Saturday, January 29, 2011

On the Duties of Man - To God

I am working through Samuel Pufendorf's On the Duty of Man and Citizen (1682), and now reach beyond the introductory material and into the actual duties of Man.  I am doing my best to understand as I go and will try to keep personal commentary to a separate piece as the logic and reasoning behind this work are of paramount importance to western civilization based on the Treaty of Westphalia and the reconciling of having a secular State as a separate but dependent domain from the Faith of Christianity as practiced in that time.  This is critical as Pufendorf creates much of the logic and lexicon that will be utilized all the way to the present day, and to understand where we have gotten to we must understand the roots that allowed us to draw sustenance for the creation of the modern world.

The section is: On man's duty to God, or on natural religion.

The basis of man's duty to God is seen to come from:

1) To have right notions of God.

2) To conform our actions to His will.

Natural religion, that is religion derived from the basis of Man's duty to God which creates the areas of theoretical propositions and practical propositions.

I must note that this formulation of knowing a system correctly, in this case man's duty to God, creates the necessity of having a theoretical understanding of the system (which is to say its underpinnings, axioms and other known systemic outlays like given interactions) and then extending those concepts into practical applications by utilizing that knowledge and working out what such a practical application will look like. This also leads to a saying attributed variously from computer scientist Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut all the way to Yogi Berra:

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.

This is a critical understanding of systems and how this is dealt with at the beginning of the modern Nation State is critical, and the basis starts out with God but, as seen later, not limited just to God for from the prime mover comes many effects to be dealt with.  Yet it is vital that the concept of theory put into practice for the formulation of natural religion guided by Scripture and the necessity of salvation that is so well explicitly stated in this work.

To understand what Pufendorf is looking at it is necessary to examine the axioms, or basis, of the foundations of Moral Law and the duties of man to God.  Thus I will try to paraphrase and condense so as to outline the structure of what is seen to be, what is our duties to what is seen and why that matters.  Do remember the year this was created and that this book is, itself, a condensation of a multi-volume work examining what the three realms of Law are.

From Paragraph 2 we get the axioms or givens:

1) Everyone must hold that God exists.

2) There is a supreme and first being upon which the universe depends.

3) The first two are true due to there being beginnings and ends to events and this is reflected by the very nature of the universe.

4) Claiming not to understand 1-3 is no excuse for atheism.

5) Anyone claiming the non-existence of God must not only come through with better arguments and reasoning against God's existence, but better and more convincing set of reasons for our existence.

6) The salvation of the human race depends upon worship of God.

7) Impiety stemming from those who do not agree with support of the worship of God must be punished.

These are the first, vital statements of where and how man's duty to God come about.  It is a concern that puts forth the universality of God (indeed God is beyond the universe as the universe is a creation of God as seen in 8, following) and that understanding that creations of any sort have a beginning and an end creates the pre-conditional support for God existing.  Absent better arguments against such a God coupled with a better set of reasoning and rationale for how we are in our present circumstance within such a pre-defined universe (that is it has beginning and end), the worship and support of worship of God is necessary for the salvation of mankind.

Do note that this is not just the formulation of man's duty to God but is the basis for the natural sciences.  In the natural sciences for a hypothesis to shift previously understood theory (that is a theory is more widely accepted than a fresh hypothesis) the hypothesis must do more then explain things the old theory cannot explain but must, as a pre-condition, better explain what the actual ordering of events or phenomena are and offer predictive ability so as to validate its claims.  Thus Newtonian physics was used even when it was falling apart when speeds greater than 0.5 c were reached as it offered a experimental and theoretical framework within which one got valid results.  Relativity replaced Newtonian physics by explaining all that happened within Newtonian physics and then offering a testable and verifiable framework for future experiments that then validated the hypothesis.  This same framework of not only better explain, but offer a framework for validation is laid at the feet of those wishing to replace God with something else, and it is a very, very high hurdle to pass just as it has been in the natural sciences.

It is next put down that:

8) God created the universe.  The universe, having been created, will end while God is eternal, thus nature is derived from the order of God.

9) God exercises control over the universe and human affairs which is demonstrated by the order of the universe, itself.  Having a start the universe will have an end, its order is that which is created by God.

10) God is perfect in all things and no limited set of feelings or attitudes can be attributed to God for they imply a temporal limitation upon that which is eternal.  When Scriptures speak in the way of God wanting something, it is our limited and nature oriented views that are imposed upon the message: our minds cannot conceive of the actual message and, thusly, must put it into terms that we understand.  The God of the infinite in all things is not limited, in any way, by how we must address what happens in the limited universe as we cannot come to grips with the infinite as finite individuals.  God exists in no given place, at no given time, nor at any reference point as all such are under the domain of God.

11)  There is only one God, for many Gods would only exhibit finite powers while God is unlimited in all respects.


Those are the givens of our universe and our place in it that we must contend with.  From these the duty of man to God is both internal and external, and honor unto God must be in both.  In our honor we must revere that which is most majestic who has created this universe and acknowledge that we act within that order to that supreme will which has brought it about.  Above all God is the greatest good within our universe, and is thusly deserving of honor and appreciation from us for that great goodness.

From this our duties follow:

- To give thanks to God for the benefits we receive from Him.

- To express His will and obey Him in all things.

- To admire and celebrate His greatness.

- To offer up prayers for goodness and to ward off evil, and to seek His signs of hope and acknowledge those as an expression of the goodness and greatness of His power.

- To swear by God's name and to keep one's oath scrupulously as that is demanded by God's omniscience and power.

- To speak respectfully of God as that is a sign of fear which is a confession of His power.  Thus we do not use God's name in vain or speak rashly about God as that is to show a lack of respect.  One is not to swear when there is no need to do so.  One is to not speak curiously and insolently about the nature of God's government as this is an attempt to limit the unlimited.

- To offer only what is excellent to God as this is to show Him honor.

- To worship God privately and openly, for it would be in shame to not show open worship and obedience to Him.

- To make every effort to observe the laws of nature as they are the creation of God and not to do so is an insult to God and His creation. 

These are the duties of Moral Law that must temper Natural Religion so as to put the basis of fear of consequences in the next life for actions taken in this one.  This is the basis for religion amongst men.

Without religion and fear of God man reverts to his natural state of being and would act in a less civil manner towards other men.  Religion is thusly seen as a civilizing method for man to treat his fellow man better through Scriptural teachings.  Man without the self-restraint necessary to worship will see himself fit to rule other men to his own pleasing and that, in turn, will displease other men who will seek to overthrow their current rulers.  Conspiracy would flourish as it would be seen as profitable for those engaged in it.  This erodes good will and trust amongst individuals as they come to fear each other as they no longer fear God.  Rulers would rule without conscience, see conspiracy about them at every turn and never fear that their actions would be punished in the next life for such ill treatment of their fellow man in this one.  Citizens would come to fear the oppressive nature of government unbridled by any inhibitions of those running it.

From this view atheism is not seen as merely misguided but the pathway to losing one's conscience and moral underpinnings as they no longer fear God.  It is the lawless nature that atheism puts forward that then creates the decline of justice and orderliness of the civil law as laws are put in place by rulers to safeguard themselves against their fellow man and impose tyrannical rule over man.


Thus ends the overview of man's duty to God.

To properly appreciate the arguments that Samuel Pufendorf puts forward it is necessary to understand the context and overview the the system his is enlightening.  Agree or disagree with the overall system view, as you will, but this served as the first generation of thought upon which all later Western Civilization would form.

Thus I present it dispassionately so as to outline the system, its underpinnings and outlook.

What is presented is foundational and a major shift from how the order of society worked leading up to the 30 Years War as it puts the onus upon keeping civil society not with the rulers nor even with the Church, but upon you as the individual and your relationship to the Divine.  As our civil law is based upon the moral precepts of man as he understands religion when applied to himself, then he will govern himself (singularly and in plural) differently than when it is a top-down affair.  Here, at the review of this new order promulgated from the Great Peace of Westphalia we are given the greatest understanding of our role in the world: we self-govern to create a just moral order.

You are the point of God's creation.

And it is upon You that the very foundations of society, civil law and our understanding of each other as natural beings resides.  Heaven will not help you if you seek to have government do what is necessary to be civilized for you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

That other mind

When looking at the symbology of the Tucson memorial service, finding the handing out of t-shirts with this,

Together We Thrive_442818
one can be a bit disconcerted, to say the least, as 'Together We Thrive' does not fit with a memorial service.  As Michelle Malkin points out the service was being branded, like a stage play or entertainment venue.  If this is an attempt to appeal to people based on an emotional level then it is one that does not link up the honor of the dead with the message.  In fact there is no way to link the two up as the venue is one that is distinctly not about thriving.
If this were an ad campaign, then the appeal would be towards one of the fundamental drives of people.  Which drive would it be?
Some ad campaigns utilize sex at some level, usually subliminal, but this event and that message don't help towards that end.
Nor is it a message that jibes with aggression as the actions taken to cause the event were aggressive and the message definitely is not that.  Part of the jarring symbology of the message is the welcoming passivity of it in the face of heinous murder.
Self-preservation doesn't seem to be a part of this message, either, as 'Together We Thrive' isn't particularly something that is concordant with self-preservation: you can't use 'thrive' it just happens to you.
It isn't a message that radiates security, as the venue and events that made it happen are the exact opposite of ones of security.  Putting such a message out at this event would be the equivalent of saying: 'We thrive through violent murder'.  That just doesn't work and is part of the problem with the messaging.
So what is left?
Going by the Freudian methodology used in advertising there is one part of Freud that gets left out by most modern analysts as its not something that is pleasant.  It is one force that was used for propaganda by the National Socialists in Germany, by the Japanese Empire and, to a lesser extent, by the Fascists in Italy.  The 'aggressive instinct' goes a bit beyond aggression in Freudian realms and is properly termed the destrudo: the destructive impulse that arises from Thanatos or death impulse.  If we are guided by our animal instincts then it makes a form of sense that we come together in groups so as to be more powerful in using the death impulse towards other groups.
Thus the symbology comes to be a couple of inter-related things:
  1. A celebration of death.  We thrive through death and it is through death that we get meaning.  Unfortunately this is through the death of others, and the message's surficial soothing point and 'warm fuzzy' feeling is a bringing together of a group not to honor the dead but to thrive through the death of others.  This is an 'in-group' formation message which would allow it to be led to direct hostilities outwardly so as to continue the death impulse.  Because we do thrive from death, right?
  2. We become stronger and more alive through the deaths of others.  This is, perhaps, worse than (1) as it posits the fostering of a message that to thrive we must have death, or in this case murder.

I could get into some nits to pick on President Obama's speech but I will not do that and only offer one comment on part of the demeanor he had at points in the speech.  The points of greatest animation and involvement in the speech he gave were during the points he talked about government service.  For the staffer helping constituents with Medicaid (do remember the health care fight that went on before this) or for the young girl's getting elected to a position in the student council, it was at those times that he came alive and his eyes sparkled: he was full of energy.  That made the messaging far worse, to me at least, than just the message and t-shirt as it was sending the message not that government service was important, but that it brought you alive and made you animated in your approach to life.

This was not a JFK 'ask not what you country can do for you' moment, but during a memorial to honor the dead.  I can understand that the lack of intimate knowledge of those killed would lead to some dispassion, that is perfectly natural.  To be animated while talking of government service during a memorial?  Something was seriously wrong with that passion at those times, it was jarring to me and mentally disturbing and wholly out of place.  Honoring a murdered judge for his work is one thing, becoming animated about the work another as it is the man who had the position that is being honored, not the position that had the man.  The same with the staffer and the girl, something was just not right during those parts of the speech.

Taken as a whole the entire memorial becomes something very unlike a memorial and was turned into some sort of a strange and morbid rally.  With the message going out about thriving at an event to honor the dead and becoming passionate about government service, the overall concept with Freudian overtones is one to create a new death-based in-group that will become energized via killing in service to the government.  That is not what the speech was saying, in and of itself, but the emotional tone and subliminal messaging were giving that out loud and clear.  Thus the juxtaposition between the rhetorical content of the President's speech and the entire event is jarring not on the intellectual level but the emotional level and runs contrary to the rhetoric of the speech itself.

The rhetoric of the speech was decent beyond some nits here and there, the audience reaction was indecent (standing ovations? cheering? at a memorial service?) and the entire crossing of message with undertones horrific in implication.  This would have been, perhaps, President Obama's best speech... if it weren't for what was going on in the immediate foreground with the audience and the background with the branding of the event.  I have tried to come to a more definite analysis of what I witnessed which was unlike anything else I have ever seen on any other event of this type.  Something is just very wrong with what happened in Tucson, AZ yesterday and this is the best I can do to put my finger on it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A simple agreement

From Glenn Beck's website:

Denouncing violence from all sides including your own does not make your movement any less just.  To quote Martin Luther King:

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

I challenge all Americans, left or right, regardless if you’re a politician, pundit, painter, priest, parishioner, poet or porn star to agree with all of the following.

  • I denounce violence, regardless of ideological motivation.
  • I denounce anyone, from the Left, the Right or middle, who believes physical violence is the answer to whatever they feel is wrong with our country.
  • I denounce those who wish to tear down our system and rebuild it in their own image, whatever that image may be.
  • I denounce those from the Left, the Right or middle, who call for riots and violence as an opportunity to bring down and reconstruct our system.
  • I denounce violent threats and calls for the destruction of our system – regardless of their underlying ideology – whether they come from the Hutaree Militia or Frances Fox Piven.
  • I hold those responsible for the violence, responsible for the violence.  I denounce those who attempt to blame political opponents for the acts of madmen.
  • I denounce those from the Left, the Right or middle that sees violence as a viable alternative to our long established system of change made within the constraints of our constitutional Republic.

I will stand with anyone willing to sign that pledge.  Today I make a personal choice.  I urge leaders of both sides and all walks of life to join me as all Americans joined hands on 9.12.2001.

Do note that this goes along with my agreement to The Manifesto Against Islamic Totalitarianism, with the provisos I outlined for that.

In this case the following I see as being recognized as being fully in accord with political non-violence:

  • The right to defend myself via my civil rights against those who seek to do me injury or go after my loved ones or property. 
  • To hold myself accountable in all such instances as is necessary for the continuation of a civil society by the rule of law when I must exercise the right to self-defense.
  • The right to have and utilize my physical property without any interference so long as I present no danger to any one and the right to tell others to get off my damned lawn and keep their grubby fingers from my stuff.
  • Likewise I respect the rights of others to their property and will respect their right to it and abide by their wishes for it as this is necessary to have a civil society.
  • In all cases I abide by the Law of Nations which is universal and will resort to the positive liberty of war to defend myself, my loved ones and property from the violence and depredation of those seeking to bring savage war to me.
  • I reject the savagery of personal warfare without sovereign sanction, denounce it in all cases and shall never exercise that so long as we maintain our civil society.
  • As a citizen from a Nation that comes from the Great Peace of Westphalia via the colonizing power that started it, and in recognition of the great good of religious freedom, I extend the coverage of non-violence to religion as I have done previously for speech, as violence is never a prerequisite to religious belief or adherence.
  • Anyone impugning violence as derived from speech must show a clear and demonstrable linkage between the actions and the speech involved and cannot assert that any atmosphere, iconography or 'feeling of hatred' is a cause to violence.  Crosshairs on districts is not a call to violence, nor is looking for a smaller and more accountable government. There is a distinction between evidence and hyperbole, and I do not misunderstand the latter for the former.
  • Do note that violence propagated for political means is seen as savagery under the Law of Nations, and my unalienable rights do apply.

Not a single item on that list is a threat.

They are a solemn promise to you from me.

Just because they come from someone you don't like doesn't invalidate the promise behind them.  I am willing to take such a promise as it is an inherent exercise of my positive liberties to do so without regard to the source asking for such be it Glenn Beck, Cthulhu, Christ, Odin or that poor fellow down the street predicting the coming advent of the influx.  This is the responsibility of citizens to have a civil society, and I accept this burden gladly.

Can you do the same?