Topic: 51. THE REAL QUESTION: IS GOD GOOD?

God not only is not dead, he exists--as a fact!  This I proclaim either in answer to, or as an explanation of, Nietzsche.   But frankly we are not interested now one way or another in God as fact.  Of course, assuming that God is one fact among others, he may exist.  By saying "fact," however, and not value, we have qualified our answer in extreme.  To show that God is a fact, and thus exists, we need only to follow the path of science, which is a trail of facts, as one fact leads to another. This would be an easy mental process; and we do not need to trouble ourselves about the arguments of atheists.   God would be in these terms some final fact.   We need only leave the issue in the competent of scientists, who will lead the way. [Through DNA???!!!]   God, his existence or non-existence, has been an issue ignored in this blog.  The irony, finally, is that priests and religious people do not care about the existence or non-existence of God, any more than we do, so that arguing with theologians and such on this issue would be a waste of time.  Religion cares not about God but about value.  Value is what would causes me, in the grip of priests and holy men and my colleagues at the university, not to be such a sexist and racist.   Had I simple values, I would be a different person.  I would become through this, notwithstanding any beliefs I had about the facticity of God, a moral person.  That is the real issue.  What priests and my colleagues are concerned with--in the extreme--is whether God is good.  They are most concerned that value exists in fact, even where it does not eminate from fact.  The answer we do not know, but it would interest us greatly to know this.  Or, more essentially, the whole question of God aside, we want to know if there is anything such as The Good--value in itself--that corresponds to the Platonic Form of the Good.  Bringing the issue back here to earth, if it is asserted that it is good for me (say) to love my fellow human, and love him even more if his skin is darker than mine, where is the source of this good?  Or is this value simply a tale made up like (the spirit of Good) Santa Claus?   Does good somehow eminate from God?  To even raise the question of the existence of God is a diversion.  It is a very common diversion and one people are willing to live with.  We still have to prove that, among the facts that there are of the universe God is one of them, which is still not certain.  The issue as I have outlined it, which is the descrepancy between fact and value, was, I suggest, the occasion of Kant's "awakening."  We try thusly to explain Kant's obsession with Hume.  I once, beginning with Philosophy 101 at Colgate or Ohio State, had a false idea that what Kant saw in Hume was a question of so-called reality--here, "fact--when the real issue was the source of value.  We may expand the problem to ask simply, in lieu of the question of the existence of God, about the very existence of something called value.  Hume proclaimed simply that a value cannot be derived from a fact:  this was the statement--which I aver could have brought down Western civilization, which is founded upon values not on fact--that riveted the attention of Kant and one that he tried through all his writings to answer.  He never did give a successful answer.    Again, as I said earlier, if this question were entirely in the domain of philosophy, it would have been decisively answered long ago.  As Nietzsche said, all these philosophical questions, when channeled through state institutions such as universities and churches, get confused with political questions of the day.  The State, as Nietzsche said, promotes first and foremost its own security and stability; and the State is founded not upon fact but on value--the idea of The Goods--as proclaimed in the sacred political documents of all time.   I point to the word "truth" in our own American Declaration of Independence. We have here already some hint of an answer to the question of the existence or non-existence of value.  That is, everyday use-value has become, in the complex evolution of civilization, a moral value that is detached--like God is said to be from simple factual reality--from any sort of Hume-ian fact.

Originally, use and value were the same thing.  An object (stone, branch, grass and so forth) was valuable because it was useful and vice versa.  I want to be entirely clear in what I'm talking about.    In the earliest period of human culture the use that the artifact--stick or stone--had was the value of that object.  A stone lying about, merely, had no value; used as a tool or made into a tool, it acquired value.  Use in this case means value; and value means use.  These early humans may not have had the symbolic or mental capacity to calculate and express worth; but they showed respect for their tools in the way they behaved towards them.  This unity of idea of value and use persisted through several millions of years of human biological and cultural evolution.  Then finally, at a certain time, humans began to talk about value and use as ideas that are separate from one another.   To precisely identify this time may be impossible.  For us and for Force Theory it is critical that we identify the circumstances that led to this separation.  In our own age it is common to speak of value as something separate from use; and use as something separate from value. This divergence of meaning between two concepts--that were once one concept--marks a turning point of human culture.  Thus when Kant speaks, finally, of his Categorical Imperative, he means something that is not use alone.  Kant's so-called "Duty" (Pflicht) is not only different than use, use and duty are in different spheres of being.  For us today the idea of value is expressed in the words "should" and "right".  I can give many examples.  In Marx's "labor theory of value" (this idea is attributed solely to Marx apart from his collegue Engels) is the notion that the value that a thing has is due to the labor invested in it.  We are not going to judge the true economic validity of this idea; only to say that such labor value has nothing to do with the use a thing is put to.  I labor daily over my paintings; and I am first to admit these paintings are worthless.  But that is not the point of what we are talking about.  What we allude to here is the fact that value and use no longer have anything to do with one another.  They are separate considerations.  In both Engels and Marx the word "fair" appears.  Decried is the fact that one person is rich, having done no work or labor, and another person is poor having worked throughout his life.  This unfairness constitues the moral premise of Das Kapital and other communist writings.  In fact, products on the market in a free enterprise society are designed for and consumed by the proletariate; and it is unfair, we may say, that there is nothing for the rich man to buy.  All these factors can be raised as issues regarding fairness and unfairness.  The word "fair" is a value judgement, not a delineation of fact.  Our own poinst of view, and Force Theory, derives from E.Duehring and Max Stirner.  We move on to the final consideration in this essay.  That is, if use and value were always the same thing, where and why did the separation come between them:  where and why do we need different words?  We have different words because these things are different ideas. 

The early human craftsman occupied himself in creating an object that was useful.  There is nothing further to say about him than that.  But this same created object could also be prized by him as a possession.  The reason that it was prized was primarily that it was useful.  Of course, his was a human activity.  I mention this because it has to be made clear that for an animal, there is no useful thing and therefore there is no thing of value.  An animal runs or eats, as the case may be, without engaging itself in its environment.  An animal has no sense of use of anything; and moreover, inasmuch as the human establishes the facticity of his world by his use of things in this world, the animal has no sense of true fact.   I want to be clear on this point.  The very knowledge that a human has of his world is formed by the delineation of objects used as, or useless as, tools and artifacts.  Use and value exist only for a human being, and, at that, primarily they inhere in the human's capacity as a user and maker of tools.  In this way the human engages himself in and with his world. Right away we have attributed two things--value and use--solely and uniquely to the human species.  If the human being did not use a thing, he also would not value that thing.  Again we must clearly define the word "use."  As Hegel said, a human life is both mediated and mediating.  I took up the issue of mediation in my book The Mediator:  A Study in Philosophical Anthropology.  (This book is still available from Amazon and elsewhere; I have a number of copies I would love to get rid of.)   I also wrote a book, offset copies of which are available occasionally:  The Pure Theory of Mediation .  We have focused our attention so far on the individual craftsman working long ago, in the Paleolithic Period, to produce this or that spear or arrow.  This would be a very narrow world, of personal concetration, that he lived in.  He was lost in the personal dreamworld that also distinguishes artists and writers.  His dream, in other words, did not primarily involve other people in relationships of collaboration.  Here we must be careful.  At some point in the history of culture his efforts were collaborative.  The craftsman worked with other persons.  New layers of mediation were added to his work:  tools were used to make tools, for instance.  But there was more.  Humans themselves had to be factored into his world as agents or, in effect, themselves tools.  I want to reflect back on Kant's "imperative" that human beings not be considered as tools.  But they were bound to be considered as tools.  Humans at this juncture were just a hair's breadth away from the idea of slavery.   Here I have to ponder a bit.   At this moment in the development of my argument I am inclined to say that the separation of value from use, and the separation also of value from fact, came about in these collaborative efforts, where humans did begin to use one another as tools among other tools; and moreover tools that were, like artifacts, subject to alteration according to the purposes of their "makers."  We might suggest that the break between use-value and value per se came at the time that one human being was forced to make a decision:  that is, whether another man would be more valuable as a coerced servant or as a free or voluntary collaborator.  A man having been used as an impersonal tool may have been afforded, at some point, with a sense of his independent "dignity."  I am offering this idea as a suggestion; I will continue this speculation shortly.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-11-22 15:02:52)

Re: 51. THE REAL QUESTION: IS GOD GOOD?

Natural Law and Positive Law are based in fact.  We know what Natural Law is if we understand, say, gravitation.  But Positive Law (posited or man-made law) is equally a fact.  That certain rules of human behavior are written or codified is a fact; and these rules are en-forced likewise a fact, all too directly evident were one to break the rules. Enforcement is a fact that is quite physical and, for some people, quite palpable.  Humans , by threat of punishment from other humans, by guns or merely sticks used as weapons, are forced to obey these laws.   They are the rules of man; they are artificially made by men but, on the other hand, enforced as they are they are palpably factual.  They are empirically real, and for some persons all too real.    A law that a man must do such and such is as much a fact as that this rock, when dropped, must fall.  But there is more.  We still confront the issue of "should" and what we can call Moral Law.  Every human whomsoever understands, even if only in his own way, the idea of right-ness, virtue, morality, value and so forth.  Every human insofar as he uses the word "should" has, or "should have," some understanding of the word.  "Should" may be, without counting, the most commonly used word in English.  It is also a word that cannot be traced to or connect to any fact.  Should--which word evokes the idea of an entire moral order--if it is a concept at all, it is one without any facticity whatsoever.  In other words, if we say a person "should" do something or other, there is no reference at all to any fact that he has done this, or will do it, or has done it, or that the thing that is to be done is in any way a fact.  The closest the word "should" comes to any factual consideration is in the idea that a person has, that a thing predictably will behave in such and such a way, because it has always behaved thusly.  This is how Hume talks of our idea of causality.  On the other hand, such a psychological meaning of "should" is not what we mean here.  There is with should--and the entire idea of value--an entirely different issue than our expectation of physical events.  Having advanced my argument this far, I want to say only that the terms in which I speak are highly simplifed and simplistic.  The kinds of expressions and words ("normative" would be one of these) that are used by academics in their turgid articles will not be used here, giving our own writing a rather naive and unprofessional character.  I have yet to find an internet article where the phrases "it is just" and "it is moral and moral" are not used without defining the words justice and moral.  Socrates would complain; so do we.  These words are used as though what they refer to is as real and ordinary as this table I write on or this chair I sit in.  They are not however this kind of fact.   We make an assumption here that polemics--and are frankly polemical--get bogged down in difficult terms.  There is nothing, however, overly complicated by the terms Natural- and Positive Law.   A large part of the difficulty in understanding human beings at all, as they talk to one another, is in interpreting the common word "should."  One "should" take out garbage in the morning.  Or, to leap to a whole different level of interaction, but one where admonishon is the main way of speaking, is that one "should" love all human beings simply by virtue of the fact that they are human.  The very word "human being," it turns out, is a moral word.  (We have considered another word--race--and it appears now that race is not a moral word on account of its being simply banned from consideration as moral; thus race must be a fact. (!))  There are words which have no factual basis but only what we are calling a "moral reality"; and yet these same words are entirely common and are used passionately as though they mean something.  Such a moral or value word is "human being."  These are words for phenomena that appear not through what a thing or being is, so much as through how a thing or being is used by human beings.  A human being becomes a human being only by being treated or understood as such.   There is no such thing, finally, as a "real" human being if by "real" we mean factual.  A human being is only the object of behavior, never the source of behavior.  There are beings whose reality is not factual but consists, rather, simply in being moral as opposed to immoral; the moral reality of a being consists of it being "of value" or of the moral order.    Jesus would be such a being.  Moreover,  indeed every human being has a moral being that is not factual but derives of this aforesaid moral order.  Plato would say this being "participates" in the moral order or The Good. 

I said earlier that humans--not only people who are given some high sacred commission but ordinary humans in everyday conversations--talk in such a way that they waffle between the factual orders and moral ones.  They say this or that "should" be or this or that "should" happen.  This is the most common level of communication that there is--in references to moral ideas rather than factual ones.   Thus we may say that a law (Positive Law of human making) is a fact; and the enforcement of that law is a fact.  But we still have not said the law is "good."  That would mean, even though we have established the law as fact, it is a fact solely of human artifice. Law would be an act, or rather an en-actment, of another human being just like ourselves and one who could be our enemy just as well as our friend.  We do not know this en-actor, or how he came to have the right to control you or me through laws and the enforcement of laws.  We are however not interested in the unfairness of the situation; that would be simply to substitute our own values for those of another person.  What we are concerned with, rather, as Socrates would be concerned, is with value- or morality-in-itself.  Socrates, having provided the first and perhaps the most compelling critique of the idea of value, then leaps to the conclusion that value must be something "in itself."  That there is an "existing" but transcendent Good that makes certain human acts good and others not good.  We think that Socrates' critique can stand; but his solution to the problem of the non-factual-ness of value has to be dismissed.   Humans made the law; humans may unmake the law.  We may see some practical need for the law--indeed this is how and why laws are made, that they are practically necessary.  But if this is our sole mode of reasoning about the law, the law while practical, still has no majesty.  I have used the word majesty before.  Majesty means in the present context something "more" than the immediate practical efficacy of a thing or action; but which evokes respect, and where it does not evoke respect it "should" evoke this.    And it applies to situations where no immediate practical reason exists.  In other words, there is no immediate practical use I can see of allowing criminals and offenders of varous sorts into my neighborhood; but I am also told by this or that priest or man of God that it is moral to let them in.  We simply do not agree.  We have no common ground.  It is enough to say that the idea of "should" has no connection, empirical or logical, to the idea of "is."  And value has no connection, empirical or causal or logical, to fact.  The lack of connection between value and fact is the cause of uncertainty and insecurity especially in human relationships.  That is because "value" is subjective.  That is, value is just some person talking (to use an apt vernacular expression); it is just this white person or this black person stating a point of view.  Value is you are me, he-said or she-said, with no common point of reference.  What the idea of morality or value does, we are saying, finally, is to set some common point of reference so that we can talk together on the assumption that there is a common ground.  This idea corresponds to Voltaire's idea that, if God does not exist it would be necessary to invent him."  We are inventing morals, but morals which have some "objective" validity--that is they are something that apply to you and me both.  Here objectivity means something different than it does in common observation.  If we both see this table or chair, these things have "objective" validity.  It does not mean that they are necessarily there, but simply that they are an "object" of the senses of more than one person.  This is what objectivity means--commonality.  Therefore a value is objective if--so it is believed and posited (meaning to be unilaterally asserted or created)--when it is shared by humans.  We may finally grasp the idea that, as a general moral idea, the state, society and civilization that we share is based on a moral idea, not on physical or legal necessity of any kind.

Re: 51. THE REAL QUESTION: IS GOD GOOD?

commonality
posited as real for two persons.
agreed upon by two persons
agreed upon as in "agreement"
to break an agreement is "immoral"
to keep an agreement is "moral," or "of value."
do we agree upon reality as we agree upon some mutual business?
how close is the idea of value to the idea of business?
to break an agreement means to violate a trust.
instability in relationships.
we still have not proved--there is no proof--that a value is in and of itself real.