Individuality, Truth and Freedom

John 8:32 …the truth shall make you free.

“I’m not a free speech advocate, let’s say, i’m a true speech advocate. which is to say that I believe people should say what they believe to be true” Jordon Peterson

Following Peterson’s advice, I write below what I believe to be true.

Our existence provides us with the potential to become free spirits. Nature has taken us up to the point where we then become responsible for our future development as individuals.
Individual animals are constrained to follow the nature of the species to which they belong. Humans have moved beyond this restriction, over and above the species nature, we have formed tribes and societies which establish laws and custome designed to govern the behaviour of the individuals within. Modern societies make it possible for each person to express their individuality. They allow more freedom and give more rights to their individuals than are bestowed upon them by being members of the species.

Steiner spoke of a path towards ethical individualism

Steiner

The standpoint of free morality, then, does not declare the free spirit to be the only form in which a man can exist. It sees in the free spirit only the last stage of man’s evolution. This is not to deny that conduct according to standards has its justification as one stage in evolution. Only we cannot acknowledge it as the absolute standpoint in morality. For the free spirit overcomes the standards in the sense that he does not just accept commandments as his motives but orders his action according to his own impulses (intuitions)

The future is in our hands. Evolution continues regardless.

173 thoughts on “Individuality, Truth and Freedom

  1. I think I agree with everything in your post, KN. I don’t know the paper you linked to, but it looks interesting. So, thanks.

    There is a desire, that I think Charlie may be demonstrating here (not sure), for something that Spinoza was desperate for as well–an “internal mark of truth.”

    Would that it were so…..

  2. walto:

    CharlieM: So rather than be truthful you would tell someone what they want to hear?

    Sometimes, sure. Civility may require it. Or someone’s life or health. Truth-telling is a virtue, but it’s not the only virtue.

    A good example is when you encounter a “road rage” incident in which a deranged other driver approaches your car, shouting angrily and waving a tire-iron. In that case your local traffic police will definitely advise you not to listen to Jordan Peterson or to Rudolf Steiner, but to tell the other guy you totally agree with him, and you were of course wrong, and that you sincerely apologize.

  3. CharlieM: Well his gift of saying nothing has stimulated an awful lot of discussion and debate in the media from what I can see.

    I would not say that recommending people say what they believe to be true is a trivial piece of advice.

    Peterson has created controversy because of the audience that he attracts.

    Also . . .

    “Our grosse conceipts, who think honestie the best policie.”–Sir Edwyin Sandis, 1599

    The idea has been around for at least 400 years.

  4. T_aquaticus,

    “You should say what you feel”
    Jordan Peterson-sometime in late 2000s.

    Breathtaking insight. Or maybe he stold the idea from Ben Shapiro.

  5. walto: It is just as possible to lie taking responsibility for the consequences. And when we tell the truth, we may also be letting external circumstances dictate our action. Our conception of the reaction of the woman can also determine our answer when we are telling the truth. And, it could be argued, we are always controlled from without, whether we are telling the truth or not.

    You are right and that is why we should strive to “know ourselves”. We should consider why we acted in a certain way, look for the motive for our actions. It is not the lying or the telling of truth in itself that matters, it is the underlying reason for the action that is important. If we tell the truth out of a sense of duty, then that cannot be said to be a free act.

    Look Charlie. You get your rocks off from this guy, go enjoy yourself. But it’s kind of sad that you seem to need others to be ok with this nonsense. If you were really so interested in not being controlled by external factors, I think you could enjoy your orgasmic relations with these bad thinkers in the internet-free comfort of your bedroom.

    I don’t need or want others to be okay with it. I want others to think about it and question it so that I can get sensible opinions from all angles. How else can I test my beliefs?

  6. walto: Sometimes, sure. Civility may require it. Or someone’s life or health. Truth-telling is a virtue, but it’s not the only virtue.

    Do you think it is a virtue to serve and encourage the vanity of others?

  7. walto: I agree with phoodoo about many things. You haven’t been paying attention again.

    I’m glad. It pleases me to see people agreeing. And it also pleases me to see people disagreeing in a friendly manner.

    Time is limited, I try to focus my attention

  8. CharlieM: I don’t need or want others to be okay with it. I want others to think about it and question it so that I can get sensible opinions from all angles. How else can I test my beliefs?

    Except that every single time anyone questions you on any of your beliefs, your response is to tell them to read Steiner. So it’s not easy for us to believe that you’re genuinely interested in having your beliefs tested.

  9. Kantian Naturalist: I do think that CharlieM was trying to say that telling the truth is freedom-enhancing or freedom-preserving in a way that lying is not, and that does seem quite wrong to me — as I believe it does to you?

    I think that CharlieM is trying to establish a connection between sincerity and what might be called authenticity — so expressing what one believes to be true is expressive of one’s character, and it’s a way of making public (since utterances are public acts) what is private or internal to oneself.

    That seems OK to me, though I have qualms about whether there’s sufficient stability to character to ground authenticity as a virtue. (See skepticism about character.)

    Be that as it may, you’re quite right that sincerity is to be balanced against other considerations, such as tactfulness or kindness. Sincerity is one thing; bluntness or tactlessness is another. It’s not a virtue to be a sincere in expressing one’s beliefs if doing so means being cruel to another person.

    My understanding: We all have the potential to be individual free spirits. To be free is to take moral responsibility. Resolving to obey a law such as the categorical imperative does not allow us to be free spirits. Each situation should be judged on its own merits. I would not advocate that we should always tell the truth, only that we should do our utmost to tell the truth whenever possible. There are ways of being tactful without having to lie. Sometimes lying would be the lesser of two evils, but in so doing we should be aware that by being deceitful we hinder our path to freedom.

    In the end we should all strive to be ethical individuals. The more we allow external influences to dictate our actions the less stable our character. We should aim for stability of character. When it comes to this not everyone is equal. I don’t regard myself as being specially endowed in that regard but I would say some people are.

  10. walto:
    I think I agree with everything in your post, KN. I don’t know the paper you linked to, but it looks interesting. So, thanks.

    There is a desire, that I think Charlie may be demonstrating here (not sure), for something that Spinoza was desperate for as well–an “internal mark of truth.”

    Would that it were so…..

    I’m not looking for abstractions, I’m looking for answers

  11. Joe Felsenstein:

    Walto: Sometimes, sure. Civility may require it. Or someone’s life or health. Truth-telling is a virtue, but it’s not the only virtue.

    A good example is when you encounter a “road rage” incident in which a deranged other driver approaches your car, shouting angrily and waving a tire-iron. In that case your local traffic police will definitely advise you not to listen to Jordan Peterson or to Rudolf Steiner, but to tell the other guy you totally agree with him, and you were of course wrong, and that you sincerely apologize.

    I don’t know what you imagine Steiner would say in those circumstances.

    Anyway your solution is not something an insurance company would advise. There are other ways to try to pacify an angry driver besides admitting guilt. If someone was approaching me with an iron bar the first thing in my mind would be to leave the scene as quickly as possible 🙂

  12. Kantian Naturalist: Except that every single time anyone questions you on any of your beliefs, your response is to tell them to read Steiner. So it’s not easy for us to believe that you’re genuinely interested in having your beliefs tested.

    I don’t tell anyone to do anything. I provide quotes and links relating to arguments I make but I leave it up to others whether or not they read them.

  13. CharlieM: My understanding: We all have the potential to be individual free spirits.

    You’re using the word “understanding”–but I have sincere doubt that you have any idea what it means.

  14. CharlieM: I’m not looking for abstractions, I’m looking for answers

    No you’re looking for justifications for your half-baked “ideas.”

  15. walto: You’re using the word “understanding”–but I have sincere doubt that you have any idea what it means.

    You mean I do not understand understanding? I’m happy to change it to, “As I see it”.

    Maybe we could discuss what we mean by freedom as that is a tricky word to pin down. Physical freedom, free will, free thinking; I wouldn’t mind hearing what people think about all areas of freedom.

  16. I have pretty strong views about freedom as a political concept but I don’t have any strong views about freedom as a metaphysical concept. I’m pretty sure that libertarian freedom is nonsense and I’m not happy with any version of incompatibilism or compatibilism. Though I’m not also not a strict determinist because I don’t think that determinism is entailed by our best understanding of the physics of life. Generally speaking I like to keep all talk of freedom in the political and ethical realm and not worry about the metaphysics. (This is good advice in general, too.)

  17. CharlieM: Anyway your solution is not something an insurance company would advise. There are other ways to try to pacify an angry driver besides admitting guilt. If someone was approaching me with an iron bar the first thing in my mind would be to leave the scene as quickly as possible

    Of course. But if you can’t, any police department would urge you to say *anything* that would mollify the attacker. Any statement about being guilty could not be used against you in any legal proceeding if you could document that it was made under threat of physical violence.

  18. walto: No you’re looking for justifications for your half-baked “ideas.”

    Do you have an example of one of my half-baked “ideas” from this thread so that we can discuss it, or at least I can get some sort of understanding about what you mean?

  19. Kantian Naturalist:
    I have pretty strong views about freedom as a political concept but I don’t have any strong views about freedom as a metaphysical concept. I’m pretty sure that libertarian freedom is nonsense and I’m not happy with any version of incompatibilism or compatibilism. Though I’m not also not a strict determinist because I don’t think that determinism is entailed by our best understanding of the physics of life. Generally speaking I like to keep all talk of freedom in the political and ethical realm and not worry about the metaphysics. (This is good advice in general, too.)

    I agree that it’s a good idea to keep metaphysics out of it. I think that with any sort of freedom whether or not we are free is not the right question to ask. We are all positioned somewhere between freedom and non-freedom. We are on a journey which, if we are on the right track, lead to ethical freedom.

  20. Joe Felsenstein: Of course.But if you can’t, any police department would urge you to say *anything* that would mollify the attacker.Any statement about being guilty could not be used against you in any legal proceeding if you could document that it was made under threat of physical violence.

    Yes, I agree. To strive to always tell the truth is an advisement and not a commandment. To lay down general rules goes against the idea of ethical individualism where action for each occasion should be determined individually. It may very well be a matter of choosing between the lesser of two evils. For instance I think we agree that it is good advice to do no self harm, but there have been numerous occasions where someone has cut off their own limb to free themselves from a situation in which they could die. When it comes to freedom, we can’t make general rules that apply in all situalions.

    On the path to freedom we will inevitably need to take some backward steps but we should be aware that we are doing so.

  21. CharlieM: Do you have an example of one of my half-baked “ideas” from this thread so that we can discuss it, or at least I can get some sort of understanding about what you mean?

    That’s what we’ve been doing. What have you learned so far?

  22. Joe Felsenstein: A good example is when you encounter a “road rage” incident in which a deranged other driver approaches your car, shouting angrily and waving a tire-iron.In that case your local traffic police will definitely advise you not to listen to Jordan Peterson or to Rudolf Steiner, but to tell the other guy you totally agree with him, and you were of course wrong, and that you sincerely apologize.

    This is a good example of degrees of freedom. There may be an incident where two parties both believe that the other party is to blame. One of them thinks about the situation and makes a rational decision as to what he or she should do, the other is consumed by anger and springs into action. It should be obvious which one is acting with more freedom. The one is thinking about their actions the other is letting their feelings get the better of them.

    A person who behaves with equanimity in any situation is more free that someone whose behaviour is dictated by their feelings.

  23. CharlieM: . It should be obvious which one is acting with more freedom.

    It may be true, but it is very far from obvious.

  24. walto: It may be true, but it is very far from obvious.

    Well maybe I should have added it is obvious to anyone who gives it serious thoughtful consideration.

  25. CharlieM:

    One of them thinks about the situation and makes a rational decision as to what he or she should do, the other is consumed by anger and springs into action. It should be obvious which one is acting with more freedom. The one is thinking about their actions the other is letting their feelings get the better of them.

    You could just as easily spin it in the opposite direction: One is constrained by the dictates of reason, while the other is free to act on his or her emotions.

  26. keiths:
    CharlieM:

    You could just as easily spin it in the opposite direction:One is constrained by the dictates of reason, while the other is free to act on his or her emotions.

    Well I’ve heard of people having to have anger management sessions in order to control anger issues by using thinking to control their feelings, but I’ve never heard of anyone being advised to express their feelings without first thinking about what they are about to do. Even if someone is advised to let their feelings out that might benefit them but it would not be a free act without them thinking about it first.

    We take control of out own actions by thinking and not by feeling.

  27. Charlie,

    It’s not about who is acting more wisely, but rather who is acting more freely.

    You say it’s “obvious” that someone led by their reasoning is freer than another who isn’t, but things are not quite so simple. To be constrained by reason forecloses some emotionally appealing options. That can legitimately be seen as a sacrifice of freedom for the sake of some other good such as prudence.

  28. keiths:
    Charlie,

    It’s not about who is acting more wisely, but rather who is acting more freely.

    You say it’s “obvious” that someone led by their reasoning is freer than another who isn’t, but things are not quite so simple.To be constrained by reason forecloses some emotionally appealing options.That can legitimately be seen as a sacrifice of freedom for the sake of some other good such as prudence.

    I didn’t say that at all. We will only be constrained by reason if we choose to always follow reason over feeling. But sometimes we might choose to follow our heart and let feeling be our guide. This will be a conscious decision arrived at through thinking. We do not suppress our feelings, we take control of them.

  29. CharlieM: I didn’t say that at all. We will only be constrained by reason if we choose to always follow reason over feeling.

    If you using reason to choose between following reason or emotion you are constrained by reason either way.

    But sometimes we might choose to follow our heart and let feeling be our guide. This will be a conscious decision arrived at through thinking.

    How about the option of following your heart without thinking about it first?

    We do not suppress our feelings, we take control of them.

    Control precludes spontaneity.

  30. keiths:

    It’s not about who is acting more wisely, but rather who is acting more freely.

    You say it’s “obvious” that someone led by their reasoning is freer than another who isn’t, but things are not quite so simple.

    CharlieM:

    I didn’t say that at all.

    Sure sounded like it:

    One of them thinks about the situation and makes a rational decision as to what he or she should do, the other is consumed by anger and springs into action. It should be obvious which one is acting with more freedom. The one is thinking about their actions the other is letting their feelings get the better of them.

  31. KN:

    Freedom is constraint by reason.

    Freedom is being able to do as one wishes. Sometimes people want to think things through before acting. Other times they don’t.

  32. ““Cultural Marxism” has the remarkable property of not even existing.” – Joe

    ‘Cultural materialism’ has the remarkable property of ‘existing’ though, doesn’t it?

    https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199766567/obo-9780199766567-0154.xml

    Marx was one among not a few materialists. He was Jewish, but that didn’t stop his anti-religiosity either. Being a cultural materialist & non-religiously Jewish is apparently still a thing to some people.

    What KN said was: “I believe it to be true that Jordan Peterson is an intellectual fraud and snake-oil salesman.”

    Ah, but who’s sold out to snake-handler Sellars’ scientism? That’s not Peterson; that’s KN.

  33. newton: How about the option of following your heart without thinking about it first?

    Then you will be acting according to your characterological disposition. For instance a person of high morals will not be tempted in the same way that a selfish individual would.

  34. keiths:

    CharlieM:

    I didn’t say that at all.

    Sure sounded like it:

    Well I suppose I did. It was just the connotation of “being led” that prompted my reply. What I am trying to get at is that pure thinking is my activity instigated by myself whereas feeling is my reaction to an external influence. It is something evoked in me from without.

  35. keiths:
    KN:

    Freedom is being able to do as one wishes.Sometimes people want to think things through before acting.Other times they don’t.

    That is free choice or free will, but IMO there is also free thinking which a spiritual activity.

  36. CharlieM: What I am trying to get at is that pure thinking is my activity instigated by myself whereas feeling is my reaction to an external influence. It is something evoked in me from without.

    And what could be more obvious than remarks about “pure thinking” that one has gleaned from years of reading nothing but crackpots!

  37. walto: And what could be more obvious than remarks about “pure thinking” that one has gleaned from years of reading nothing but crackpots!

    You are mistaken: “pure thinking” is instigated without any external influences. That includes the musings of crackpots. As in:

    “What are you thinking about?”

    “Thinking ABOUT? NOTHING! I am doing some pure thinking”

  38. Gregory: Marx was one among not a few materialists. He was Jewish, but that didn’t stop his anti-religiosity either. Being a cultural materialist & non-religiously Jewish is apparently still a thing to some people.

    That suggests a pretty superficial understanding of the history of European Jewish intellectuals since the Enlightenment and Marx’s relation to that history.

    Ah, but who’s sold out to snake-handler Sellars’ scientism? That’s not Peterson; that’s KN.

    Choosing to devote oneself to become a scholar about a particular philosopher isn’t “selling out” and Sellars’s philosophy is not scientistic.

  39. The only area Peterson seems to turn towards ideological scientism is via evolutionary psychology, which he admittedly grapples with as a ‘killer theory,’ while also having labelled himself to be thinking ‘scientifically’ like an ‘evolutionary biologist’. He has produced considerable quantitative scholarly work. His ‘self-authoring program,’ designed after a research paper with Dutch scholars, is ‘less scientific,’ though in many ways much more valuable and long lasting than his ‘strictly scientific’ program. Compared with Sellars’ sell-out scientism & atheism

    To have KN sling foul words about Jordan Peterson is like a little boy with a stick taunting an elephant. No need to pay much attention. A Marxist pipsqueak (with an H-index of 5 & i10 index of 3), faintly hollering: ‘Philosophists of the world – unite!’ https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=wL1F22UAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra

    As for Marx being an atheist, no, it won’t succeed in trying to delude people that Marx wasn’t both an atheist and openly anti-religious. He was an ideological materialist in that package. This is a large part of why he is so strongly opposed by most people around the world, especially now in the information era (where materialism has been over-exposed), regardless of how timely or prescient his half-hearted ‘critique of capitalism’ was & in part remains to the present day. Ex-Marxist Manuel Castells gives ample post-Marxist fodder in his ICT-era works to turn most young people away from (cultural too, not just economic) Marxism for good. Sadly, many Marxists, especially the older ones, care not enough about seeking and discovering truth beyond nature-alone to acknowledge their outdated & jaded, ‘sophisticated’ naturalistic & materialistic-ideas.

    The difference between being a religious humanist Jew (e.g. Saul Kripke) vs. being a secular humanist Jew matters significantly in this conversation. KN is welcome to acknowledge that reality, while rose-colouring himself about ‘European intellectuals’ as if Peterson was such a slouch.

  40. keiths, to KN:

    Freedom is being able to do as one wishes. Sometimes people want to think things through before acting. Other times they don’t.

    CharlieM:

    That is free choice or free will, but IMO there is also free thinking which a spiritual activity.

    Thinking is something we do, so it falls within the scope of my statement:

    Freedom is being able to do as one wishes.

    It’s often wise to be constrained by reason, both in thinking and in action, but it’s still a constraint.

  41. Gregory,

    No doubt Peterson is a prolific and highly accomplished professional psychologists, but anyone who fulminates against “postmodern neo-Marxism” (as Peterson does) quite clearly is an amateur when it comes to playing with philosophical tropes.

  42. Kantian Naturalist,

    “anyone who fulminates against ‘postmodern neo-Marxism’ (as Peterson does) quite clearly is an amateur when it comes to playing with philosophical tropes.”

    Let’s use ‘makes a strong critique’ instead of ‘fulminates’ to move closer to reality & away from KN’s irritated ideological fancy.

    1) What makes it appear that ‘philosophical tropes’ is what Peterson is most concerned about? His work is more psychological than philosophical in orientation. Take responsibility & don’t try to easily dismiss myth, symbolism & meaning with natural scientific ‘answers.’ Iow, scientism beware!

    2) What alternative term than ‘postmodern neo-Marxism’ (PMNM) would you instead suggest as a substitute to identify the highly destructive & dehumanizing ideology that Peterson is legitimately and carefully challenging? I agree there are other similar targets nearby that could be used, but PMNM is a pretty sound one. If you can’t or won’t suggest an alternative term or terms, then you haven’t offered anything positive to the conversation.

    Based on what I’ve witnessed here at TSZ in the past, I suspect KN is one of those frantic liberalizers who won’t allow any term at all to be given to what Peterson is fighting against, along with many others. Thus, in seeking to avoid a legitimate & well-placed term, KN will likely consider his centrist opponent defeated by no contest. It was a similar slippery move that Zizek attempted in the recent debate in Toronto & though Peterson didn’t really call him out on it.

    KN indeed accurately fits the category of being a ‘postmodern neo-Marxist’ (KN has recently called himself a ‘Marxist’ here), just like what Peterson regularly rails against, in case the sides aren’t clear for any readers.

    And my estimation is that KN would get throttled by Peterson like what has happened to several woolly postmodern professors who have tried to impress him with their disenchanted, skeptical scholasticism & philosophistry. Thankfully, Peterson is helping young people escape from the ideological traps such people are setting for them in university classrooms in the humanities & social sciences these days. Sad that some people would frown at, throw shade or blame upon this liberation for students, if only because it is coming at the cost of them losing power & control over the public educational narrative.

  43. Steiner says that conceptual thinking without regard to any definite perceptual content is the highest level of thinking. The driving force for action here is practical reason.

    Johannes Kreyenbuehl called this practical reason the practical a priori. Kreyenbuehl’s views on the contradictions in Kant regarding this subject can be found here – “Ethical-Freedom in Kant: A critical-speculative study of the true spirit in Kantian philosophy”, by Johannes Kreyenbuehl
    He says:

    So as commendable as it is that Kant stopped his speculative skepticism short of the shrine of ethics, it is just as undeniable on the other hand that Reason thus set back and deprived of its rights revenged itself on its offender and provided a stunning example in his ethics that one dare not sacrifice clear, scientific conviction to any kind of faith, and that it is a contradiction to deny knowledge of the supersensible to reason, and yet want to attempt a scientific establishment and presentation of the super-sensible in a definite form (i.e., transcendental freedom).

    We are not going to find true freedom in the empirical world of cause and effect. The freedom we find through this means is to begin with a negative freedom and it is not easy to get past this. It takes an honest, true self-consciousness to get to the underlying motives behind our actions.

    Kreyenbuehl: Therefore Kant rightly observes that our concept of freedom is at first a negative or practical freedom in so far as we encounter it in operation in practical affairs (Critique of Practical Reason, H. p.302). However, this dialectical means by which the concept of freedom is first given to us as a negative quantity (= insufficiency of empirical motives in moral action) is only one side of its complete concept, which immediately emerges upon sharper reflection. Namely, if we observe that psychologically speaking the soul is never determined negatively but always positively by some kind of a motive of a moral or immoral kind, then from this viewpoint the concept of a negative freedom is meaningless; and those who understand freedom (freedom) only as a libertas a coactione (liberty from necessity or compulsion) completely forget that with regard to psychological determination it makes no difference whether I am determined from without or within, and that true freedom doesn’t consist of inner psychological necessitation at all, but rather that the worst criminal as well as the conventionally most moral person find themselves together in this realm of psychological determination. The concept of ethical-freedom is only then attained when one goes beyond every necessitation by merely empirical motives; however this extension and therefore this negative freedom is itself only possible by virtue of the capacity for positive freedom. Purely negative freedom is contradictory from the standpoint of empiricism, because the soul is always positively determined; it therefore also cannot be the cause of phenomena, as Kant rightly observes (Critique of Pure Reason, p.169) it cannot become practical, and contradicts its own concept. If on the other hand the concept of negative freedom cannot be abandoned because it is a necessary component of moral consciousness, then what remains is to expand it to positive freedom and to elevate it into the region of true, transcendental, ideal freedom. If negative freedom is one where empirical causes do not completely determine us (Ibid., p.164), then positive freedom is a special way of drawing up the initiative for one’s actions out of the depths of ethical being or existence. It therefore follows that negative freedom is only possible and comprehensible by means of positive freedom, and those who remain standing at negative freedom in any form are like the Hera of mythology who, laden with weights, was suspended between heaven and earth. On one side the weight of empirical motivation presses on them and prevents them from reaching the realm of freedom, on the other side they recognize morality to be a force which opposes sensuousness and selfishness; out of the confused mixing — rather than the dialectical connecting — of the two directions comes negative freedom — that one-sided abstraction of the empirically given, which is incapable of lifting itself to the heights of independent, positive thinking, and consequently eventually sinks again into the depths of unethical behavior.

    True freedom cannot come from any moral law, but only through individual pure thinking.

    In our present naturalistic culture it is understandable that we picture pure thinking as if we are standing on the edge of an abyss staring into a vast empty nothingness. It is much easier to remain in the comfort of our familiar territory.

    Do we have a hidden fear, lurking in the depth of our consciousness, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!”? Freedom can be scary!

  44. Gregory: As for Marx being an atheist, no, it won’t succeed in trying to delude people that Marx wasn’t both an atheist and openly anti-religious

    Who was trying to do that?

  45. CharlieM: True freedom cannot come from any moral law, but only through individual pure thinking.

    I don’t know about others, but I still have no clue what “pure thinking” is. The term makes no sense to me.

    Kreyenbuehl as quoted by CharlieM: If negative freedom is one where empirical causes do not completely determine us (Ibid., p.164), then positive freedom is a special way of drawing up the initiative for one’s actions out of the depths of ethical being or existence.

    Isn’t the initiative for one’s actions ultimately motivated by one’s desires, rather than by “thinking”? Doesn’t that contradict your claim that feelings and emotions merely serve as reactions to external influences?

  46. Gregory: The difference between being a religious humanist Jew (e.g. Saul Kripke) vs. being a secular humanist Jew matters significantly in this conversation.

    How does Putnam do on your Gregory-virtue scale? He attended a synagogue around here frequently I understand. But I doubt you’d care for his politics. Was he a “humanist”, O oracle-of-ranking?

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