Monday, July 23, 2007

CICERO'S "RIGHT REASON"

Diana: "Hey, girls! I've been leaning against the wall thinking and junk and it occurred to me that Cicero was right! I mean, Law isn't something human beings came up with. It's something eternal."


Brigitte: "Well, Duh! Everybody knows that! Reason didn't become Law when it was written down, but when it first came into existence; and it came into existence simultaneously with the divine mind. True Law is the right reason of Jupiter, king of the gods. Even Jupiter can't violate it with impunity because it's in the very fabric of Jupiter and everything else that exists."


Julie: "Whoa! Wait a minute! We all know that bad laws get passed all the time!"



Sophia: "It doesn't matter! Laws like that never last because they don't conform to Nature. True and primal Law is the eternal right reason of supreme Jupiter."



Raquel: "Sure, in Jupiter and in us too. Nothing is more valuable than reason and reason, when it's perfected, is called wisdom. Since wisdom exists in both man and God then we must share an awareness of right reason. It's kinda' cool that we and the gods are sort of in the same commonwealth."



Lola: "Right! And since we share right reason with the gods then we must also share Law and the concept of justice! ...Gee, it's hard to think with all these little people building stuff around me!"


Mildred: "They bother me too! I just try to tune them out by smelling my armpit. Anyway what Lola said makes sense. True law is right reason in agreement with nature. It's universal! You don't find one law in Rome and another in Athens!"


Marigold: "Righto! Wicked people deliberately shut out their awareness of right reason but it doesn't do them any good because God is the author of this law, it's promulgator, and it's enforcing judge. Whoever disobeys is fleeing from himself and his own human nature!
Ha! Watch me mess up this little bus!"





35 comments:

Brian B said...

Sometimes Eddie, I don't even read your posts. I just come back later to. Great taste! :thumbsup

But yeah, I agree with all that law stuff and nature.. As long as they're saying it.

JohnK said...

Eddie, you finally figured out a clever way to objectify women!

All men owe you.

Ardy said...

I'm actually reading a book on this subject right now. It's called "Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong." I'm not too far into it but according to the author, Louis P. Pojman, law really is just an invention of man's. Morals and Ethics are really what the nice giantesses in your post refer to as law. It's actually not a book, it's more like a textbook, but it's still a good read.

Gabriel said...

ardy: cool! Are the pictures in your book as good as those in this post?

Andreas said...

I might pay more attention to government if more discussions on law were like this.

Stephen Worth said...

You just proved that they put the entirely wrong sort of pictures in philosophy textbooks!

See ya
Steve

P.S. Who's Cicero?

Lester Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete Emslie said...

Steve Worth inquired: "P.S. Who's Cicero?"

I always thought Steve was a smart guy but he doesn't even know who Cicero is!
Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!

Shucks, everybody knows Cicero is Porky Pig's nephew...

Matty M... said...

Those are some "sassy" philosophers! But... Sassy aside. C.S. Lewis had an interesting point about Natural Law. He notes that if Natural Law doesn't exist, then humans would never argue... at all. If the world and morals were completely relative, then humanity would have no reason to argue, cuz we'd have no standard by which we judge right an wrong. Hmmmmm... I argue all the time, therefore... Natural Law exists. Of course, C.S. Lewis looked horrible in a Bikini... so who knows if his philosophy will ever catch on. He had a hard time being convincing when he wore his thong.

Lester Hunt said...

Hermione: Say, girls, I hate to sound like the boring old Voice of Moderation, but Cicero was part right and part wrong. Those pithy old aphorisms are always so exaggerated! Sure right reason is the basis of law, but can it really be law? What does right reason say about whether it's okay for me to bitch-slap you for borrowing my mascara without my permission? Sure, right reason say "don't take other's property without their permission," and it says "wrongdoing should be punished." But it also says "let the punishment fit the crime" and "live and let live." So it really doesn't answer the question. For that, you need settled, positive, human law! Say, Lola, who does your hair?

NateBear said...

CD Lewis really proves the Thery Corner Theary that bikini-wearing-prowess is directly proportional to philosophical faculty. I thought the reason we argue IS because we have no absolute law to follow mindlessly. The reason we argue in a sea of relativity rather than accept the flexibility of it all is because certain humans created a concept of Natural Law. We're a long wa of from being evolved enough to understand that Natural Law can only exist in our heads.

I.D.R.C. said...

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."

Aleister Crowley

"Eat or be eaten"

Firesign Theatre

that's about all the "eternal" law I can see.

Everything else is a quite arbitrary agreement that social animals (not just humans) work out between themselves to balance self interest and survival of the specie. Nature keeps it in equilibrium just as nature balances predators and prey. That's natural law. We get to use fancy words that make us feel like everything began and ends with humankind, but we're just another wolf pack.

Some times we act like wolf packs, sometimes ant colonies, but there ain't mothing especially human about it, except for all the blabbering.

Sean Worsham said...

Wow great photos,

I will get better at drawing women for sure!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Ardy, Matty, Lester, Nate, IDRC: I completely disagree. We can all find logical flaws or incompleteness in Cicero's reasoning but that's not the point. The point is that Cicero's reasoning is compelling in spite of its flaws.

Cicero isn't stupid, he deliberately uses rhetoric to cover lapses in logic. In effect he says, "You want to believe this don't you? You feel it appeals to the best in you, isn't that so? My choice of words leads you to feel that I'm a person of wisdom and good character character, doesn't it? Then believe and allow these words to make you effective and humane in the world, because with all its flaws no better argument exists."

So far there is no scientific philosophy of ethics. There's really no logical reason why I shouldn't hit somebody over the head and take his money if I know I won't be caught. Neither the categorical imperitve nor the social contract could stop me. Only fear of Jupiter or Cicero's appeal to my innermost desire for nobility can stay my hand.

Cicero is profound in spite of his flaws. Some philosophers who are more logically consistent have less of practical value to offer. You can build a set of laws on Cicero, flaws and all. With Cicero's influence you can write a document that says "all men are created equal," something no logician would dare to say.

pappy d said...

Great post, Eddie, but I think there's more Beauty than Truth in it. IMO:

Law is a human artifact.

Nature has no laws, only Neccessity.

I have a theory that Reason started with someone saying: You wouldn't find it so funny if someone shoved a burning stick up YOUR butt.

If you accept this proposition as true, you find yourself on an escalator to higher reasoning. It's a simple thing to get on, but then you realise you have to ride it all the way to the top (unless you're C.S Lewis, of course).

I.D.R.C. said...

I don't disagree that people need Cicero, or something like him. I mean to convey that in the grand scheme of things, any system will do. You can, as a social group, choose to cut off heads or not to cut off heads. At various times and places we will choose either. Cicero and the Declaration of Independence have no special power to take us ever higher through rhetoric, although perhaps both can describe a desirable circumstance we would do well with.
That can all be shattered by a charismatic, self-interested person.

Lester Hunt said...

Hermione: Eddie, I wasn't agreeing with the other people you mention. I was saying that law is part right reason, but partly a product of human agreement. Since reason by itself is terribly sketchy, the human contribution is indispensable.

Matty M said...

Thanks for the comments Eddie. I've enjoyed reading your blog for months. But I am confused. When you said you "Completely Disagreed" with my C.S. Lewis comment... does that mean you think C.S. Lewis DOES look good in a Bikini?

Thanks again,
Matty M...
Boston, MA

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Matty: Oops! Sorry I put you in with the Cicero critics!

IDRC: Do you really think the system doesn't matter?

It's interesting that we frequently come to the same conclusions even though we arrive there taking different paths. You're a pessimist and I'm an optomist.

I used to think there was something wrong with pessimists then I read a book called "The Power of Negative Thinking." Now I think pessimists are great! According to the book they're the people who actually get things done!

Sean Worsham said...

>I used to think there was something >wrong with pessimists then I read a >book called "The Power of Negative >Thinking." Now I think pessimists >are great! According to the book >they're the people who actually get >things done!


DAMN STRAIGHT! Although because I got things done, I'm not as pessimistic as before.

I.D.R.C. said...

IDRC: Do you really think the system doesn't matter?

A short response eludes me.

It matters a lot to me because I'm a living, breathing member of the teeming human masses --not a conqueror, dictator, industrialist or banker, so I greatly prefer any system where the greatest percentage of ordinary people get to live without any great, stupid sacrifices.

But while that makes great sense to me, I can't ignore that at any time there is always someone with a profit motive to whom it makes no sense at all. Someone will and has always believed that everything, or as much of everything as they can machinate to get, belongs to them, and that the ends justify the means. There is no clear proof that they are wrong. It's just very inconvenient for the likes of me, who believes there is enough to go around, and that such people are assholes. The only proof would be that people absolutely will not stand for it. Often they do. Often they have no real choice. Sometimes they lack even the awareness.

Some who live by the sword will die by it, but that proves little. The best are never obvious and live long lives. The handful of intelligent humans who value self interest above all else are currently worth more money, and sway more world events than all the rest of us put together, many times over. This is not Illuminati kook-talk. It's easily established fact. It has got to mean something, and it's too big not to mean something more related to true natural law than the Golden Rule is. The Golden Rule is something to occupy us commoners, for whom a profit is rarely a big enough thing to cause us to calculate the dollar value of other human lives.

When it's all said and done man is just another animal. We behave like all the other animals ever have. Self-awareness adds a lot to the recipe, but it's the topping on 500 million years of evolutionary cake. We are just the first creature to combine big brains and manual dexterity, and that makes it all especially complicated and interesting, at least to ourselves. As far as we know, nothing else cares. Geolocically or cosmologically, what we choose to do means little and ties into no eternal principle any more than does what a horse chooses to do. As a species we can choose to benefit the most of us or the least --as long as we survive. At this point it's not clear that we have the capacity to choose.

Anonymous said...

Eddie I didn't read a word of that

Anonymous said...

Nice discussion about law and order, along with nature. By the way, on my blog, I had posted a first of three posts about the history of Popeye. I was wondering if you would like to read it, if it's at all possible? I hope you find some use out of it.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

IDRC: Fascinating! You're a pessimist alright! That's OK; it takes all kinds to make the world work!

Me, I usually feel comfortable when I'm dealing with people who just want to make money, as long as they do it honestly. Some of them are jerks but a surprising number are just hard-working Joes who want a nice house and a fast car, and who can blame them?

Adam Smith predicted that selfish businessmen would tend to cancel each other out. One guy makes a profit selling people fatty foods and another makes a profit selling healthy food. These guys compete for your dollar and the result is that every consumer gets somehing close to what he wants. I know things don't always happen this way but it happens enough that we can all think of examples of it. I think I'm lucky to live in this kind of society. But I would think that, wouldn't I? I'm probably a a genetic optimist.

I once heard a pessimist define an optimist as a person who is handicapped by the inability to see the negative consequences of an action. That's scary if it's true. On the other hand, maybe pessimists are handicapped in the other direction. Who's right? probably neither of us.

Anonymous said...

How did you think of my Popeye post, Eddy?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Bruce: Woooowww!!!! A great post about Segar and Popeye! There's a lot there that I didn't know before! Highly recommended!

I.D.R.C. said...

I don't think of myself as a pessimist. A glass is neither half empty nor half full. It's at 50% of its capacity.

I don't call myself a realist, either. Maybe non-sentimentalist would be a good term. I like it, anyway.

Me, I usually feel comfortable when I'm dealing with people who just want to make money, as long as they do it honestly. Some of them are jerks but a surprising number are just hard-working Joes who want a nice house and a fast car, and who can blame them?

I blame only amoralism, which is the only kind of self-interest I'm objecting to. I'm not in favor of it. It typically works out bad for the little people.

But I acknowlege that amoralism --an absence of the concept of goodness --was the normal order of business for the whole history of this planet until big brains came along and questioned themselves and each other.

And I contend that moralism is, in a sense, a trick played by weak people on strong people to keep from being dominated. That's not too different from some of the tricks that women play on men to get things. Or children on adults.

So yeah. Cicero or something, if it can keep things relatively calm.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

IDRC: Fascinating! Well, I still disagree. I don't think morality is a trick to enslave the strong. It benefits them too.

If Edison, Pasteur and Farraday were made to be farm laborers for some barbarian chief who just happened to be physically strong, everybody would suffer, even the strong guy. Strong guys get cars, medical care, television, political stability -- a bunch of things from the present system. They benefit from morality just like every body else.

Of course sociopathic types have no interest in morality, but that's another issue.

pappy d said...

I don't know if it qualifies as philosophy, but there are scientific theories of ethics. Guilt is a rank instinct, just like fear & love. The way we feel reflects our nature as a social species.

In the ancestral environment, we lived in small family groups where altruism had a genetic benefit to us. Like in small rural towns today, a person might screw himself socially if he displayed overt sociopathic behavior.

I wonder if the anomie & alienation in modern cities makes sociopaths better adapted to thrive than the rest of us social creatures. There are lots of folks who consider that any constraint on being able to hit you on the head & take your wallet constitutes an unwarranted government intrusion.

Ted Bundy is only one sociopath. There are also your Barry Dillers or Rupert Murdochs.

I.D.R.C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I.D.R.C. said...

I don't think morality is a trick to enslave the strong. It benefits them too.

It may benefit them, but the benefits don't always persuade them. They see benefits in other things.

"Don't enslave or exterminate me because I am potentially worth more to you as a free man and a brother than the value of the plunder you seek" has not done nearly as well historically as has, "aren't you ashamed of yourself for doing that?" Even that only works with enormous pressure.

Iraq is a country full of engineers and scientists, but we blew both it and many thousands of grateful liberatees into rubble. We did this in the search for one man, who was not even implicated in the event that started it, and who at this point it would have to be said did a better job of managing his country and his people than we have done as their liberators. We have killed more of
his people than we complained about him killing. We destroyed their infrastructure and replaced it with chaos. Now it is being "rebuilt" and those who own it can't even get jobs rebuilding it. In this process the entire United States treasury vanished into the hands of military contractors. We mortgaged the futures of all of our children. We overextended and depleted our military. There is a great natural resource located there and the management of it is a great enough thing to radically change what some would, as normal human beings like you and I, value and care about.

It is the most amoral sequence of events I have ever witnessed. In my opinion it was all engineered by a group of people who are aware of, yet are unpersuaded by, the benefits of morality. Someone with a misplaced emotional attachment to the issue may accuse me of being political, but that's not the case. I'm just relying on a handy and vivd example.

Gandhi said in effect to the British, "we cannot throw you off, we cannot beat you, therefore we will make you too ashamed to continue. Perhaps we cannot change the minds of our amoral oppressors, but we will gain the sympathies of those close
to you, and they will help us. We will bear any cost until we embarrass you in front of the world." M. L. King did a simliar thing here.

If we are talking about oppressors, we are talking about enemies. If we are talking about enemies, we are talking about war. In such cases, morality seems like potent psychological warfare. Shame got us out of Viet Nam. Shame will get us out of Iraq. Shame helped the labor movement, the suffragettes, the abolitionists. As far as I know it may have been practically the only effective tool for shifting the balance of power.

Of course sociopathic types have no interest in morality, but that's another issue.

If the issue is setting a proper course for humanity, then I think it's the same issue. Amoralism is sociopathy as practiced by those who are above reprisals. Are they nut-fuck crazy like Ted Bundy? I don't know. When these types really take over, it really doesn't matter for maybe a thousand years, sometimes.

It seems to me that all we really differ on is whether good is a human construct or an eternal principle we can pluck from the ether for guidance. You know what I think. And I believe that unless we evolve in a new way there will always be some who value gold and position above all. The evidence shows that some will go to extraordinary lengths to gain an extreme advantage if only circumstances can be arranged to permit. Unless we learn as a species to deal with them before they harm us, we will not have decided what we really want to be. The U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence may have been the first earnest modern effort to do that, but as any careful observer can see, now as always, some with great influence disagree --at least as it relates to any restrictions upon themselves, and prefer in some instances to do without them, even as they wrote them.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

IDRC: Holy Cow! As I said before, you really are a pessimist. I know you prefer to call yourself a non-sentimentalist but trust me, you're a pessimist.

Maybe the people who know us should be the ones to confer tempramental labels on us because so few of us can be objective about ourselves.

If you would admit to being a pessimist then you'd realize that you need some way to balance it out. The book I mentioned, "The Power of Negative Thinking" did that for me. I'm still an optimist but thanks to the book I realize that I have blinders on and had better talk to my opposites about important things.

I don't know of any book that explains optimism to pessimists. There's a million cheery motivational books but I have a feeling no self respecting pessimist would be caught dead reading that stuff.

Both opimism and pessimism are handicaps. They both distort reality. The guy in the middle is the one who's most likely to see things as they really are.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Pappy: Guilt probably is instinctive but there's not much you can do with that information.

If you were in love and heartsick I don't think you'd be comforted by me telling you that your
problem was a simple matter of biology.

I'm a 100% in favor of science but In 2007 philosophy is still more useful for dealing with a lot of life's problems.

I.D.R.C. said...

Maybe the people who know us should be the ones to confer tempramental labels on us because so few of us can be objective about ourselves.

I debated aboout that last post...

If you would admit to being a pessimist then you'd realize that you need some way to balance it out.

Eddie, I like dog's noses too, and I like you.

I am aware that people and humanity are capable of greatness. I am also happy at this moment to have the attention of one of the greats.

I just don't think the species has ascended quite yet, but I am grateful that you are doing your part. I'll keep trying to do mine.

pappy d said...

Eddie:

You're quite right!

I wouldn't say that we can or should aspire to be a creature of pure reason like Jupiter. Even if I thought it was a reasonable idea, my instinct tells me it would be impious.

It seems to me that the more I understand about any subject the more it adds to my appreciation of it, especially us people.

If science means knowledge & philosophy is the love of wisdom, they couldn't be mutually exclusive.