads me to my question. The US was founded by the sectarian Protestants, with a very strict moral code. They, particularly Jefferson, could believe that the public realm can remain neutral because the citizens’ religiosity, or the Churches, will keep pumping, so to speak, the moral code. What are your thoughts on this?

NC: I think you are correct. The U.S. is, as Samuel Huntington said, an Anglo-Protestant culture. I would also make the case that since Mill and Nietzsche, it has become necessary to find an intellectual/cultural defense of the values of such a Protestant culture not tied to a specific theology as traditionally understood. I have tried to make such a case in a way that is compatible with some but not all traditional forms of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Curiously, we live now in an increasingly secular culture where clergy who no longer believe in God are attracted both to mindless defenses of abstractions, like tolerance of intolerant religious sects and movements, and, at the same time, a therapeutic view of the welfare state as the new moral community. When I meet such people, I am not sure whether I should laugh or cry. Perhaps we need a new Reformation. This is part of what it means to retrieve our moral tradition in a new context. Retrieving a tradition can never be a simple matter of an uncritical return to the past. Instead, it is the re-identifying of something that is a permanent part of the human condition, even though it is always expressed in specific historical contexts.

ZJ: Now, 250 years later, with the decline of religiosity, low church attendance—and the same seems to be true of Judaism (as my Orthodox Rabbi friend tells me, reformed Judaism is likely to cease to exist in a few decades) – there is no moral or ethical powerhouse. It is almost as if Sartre and de Beauvoir’s dream came true. Everyone invents his own moral code, lives according to his own rules. Are we becoming a nihilistic society? Is this nihilism?

NC: I would make two points. First, there are lost souls, some of whom embrace the latest fashionable, and sometimes destructive, enterprise association. Second, nihilism is not to be confused with moral pluralism. We have always lived in a morally pluralistic world. The mistake we have always made is to try and find the one new true collectivist faith and impose it on others.

What we need, and what we have to some extent, is a plurality of substantive moral communities who need to agree on common procedural norms. I think many such communities exist. I think some of those communities presently lack the internal resources to agree to common procedural norms. In our book on The Anglo-American Conception of the Rule of Law, my wife Nadia and I have tried to show how this is possible and actual.

ZJ: Just like Mill, Jefferson was hostile to aristocracy, in his own, so to speak, American way. He saw it as an extension of monarchical order rather than a class, or much less so, because in one of his letters, he made a very strong case for aristocracy of spirit, education. He even designed a way how such a democratic aristocracy should be bred. In one letter he made a list of mad European monarchs, which, he thought, to be a very good case for abandoning monarchy as an institution.

Now, let me make this point – seceding from the British Crown, declaring independence from Britain, is one thing, establishing a new political order is another. So, after painful debates, the Americans chose the republic. Here is my question – one could believe, as Jefferson did, back then, that a monarch can become crazy and corrupt, but, one could argue, that one can replace a corrupt or mad monarch. However, when the masses become corrupt, what then? What can you do? And our present social and political situation seems to point to a number of problems which, on an individual scale, you could term unhealthy, or even insane.

NC: There are a number of issues here that need to be separated. First, I do not believe that the “masses” correctly captures the major issues. There are many people who cannot be classified as “intellectual,” but who are decent individuals and responsible citizens. You do not get to be decent and responsible by having a Liberal education. Second, the social pathologies I do see reflect the failure of major institutions (e.g. family, schools, religions). The failure of those institutions I would attribute to the false idea that we can have a social technology (i.e. the Enlightenment Project).

ZJ: You are an academic, having spent your life in academia. But you are more. You are associated with the Liberty Fund. When I think of the several conferences that I attended, I cannot resist the feeling that I have never, and I mean it, participated in more intense intellectual life than during the two days of their sessions. It is not only a well-organized setting, but it is a place where ideas matter. I am sure that you will agree with me. No university produces such an intense intellectual atmosphere as does the Liberty Fund. Do you agree?

NC: I would indeed agree. As long as the administration of Liberty Fund is true to donor intent, and is not captured by ideologues with a program, it remains the premier educational institution in America. Again, I would argue that the intellectual world in the last century has been a captive of the Enlightenment Project program of social technology. So-called higher education now disfigures the intellectual world, the worlds of the clergy, government administration, communication and journalism, law schools, teacher training, business, the arts, etc. At the risk of sounding self-promoting, higher education now controls the commanding heights of all that is wrong with our society.

ZJ: Given the absolutely dreadful state of education and universities in America, do you see a way out? The tenured academics will not give up their positions. Has academia been destroyed? Almost every week you can read an article of complaint from retiring academics stating how bad things are. Few people have the courage to stand up; and the majority of professors are afraid—afraid of students and administration. How did we come to be where we are?

NC: This is a long story. I started writing a book about it and became too depressed to finish it. It cannot be reformed internally, in part for reasons to which you have alluded. It can only be reformed from the outside. I do not see that happening in the short run. Our only hope is that it will collapse on itself, and the current financial crisis (student loan debt) may be how it happens. This is not an excuse for doing nothing – we keep up the rear-guard action. What we need to prepare is a positive alternative.

ZJ: What about the Liberty Fund method of education? Don’t you think that there is room for it to do the same kind of seminars with students? That Liberty Fund and other foundations could start real universities where education is what it used to be?

NC: I think the Liberty Fund model is a good one. I also think that education cannot be left to professionals alone. The articulation, defense, and critique of our fundamental norms should go on in every institution. The life of the mind also has intrinsic value. I end this interview as I plan to enter retirement with a program called “Community of Scholars.” Free from the constraints of teaching those who do not want to learn, freed from administrative B.S., free from the tyranny of journal editors and university presses; and with the help of the new technology and social media we can create a vast network of scholars who want to search for and articulate the truth, who want to share – for free – the wisdom of a lifetime of searching, and to do so in the spirit of Mill’s and Nietzsche’s ruthless self-examination. It requires both intellectual and moral virtue. It is our way, perhaps the only way, of keeping the Socratic faith.

ZJ: In 1977 Leszek Kolakowski published his opus magnum, Main Currents of Marxism. Its Rise, Growth and Dissolution. The first volume deals with the founders; the second with the golden age; the third with Marxism’s demise. Kolakowski’s work is, as I like to think about it, a death certificate of Marxist thought issued twelve years before the actual burial of Communism in Eastern Europe, and fourteen years before the end of the Soviet Union.

In his work, Kolakowski describes the vicissitudes of Marxism as a philosophy and practice. You wrote two books on David Hume, a massive book on the Enlightenment Project in analytical philosophy (or conversation!—as you called it), Liberty and Equality in Political Economy: From Locke versus Rousseau to the Present; and just a few months ago, you and your wife Nadia Nedzel, published The Anglo-American Conception of the Rule of Law.

The range of your interests is impressive, but you also wrote a fantastic biography of John Stuart Mill – a great read! Would you feel tempted to write a work on Liberalism à la Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism? You could even title it, “Main Currents of Liberalism.” From our private conversations, I gather that you are thinking about it. Any thoughts on this and how would you structure it?

NC: I am most definitely interested in writing such a book. The general thesis is that what I have called the Enlightenment Project (18th-century French idea that there can be a social science modeled after physical science and that such a social science will give us a social technology) is the origin of Doctrinaire Liberalism, Marxism, and Socialism – these are all expressions of this bad idea (all bad ideas, by the way, come from France).

Doctrinaire Liberalism, I shall argue, is a French abstraction that (a) misunderstands Anglo-American culture, (b) and tries to introduce Anglo-American virtues into the Continent, but mistakes the abstraction for the reality. The mistake is then read-back into Anglo-American culture by British and American scholars and activists – thereby providing a fake history. All versions of the Enlightenment Project ultimately become totalitarian – hence, why what is happening in the U.S. (under the Democrats, not Trump) parallels what happened under Marxism.

ZJ: Marxism died not merely because the countries of real Socialism could not compete with the Western Liberal democracies, because the economy started to crumble, because of politics, etc., but because faith in Marxism died. Marxism, in its different stages of development, was not only a philosophy and political orientation, but a religion that required faith. One could say that its longevity depended on the existence of the believers. A host of intellectuals, writers, artists were Marxists; they gave support to the idea. When they lost faith in it – partly because of the form in which it manifested itself politically and socially – Marxism lost its magical power. Do you find any parallels between Marxism and Liberalism? Liberalism has also evolved, manifesting itself in different ways.

NC: I think you are correct that ideologies die when people lose faith in them. I do not think that this will happen soon in the U.S. In the U.S., the weakening has just begun; we need to make people aware that they are succumbing to an intellectual disease. We need to persist in weakening the faith.

ZJ: At the very end of volume one, Kolakowski characterized Marxism as man’s greatest 20th-century utopia, a flight to freedom. Today, the young generation is not familiar with such a hope and the Socialist idea, but being Politically Correct (with its call to social justice, the abolishing of “power structures,” etc.), which is a reformulation of Marxism. Do you think that the Liberal Idea is another utopia which replaced the old one, Marxism?

NC: Liberalism is just another version. What people confuse is our institutional structure with theory; we need to remind them that our structure is an historical product and not a theoretical product. I tried to initiate that in the book on The Anglo-American Conception of the Rule of Law.

ZJ: There are a number of books on Liberalism, beginning with Hobhouse’s classic, Liberalism (1911), which, in my opinion, comes very close to what we find in Mill’s writings; Harold Laski’s book The Rise of Eurpean Liberalism is another minor landmark in the development of the idea, and a number of minor works (O’Sullivan’s Liberalism, Schapiro’s Liberalism, Brinton’s The Shaping of the Modern Mind, part of which is devoted to liberalism, and so on). What is probably the most ambitious and serious book on the subject is De Ruggierro’s History of European Liberalism. It occurred to me that one could write a book on the development of Liberalism by tracing books called “Liberalism” or “History of Liberalism.” This is a phenomenon in itself, which makes one wonder why Liberals must redefine or readjust the notion of what Liberalism is every decade or so. Do you have an explanation?

NC: There is a disconnect between theory and practice, a disconnect that the discipline of philosophy has encouraged, namely, the belief that we can theorize the relation of theory to practice. Intellectuals, as Schumpeter noted, are the culprits here. Intellectuals so want to be the new clergy, they are unwilling to acknowledge the limits of discursive reason.

We cannot defeat them with more theory; we need to root out the notion that reason exists independent of all context (almost every major philosopher from Plato on has made this mistake). In the 20th-century, only Oakeshott and a few others have tried to reign in this rationalism.

ZJ: Do you think there is a need for a work on Liberalism, like Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism, particularly now that Liberalism has assumed a freedom-threatening posture (I mean the PC movement, which is very destructive, socially, politically and culturally), just like Marxism before? Need the people be reminded how Socialism began and deteriorated? Liberalism is no longer an idea that promises liberation from the shackles of oppression but, like Marxism, has become an oppressive system, very much like what Tocqueville feared democracy would become.

NC: Several of us should write about it – not one book but a host of books. I do not think “democracy” is the problem. I think the problem is a collection of elites (academe, journalism, military, business, Hollywood, technicians in IT, etc.).

ZJ: Does Liberalism require and depend on faith as much as Marxism did? When this faith dies, does the Liberal Idea die with it?

NC: It is the same faith. We need to make clear what that faith is. Voegelin identified it as Gnosticism, a form of Pelagianism. It will never disappear; it will simply assume new guises. We have to be patient in dealing with its eternal return.

ZJ: Under Communism, where I spent the first 25 years of my life, we had a mild Marxist-Leninism indoctrination (it was not that mild in the 1950s or the 1960s); but no one believed this ideological rubbish. Opposing it meant serious consequences, losing a job, interrogations, prison, sometimes “an accident” (death). But people opposed it; there was an underground/ samizdat press. We would read Hayek, Milton Friedman, Roger Scruton, Kolakowski, and others in horrible underground editions. One book would be read by twenty individuals. People made the effort to clear their minds of the ideological pollution. But now they attend official university classes in feminism, gender studies, environmental justice, domination, patriarchy, colonialism, women in art, literature, and many others.

Here is my question: Why this weakness of man under Liberal Democracy, why such blindness? Is it because Liberal Democracies do not go after your body, but your soul, as Tocqueville observed? People prefer to lose their souls – integrity, conscience – than their jobs? This is not a recent phenomenon. Tocqueville saw it in 1835!

NC: We have to remember that the vast majority of Americans do not have college degrees; that the U.S. culture is not primarily an intellectual culture but a practice/pragmatic culture. The infected part of the population consists of two groups: (a) Intellectuals taking their cue from the Continental abstractions I previously identified, and (b) College students – most of whom are disinterested in ideas.

The public has been totally turned off by the media journalists (“fake news”), so they remain uninfected; and the public is largely oblivious to what goes on in higher education and still thinks it is about getting a better job. The problem is the intelligentsia (vast literature on why totalitarianism appeals to them) and the intellectual students who are indoctrinated. Most students are ignorant, disinterested, turned off, and remain quiet as a defensive maneuver.

It is OUR job to attack the intelligentsia (and remain unpopular with fellow faculty) to educate and re-educate those bright students with whom one comes into contact, and to reassure, by our opposition, the disinterested students that they do not have to take left-wing intellectuals and faculty seriously. The latter, ironically, may be the most effective thing we do.

ZJ: Thank you, Professor Capaldi, for this wonderful conservation!

The image shows, “Danish soldiers return to Copenhagen, 1849,” by Otto Bache; painted in 1894.

A Polish version of this interview appeared in Arcana.

Why I Choose To Call Myself A “Conservative”

Labels can be misleading, they can, as Scruton pointed out, control speech, but they can also show our orientation or direction of thought.

The immediate inspiration for writing this short essay was the recent passing of Roger Scruton, the conservative’s conservative. I need not repeat all of the wonderful pieces that have been written about him. There are, however, two things I want to emphasize. Scruton and I were roughly contemporaries and we had our epiphany, unknown to each other, at the same time.

In 1968, Scruton was in Paris and witnessed the uprising. He has remarked that he suddenly realized the difference between himself and the rioters. The rioters, many of them intellectuals or inspired by French intellectuals, were interested primarily in tearing things down – believing, in romantic Marxist fashion, that the good will rise automatically from the conflagration of the old. Scruton suddenly realized that he was not interested in destroying things but in preserving what was most valuable.

From that moment one he became one of Britain’s most outspoken and courageous conservatives. At the same time, riots were occurring across America’s campuses, including my own university. Until that moment I had naively thought of myself as a liberal reformer, on the correct side of all of the major social issues. To see the destruction of higher education in America, although the corpse is still around, to see administrators unable and unwilling to defend the crucial importance of my beloved institution made me realize that I was also a conservator of our cultural institutions.

More recently I watched a U-tube presentation of Scruton trying to explain to a Dutch audience what was behind Brexit. He mentioned a number of things, including how his parents’ generation had successfully defended the UK from Nazi invasion, how Britons had no need to launder their recent history, how Britain was a bottom-up society and the home of the rule of law. It is the last point that inspired my recent publication of a book to substantiate that claim and to remind myself and others of the unique Anglo-American heritage.

Recognizing the confusion caused by labels, especially labels with a long history and multiple meanings, I nevertheless choose to call myself a ‘conservative’. This choice reflects the fact that the intellectual world is dominated by people who call themselves ‘progressive’, that progressivism seems to control the terms of discussion, and my instinctive desire to speak truth to power. Prudence has never been one of my virtues.

Before explaining my positive understanding of ‘conservatism’ I want to note what I disagree with in progressivism. To begin with, I object to bullying, to the silencing of dissent, the suppression of what used to be called free speech, and to coercing and penalizing people who oppose progressivism. Second, I am opposed to radical ‘social’ change instituted by the government and justified by appeal to abstractions designed to achieve a utopian goal. Third, I object to the invariable and inevitable distortion of the previous sentence by those who will attribute to me the position of opposing all social change.

What I mean by ‘conservatism’ is two things. First, it is impossible to think and speak about anything without employing an inherited background of norms and assumptions. We cannot explain or critique anything from a wholly external perspective. Our intellectual and social inheritance contain many norms, and there is no systematic way of organizing those norms without appeal to some extraneous perspective or without promoting one norm to a prominence it cannot rightfully claim. A good deal of what passes for philosophy is the elevation of one intellectual practice above all others. Our inheritance is too rich and complex to be so systematized. Progressivism is an example of the illicit claim of being ‘the’ uber framework. Rigidity is thus always on the side of Progressivism.

Our plurality of norms evolved over time (sorry, Moses) and reflected a particular set of circumstances. Inevitably and of necessity new sets of circumstances will lead us to recognize additional norms and conflicts and tensions within the norms we already have.

How then do we resolve these conflicts? The better or more accurate question, is what has our practice of conflict resolution or management been? Borrowing from Oakeshott, I would say our practice has been to engage in a conversation that begins by diagnosing our situation; we make proposals about what the response should be; we recommend this proposal by considering a large number of the consequences likely to follow from acting upon it; we balance the merits of any proposal against those of at least one other proposal; and we assume agreement about the general conditions of things to be preferred. Arguments constructed out of these materials cannot be ‘refuted’. They may be resisted by arguments of the same sort which, on balance, are found to be more convincing. The recommendation always involves a rhetorical appeal, an appeal to what we believe are the relevant overriding norms – the general conditions of things to be preferred.

The human condition can never in this life be utopian. Some good things can only be purchased by abstaining from other. We cannot choose everything. To open some doors is to know that others must remain closed.

What I seek to conserve is our practice. Progressives threaten our practices in the name of some abstraction. Armed with some such abstraction (e.g. ‘equality’) they will disrupt the conversation by claiming that the equal right to free speech means that any speaker they do not like can be shouted down. In vain do I remind them of what J.S. Mill said about censorship. In vain do I remind them that successful reformers like Martin Luther King prevailed because they reminded others into acknowledging what the inherited norms were.

For progressives, words (e.g. ‘racism’, ‘sexism’, etc.) mean only what they choose the words to mean. Any appeal to “the general conditions of things to be preferred” is illegitimate because what we thought were the relevant overriding norms (note the plural, please) is rejected as an appeal to something illegitimate. What are the legitimate norms? It is what they say it is and as they alone understand their holy abstraction.

On the contrary, I want to conserve the conversation, and the civility implied therein. It may very well be that there can no longer be a conversation. Communities do sometimes disintegrate, split into multiple communities, or find it necessary to destroy one another. Those who hold onto the illusion that the community can and must always be preserved (‘do-gooders’) are giving in to the belief in ‘the’ uber framework. Progressives, like Bolsheviks, always win in these situations because they will never concede anything. The ‘do-gooders’ will concede anything and embrace an Orwellian discourse. Progressives may control the commanding heights, but like all barbarians, in the end, they can only appeal to force.

As a “conservative” I want to preserve the inherited community, warts and all, not embrace an abstraction; I do embrace the need for periodic review; I vehemently oppose those who pretend to be conservatives but are merely intransigent about something or other; I patiently endure the process by which we engage in reform, however slow and painful. I am ready and willing to oust the disingenuous progressives (as opposed to the merely confused) who pretend to be inside the community in order to enjoy its benefits but reserve for themselves the exclusive privilege of not being bound by it when it suits their private agenda. I am prepared to let them go their way; but they cannot stay as is. The progressives will claim that I am the one who is leaving when in fact they are the ones who have abandoned the community long ago. To be a ‘conservative’ is to choose to stay and to be willing to pay the price; it is not to idolize any one institution.

Nicholas Capaldi, a Legendre-Soule Distinguished professor at Loyola University, New Orleans, USA, is the author of two books on David Hume, The Enlightenment Project in Analytic Conversation, biography of John Stuart Mill, Liberty and Equality in Political Economy: From Locke versus Rosseau to the Present, and, most recently, The Anglo-American Conception of the Rule of Law.

The image shows, “The Chess Players,” by Sir William Orpen,” panted before 1902.

Enlightenment In Spain: Development Of Philosophy, Part III

A General Ferment

One cannot reduce Spain’s contribution in the 18th-century to just fiction or the literature of ideas. The real intellectual ferment that characterized this era across the Pyrenees affected all areas in which the human spirit is illustrated, from poetry to fine arts, through music, science and architecture. Multiplying examples and names in all these disciplines would not, however, be of great help in understanding the general orientations of the Spanish Enlightenment, as well as the challenges of the period. This is why we will content ourselves with succinctly developing some fundamental aspects of this century.

The historiography of this Iberian nation generally divides the members of the Ilustración into four successive generations:

  • The critical generation, notably represented by Father Benito Jerónimo Feijoo (1676—1764), who analyzed the causes of the “decadence” of the country and proposed solutions to reform it, especially in educational matters;
  • The erudite generation, which sought to inventory the Spanish cultural heritage and laid the foundations for its conservation and study, while renewing the national historiography, as with the works of Gregorio Mayans (1699-1781) and Father Enrique Flórez (1702—1773);
  • The reformist generation, known for its political action and its theoretical treatises, like Pedro Rodríguez de Campomanes (1723-1802), author of Discurso sobre la educación popular de los artesanos (which advocated special instruction for artisans) and Tratado de la regalía de la amortización (which gave a critical view of the agrarian system at the time);
  • The neo-classical generation, which tried to incorporate French influence even more into Spanish thought and arts, but also noted its failure, with the French Revolution and the Napoleonic invasion of Spain (1808-1814), like Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1744-1811).

New Structures Of Thought

Ilustrada literature could not be conceived outside of places of sociability that nourished debate and creativity of artists. These places could be purely intellectual, like articles in the press, or very concrete, such as, academies, tertulias (places of meeting and discussion), saraos (dinners followed by animated conversations), parties, balls, invitations or even courtesy visits.

The eventual development of the publishing world, still very much oriented towards religious subjects, could not hide the growing circles of debate, such as, the Academy of Good Taste, created in 1749 in Madrid; the Auberge of Saint-Sebastian, in the capital; the Basque Economic Society, founded in 1764 in Vergara; the Royal Society of Madrid, opened in 1775; the Academy of Human Letters, established in 1793 in Seville; plus various associations in more or less important cities like Cadiz, Ciudad Rodrigo, Osuna, Vera de Bidasoa, Valladolid, Zaragoza, Chinchón, Valencia, Tarragona, etc. These clubs, inspired by salons that could be seen flourishing in France, England or in German areas, and especially attracting local and national elites (nobility, clergy, big bourgeoisie).

The eighteenth century was, in Spain, the century of academies, sponsored by the monarchy; in the forefront of which was the Royal Academy of Language (1713). It was followed by the creation of the Royal Academy of History (1738), the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Saint-Ferdinand (1744), and the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation (1763). Such organizations carried out the important task of rationally recording knowledge in dictionaries, such as, the Diccionario de autoridades of 1739, the Tratado de ortografía of 1742, the Gramática of 1771, the Diccionario manual of 1780, the Diccionario histórico-crítico universal de España in 1736, or the Diccionario de los literatos in 1751.

The royal officials were not outdone by systematic work in the field of bibliographies, such as, Ensayo de una biblioteca de los mejores escritores del reinado de Carlos III by Juan Sempere y Guarinos (in 1789); Memorias políticas y económicas sobre los frutos, fábricas, comercio y minas de España by Eugenio Larruga y Boneta (in 1800); or in the area of geography, such as, Viaje de España by Antonio Ponz (in 1794).

Some educational institutions, which existed on the fringes of the official university, seemed very open to new trends from the rest of Europe. This was particularly the case for pilot schools, the first chambers of commerce (Juntas de Comercio) and several private colleges. All these establishments were seconded in their efforts, not by a bourgeoisie which was still struggling to emerge in Spain, but by ecclesiastics, military officers, progressive aristocrats, or even officials of the monarchy.

Benito Jerónimo Feijoo, Spiritual Father Of The Spanish Enlightenment

If certain writers, such as Diego de Torres Villarroel (1694-1770), or José Francisco de Isla (1703-1781) are sometimes considered as precursors of the Ilustración, it is Benito Jerónimo Feijoo who seems to have initiated this new era by the original character of his work in Spanish literature.

He prefigured—by his simple and direct style, his spiritual preoccupations, his polemical tone, his will to educate, and his passion for science and ideas from the rest of Europe—polemists like Juan Pablo Forner (1756-1797), or fabulists like Félix María Samaniego (1745-1801) and Tomás de Iriarte (1750-1791).

Deeply anti-Aristotelian and opposed to scholasticism, Benito Jerónimo Feijoo became known in September 1726, when he began to sell copies of the first volume of his Teatro crítico universal. It was a collection of speeches aimed at combating the scientific, religious and ideological errors of the time. Between 1742 and 1760, he freed himself definitively from Baroque forms, whose survival was still attested at the beginning of the century, and published the Cartas eruditas y curiosas. In this work, he drew upon a wide range of European philosophers and scientists (Francis Bacon, Pierre Gassendi, Isaac Newton, etc.) and advocated the use of the analytical method, as opposed to syllogistics still in vogue at universities.

Defender of reason, but also of spontaneity in writing, rhetoric and artistic criticism (he introduced concepts like “je ne sais quoi” and “taste” in Spain), he also demonstrated his great scholarship. He graced his speeches with quotations and references to other thinkers on the continent, such as Pierre Bayle.

Common sense (sentido común) was one of the fundamental intellectual hallmarks of Father Feijoo, who, as a Benedictine, was also sensitive to the religious reform implemented by the monks of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. A resolute opponent of a number of national traditions, which he considered absurd and without documentary basis, he facilitated the renewal of Spanish historiography. The latter took place under the impetus of José Manuel Miñana (1671—1730), Manuel Martí (1663—1737), Juan de Ferreras (1652—1735), Luis de Salazar y Castro (1658—1734), and Gaspar Ibáñez de Segovia, Marquis de Mondéjar (1628—1708).

The Controversy Of The Theater, Testimony To The Tensions Of The Ilustración

A great theater nation since the end of the Middle Ages, Spain had a tradition in this area very different from that of classical French dramaturgy and which one could compare to Shakespearean theater. It is to Lope de Vega (1562—1635) that we owe the establishment of special rules in his Arte nuevo de hacer comedias en este tiempo. Characterized by the absence of unity of place, time and intrigue, the theater of the Lopesca school (whose disciples were Guillén de Castro, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, and Luis Vélez de Guevara) was founded on the mixture of comedy and tragedy, and advocated a great freedom specific to the Baroque aesthetic. It was these precepts that dominated until the end of the Golden Age, especially among giants like Tirso de Molina (1579—1648) and Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600—1681).

With the change of dynasty and the new influences from France, the Spanish authorities sought to impose a radical metamorphosis of dramaturgy, in particular by promoting neoclassicism. This “official art”, which was difficult to promote because of public tastes and political and religious censorship, led to a controversy over the “xenomania” of national leaders and their rejection of tradition.

Very much inspired by Jean Racine and Voltaire, Spanish neoclassical tragedy followed the precepts of La poética by Ignacio de Luzán (1702—1754), while exploiting specific historical themes. Such was the case with pieces like Munuza, by Jovellanos (1769), Sancho García, by Cadalso (1771), or even Raquel, by Vicente García de la Huerta (1788). Criticism of Baroque theater, which in fact brought success to Spanish belles lettres, was obvious in a number of authors who deplored the heavy gaze of the Inquisition and the monarchy, namely, Agustín de Montiano (1697—1764), Nicolás Fernández de Moratín (1737—1780) and his son Leandro (1760—1828), Ignacio López de Ayala (1739—1789), and various others.

The passion of the Spanish (and in particular of the people of Madrid) for the theater and live performance led to numerous disputes among authors, actors, genres and poetics. In this context, the neoclassical comedy of Leandro Fernández de Moratín is the only one that posterity has truly retained, notably with The Maidens’ Consent (1806). The general public, for its part, preferred popular forms: magical comedies (which take place in a magical universe full of special effects), musical theater (especially with the emerging zarzuelas and tonadillas) and the theater of pathos (sentimental melodrama) whose intrigue often revolves around a marriage blocked and thwarted.

The success of sainetes (little one-act plays, often taken down, whose name is at the origin of the French saynète play) and entremeses (comic one-act theatrical plays, generally performed during the intermission) testified to the extent of the controversy among supporters of French aesthetics and advocates of the nation’s genius. Both sainetes and entremeses were indeed genres that grew out of the Golden Age which allowed playwrights, like Ramón de la Cruz (1731—1794), to satirize the neoclassical deemed pedantic.

We therefore see the emergence, behind these apparently literary discussions, of ideological oppositions, whose content was fully revealed at the time of the French Revolution.

Explorers and Scientists: Pioneers Of Progress In Spain And America

At the end of the 19th-century, the Spanish thinker Manuel de la Revilla provoked controversy around the contribution of Spain to Western scientific and technological progress. His thesis, that Spain was insignificant in both these areas compared to its neighbors, was supported by great intellectuals and researchers, like Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Miguel de Unamuno, Américo Castro, José Ortega y Gasset, Gregorio Marañón, or Julio Rey Pastor. In contrast, philosophers of stature, such as, Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo took issue with this theory, underlining the fecundity of the nation’s science.

This controversy about science was indicative of Spain’s inferiority complex, whose work in the technological field is still little known abroad. In fact, Iberian science was not outdone by its comparable European counterparts. Such was the case during the Golden Age, with a figure like Jerónimo de Ayanz (1553—1613), to whom we owe the first steam engine in history.

In the 18th-century, Spain participated in the race for science in Europe, for example, providing discoverers like Juan José and Fausto Delhuyar (who isolated tungsten), and Andrés Manuel del Río (who discovered vanadium). In the wake of the many learned societies formed all over Spain, scientists from across the Pyrenees sought to advance human knowledge.

The country was right at the forefront in this regard because of its colonial possessions in America and Asia-Pacific. This is why Iberian researchers were explorers and navigators, who theorized their empirical discoveries. Such was the case, for example, of one Jorge Juan (1713—1773), the reformer of the Spanish naval system, whose main contribution was to have measured the length of the terrestrial meridian and to have proved that the Earth was slightly flattened at the poles. He thus continued the long Spanish tradition of understanding the fundamental terrestrial mechanisms and mapping that can be observed from the end of the Middle Ages.

In the long list of explorer-scientists of the time, we can mention the case of Félix de Azara (1742—1821), soldier, engineer, cartographer, anthropologist and naturalist. He was intellectually responsible for very fruitful expeditions to the interior regions of Latin America, which were still poorly understood at the time. Cooperation with other countries, notably France, was regular in this context.

Indeed, from the reign of Philip V (1700-1746), Madrid participated in the expedition to the meridian by the Paris Academy of Sciences, under the direction of Charles Marie de La Condamine. Besides Jorge Juan, mentioned earlier, Antonio de Ulloa (1716-1795) was also on the trip. Important written impressions of this itinerary are recorded in the Relación histórica del viaje a la América Meridional (1748), and in the Noticias secretas de América (1772).

Such expeditions were a great way to study the flora and fauna of the New World, especially under royal patronage. In 1777, Charles III entrusted a five-year mission to Hipólito Ruiz (1754-1816), who identified and described with precision three thousand plants, and produced around a thousand drawings of these plants. Most of this unpublished work is now kept at the Museum of Natural Sciences and the Royal Botanical Garden in Madrid.

The figure of Ruiz is however somewhat overshadowed by that of one of his contemporaries, José Celestino Mutis (1732—1808). The celebrity of the latter is such beyond the Pyrenees that an engraving depicting him adorned the two thousand pesetas banknote, in final issue of Spanish currency before the adoption of the euro, in 1992. It was at the request of Archbishop Antonio Caballero y Góngora, the viceroy of New Granada (which brought together the current countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Guyana), that Mutis surrounded himself with scholars from the Iberian Peninsula or America (Antonio Zea, Sinforoso Mutis, Francisco de Caldas, Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Salvador Rizo). This was the fruit of their labor: 7,000 color drawings and 4,000 descriptive plates of the Latin American flora preserved by the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid.

Charles III and Charles IV continued on this path, with the expedition of Martín Sessé (1751—1808) and especially that of the navigator of Tuscan origin, Alejandro Malaspina (1754-1809) (50). The latter gave his name to a vessel of the Spanish Navy.

At that time, however, it was the Royal Philanthropic Vaccine Expedition (1803-1806), led by Francisco Javier Balmis (1753-1819), that had the greatest impact. Following the work of the Englishman Edward Jenner, inventor of the smallpox vaccine, the Spanish monarchy promoted what is often considered the greatest humanitarian mission of all time. Most of Hispanic America is now immune to this endemic disease, thanks to the action and advice of Balmis and his second, José Salvany.

By Way Of Conclusion – A Rich Civilization Essential To Understanding The World

The murderous words of Nicolas Masson de Morvilliers, which we reproduced at the beginning of this investigation, take on a completely different meaning at the end of our study—which cannot be exhaustive. We can see how these words were the fruit of ignorance, prejudice and bad faith of an era, but also of a form of Hispanophobia which spread throughout the Western world, from the Renaissance down to our own times.

Spain has been an integral part of the progress of the human mind since its existence as a nation. Even in times of extreme difficulty and isolation on the international scene, as during the Franco dictatorship (1939—1975), this Iberian nation has never ceased to contribute to the improvement of knowledge of humanity and to the promotion of the arts and literature.

The rapid overview of the Ilustración (this Spanish variation of the Enlightenment) that I have just presented will show, I hope, that our Spanish friends were at the origin of a double civilization (both in Europe and in America), rich and essential to understanding the universe around us.

The French version of the article appeared in Revue Conflits. Translated from the French by N. Dass.

The image shows, “Saints Ippolito, Taurino, and Ercolano,” by Antonio González Velázquez, painted ca. 1740-1742.

The Chinese Virus: Fraudulent Bankruptcy of Modelling

“In total, in an unmitigated epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in GB and 2.2 million in the US, not accounting for the potential negative effects of health systems being overwhelmed on mortality.” Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, 16 March 2020.

323,341 dead. According to official statistics provided by governments all over the world and aggregated by John Hopkins University, as of 20 May 2020, the Wuhan virus has caused the death of 323,341 people worldwide.

When the Chinese communist regime finally admitted the virus, modellers immediately jumped on the bandwagon and predicted millions of deaths.

Many people have a short memory, but it is not difficult to find the models which, during previous epidemics, seriously and systematically predicted millions of deaths  (see below Creutzfeldt-Jakob, swine flu, bird flu). This expression seems to be the modellers’ style clause when a new epidemic breaks out.

The astonishing thing is not the fact that these models see the light of day, but the a priori and critical credit given to them by the press and above all, governments. They have a decisive impact on the management of human affairs.

In the case of the Wuhan virus, one of the most influential models, particularly in Anglo-Saxon countries and Europe, was that of the Imperial College London – what a beautiful and noble name! How can we not begin a kind of anticipatory prostration when a sentence begins ‘According to the Imperial College of London…’? It is akin to ‘Attention ladies and gentlemen, science is going to speak, be prepared in advance to renounce all your rights and possessions, because of science!’

As early as mid-March, the Imperial College published a model, more precisely, the results of computer modelling, predicting that up to 2.2 million Americans and half a million Britons would die from the Wuhan virus if nothing was done.

Projections such as these evoke the Black Death, Spanish flu, the end of time, ancestral fears and horrific medieval panic: they oblige, morally and scientifically — the Imperial College, sir! — to take the most radical measures immediately. No measure seems far-reaching enough when we speak of the New Black Death; derisory, unacceptable and unbearable is the slightest reticence in the face of the radicality of the measures adopted.

In comparison, data on previous epidemics (let’s take the best-documented American case, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): Asian influenza H2N2 in 1957: 115,000 deaths in the United States; avian influenza H3N2 in 1968: 100,000 deaths; H1N1 in 2009: 12,469 deaths. (It should be remembered that the American population in the 1950s and 1960s was much lower than it is today). Wuhan virus: 91,921 American deaths, while the health crisis is coming to an end.

91,921 deaths versus 2 million deaths: How can we explain such an abyss between reality and Professor Ferguson’s modelling? When you look closely, the Imperial College model is not inaccurate or imprecise: it is a crude fake. Judge for yourself.

First, the Imperial College model assumes a population infection rate of 80%. In comparison, the infection rate of the Spanish flu in 1917-1918 was 28%. There was no scientific or even rational argument to predict an infection rate three times higher than that of the Spanish flu. None at all. Pure fantasy in Professor Ferguson’s mind. However, it is quite obvious that this infection rate was a determining factor in the projection of the number of deaths: the more people that are infected, the more deaths will occur.

Second, the Imperial College model assumed that populations would not take precautions: no social distancing, no hygiene, no confinement of the sick, absolutely nothing. There is no example in the history of mankind where populations have not taken action, even individual action, in the face of the spread of a visible evil.

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research states, “The most important and challenging heterogeneity in practice is that individual behaviour varies over time. In particular, the spread of disease likely induces individuals to make private decisions to limit contact with other people. Thus, estimates from scenarios that assume unchecked exponential spread of disease, such as the reported figures from the Imperial College model of 500,000 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million in the United States, do not correspond to the behavioural responses one expects in practice.”

The Ferguson model sees our population as a horde of anti-rational primates, very literally, insects devoid of reason. It seemed to us that reason had been identified since the Greeks as being the property of man. As the National Bureau of Economic Research study states, the assumptions of Prof. Ferguson’s model “appears to be entirely arbitrary and in some cases clearly inaccurate.”

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Let’s look at the profile of the chief author of the Imperial College model. According to the Imperial College website, Neil Ferguson is a professor of the Faculty of Medicine and School of Public Health. He is also a member of the following institutes and organisations: Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics, Imperial College Network of Excellence in Malaria, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Malaria Modelling Research Group, Vaccine Research Network.

Prof. Ferguson’s presentation clarifies: “Much of my work is applied, informing disease control policy-making by public and global health institutions. With recent advances in data availability (both epidemiological and molecular) and affordable high-performance computing, mathematical models of infectious disease spread now offer the potential to provide predictive, quantitative analyses of alternative disease control and treatment strategies, as well as qualitative insight into the complex non-linear processes shaping pathogen replication and evolution. An important strand of my research program is therefore to develop the statistical and mathematical tools necessary for such increasingly sophisticated models to be rigorously tested and validated against epidemiological, molecular and experimental data.” 

He goes on to say that a major research interest includes ‘developing mathematical models of the geographic spread of newly emergent pathogens (…) to examine containment and mitigation strategies. Much of this work has been undertaken in collaboration with colleagues in my department and external institutions – most notably public health partners such as the World Health Organisation [WHO], the US Centres of Disease Control and Prevention and Public Health England. These partnerships have been vital in facilitating the results of my work being used to inform policy’.

In short, when it comes to modelling the consequences of an epidemic, Prof. Ferguson is seen as the living embodiment of science. Ferguson and his team form the golden standard of epidemiological modelling, according to the New York Times.

When “Living Science” Ferguson published its modelling, the typical media headline went as follows: Professor Ferguson of Imperial College of London, Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics, Imperial College Network of Excellence in Malaria, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Malaria Modelling Research Group, Vaccine Research Network explains that COVID-19 will cause 2.2 million deaths in the United States if left unchecked.

No debate is possible, or even conceivable. You’re not going to challenge the Golden Standard of Science, are you? Do you want the blood of millions of your fellow men on your hands? Science has spoken! SCIENCE!

Let’s get back to reality. The facts, which fortunately include historical data, therefore, are verifiable, are that Neil Ferguson is nicknamed The Master of Disaster by some of his colleagues as so many of his past predictions proved to be grossly erroneous. Here are four such examples.

In 2001, Neil Ferguson was one of the authors of the scientific study that led to the pre-emptive culling of six million healthy sheep and cattle in the UK in response to foot-and-mouth disease. Cost: £10 billion. Prof. Ferguson’s study was considered seriously flawed by Michael Thrusfield, Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, because it failed to take into account the specific realities, in the biological sense, of farms.

In 2002, Ferguson predicted that up to 150,000 people would die from exposure to BSE (mad cow disease, also known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). When other scientists had the nerve to question the alarmist nature of his study, Prof. Ferguson called them ‘unjustifiably optimistic’ and “extremely naïve” in the press. In the United Kingdom, there were 177 deaths from BSE. The ‘unjustifiably optimistic’ were still far too pessimistic and the Ferguson projections grotesquely fanciful.

In 2005, Ferguson predicted that up to 200 million people (sic) could be killed by bird flu. In the end, 282 people died from bird flu worldwide between 2003 and 2009. One million times less; one person, in reality = one million people in Ferguson’s rich fantasies.

In 2009, a British government estimate on the mortality rate of swine flu, based on the expert advice of Professor Ferguson, found that the ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ was the death of 65,000 Britons. In the end, swine flu killed 457 people in the UK. Ferguson predicted a mortality rate of 0.3 to 1.5%. The mortality rate was 0.026%.

Neil ‘Golden Standard’ Ferguson is not only a forger, but he is also a multi-recidivist forger.

It should be noted that Professor Ferguson has just resigned from SAGE, the scientific committee that advises Her Majesty’s Government. As a result of some sort of moral epiphany? Of course not. Professor Ferguson resigned because the British press caught him receiving his companion, a married activist mother of two children, at home and several times, in flagrant violation of the drastic containment rules that he recommended to the British government and, as a result, was imposed on the common man (which, according to Prof. Ferguson, does not apply to him).

Let’s take the criticism of the COVID-19 model of the Golden Standard of Science a step further because the best is yet to come.

Confronted with the results of Prof. Ferguson’s modelling that predicted millions of deaths, several of his colleagues around the world asked him for the computer code used to arrive at this projection. A predictive computer model consists of data (example: contagion rate), assumptions (example: population infection rate) and algorithms that derive projections from the data and assumptions. Surprisingly, Prof. Ferguson initially refused to deliver the computer code for his model. Surprising, because science, in the true sense of the word, presupposes light; when one takes the trouble to advise the world’s governments using computer models, it is a basic requirement to account for the methodological and technical means used.

Six weeks later (sic), Prof. Ferguson finally published a partial and revised version of the computer code he had used. It appeared that the program was 13 years old — an eternity in computer coding — and that it had been designed for… the flu. The author of this March 22 finding was none other than Prof. Ferguson himself (on Twitter): ‘I’m conscious that lots of people would like to see and run the pandemic simulation code we are using to model control measures against COVID-19. To explain the background, I wrote the code (thousands of lines of undocumented C) 13+ years ago to model flu pandemics…’

Thirteen years, undocumented, flu: Prof. Ferguson’s model is a crude fake.

Consider, just as an example, that while epidemiological models use an extremely small number of variables to make predictions at one month or one year, the climate models by which the IPCC claims to project the climate to 10, 20, 50 and 100 years implement hundreds of variables. ‘There seems to be a general tendency for researchers to report a greater degree of confidence than is warranted for an existing model, in part because it is not straightforward to quantify parameter uncertainty or to trace the effect of those uncertainties in a non-linear model. Realistic confidence intervals in this context would also be so wide as to seem vacuous, notes a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. What is true of epidemiological models that rely on a tiny number of variables makes more ambitious models simply meaningless.

The real subject, as everyone will have understood it, is not the sinister career of the intellectual swindler, Prof. Ferguson. It is the decisive role that computer models without any scientific value play in public decision-making.

Drieu Godefridi, PhD, is the author of The Green Reich – Global Warming to the Global Tyranny.

The image shows, “Mann in suprematischer Landschaft (Man in a uprematic landscape), or sensation of an imprisoned man,” by Kazimir Malevich, painted in 1930-1931.

Intelligent Design And Cognitive Science Of Religion

Introduction

The belief in the ordered character of the Universe has been present in the human thought since the times of antiquity. The contemporary doctrine of the Intelligent Design (further denoted as ID) grew, in the 1980s, out of creation science which aimed at providing scientific support for the literal account of creation as portrayed in the Book of Genesis. In most general terms, ID stipulates that the high level complexity and ordering of the living organisms in the Universe, as well as their adaptation to the demands of the environment, imply that they were purposefully brought forth by an intelligent designer and not by the workings of the laws of nature. Although the inconclusiveness of these arguments is nowadays commonly accepted (e.g. Ayala 2009, 128–149), the efforts to justify the scientific character of ID still receive considerable interests, as they appeal to simple intuitions rather than sophisticated scientific arguments.

The goal of the presented article is to subject the doctrine of Intelligent Design (further denoted as ID) to the scrutiny of the tools of a novel division of cognitive science, named, the cognitive science of religion, from both methodological and epistemic points of view. In particular, this scrutiny will allow for the assessment of the influence of the development of science on the validity ID’s inferential power. So far, it has been established with the methods of the cognitive science of religion that the argumentation in favor of ID follows upon the content specific human cognition acquired in the course of specific evolutionary scenarios that have programmed the human mind to interpret the patterns of ordering in the Universe as resulting from the action of intentional agents. To put things bluntly, we are in-born “intelligent designers,” whether we like it or not. It is not surprising that the belief in ID turns out to be the most natural and immediate response to the experience of the ordering of the Universe. Moreover, it explains why the belief is so widespread in common sense perception, and why it takes time as well as scientific maturity to leave pre-scientific intuitions behind.

The pursuit of the article’s goal will proceed in the following steps. Firstly, the conceptual content of the ID doctrine will be surveyed to establish its fundamental claims. This step will hinge upon the precise distinction between ordering and design and the mechanisms of the spontaneous emergence of ordered structures in the Universe.

Secondly, the cognitive mechanisms responsible for the preference of the human mind in placing the intentional agency as responsible for the effects of ordering will be presented.

Thirdly, based on some preliminary considerations by Grygiel, the impact of the development of science on the activation of these mechanisms will be assessed.

And fourthly, it will be claimed that although the ID doctrine cannot serve as means to draw any specific conclusions on how ordering emerges in the Universe, it constitutes a suitable metaphor to support the belief in God as the Creator of the Universe.

Intelligent Design And Its Conceptual Content

Before the unpacking of the conceptual content of the ID doctrine is accomplished, it is worthwhile to carry out a simple semantic analysis of the concepts of “order” and “design.” In regards to order, its basic meaning derives from the logic of relations to articulate the idea of precedence. No mention of the authorship of this order is ever made.

The etymology of the term “design,” however, clearly refers to the activity of specifying, or to singling out from among the many. Moreover, design is often used alternately with project. This yields meaning complementary to design, namely, that of throwing forward, whereby a certain idea is metaphorically visualized as being thrown upon a chaotic substratum.

Consequently, two semantic components of design must be taken into account: Purpose and perfection. In regards to purpose, design implies the activity of a designer, namely, a conscious agent who, driven by a specific goal, makes a deliberate choice from a large number of options available. By acting with purpose, the designer does not arbitrarily select any option available, like in a lottery, but elicits a considerable effort to arrive at a unique arrangement that fits his/her rational plan. Once this plan is placed in the framework of participation in the world of the Platonic eternal forms, it acquires the attribute of perfection.

This simple semantic analysis can be given a more precise meaning with the use of the mathematical concept of probability. The standard definition of probability understood as the ratio of the number of willed choices to the entire number of options from among which these choices can be made indicates that there might be an connection between events of low probability and the activity of an intentional agency. It seems intuitively fitting that the more unique the character of the choice, that is the lower its probability due to the precision of its selection, the more obvious the need to postulate the designer’s intervention.

According to Aristotle, events of low probability qualify as accidental: “The accidental, then, is what occurs, but not always nor of necessity, nor for the most part. Now we have said what the accidental is, and it is obvious why there is no science of such a thing; for all science is of that which is always or for the most part, but the accidental is in neither of these classes.” This assertion brings in a new element into play, namely, that of qualifying chance events as intractable by the scientific method. Consequently, there arises a clear-cut intuitive dichotomy in the explanation of the occurrence of events in nature: high-probability predictable events occur as workings of the regularities built into nature while the low-probability chance events call for an intervention of an intentional agency.

With the conceptual tools thus specified it is now possible to tackle the conceptual content of the ID doctrine. It gained its greatest momentum in the 90’s as efforts were undertaken to fight off theory of the Darwinian evolution. The main objection advanced by ID relies precisely upon the dichotomy explained above: If the natural selection responsible for the increase of complexity in the Universe rests on chance, it is unable to bring forth entities as complex as the living organisms.

An American theologian, John. F. Haught, who testified as an expert in theology at the famous trial held in the USA in 2005 against the introduction of ID doctrine into the high school biology curriculum, defines this doctrine as, “a set of ideas, as well as a vocal cultural movement, that seeks to curb the influence of Darwinism by insisting that science must invoke a non-natural ‘intelligent cause’ for such seemingly improbable phenomena as speciation and cellular complexity.”

The precise arguments in favor of ID were proposed by two of its most vocal advocates: A biochemist, Michael Behe, and a mathematician, William Dembski. Behe coined the concept of “irreducible complexity” as he argued that the functions of certain complex biological structures could not have been developed through the gradual increase of complexity. In regards to the origin of systems such as the biochemical machinery of vision he asserts the following: “They were designed not by the laws of nature, not by chance and necessity; rather they were planned. The designer knew what the systems would look like when they were completed then took steps to bring the systems about.”

In the effort to explain how one might know that a given system has originated through design, Behe continues: “design is evident when a number of separate, interacting components are ordered in such a way as to accomplish a function beyond the individual components. The greater the specificity of the interacting components required to produce the function, the greater is our confidence in the conclusion of design.”

The intriguing link between specificity and design comes more visibly to the fore in the ID conceptualized by Dembski as “specified complexity.” This is a convoluted formal argument carried out within the theory of information. In a nutshell, Dembski maintains that specified complexity appears in a given system when the system contains a great amount of independently specified information and is complex, that is, it exhibits a low probability of being formed. He illustrates these ideas with the following example: “A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex. A long sentence of random letters is complex without being specified.

A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified.” Since Dembski expressly associates the process of specification with the activity of the designer, the process may be considered as reflecting the intuitive meaning of the intentional setting aside or singling out, contained in the term “design” discussed above. Yet such singling out by itself is not of any significance unless it operates on a large population of individuals, thereby making the selection truly unique and original.

Regardless of how persuasively Behe’s and Dembski’s arguments may sound, they do not provide any explanation on how to make a transition from the objective features of the design, such as, specificity and complexity, to the subjective mental states of an intelligent designer. This is exactly where the tools of the cognitive science of religion enter in.

Intentionality and Design

The main premise for the application of the tools of the cognitive science of religion to the analysis of the ID doctrine is to establish why the human mind intuitively posits a conscious intentional agency as the cause of the ordering of the Universe. The particular suitability of the tools of the cognitive science of religion to assess the ID doctrine consists in two factors.

Firstly, these tools rely on an extremely general conception on who a god might be with no reference to any religious traditions. Barrett states that “gods, here, will refer to: (1) counterintuitive intentional agents, (2) that a group of people reflectively believe exists, (3) that have a type of existence or action (past, present, or future) that can, in principle, be detected by people, (4) and whose existence motivates some difference in human behavior as a consequence.”

The counterintuitivity which takes up the role of supernaturality in this case implies that the tools of the cognitive science of religion easily apply in situations where the causes of ordering do not have to be of divine nature at all. Secondly, the cognitive science of religion rests on the assumption that religiosity thus conceived is an evolutionary byproduct.

Accordingly, religiosity did not emerge as a result of a specific evolutionary adaptation, but arose due to the operation of the ordinary natural cognitive powers of the human mind. The first important point in the cognitive explanation of the origin of design is that the human mind exhibits a strong conceptual bias, namely, content–specific cognition, that manifests itself through an array of intuitive expectations on what the world is like and what course of the natural phenomena is to be foreseen. These expectations sum up to what is termed as “folk ontology.”

Pascal Boyer has pointed out that the religious beliefs where gods are conceptualized as intentional agents arise largely based on intuitive (non-reflective) concepts to facilitate the efficacy of these beliefs in the real-time operation. Barret has put forward the thesis that the quickly spreading religious concepts need to be minimally counterintuitive, that is, to violate folk ontology only to a certain small degree.

Additionally, these concepts must exhibit substantial inferential potential to form reflective beliefs so that sense can be made out of what is being observed and experienced in reality. It turns out that these are the minimally counterintuitive intentional agents equipped with mental states which qualify as the chief meaning-making tools.

What are the reasons for this particular applicability of the concept of an intentional agent to make sense out of reality? The evolutionary explanations of this state of affairs rely on the two basic cognitive mechanisms called the hyperactive agency detection device (HADD) and the theory of mind (ToM) otherwise called “folk psychology.”

HADD was first suggested by Stephen Guthrie and its primary function is to purposely over-interpret the perception of a self-propelled motion as resulting from the action of an intentional agent equipped with mental states. Since such a motion has no visible mechanical cause, it violates the expectation of physicality, whereby it triggers HADD, so that the attack of a predator can be avoided and the reproductive success secured. The theory of mind supplements the workings of HADD, by supplying the array of possible mental processes and motivations that might have led to the behavior perceived.

What truly counts as fundamental from the point of view of this study, however, is the HADD reveals sensitivity not only to the actual motions of a supposedly minded agent but to the traces of its activity as well. The traces may include easily recognizable objects such as deer trails and bird nests, as well as any other manifestations of ordering. If the encountered pattern does not correspond to any familiar mechanical or biological cause, the human mind will likely place an intentional agency as its cause because it has a natural bias towards explaining the perception of ordering in teleological terms, rather than stipulating the activity of natural causes.

This phenomenon has been extensively studied by an American psychologist, Deborah Kelemen. The studies performed on young children demonstrated a marked preference in explaining a given natural regularity by answering the question, “what for?”. Consequently, a design or a regularity encountered in nature can be easily clarified as the activity of an intelligent designer and – ultimately – of a creator.

Further justification of why the human mind intuitively associates orderings observed in nature with a purposeful action of an intentional agent comes from an argument based on probabilities. Some indications in this regard have been made by De Cruz and De Smedt, but they call for further substantiation.

What follows is a proposal of such a substantiation, conjectured by the author of this study. The conditions under which local ordering in the Universe may take place, are given by the laws of thermodynamics, which involve entropy as the formal measure of disorder. These laws stipulate that the local ordering reflected in the local decrease of entropy must be accompanied by the local decrease of the internal energy. The energy of a system can be lowered through work that is performed on it.

This fact agrees with the intuitive experience of having to invest a considerable and purposeful effort into achieving results that require organization of things into coherent unities (e.g., building a house). Similarly, the disintegration into chaos and formlessness occurs spontaneously in nature and its prevention always demands external intervention. This observation suggests that there may exist a link between the process of ordering and the activity of a personal intentional agency, that is, a designer.

This link becomes evident, as one considers Boltzmann’s definition of entropy given by the famous formula S = k lnΩ, where k is the thermodynamic constant and Ω is the number of equivalent microstates available to a system in a certain macrostate.

The complexity of the system, in Dembski’s terms, indicates that there is a large number of possible configurations – micro- states available to this system, whereby the probability of picking out a single one is low. Such a process of selection will result in a significant decrease of entropy, as compared to the situation in which the complexity is small, meaning that much greater force will need to be exerted in the same time period to achieve selection in a complex system. And now comes the key cognitive argument.

According to Leslie, the subjective mental representation contains three distinct levels with the representation of a mechanical force being the most basic one that supplies information to the two higher ones. Consequently, as Sørensen states, “representation of force is an implicit part in both understanding entities in the world as agents with intentions and in being an agent oneself when acting with specific goals in mind based on beliefs.”

In conjunction with the laws of thermodynamics, this statement yields a possible explanation of why the perception of order may intuitively invoke an intentional agency as its primary cause, and why such an agency produces events of low probability. Despite its conjectural character calling for a more in-depth empirical study, it seems rational to expect that the capacity of producing design qualifies as another constituent of the folk ontology, that is, the content-specific expectation of what it means to be human.

Conquering Counterintuitivity

There is no doubt that the new scientific discoveries slowly but constantly shift the threshold of what qualifies as counter-intuitive. The possibility of overcoming the cognitive biases through the growth of scientific knowledge and its subsequent cultural dissemination has been convincingly argued by De Cruz and De Smedt. For instance, the introduction of one of the most fruitful conceptual tools of contemporary physics, namely, that of a field, clearly does away with the intuitive belief that motion occurs through contact with a visible cause. Since fields are invisible carriers of forces spreading over the entire space, their effects occur by having no visible mover.

More importantly, as revealed by the theory of the dissipative systems, ordering into very complex low-probability structures, such as, living organisms, does not have to mean design, because it can be brought forth by the workings of the natural laws. In short, life is a dissipative structure. According to this theory, order can naturally emerge out of chaos, so that no intervention of an intelligent designer is necessary in this process. The emergence of ordering in the Universe involves two strategies: (1) the necessity of the laws of nature, combined with (2) chance as the random character of fluctuations of the environment. Since these fluctuations fall under rigorous mathematical treatment within probability theory, the evolutionary origin of life in the Universe can be easily subsumed within the scientific rationality of a mathematical character.

Consequently, chance no longer contradicts order but becomes its seminal constituent. This suggests that, what for the scientifically illiterate generations immediately led to the acknowledgement of the workings of an intelligent designer, no longer has to have this effect for those that are scientifically informed.

Moreover, the studies of the evolutionary processes of bringing forth this growth reveal that the characteristics of these processes do not coincide with the idea of a design resulting from the purposeful activity of a designer. This is particularly evident in the specificity of natural selection that brings forth novelty, not by means of the optimization of a new project, but by means of slow modifications of the existing structures.

In short, the novelty resulting from the workings of the natural selection is imperfect and flawed. For instance, this imperfection appears in the structure of the human brain that could have been designed as a much more efficient and structurally organized device. Interestingly enough, it turns out that even in the 18th-century the famous advocate of ID, William Payley, was quite aware of the imperfections of nature; but in light of his overwhelming conviction on the purposeful authorship of the Universe, he disregarded them on the premise that their impact was minimal.

In order to gain more focus in addressing this problem, I have suggested the concepts of vincible and invincible counterintuitivity to reflect the dynamic nature of the scientific knowledge in its impact on the formation of a religious belief. In particular, these concepts allow for the articulation of a purely hypothetical situation, in which counterintuitivity would eventually become entirely vincible, upon the formulation of a scientific theory of everything, capable of grasping the ultimate meaning of reality. There is a common agreement, however, that such expectations amount to no more than sheer illusion.

This agreement builds on a practical and a theoretical premise. The practical premise was clearly stated by Albert Einstein who was deeply convinced that science unveils only a very small part of the vastness and complexity of the physical reality, while most of it will always remain a profound mystery. To put things succinctly, nature has sufficient amount of novelties in stock to generate counterintuitivity for many generations of researchers to come. It is not surprising that Richard Swinburne has revamped the argument from design by claiming that the abstract laws of physics call for an intentional agency to explain their origin.

The theoretical premise was clarified by Michael Heller, who pointed to three irremovable gaps in knowledge that cannot be patched up with the scientific inquiry: The ontological, the epistemological and the axiological. In case of the ontological gap, one asks the Leibnizian question of why there exists something rather than nothing – while following Einstein, the epistemological gap prompts the question of why the Universe is rational, namely, why its laws assume their particular form. Since the pertinent answers fall outside the competence of science, the problem of the ultimate origin of the structuring of the Universe will never be scientifically resolved, although it may shift to a very abstract level as evidenced by the highly-advanced formalisms of the contemporary physical theories.

Inasmuch as the development of science is an objective process of departing from intuitions proper to the folk ontology, what truly counts for the formation of beliefs in the causal activity of intentional agencies is how the human mind responds to this development. It turns out that this response reveals two constituents. They were pointed out by Barrett, as he commented on the very process of the human mind being confronted with the outcomes of the theory of evolution: “we do not simply outgrow the tendency to see the purpose in the world but have to learn to override it.”

He rests this statement on extensive empirical research, revealing that the folk ontology intuitions remain operative even in conditions of high level of scientific literacy. Consequently, these intuitions remain permanently invincible, whereby the efficacy of beliefs, useful in making sense out of routine events in real-time thinking, is assured. What is remarkable at this point is how well the human mind is actually sealed off from the possibility of conquering all counterintuitivity: Should the intuitive conceptual biases be ever overcome and should the folk ontology ever catch up with the actual state of the art in science, it is unlikely that nature itself will ever run out of surprises. And even if it finally did, the irremovable gaps will ultimately enter in and terminate all scientific inquiry.

The specificity of the mechanism of the natural selection that has been addressed at the beginning of this article points to another aspect of the invincibility of the inference of the intelligent designer’s authorship of the ordering in the Universe. As it has been already explained, this mechanism executes a short-sighted ad hoc strategy of imperfect adjustments to the existing structures to secure their proper adaptation to the environment’s fluctuations.

Since ordering does not seem to be manifest to perception in such an instance, HADD should not fire and the activity of an intentional agent should not be detected. On the other hand, however, the detection of imperfections of the evolutionary outcomes does rely on the knowledge of rather advanced biology, unavailable at the time when William Payley formulated his famous claims. Therefore, it seems justified to expect that these imperfections will not significantly obstruct the activity of the scientifically uninformed intuitions, especially that the theory of dissipative systems, based on the deterministic chaos, yields rational explanation of their origin.

In Connection With Religion

Although the contemporary ID doctrine does not reveal an explicitly religious agenda, it is hard to disentangle this doctrine from its theological significance. After all, the representation of God the Creator as an intelligent designer entered the theological thought already in the Middle Ages, through the formulation of the teleological argument for the existence of God.

Later on, for instance, the explanation of the complexity of living organisms, given in the 18th-century by William Payley, directly involved God as the principal author of the ordering of the Universe. It also seems quite obvious that many of the ID supporters, including Behe and Dembski, aimed at creating a new intellectual framework in which the prevalent scientistic attitude could be overcome and the mind of a contemporary scientifically-oriented believer reopened for the perception of the supernatural.

Consequently, the appraisal of the ID doctrine with the tools of the cognitive science of religion will not be complete, unless the impact of the presented outcomes on the formation of the religious belief is at least briefly addressed.

Barrett has drawn up the following cognitive distinction between natural religion and theology: “there is a difference between what people tend to believe in an automatic, day-to-day sort of way, and what they believe when they stop to reflect and systematically figure out what they do and do not believe.” This means that the human mind makes use of two incompatible representations of the divine: The intuitive and the theological.

Since the intuitive representation is inferentially rich and its activation occurs quickly and unconsciously, it ensures that the thought processes, with its use, guarantee immediate inferential power, thereby securing the execution of religiosity in real-time mode. The theological representation, on the other hand, is abstract, with its activation occurring slowly and consciously in a reflective mode of religious thinking. As Barrett frequently stresses, it demands an elaborate institutional scaffolding in the form of the educational institutions to provide proper instruction.

As applied to the ID doctrine, Barrett’s distinction of religious beliefs into natural religion and theology clearly supports the invulnerability of the intuitive belief in the purposefulness of ordering in the Universe to its natural explanation, by means of the evolutionary scenarios.

In light of this, it seems rational to propose that the religiously interpreted ID doctrine can be reasonably justified, only in the mode of natural religion, as it serves to sustain the belief in God as the Creator of the Universe. There is no doubt that this belief is central to any religion that attributes the origin and the existence of the Universe to the causal power of the pertinent deity. Moreover, the intuitive character of the belief in the divine design of the ordering in the Universe makes this belief permanently accessible to believers in real-time thinking. As a result, religiosity can be continuously exercised without the need to resort to elaborate reasonings to substantiate its claims.

Concluding Remarks

The analysis of the doctrine of Intelligent Design, with the tools of the cognitive science of religion, has demonstrated that the human mind exhibits a marked preference towards the intuitive (non-reflective) acceptance of an intentional agency, that is a designer, as the author of the ordering of the Universe.

What is most striking, however, is that this belief seems to reveal an unusual immunity to the development of science, despite science gradually invalidating ID’s central claims, by showing that what is intuitively attributed to the activity of a designer turns out to be the result of the workings of the laws of nature. Such a state of affairs gives a clear explanation for the persistence of the ID doctrine, even in the scientifically literate circles. In brief, intuitions are extremely hard to be dispensed with. An important cognitive factor which discredits the ID doctrine is the nature of HADD itself.

Since this cognitive mechanism relies on the error management strategy, it yields no insight into the epistemic value of this belief. In short, this not a truth-tracking process, and it is likely to generate false positives. It is additionally confirmed by the fact that HADD was proposed on the basis of a specially constructed ancestral environment, in which its activity had been adaptively advantageous.

It remains beyond doubt that contemporary humans, who are scientifically literate, do not populate such environments. De Cruz and De Smedt confirm this difficulty when they state that “one cannot draw straightforward conclusions from evolutionary origins to epistemic justifications.” These considerations seem to lead to an inescapable conclusion that the ID doctrine is entirely unscientific, for it fools its supporters into mythology.

Such a drastic claim can be somewhat alleviated, as one takes into account the thermodynamic argument of why the human mind posits a designer, as it perceives ordered structures. Contrary to HADD, the mechanism involved relies on the second law of thermodynamics, which is a well-established law of nature, whereby the corresponding mental representations may refract some truth on what the world really is. As has been already indicated, an intelligent designer may be a part of what constitutes folk psychology. Consequently, the concept of the intelligent designer can be applied to formulate positive theological statements concerning the nature of supernatural reality.

Following the precepts of negative theology, however, such predication occurs metaphorically only due to the radical disproportion between the perfection and infinity of God and the finiteness of the human conceptual means that are at man’s disposal. The representation of God as the Creator in the form of the intelligent designer can serve only as the metaphor of God’s creative power to sustain the intuitive belief and cannot be used to formulate any literal theological statements on the nature of the divine act of creation.

Wojciech P. Grygiel is at the Department of Philosophy, The Pontifical University of John Paul II, Kraków, Copernicus Center for the Interdisciplinary Studies. He is also a member of the Saint Peter Priesthood. This article appears courtesy of Scientia et Fides.

The image shows, “The Ancient of Days,” a watercolor-etching by William Blake, painted 1794.

Preliminary Notes to a Renovation of Platonism. Part Two: A Reassessment of the Ideal Field

The properties (at the level of the composition of matter or that of its arrangement) which, at the instant t-1, find themselves to be actualizable are not only subject to decryption and to triage on the part of matter at the instant t. They rank among the possible implications of the properly atemporal (since virtual) bundle of the elementary archetypes of the cosmos, and its starting rules. Therefore, we may call them the “implicit properties” of matter (or the “implied”).

By the Spirit, I mean a purely virtual being (therefore devoid of the slightest material support), which is the substantial reality (the one self-sufficient to exist), and which is infinite as well as the creator and subject to a creative impulse, deploying itself like a selective impulse, which actualizes the own content of the Spirit. The latter has this paradoxical feature – that it is both outside of time (by reason of its supra-worldly character), and engaged in a process of revelation of itself over the course of the history of the cosmos (whose existence it generated from nothing).

The paradox is elucidated through taking into account the fact that the Spirit, which entirely lies at the axioms (the starting rules repeating in a fractal mode), and in the elementary archetypes of the cosmos, therefore lies in the infinite assemblage of their implications.

At each level of emergence in the composition or the arrangement of matter (starting with the emergence which saw matter spring from nothingness), matter – subjected to time and engaged in a momentum which we will see is, so to speak, the shadow or the reflection of the selective and actualizing impulse on the part of the Spirit – decrypts, sorts, and concretizes those implications. It does so on the occasion of the communication process that physicist Pavel V. Kurakin describes between matter at the instant t and the actualizable properties of matter at the instant t-1.

The Material Impulse Towards Selective Actualization

More precisely, the Spirit (all the components of which are traits of the Spirit that are essential rather than accidental) is entirely contained in an ideational (therefore atemporal and supra-worldly) assemblage of axioms, archetypes, and implications, whose actualizing drive transmits itself to matter. The latter, not content with embodying the ideational field which yet remains distinct from matter and ideational, therefore, takes care of the actualization of the aforesaid implications.

Yet the material accomplishment of the Spirit gradually leads to the consciousness of the Spirit (in the sense that the cosmos sees the knowledge of the existence of the Spirit germinate), as well as to the transparency of the Spirit (in the sense that the content of the Spirit allows itself to be known also). In other words, matter selects over the course of time passing in cosmic history – and as a result of an actualizing impulse that the Spirit breathes into the two partners that are time and matter – those implications arising from archetypes and axioms which will be actualized, and including the implication that consists of the emergence of consciousness among living beings – and, in essence, the emergence of the awareness of the Spirit’s existence, and of the knowledge of the Spirit’s content, within the thought of men (especially Faustian Westerners).

This process of a selective and material self-revelation of the Spirit has a temporal and worldly beginning. The advent of this beginning is the object of a global and undivided impulse (which nevertheless communicates itself to axioms, archetypes, and implications, namely, the components of the Spirit), rather than the object of a coalition of convergent but particular impulses (on the part of the aforesaid components of the Spirit).

Throughout the process of the Spirit revealing itself, matter—as Aristotle rightly discerned, carries within it the potentiality of the change that it experiences. Nevertheless, the aforesaid change 1) is operated by matter itself (in collaboration with time); 2) it inherits the actualizing and selective impulse on the part of a unified assemblage of (elementary or implied) archetypes and of axioms (and their implications); and 3) it concerns as much the constitution of matter as its organization. Those are the great many aspects of the change at work in the cosmos that were beyond the scope of Alexander’s mentor.

The Deployment Of The Spirit In The Cosmos

Ultimately the history of the cosmos can be apprehended as the history of the Spirit which, via its drive to create time and the world, as well as via its (breathed) drive to sort and to update the implications, accomplishes selectively its essence (therefore its content), unfolding over the course of time, which occasions the decryption (and the triage) of the implicit properties of matter (whether at the level of its arrangement, or at the level of its composition).

The materialized archetypal forms, as well as the materially and fractally iterated Big-Bang rules, which recruit matter into information processes taken over by the aforesaid matter, and reveal the Spirit in an exclusively objective mode (which therefore ignores the consciousness of the Spirit). Just as consciousness is unknown to the atom that partakes of the archetype of the self-recruitment of a matter composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons in rapid motion, within the spherical form of a shell within another shell – it is foreign to the galaxy which partakes of the archetype of the granting of an elliptical shape to the ten billion stars or more composing matter which gives itself such arrangement.

Nevertheless, consciousness emerges with the memes – ideologies, religions, worldviews in the broad sense – which continue to reveal the Spirit in an objective mode and which open the door to its subjective revelation. In order for the Spirit – which accomplishes itself on a material and historical level, while remaining supra-material and outside of time – to become the object of a consciousness and to be rendered transparent alongside the aforesaid consciousness, its objective fulfillment which goes through memes must become the place of its subjective accomplishment (instead of distancing itself from it).

The prolongation of the objective accomplishment into an accomplishment which is properly subjective, consists for the Spirit in revealing its existence – and in selectively revealing its essence – through the memes which proceed from the objective fulfillment. This subjective development accomplishes itself in the history of the Hellenic then Western civilizations, which is the history of the Spirit making its existence known – and rendering selectively its identity transparent – within Faustian man.

The Hegelian Fallacy

The seizure of the Spirit at stake is to be taken in the sense of the grasping of the notion of its existence – and in the sense of the knowing of what the Spirit reveals of its identity. It finds its first stage (as well as its engine) in the Promethean soul, the spirit of conquest, and the flavor of the infinite that are constitutive of the Faustian mentality, and which turn Faustian man into the heir and the continuator of the creative gesture of the cosmos. The latter – fulfilling new emergent realities via the fractal iteration (and the selective extraction of the implications) of a handful of starting rules of the cosmos (those being attraction and repulsion, integration and differentiation, fusion and fission), and within the framework of the aforesaid extraction – tending somehow towards increasing levels of order and complexity as concerns the organization of its matter and its constitution.

However, we cannot identify the (global) thought of Western Faustian men with the Spirit that it gradually learns to know. The aforesaid thought, far from being confused with the Spirit (which, in that way, would become aware of its own existence and of its own identity), is the work of the receptacle of the subjective development of the Spirit. Contrary to Hegel’s claims, European thought is not to be confused with the ideational field.

Hegel rightly said the ideational field accomplishes itself in cosmic and human history. But he failed to grasp the exact nature of its articulation within the cosmos. Indeed, he wrongly conceived of the ideational field as immanent in the cosmos and as identified with the final state of European thought towards which human thought is supposed to proceed inevitably.

It is just as wrong that the (either subjective or objective) unfolding of the Spirit responds to a pre-established final point, a prefixed finish line, of human and cosmic history. Man (especially Faustian man) is to be conceived of as made in the image of the Spirit – rather than as the Spirit in person. And the selective fulfillment of the Spirit into matter – and through matter extracting and sorting the implications which arise from elementary archetypes and from axioms – must be seen as a continual and error-prone improvisation. It must be approached as a movement that is no more perfect than it is predetermined, but which persistently strives to generate an increasing complexity in the universe.

A Reassessment Of Platonism From The View-Point Of Incarnation

By recognizing his own creative impulse, his own boarding of matter, in the generative gesture of axioms and archetypal forms, the Faustian man will become aware of himself as made in the image of the cosmos that fulfills the Spirit. This relationship of the European man – so long as he is shaped by a bioculture secreting the Faustian mentality – to the Spirit revealing itself in the cosmos is anticipated in Judaism. For the latter represents to itself man as made in the image of God – and as mandated to crown creation under the aegis of linear (rather than cyclical) time.

As concerns the Christian Trinity, it incidentally gives us a symbolic illustration of the relationship of the Spirit to its creation.

1) The Father symbolizes the Spirit insofar as it is located on a virtual and atemporal level – that of implications, axioms, and elementary archetypes.

2) The Son symbolizes the Spirit insofar as it gives itself an existence material and subjected to the reign of time. Matter drawing, sorting, and fulfilling – within the framework of the aforesaid incarnation – the implications arising from archetypes (and from axioms that matter repeats in a fractal mode) over the course of time, which occasions the communication between matter at the instant t+1 and the actualizable properties of matter at the instant t. And the Spirit – far from its ideational existence rendering itself properly immanent to the cosmos – nevertheless remaining atemporal and supraworldly (which brings us back to the mystery of the Incarnation).

3) The Holy Spirit symbolizes the Spirit, insofar as its drive selectively actualizing its own content, is breathed into matter. Matter selecting those implications (to arise from axioms and from archetypes) which will be actualized; and striving – at each passing moment and, a fortiori, at each incremental level of emergence – to hoist matter to an unprecedented and higher level of complexity (as concerns its composition or its arrangement).

Contrary to the Gnostic vision, my analysis does not envision matter as the prison of spiritual realities (in the sense of what is virtual as opposed to material). The Spirit – the field of axioms (and their implications) and of (elementary and implied) archetypes – does not find itself to be trapped in matter. It finds in matter the way, the place and the means of its (objective and subjective) accomplishment – while remaining rigorously exterior to matter in its properly ideational existence.

As such, we should no longer consider cosmic and human history as the story of the progressive triumph of the Spirit over matter – the story of its gradual emancipation from matter. Rather, what we find is the history of the improvised and imperfect effort of matter (which embodies the Spirit) in the direction of an increased order and complexity – and at the level of the composition of matter and of its arrangement.

As for the primordial unity that Plotinus investigated, he was wrong to conceive it as a unity that stands beyond the multiple – instead of approaching it as a unity unifying a certain multiplicity. For the One merges with the impulse crossing the Spirit and unifying the field of (elementary) archetypes, axioms, and implications (the latter jointly arising from the aforesaid axioms and from the aforesaid archetypes).

To the Spirit (the unified ideational field) and to the Momentum (the actualizing and selective impulse on the part of the Spirit) is added a third and last principle: A third and last pillar of the architecture of reality. It consists of Philo of Alexandria’s Word mentioned in the prologue to the Gospel of Saint John. The Word is here envisioned as the movement through which the actualizing momentum of the Spirit renders itself material and temporal, while remaining virtual and atemporal – and while operating in parallel with matter, and in ways that we are about to explore. From this incarnation, proceeds the communication to which matter is devoted – the communication between matter at the instant t and the implicit properties of matter at the instant t-1 – and the generation, on the part of matter, of changes at the level of matter’s arrangement or its composition.

Beyond The Schopenhauerian “Will To Live”

The impulse on the part of the Spirit to realize itself into matter is an impulse jointly undivided and unifying of the ideational field. It accomplishes itself by duplicating itself into matter. While, in the ideational field, the only impulse at work is that, undivided, which engages the Spirit in its entirety; the same is not true in the material field, in which the Momentum mysteriously declines itself into a set of distinct impulses. They are those of natural beings – the ones among concrete beings, which take charge of their own information.

While the impulse on the part of those of natural beings which are not gifted with thought must be envisaged as an impulse (of self-information) that excludes deliberation (and which is not accompanied by the idea of its existence), the impulse on the part of thinking beings consists of a momentum conscious (of itself). In the case of those of thinking beings which are in possession – up to a certain point – of free will, this conscious momentum will enjoy (limited) self-determination on the part of the deliberation preceding and determining the aforesaid momentum. But we should notice that those of natural beings which are not gifted with thought may be nonetheless gifted with an ability to determine freely a part of their own behavior – as pointed out by the late physicist Freeman Dyson, in the case of atoms.

Placed end to end, the particular impulses (on the part of natural beings), which are distributed in time and space, give a cosmic impulse to incline towards perpetually increasing levels of order and of complexity. This impulse is the fruit of an addition of distinct impulses; but it translates the indivisible impulse on the part of the Spirit.

Schopenhauer rightly sought to discern the presence underlying material entities (and their laws) of an undivided impulse, which he called “will,” or the “will to live.” He nonetheless he remained wrong when he approached the aforesaid impulse as inherent in material entities – instead of associating it with the ideational field. The latter breathing its undivided impulse into concrete beings, while retaining it within it – and while dividing it into a multitude of particular impulses in the material field. Schopenhauer was just as wrong when he approached the undivided “will” as spurred towards the sole preservation of the universe identical to itself – rather than towards the enrichment of the cosmos in an ever increasing complexity.

More precisely the actualizing (and undivided) impulse on the part of the ideational field is articulated with the material field in two ways.

1) On the one hand, the aforesaid impulse, which is outside of time, generates the properly temporal beginning of matter. On the occasion of this generation, the Spirit conserves its own actualizing impulse (in the properly ideational field), while transmitting it to matter – and while transmuting the aforesaid impulse into a variety of distinct impulses on the part of those material beings which are natural.

2) On the other hand, matter deciphers, sorts, and updates – over the course of communication that time occasions – the implications that the virtual field carries within it. The (selective) extraction of those implications is the object, in parallel, of the undivided impulse on the part of the ideational field and of the cosmic impulse which results from the sum of the distinct impulses in the cosmos – the given object of the cosmic impulse at a given moment in the universe, coinciding with the object of the impulse of the Spirit at the same moment; and past, present, future succeeding one another in the cosmos, subjected to time, while they are simultaneous in the ideational field, which exists outside of time and space.

The atemporality of the momentum of the Spirit is therefore not to be taken in the sense that it would ignore the past, the present, and the future – the aforesaid impulse only ignoring their successive (rather than simultaneous) character. As for the insufflation of the ideational impulse to matter, it is not accompanied more by the cessation of the exercise of the aforesaid momentum of the Spirit. As the cosmic impulse operates, sp the impulse of the Spirit jointly operates. But their respective objects coincide at each instant, and the former is only the double of the latter.

The Bees Of Hidden Time

By virtue of the jointly atemporal and improvised character of the impulse of the Spirit, the future of the aforesaid impulse (which coincides with the future of the universe) has the remarkable feature of being not (totally) predetermined, but nonetheless remaining simultaneous with the present and with the past.

The paradox at the heart of the precognition of clairvoyants is their ability to know in advance a future which, however, is (in part) free and random. It can be resolved in these terms. Namely that at the present instant, their intuition of the impulse of the Spirit equates to an intuition of the future of the aforesaid impulse; the latter being simultaneous with its present and with its past – which does not exclude the fallibility of supra-sensible intuition.

I must emphasize the debt of my conception of time, as occasioning communication between matter (including the particles which are constitutive of atoms) at the instant t, and the implicit properties of matter at the instant t-1, and my conception of the starting rules of the cosmos as pairs of opposites which the cosmos fractally repeats at each level of emergence, to the philosopher, Howard Bloom. Bloom develops them both in his book, The God Problem. His communicational approach to time is also discussed in his work, “Dialogue model of quantum dynamics,” co-written with Pavel V. Kurakin and George G. Malinetskii, and taken up in Constructive Physics, by Yuri I. Ozhigov, as well as in the article by Kurakin entitled, “Hidden variables and hidden time in quantum theory.”

Bloom proposes an analogy between the spring behavior of the hive and that of a subatomic particle which, in the exact interval separating two stages of time, chooses among the possible detectors the one towards which it will move. During the interval of 10-35 seconds (namely one Planck unit) which separates the instant t from the instant t+1, and that Kurakin calls “hidden time,” a subatomic particle, hesitating between possible detectors, sends waves which are (metaphorically) so many exploratory bees. Once back from their wanderings, they consult with each other to take a collective decision as to which detector they will select. This decision is not taken during a certain period of time, but actually in the intermediate space (between the instant t and the instant t+1), where the succession of instants is suspended. Here, the behavior of an elementary particle (at the instant t+1 which is about to be) can, at its leisure, interpret and sort the implicit properties of the aforesaid particle (at the instant t which has ended).

Any investigation of the cosmos which reveals the Spirit must bear in mind that our knowledge of the Spirit does not deal with the whole of its essence, the latter being infinite (since it harbors the infinite field of the possible implications which arise from elementary archetypes and from axioms). Our knowledge of the cosmos deals with the finite unfolding for which the Spirit opts in the material field – the particular unfolding that the Spirit chooses (among the infinite list of the finite unfoldings that are possible for it). The recapitulation of the history of the cosmos (as we suspect it) lets us glimpse that the effective unfolding of the Spirit – the accomplishment for which the Spirit effectively opts – is an unfolding which consists in extracting (and in sorting) the implications in a way that spurs (not without hazards) the cosmos towards the generation of an ever-increasing order and complexity.

The knowledge of the (selective) fulfillment of the Spirit, which amounts to the knowledge of the course of the cosmos and the laws which govern it, mobilizes conjecture (and induction) from the sensible given, just as it passes through clairvoyance. By clairvoyance, I mean the supra-sensible grasping of ideational entities, be it elementary archetypes, those implied (and actually selected), axioms, or the (selected) implications of the aforesaid axioms. In both cases, the investigation, which is liable to error, requires theorizing and conceptualization – thus, the use of definitions which, it is good to specify, are properly informative statements.

In the weak sense, the definition of a given notion collects (and exposes) a certain number of qualities of the concrete entity to which the aforesaid notion corresponds. Defining the notion thus amounts to describing the aforesaid entity. In the strong sense, the definition of a given notion identifies (and formulates) those of the qualities of a given entity which are necessary and constitutive qualities of the aforesaid entity.

Here is the paradox. Any strong definition – at least, any strong definition which is correct from the point of view of language – can be reduced (via the play of synonyms) to a proposition true for any distribution of truth values, therefore a tautological proposition within the framework of first order logic. Nonetheless, the tenor of (material or ideational) reality serves as the court for the validity of strong definitions from the point of view of the aforesaid reality. Therefore, the accepted strong definition of a given concept will be both tautological in the eyes of language and informative – endowed with content, descriptive – in the purview of (the confrontation of language with) reality.

The synonymic relationship of a given notion to the strong definition attached to it (within a given language), while it does not have to be justified in the purview of the concerned language, cannot escape the judgment of reality. If the aforesaid synonymy amounts to a synonymy, it is genuinely because language believes that the tenor of reality allows it to see synonyms in the terms concerned – for example, single and not engaged. Since the criterion of the validity of synonymies (and of strong definitions) with respect to reality resides in reality itself, our knowledge of which is however perfectible, it may turn out that a given strong definition is jointly true from the point of view of our language, and false from the point of view of reality. Because those of the qualities of the defined entity which are retained as constitutive and necessary are really contingent (at least in part) – and seem to us to be constitutive and necessary only by reason of our imperfect knowledge of the defined entity.

Let us suppose that in a given language, the strong definition of the species of swans is that of swans as large palmiped birds whose plumage is white, and whose neck is long and flexible. The discovery of a bird who shares all those qualities except that its plumage is black (rather than white) will force the strong definition of the swan – the strong definition of the singular swans considered from the aspect of their species – to cease to include the white plumage among the common qualities of the swan. And therefore to cease to include the aforesaid white plumage among the necessary qualities of swans – and among the elements of the strong definition of swans.

In this example, the involved mode of knowledge of a given singular entity is the one by means of induction – that which strives to identify the essential and contingent qualities of a given entity (here a given swan), on the basis of the observation of the regular and irregular features of a certain number of observed swans. It opposes the mode of knowledge consisting in directly grasping the ideational archetype of the species of swans. This supra-sensible seizure is potentially imperfect – and likely to make the same mistake of identifying the white plumage as a common and necessary quality of swans.

A Brief Recapitulation

To sum up, the two distinct levels of reality I investigated are inversely symmetrical.

1) The arrangements of archetypes play an active role of informing the virtuality which they are made of. While the arrangements of material entities – at least in the case of those of material beings which are natural – are the fruit of information taken over by the innate matter of concrete entities.

2) The impulse of the ideational field is jointly undivided and atemporal. The cosmic impulse (whose object coincides, at all times, with that of the impulse of the Spirit) is not only the sum of distinct impulses (on the part of natural beings) within the cosmos; it is an aggregate, whose objects follow one another (over the course of time) – while the past, the present, and the future of the Spirit’s impetus remain simultaneous for their part.

Thus, I elucidated the fulfillment of the Spirit into matter – and through matter taking charge of its own information (and occasionally generating additional levels of matter via the aforesaid information) – as a dual process. Indeed the actualization of the implications is both on the part of the Spirit actualizing them outside of time, and on the part of matter progressively actualizing them. This joint process continuously improvises; it is a concerted march whose final point is not pre-established.

Then, I elucidated the horizon towards which are tending matter, and the Spirit which incarnates itself into matter, as the generation of perpetually increased levels of order and complexity at the level of the cosmos – more precisely, at the level of the composition and the arrangement of the matter which the cosmos is composed of.

Finally, I elucidated the means used for this purpose as the selection on the part of matter (and on the part of the Spirit) – and over the course of time, occasioning a communication between matter at the instant t and the implicit properties of matter at the instant t-1, and of those of the implications contained in the ideational field which contribute to the realization of an increasing order. This selection is not immune to error.

Reconciling Plato And Heraclitus

All in all, notable mistakes by Plato in his appreciation of the ideational field (and the way the latter is articulated with the material field) were the ones following ones, in that Plato considered the ideational field as a flattened (rather than hierarchized) assortment of general archetypes:

1) Within the ideational field, the archetypes are really coexisting with the fractal starting rules of the cosmos.
2) Besides this, we find, among the aforesaid archetypes, a class of elementary archetypes and a class of implied archetypes – which means the Ideas are hierarchized.
3) And we find a class of general archetypes (such as the general archetype of the dachshund) and a class of particular archetypes (such as the singular archetype of a singular dachshund).

Further, Plato conceived of the material and mobile field only as a passive exemplification of the ideational field – and he considered the latter as immobile.

1) Matter veritably incarnates the Spirit, which however remains exterior to it.

2) And, in the context of the aforesaid incarnation, matter plays the active role of deciphering, sorting, and actualizing the implications that arise from elementary archetypes, as well as those which follow from the starting rules of the universe that matter iterates in a fractal mode at each incremental level of emergence.

3) This extracting process is a result of the impulse, on the part of the ideational field, to sort and to actualize its own content; the ideational field retains its impulse while paradoxically communicating it to matter.

4) The process takes place over the course of time occasioning the communication between the actualizable properties of matter at the instant t-1 and matter at the instant t.

Far from the movement being unknown in the ideational field, the Spirit is therefore impelled towards the selective actualization of the implications which it carries within it. The stages of this improvised actualization are nevertheless simultaneous – and cosmic evolution is ultimately the shadow of it, cast on the walls of the cavern of the material field. I should add that my conception of the primordial unity as the impulse unifying the ideational field – and continuously generating the cosmos from elementary and implied archetypes, and from axioms and their implications – solves the problem of the One posed in the Parmenides.

I approached time as working – in partnership with matter, laden with harmonious and fractal contradictions – to endow with material fulfillment the ideational field incarnating itself into matter. An achievement whose pursuit is confused with the execution (somehow) of a perpetually increasing order in the cosmos. Yet my approach revives three insights by Heraclitus.

As already pointed out by Heraclitus:

1) Time, far from being only the stage on which change is played out, constitutes “a child playing with pawns,” therefore a full-fledged player in engendering the aforesaid change.

2) The opposites mate and collaborate to the advent of change. I restituted those pairs of opposites as being those of differentiation and integration, fission and fusion, and attraction and repulsion.

3) The permanence of change in the universe is nevertheless accompanied by the presence of a “logos” which orders (and renders intelligible) the universe.

A logos, which I believe I can identify as the process through which the ideational field renders itself material and temporal (while remaining ideational and rigorously exterior to the world in which it incarnates itself) – and which sorts and actualizes the implications present within it (while seeing its actualizing and selecting momentum decline itself at the level of matter subjected to time); and thus directs cosmic evolution in the direction of an order and complexity perseveringly and imperfectly increased.

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 image shows, “The Oak and the Reed,” by Achille Etna Michallon , painted in 1816.

Covid-19 And Roundup

The war is on. A crucial weapon in the attack is Roundup (glyphosate), a herbicide that’s being used for something for which it was never intended : the forced ripening of crops, called desiccation, all but guaranteeing it will wind up in our food.

Roundup hinders photosynthesis by poisoning the shikimate pathway in plants. Humans don’t rely on photosynthesis, but we were never supposed to actually eat this herbicide in food. It turns out our bodies rely on trillions of microorganisms integral to our immune systems that DO employ the shikimate pathway, which means Roundup contributes directly to the suppression of our immune systems.

Ignoring this, Bayer execs seek to dominate the fast-growing desiccation market, and have purchased Monsanto and, along with it, thousands of lawsuits filed by people who claim to have contracted cancer while applying Roundup. None of these lawsuits are from consumers who have inadvertently consumed Roundup in their food because it’s impossible to clinically prove one’s immune system may have been impacted so long as conventional medicine fails to help us boost overall health, pushing patented, pharmaceutical vaccinations instead. In fact, the government has never required any long-term research into the possible immunological impact of Roundup, and shows no interest in doing so.

Don’t bother looking, and you won’t find any bad news, is the maxim being applied. And it’s working marvelously.

Strangely, none of the settlements to date against Bayer have been for farmers. Wouldn’t farmers be the first to succumb to illness if Roundup (glyphosate) was a carcinogen and applying it was the problem? Does this mean the Roundup lawsuits are just a diversionary tactic in a much larger battle?

Shareholders are certainly worried. But Bayer executives have everything to gain from a protracted legal battle, replete with dire headlines warning that Roundup is DANGEROUS, so long as no one figures out that the real problem isn’t with people APPLYING Roundup; it’s with people EATING it.

Anyone who believes Werner Baumann, the CEO of Bayer, made a big mistake when he signed the deal to buy Monsanto, doesn’t understand his role in the globalist agenda. To say nothing of the crucial role Roundup is potentially playing in the Covid-19 “pandemic” through immune suppression, and how Covid-19 is itself playing into the larger globalist agenda, and may even be an integral part of it.

Desiccation is the target market for Bayer execs. But first, they have to become indemnified against any future claims of injury, whether by those who apply or consume Roundup,

  • just as vaccine companies were indemnified by President Reagan in the 1980s,
  • just as Big Tobacco was indemnified in the 1990s by President Clinton.

In both cases, all future liabilities were passed on to We the People, while the mounting cost of regulatory compliance, a direct consequence of that protracted legal process, resulted in monopoly control.

In short, Bayer plans to swallow up all of the off-brand makers of glyphosate (generic Roundup) as a thicket of new “safety” regulations are implemented surrounding the manufacture and use of Roundup, leaving only Bayer standing as the sole global supplier of this herbicide that corporate farmers can’t live without; that consumers can’t live WITH. In fact, Baumann’s “people” will already be working with regulators to make sure everything is worded just right, with the allowable “safe” limits for ingesting Roundup remaining based on outdated LD50 testing (Lethal Dose 50% in lab animals).

These were toxicological tests, not immunological. To repeat again, no one has ever tested how Roundup impacts the immune system that teams with microorganisms that ARE adversely impacted by Roundup through interruption of the shikimate pathway. And if Bayer execs gets their way, no one ever will.

Have you noticed no one argues any longer about whether smoking causes cancer? Admitting the problem only grants license to perpetuate the problem. It’s what happened in the meat industry in 1906, with the repeal of Prohibition of alcohol in 1933, GMOs in the 1990s, cellphone towers in 1996, cellphones thereafter, and it’s happening right now with 5G.

All of which begs the following two questions:

  • Does Roundup cause cancer as is being claimed in the Roundup application lawsuits? It doesn’t even matter in this scheme.
  • Should Roundup be banned outright? No my friend; that’s just one side of a false dichotomy. It’s certainly dangerous when misused. But even if it was always dangerous, both sides already agree Roundup will never be banned. If it was, how would all the lawyers get paid?

The overuse and misuse of Roundup is also contributing to the final destruction of the family farm by allowing for fewer, low-skilled laborers to harvest large tracts of land, leading to total corporate control over food production. Remember what Kissinger said about controlling food?

It’s madness. But so far, no one in Washington cares, with the exception of JFK’s nephew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who, God bless him for his principled stand against Bill Gates and vaccines, doesn’t even hold office.

Whatever this Covid-19 “pandemic” turns out to be, and whatever the NEXT one turns out to be, can anyone deny we’re LESS healthy than our ancestors were? Since when did harvesting a crop become impossible without the aid of a toxic substance? Remember the “failure of imagination” we were told prevented intelligence agencies from foreseeing 9-11? Don’t fall for it again.

Baumann, his phalanx of lawyers, accountants, right alongside his creditors, their phalanx of lawyers and accountants, AND their ratings agencies and insurers… all knew EXACTLY what they were getting into when Bayer bought Monsanto. He’s playing the role of the victim… but would better be described as the cat who ate the canary.

Meanwhile, if you can contract Covid-19 more than once, can someone please tell me what good a vaccine will be? Never let a crisis go to waste. And when you can’t find one, make one up.

Mischa Popoff grew up on a grain farm and worked as a USDA, CFIA and EU organic farm and process inspector. He’s written about the selling-out of the American organic industry to China for such outlets as The Daily Caller, Breitbart, Consumer Affairs and The Capital Research Center, and is the author of a self-published book entitled, Is it Organic? Three-quarters of the organic food you see on the store shelf is imported, and almost half tests positive for prohibited pesticides. He now writes on occasion for Dr. E. Michael Jones’ Culture Wars magazine.

The image shows, “Gas Chambe at Seaford,” by Frederick H. Varley, painted in 1918.

I Got The Coronavirus – Enough With The Hysteria!

What follows is a personal account. It should not be read as a general description of symptoms that are true for all people. Much of what happens during any infection depends on the condition of individual immune systems and pre-existing medical conditions – and there is also the fact the coronavirus, Covid19, or the Wuhan virus has forty known mutations (thus far). So, it is difficult to say how each individual body will react when infected.

I contracted the coronavirus at a doctor’s office, of all places, where there was far too much coughing, sneezing and wheezing going on, without any regard for public hygiene, such as, covering the mouth at least. I chose to write this article anonymously, because suddenly we live in precarious times, and I have no idea what the fallout of my account might be. People have become so wild-eyed. There is a lot of misinformation, panic and finger-pointing, where to go out in the public now is not only controlled, if not forbidden, but an act of distrust. People look at you with anger if you are not wearing a face-mask. But it no longer really matters where I got the virus, and I should have worn a face-mask. So, I just want to deal with the facts. This is what happened next.

The Process Of The Infection

On the first day, I grew very weak and feverish. So, I thought I should go and get myself tested. This was an entirely useless effort, especially given what it involved. To get a test, they shove a swab of sorts all the way up your nose – really far up the nose, so it really hurts. And the man doing the procedure seemed especially inept (another reason why I want to remain anonymous). I say the test was useless because it is not as if getting tested will mean getting a treatment that will cure what you are being tested for.

I think these tests are simply an effort to get an idea of the number of infections. And I now think they only serve to feed the hysteria. Given the procedure, I would suggest that you avoid the test and just stay home. Once the test was done, it came back positive, and I was advised to lock myself away at home until I got better – and then to wait for another fourteen days, before trying to venture out into a public place. In effect, I was placed under house-arrest (just like everyone else).

The first three days of infection consisted of a very painful throat and fever. It was not really a sore-throat, as such, which we have all experienced, which makes the throat feel raw, as if it has been badly scratched. Rather, what I experienced was extreme pain when swallowing. If I did not swallow, I did not feel any pain. It was as if a hand clamped down hard around my throat, whenever I tried to swallow. I can imagine how this might prove very dangerous for some.

As well, trying to speak meant that my throat constricted and I could only get out a few words before lapsing into a bad coughing fit – again, dangerous for those with compromised lungs. And when I coughed, I got nosebleeds (which I have never gotten belief). But I believe that these nosebleeds were the result of the injury I had received when I got the test done; they were not an effect of the virus. But I could be wrong. This condition persisted for five days, during which I slept a lot.

Then, something very strange happened on the sixth day. The sclerae (the whites) of my eyes turned a dark red, and my eyes hurt. I say strange, because it seemed that I was now showing the ophidian origins of the virus (given the Chinese penchant for eating snake-meat in the winter months (because said meat is supposed to be very “warming”). But, of course, there are other theories about the origins of this virus. My eyes also started to water a lot, and I could not look at strong light without feeling a burning in my eyes.

On the seventh day, the stranglehold on my throat suddenly grew weaker, and I felt that my body was finally beginning to fight back with some success! My eyes grew less red. The fever became low-grade. The cough remained.

Over the next three days, my throat recovered to what I would call normal, where I could swallow with only a very slight pain, and my eyes cleared up completely, although they still watered. The cough persisted, but the fever disappeared.

As of writing this account, I feel that I have regained normalcy (homeostasis). The cough is infrequent and my eyes water occasionally. It is simply my body clearing things up, it seems. And, such is my rather uneventful journey through coronavirus land. In my experience, then, it was nothing more than a flu.

I should mention that I did not take any medication, nor did I take any supplements. I just am not a pill-popper. I did, however, take some home-made cough syrup, which helped a lot with the cough. I simply let my body’s immune system take over.

So, what does all this mean? There are two takeaways. First, there is the virus itself and its pathology. Second, there is the coronavirus-panic. In other words, there is the reality of the virus – and then there is the construction of what I call, “the Coronavirus Narrative,” which is all about whipping up fear and hysteria. The one has little to do with the other.

Regarding the question of pathology, the coronavirus is nothing new, of course, as it has been known and documented and studied for quite some time. The version that I got is simply another form of the flu.

Now that I have gone through the experience, I can honestly say that I have had far worse bouts of the flu in years past. So, if you are a normal, healthy person, you will not die from the coronavirus. This is not the Black Death revisited, as it is being currently advertised. Get that fear out of your head. If you are healthy, and your lungs are in good shape, and you catch the virus, you will be feverish. Yes, it will hurt (as my throat did); and, yes, you will cough a lot. But you will not die from it. Your immune system will fight back and flush it out of your body.

As with any flu, the only people at risk will be those who have very weak immune systems, or who have lung conditions, or who have other pre-existing medical conditions, which would be exacerbated by any kind of infection. In other words, the same people who also die each and every year of the regular flu. Thus, for example, last year in the United States, 80,000 people died of the flu. Probably the same number will die this year as well. The only difference being that this year the cause of death will be a flu by the name of Covid19 – and that number will only feed the panic.

The Grand Coronavirus Narrative

Something very strange happened with this flu virus – suddenly it became the Grim Reaper. This portrayal is held together by three types of stories that are continually being told in the media – those that delve into the origins of the virus (its etiology); those that dictate personal and communal behavior; and those that seek to posit some sort of catharsis, through purification or expiation, by extolling a solitary existence.

Right from the beginning, the question of how this virus came to infect human beings was misty. Some said that its origins were natural, having jumped species from bats, snakes, or ant-eaters to humans (given the Chinese penchant to eat such creatures, especially in the winter months, for their “warming” qualities of such meat, according to Chinese alchemy, i.e., medicine). But others said that it was a bio-weapon that had somehow “escaped” from a lab and into humans. Many were the videos shown online of poor victims collapsed on to the streets, bleeding, and even shaking and flopping about. They were all said to be victims of this virus.

Next came the massive governmental efforts by the Chinese to contain the virus by way of forced confinement of the people of Wuhan and other cities, and the videos of streets being sprayed with something or other (presumably a disinfectant).

Then, came the accusations. The Chinese said it was indeed a bio-weapon, let loose by the US military. And there were already reports of nefarious Chinese agents stealing material from labs in the States and Canada – and even the arrest of a Harvard scientist for being on the payroll of the Chinese. We are all familiar with these facts, and they hardly bear repeating.

Then came the reaction, which was an effort to win control over the spread of the virus. This meant doing what China did and shutting down everything and promoting (and even enforcing) self-quarantine. Stay home. Come out only if you need to buy essentials. Only through massive government effort that purification (catharsis) can be affected.

And then there was the media, which was, and is still, having a field-day promoting the hysteria, with 24/7 coverage. The ceaseless fearmongering works really well because it is always presented without context (like the daily infection- and death-count), so that for most people, the world is indeed facing a massive die-out event, much like the Black Death and the Spanish Flu of 1918. None of this is true, of course, but that matters little, since well-constructed narratives have no need of truth.

People are scared. No one wants to die. But people die of all kinds of things over the course of every year. However, when death is wrapped up in the form a contagion that floats about in the air, ready to infect anyone – the fear becomes justifiable. But there is also something very strange about the numbers being thrown about, which are used to promote the fear. Those that began this fear now seem be having second thoughts. Here is a good analysis.

The Technocrats

But this hysteria is also bringing back the fact of reality. One of the fundamental problems of modernity is that it is technocratic (in that it only relies on the opinions of experts, which then became all-powerful narrative that then guide us as to how we live and what we do). If experts agree, we have truth, and we must all kowtow to said truth (also known as scientific “consensus”). This has been the case with the promotion of environmentalism, genderism, politics, and now infectious disease. In effect, the purpose of science now is to continually affirm social narratives (which are happily manufactured by another set of experts – professors).

But the problem with experts is that they cannot be wrong, for they are purveyors of a new “gospel.” This means that all experts prefer to present extreme conclusions, rather than anything sensible. This is especially true of any sort of statistics that have to do with disease, where they are often as extreme as possible, because no one will blame them for being “cautious” – that less people died than they had predicted. If they low-ball their figures and the disease produces a higher body count, then they will be pilloried. So, these experts are always hedging their bets and safeguarding their reputations as well as their very lucrative careers.

And then there are the predictive models that they use to tell us how many will get infected and how many will die. As we all know – there are always problems with hypothetical mathematical models. Remember, the same sort of models that are giving us death-charts, have long been used to prop up the entire “Global Warming Narrative.”

Some Side-Effects

But suddenly, the Coronavirus Narrative has sidelined, even derailed, all other narratives that had kept so many busy for so very long. Does anyone still want to go and agitate for bathroom rights for transgenders? How about marching for feminism? Global warming anyone? What of the New Green Deal for a happier proletariat?

And all those mealy-mouthed moralists, who were busy squawking about “racism” and “xenophobia” – now have to be xenophobic in order to stay alive – they have to stay away from all people, because their own bodies will be invaded by an infection that actually does come from foreign parts and foreign people. They even have to wear masks and gloves, lest “foreign” infections invade their own pure bodies. Oh, the irony is rich indeed.

And all those one-world types, who hated borders – now have to stay inside the strictest of borders, their own homes.

As for the diversity and equality crowd – well, they have to keep at least six feet from everybody, because mixing with strangers can be deadly.

All these tired old narratives will now have to go the way of the dodo – because the Coronavirus Narrative has changed the world very quickly and very drastically; and no one is even noticing. In effect, there is now no “normal” to go back to.

The World Ahead

It is very startling and frightening that we have all so easily agreed to abandon all our freedoms. We want security at all cost.

Here is what has already been lost:

  • All communities have broken down, since no crowd, no matter how small, can assemble. There can only be individualized allegiances to virtual groups, where only the pretence of a gathering can be provided online.
  • The screen alone will mediate our transactions with the world outside our bodies.
  • All supply chains are now fragile, if not broken. If enough workers decide not to show up to work, for fear of being infected, there is no supply.
  • The service sector of the business model is in shambles. Places like barber-shops, restaurants, gyms, etc. are no longer “truth-worthy.” Suddenly, the very notion of the value of work is now gone
  • Anyone who does not work and earn in front of a screen at home is now unemployed.
  • Governments have quickly consolidated power. Suddenly, there are “Quarantine Laws” which are population containment directives. And a fearful citizenry has happily agreed to forego freedom and be put under siege by their own politicians.
  • The notion that we all laughed at – safe spaces – is now law. We now all have been put inside safe spaces, from which we cannot emerge without permission from the state and the technocrats.
  • Work is made useless, by being declared “inessential,” so that ordinary people no longer know how to pay rent, buy food and look after their families. We will have the rise of the “precariat,” people who will only barely find precarious work. And can it be that this mass unemployment will turn larger corporations to robotic work, making the situation far worse for ordinary people?

The world we knew has been lost – because we have lost the most important component of the world – trust.

More Hysteria

The Coronavirus Narrative is also an expression of our hyper-feminized culture, where manliness has lost all meaning and value. It is certainly pertinent that the word, “hysteria” comes from the Greek term for “womb, vagina.” What we have now is not a manly response to hardship, where we all say that we will persevere, we will continue to work, we will continue with life, even though life is always tough and at times deadly (for death is part of life).

Instead, we now encounter the world only in terms of nurturing. The only way possible to deal with hardship is to seek safety, as offered by the warmth of the womb, because the world is much too fearful a place.

Where is the moral courage? Where is the determination? Where is the call for us to be strong, no matter what the adversity? Where are the calls that say exposure to the virus will build immunity, though it may kill some? People who live in bubbles do so because they will die in the open air. Are we really demanding zero deaths each and every year?

No, no, let us just hunker down in our safe spaces, shut the world down; best to accept mass house-arrest, until the maternal-state figures out how to save us from the Grim Reaper, ravaging the world beyond our windows, our screens. We are safe inside. Nesting is the only answer to adversity we have left as a culture.

Where shall we go from here? There were other viruses before (like SARS, H1N1, avian) – and there will continue to be flu viruses from China each and every year, which will continue to kill thousands. (Perhaps the WHO, in its wisdom, might want to invest in a program to encourage the Chinese to change their eating habits and not kill so many of us each year?).

Will we have annual lockdowns every flu season? Will the Coronavirus Narrative, or some version thereof, become the only narrative that truly matters each and every year? Will we now redesign the very purpose of daily life to meet the expectations of this all-encompassing, mega-narrative of perpetual protection offered to us by the state?

Covid19 is not the return of the Black Death. But it is the return of the Great Fear, through which we are allowing petty tyrants (politicians) to usher us into the Dystopia of lost freedoms, oppressive governing structures, and rejigged economies that will always favor the privileged classes. A brave new post-Covid19 world, indeed.

The image shows a plague doctor by Paul Fürst, 1656.

How To Slay The Climate Change Dragon

In our time, as truth corrodes, myths become necessary. As people drift away from truth, they readily agree to intrusive governments – and such invasive governments give consent to supranational entities and conglomerates who then use myths to manufacture political, social and economic consent.

The sales-force that sells these fictive narratives is the vast media-education-entertainment complex which employs, for such purposes, the punditry of experts, the professoriate, globe-trotting zealots, and sanctimonious thespians. Any dissent from these fables is decried, ridiculed, and suppressed.

One such myth is CO2 in the role of the arch-enemy, Hades-bent on heating up the planet, until life becomes impossible; and it is treacherous human activity that has set free this culprit into the hapless atmosphere to work havoc. After much struggle with vile traitors who greedily serve the villain CO2, and their henchmen, the climate change deniers, a few wise politicians and selfless NGOs will finally hurl CO2 into the netherworld of Zero Emissions, from which it will never rise again. Thus, the planet was saved and is now inhabited by fewer but better humans.

People love stories. The more far-fetched the better. The greater the lies, the more believable it is.

The reality is that the monster, the villain is not CO2 and the Greenhouse Effect. The monster is the myth itself, whereby human life – and the very future of humanity – is being asked to conform to the dictates of the lie that is “catastrophic climate change.” An entire complex of anti-human strategies are now justified by way of this lie – carbon taxes, deindustrialization, veganism, fossil fuel divestment,a green economy, population reduction, Gaia worship, green ethics – a brave new world.

It is precisely this global warming, catastrophic climate change myth that The Sky Dragon Slayers. Victory Lap sets out to slay. This book is a follow-up to the earlier work, Slaying the Sky Dragon. Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory, which was published in 2011, and which, as the title suggests, did destroy the pretense to “science” that revilers of CO2 leaned upon.

But in the ensuing decade, the myth of global warming has become more deeply entrenched – a lie that must not be questioned. Why this has happened is an important question, and it points to the success of the mythographers, who have a very clever trick up their sleeve – namely, the denial of truth.

Thus, we are supposed to be living in a “post-truth” world, in which “truth” is nothing more than a social construct, where there is only “your truth” and “my truth.” Such “truth” is personal preference, personal taste. In this way, both purpose and meaning are called into question, which brings about cynicism and gullibility; and, thus, people are the more easily led by “thought-leaders,” who serve many masters.

In such a hollowed-out world, climate change is packaged as piety. As Tim Ball observes in his Foreword to the book, “It is hard to believe that such false information as that created and perpetuated by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) continues to exist. Worse, it goes almost unquestioned and is the prevailing view.”

Ken Coffman in his Publisher’s Note succinctly captures the dynamics of this piety: “We have to give credit to the manipulators – they achieved a lot based on nearly nothing. The human-caused global warming was destructive, wrong and stupid, but masterful use of hyperbole and fear-mongering.”

Earlier, Coffman had noted, “There is no limit to the ways a bad theory can be false.” It soon becomes obvious that the climate change myth is not about science – but about power – and to those who manage the levers of power, truth will always be inconvenient and dangerous, and must, therefore, be suppressed. Truth is the greatest foe of ideology.

The Sky Dragon Slayers. Victory Lap offers this truth which is dangerous to those who sell the climate change myth. Thus, in Chapter 1, the entire premise of climate alarmism, of irreversible, catastrophic natural changes, brought about by human activity, is systematically dismantled and then destroyed.

The weapon which slays this mythic beast is the precise definition of what science really is and what it is not. The first Chapter carefully differentiates between the traditional scientific method and “post-normalism.” The former is empirical, rational, and cumulative, where predictions become laws when they can be repeated and always yield the same results. These results become evidence which leads to conclusions, or laws, about reality.

Here, Karl Popper’s famous paradigm serves as a guiding principle: “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.” In other words, truth is first known by evidence and then truth is known by how it is lied about. In our era, post-truth is the lie about truth.

We have to bear in mind that those in power have persuaded many that biological reality of the two sexes is a lie, while the lie of gender-fluidity, that a person can choose his/her own sex – is the truth. This is precisely what Popper meant by falsifiability. We can know truth, when others feel an urgent need to lie about it.

This lying is post-normalism, which stems from norm criticism and intersectionality; both are now de rigueur in all of academia. This means that, by and large, to be educated nowadays means to believe in and promote lies. In such a topsy-turvy world, post-normalist science serves power, not truth, since “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent,” as per Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz.

Such flapdoodle, always uttered with a very serious face, is about managing and controlling the “stakes” and the “decisions,” in which science must be nothing more than another rhetorical device to brainwash people.

This is made rather plain, in case of any doubt, by the academic Mike Hulme: “Self-evidently dangerous climate change will not emerge from a normal scientific process of truth seeking, although evidence will gain some insights into the question if it recognizes the socially contingent dimensions of a post-normal science. But to proffer such insights, scientists – and politicians – must trade (normal) truth for influence.” Post-normal “science” is politics by other means.

Thus, climate change is not about the climate – it is not about the environment. Instead, it is an absurd attempt to play God – to change how life exists on the planet. And this existence is to benefit the few, rather than the many, via the Fourth and the Fifth Industrial Revolutions – the point being to cull humanity, so it can pollute less. The shade of Malthus once again raises its head. We are in a death-struggle between two opposing views of humanity. One sees human beings as a harmful virus in the body of noble Gaia, which must be controlled, if not eradicated – and the other which sees great value in human life. It is an epic battle between good and evil.

After Chapter 1, which is the longest of the book, the remaining chapters serve as mop-up operations, in which the various limbs of the dragon that is catastrophic climate change are lopped off and destroyed.

Thus, Chapter 2 tosses the famous Hockey Stick Graph into the dustbin of history. As is well known, this graph, the fabrication of Michael Mann, was the show-piece of the IPCC, and made famous by Al Gore – and it remains to this day the most iconic image of climate alarmists. It purported to “prove” that CO2 trapped heat like a blanket and thus heated up the planet, until life would eventually become impossible.

Things came to a head for Mann when he filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against Dr. Tim Ball, who had quipped that Mann was from Penn State but more properly belonged in the state pen, given his many falsifications of data.

Throughout this ordeal, Dr. Ball insisted that he wanted Mann to show his “secret science,” or the R2 Regression Numbers, in court, which Mann claimed he had used to fashion his Hockey Stick Chart, aka the Hokey Schtick. The Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed Mann’s lawsuit and awarded the defendant Ball full legal costs. Such is the cunning of reason – Mann was undone by the very mechanism he had devised to destroy Dr. Ball. God indeed works in mysterious ways!

Chapter 3 guts the myth of the Greenhouse Effect, which is still taught as monolithic truth throughout the education system because it is post-normal science. According to the IPCC (whose usefulness would vanish in a trice if it had to rely on truth rather than post-normal science) the Greenhouse Effect is to be described in this way:

  • The Earth’s surface is warmed by both the Sun and the energy coming back from the atmosphere.
  • The Earth’s surface in turn radiates all the energy, which is wholly absorbed by the atmosphere.
  • The atmosphere then radiates half of that energy into space and the other half back to the Earth’s surface.
  • The result of this continual process is that the Earth’s surface becomes warmer than it would be if it were only warmed by the Sun.

In this model, CO2 becomes a heat-trapping blanket enwrapping the planet. The solution, therefore, is a straightforward one – get rid of the blanket! Hence, all those calls to reduce the “carbon footprint,” to stop using dirty fuels, to save the planet from reaching a “tipping-point,” from which there will be no return. And so forth.

Although this fuels climate alarmism very efficiently, this myth, of course, has nothing to do with scientific facts. The atmosphere is colder than the earth’s surface, so heat cannot bounce back from above, because “colder cannot heat hotter.” Energy is not wholly absorbed by the atmosphere. Some of it escapes into space, the rest is stored in the earth and the oceans and is used to evaporate water.

Any energy that returns to the earth from the atmosphere is always colder, never hotter than the earth’s surface. Therefore, energy returning from the atmosphere can never heat up the planet. All the four points promoted by the IPCC are in fact lies – or, rather, they are post-normal science. It is the sun which heats the planet, while excess heat is radiated out into space.

Chapters 4 and 5 are historical in nature, as they trace the development of various radiation theories, from 1871 to 2010. All the models proposed during these nearly 140-years cannot together prove that heat radiated back to the earth from the atmosphere does actually heat the planet.

In 2010, Claes Johnson called into question the theories of Max Planck and Albert Einstein – and thereby clearly demonstrated that “HEAT can ONLY be transferred from the warmer to the colder body as required by the 2nd law of thermodynamics.”

Chapter 6 is a summary of a paper by George V. Chilingar, which shows that CO2, in fact, cools the planet rather than heats it up. This happens because as “the infrared radiation is absorbed by the molecules of greenhouse gases, its energy is transformed into thermal expansion of air, which causes convective fluxes of air masses restoring the adiabatic distribution of temperature in the troposphere… estimates show that release of small amounts of carbon dioxide (several hundreds PPM), which are typical for the scope of anthropogenic emission, do not influence the global temperature of Earth’s atmosphere.” Thus, the myth of global warming is slain.

Chapter 7 records the results of an experiment conducted by Professor Nasif Nahle, with IR thermometers and radiometers, in which he shows that back-radiation from the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface is not real. As Nahle explains, “It is very clear from Thermodynamics and Stefan-Boltzmann Laws that heat is transferred exclusively from warmer surfaces towards cooler systems, never the opposite, and this experiment demonstrates, it is applicable to [the] climate system.” Again, global warming is a lie.

Chapter 8 lays out the experiment carried out by Carl Brehmer in which he shows that the positive water vapor feedback hypothesis is false. The premise of this hypothesis is that “if something increases the Earth’s temperature, this will cause an increase in the evaporation of water into water vapor.”

This leads to increased humidity, which in turn absorbs more infrared radiation from the earth’s surface, thus warming the air and allowing it to hold more water vapor. This supposedly leads to more evaporation, so that humidity continually increases, thus heating up the planet.

By way of a series of experiments, Brehmer discovers that although it is true that higher temperatures create higher humidity through evaporation – it is not true that higher humidity leads to warming. In fact, humidity has a cooling effect, whereby areas that produce higher humidity are cooler than arid areas. This means that “water acts as the Earth’s thermostat and not its heater.”

This falsifies “any notion that there could ever be runaway global warming driven by positive water vapor feedback where the oceans evaporate into the atmosphere and all life on Earth perishes. Why? Because ‘water feedback’ is negative feedback… the presence of water on our planet acts as a stabilizing force, exerting negative feedback against temperature change – up or down.” Evaporation, therefore, continually stabilizes temperature. It cannot increase temperature.

Chapter 9 is a very important study, by Tamarkin and Bromley, of carbon dioxide. Currently, two views predominate. The first is scientific in that CO2 is the “gas of life,” which provides the carbon that all life on this planet needs. Then, there is the post-normal view, promoted by the IPCC, which regards CO2 as a pollutant and which, therefore, must be eliminated.

Given the funding-clout and global influence of the IPCC, it is the latter view that is the norm and which resonates the most with the public at large, because it is easily comprehensible and requires a straight forward plan of action – get rid of the pollutant. To manufacture consent, various computer models have been generated which use the “Radiated Greenhouse Emissions” theory for the usual alarmist predictions – if we do not do something right now, the climate will change so drastically that life on this planet will become difficult if not next to impossible.

As Tamarkin and Bromley rightly remark: “No demonstrable, empirical evidence of this theory is available. No signs of anthropogenic climate change have been discovered.” Even the much-repeated statistic that humans are responsible for increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide by 33 percent is entirely false – because actual evidence shows that manmade carbon dioxide is so low that it cannot even be measured and burning fossil fuels does not impact climate change.

In other words, the only “evidence” is a mathematical computer model, which is contrived to fulfill the demands of alarmist ideology – because the conclusions suggested by this model cannot be observed in nature, nor recreated in experiments. Thus, the political notion of catastrophic climate change, because of Radiated Greenhouse Emissions, is fake news, a grand hoax. More post-normal science hard at work to strip you of your freedom and your dollars.

But more worrying is the fact that this hoax is responsible for affecting real human lives. Politicians are busy implementing real-world policies to counter the effects of a theoretical, computer model. If all this were not so tragic – it would all come off as a silly comedy skit. But the carbon taxes, the war on fossil fuels, the demand for population reduction, the clamor for a one-world government (which might the more effectively “save” this planet via policies that will continually curtail and ultimately deny human freedom) – all these are becoming startlingly real.

Far from destroying the planet as a “pollutant,” CO2 is actually greening the planet, because it is the basis of all life on earth. Also, measurement of infrared radiation suggests that the planet is actually cooling rather than heating up. These various cooling and warming events are natural – and not the result of human activity.

Chapter 10 is the “victory lap,” which details the various achievements of the many brave and resolute scientists who did not kowtow to the IPCC nor submit to political pressure and agree to produce “post-normal science.” Here is a brief list of the changes brought about by these valiant men and women:

  • The foremost British climate scientist, Dr. Phil Jones, admitted that the so-called “historic” temperature data was fake. This became known as the “Climategate scandal.”
  • The work of George Chilingar and John Robertson has positively impacted heat transfer physics, so that other scientists also now agree that adiabatic pressure accounts for the variance in temperature – a process in which CO2 plays no part whatsoever.
  • In 2017, a group of Italian scientists was forced to admit that climate models are “very likely flawed,” since there has been no warming trend over the past century. This means that the greenhouse gas theory can no longer be sustained.
  • It is now known that there is no “tipping point” whatsoever, since carbon dioxide does not drive temperature change.
  • Oxford University’s Myles Allen has conceded that there is no rapid warming happening anywhere on the planet.
  • William Happer of Princeton University admits that the various climate change models do not work because they are fundamentally flawed: “They haven’t worked in the past. They don’t work now. And it’s hard to imagine when, if ever, they’ll work in the foreseeable future.” In other words, climate alarmism has no basis whatsoever in science.
  • Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger of the Cato Institute and the journal, Nature Geoscience, now acknowledge that warming has been on the low end of all model predictions for the last sixty years.
  • Kenneth Richard compiled evidence from over thirty peer-reviewed papers, which showed that all the regions of the earth have been cooling over recent decades. Richard then asks a pertinent question: “One has to wonder how and from where a large net ‘global warming’ signal could have been obtained when there has been so much regional cooling.” Obviously, the answer is simple “global warming” is a lie.
  • In 2012, the influential science magazine, Nature, also admitted that climate change science was “riddled with systematic errors.”
  • In 2017, Nokolov and Zeller affirmed that the “heat-trapping mechanism” that brings about global warming is nothing more than a theoretical conjecture, with no science to back it up. In other words, it is a myth.
  • Russian scientists have recently shown that global warming is DOA.

Chapter 11 summarizes the great work being done by Principia Scientific International (PSI), which has long fought for real science and truth. Its aim is to “shun the vagaries of political advocacy,” and to refuse to be subordinated to the “moralizing pre-determinism of discredited ‘post normal’ science.” PSI is sustained by the unpaid and voluntary work and effort of its many members who are dedicated to the pursuit of truth no matter what the personal cost.

The monster, the dragon that is catastrophic climate change has long been slain – the news of its death has yet to be universally acclaimed. It was slain by the efforts of all those serious scientists who refused to abandon truth for political rhetoric. Their courageous work is meticulously recorded in The Sky Dragon Slayers. Victory Lap, which ends on a very hopeful note, because truth can never be defeated, though is may be suppressed for a time. The final words of this marvelous, engaging, and deeply informative book are prophetic in the true sense – “The momentum is ours.”

The Sky Dragon Slayers. Victory Lap is a book that everyone must read, because it is a thorough and precise vademecum for all those who want to become “slayers” of the political lie that is manmade and catastrophic global warming – wherever they may encounter it in their own lives. Everyone must read this book to not only learn about the hoax still being perpetrated by supranational agencies, politicians and their various minions – but more importantly it must be read to win freedom from the influence of snake-oil hucksters who want to own your mind and enslave your spirit so that you might the more readily do their bidding.

But such fraudsters have already failed. “The momentum is ours.”

The image shows, “Saint George and the Dragon,” by Vittore Carpaccio, painted ca. 1502.