Wednesday, August 29, 2018


My recent reading of Hayek's "The Fatal Conceit" has spurred some reflection concerning the place of property, both ontologically (degree of being), and in any system of ethics.   Hayek believed that any up to date system of ethics, and any legitimate role played by government, should be based upon the protection and facilitation of the ownership, and transfer of ownership of "several property."  Socialism, as he defined it, resulted from the atavistic urge to share, and to make decisions regarding property that enabled smaller hunter-gatherer groups to survive, but were now inappropriate, and in his view, destructive.
Without endorsing this view, which falls well outside my model, I believe he was on to something when he recognized the fundamental role property plays in all interactions.  Survival requires the appropriation, preferably temporary, of things that didn't previously belong to us.   Plants appropriate water molecules, photons and the nutrients in soil to survive.  Similarly, animals appropriate oxygen and food, whether in the form of plant or animal life.   They appropriate territory, beds, nests, houses to serve as shelter.   It is no accident that our pets, ants what have you, are territorial, often fiercely so.    The right to property, to some extent, is the right to survival.  When enlightenment figures enshrined the pursuit of property, they were recognizing this fundamental truth. 
    Since the concept of property is restricted to living things, we can say that it occupies a tier, probably secondary, in our ontological hierarchy.
    The roles of the "and" and "or" in the pursuit of property will be discussed shortly,.     

Musings based on first post re Truth

Thus, is truth knowledge? Would knowledge exist without a knower? A realist, or possibly an atomist would say that knowledge consists of facts; i.e. those facts that underlie our objective world "out there".
But as for facts, even in the objective world, what constitutes a fact seems pretty arbitrary. We may, for example, say there is ice in my glass. There are cubes of ice in my glass. There is water in my glass that is below 32 degrees. There is H2O in my glass. Which might be divided into: there is H in my glass, there is O in my glass, there is a compound consisting of two molecules of hydrogen bonded to one of oxygen in my glass etc. These all may be objectively true, but I am selecting them; I am deciding which of these, or combination of these true statements (i.e. whether to say there is H, or to say there is O, or to say there are both) to call a fact. Bertrand Russell said that facts were the ultimate simples. But there is no ultimate simple. The statement that there is a substance that is two parts hydrogen bonded to one part oxygen, is no less simple than the statements that there is hyrdrogen and there is oxygen, all of which are true. They have fundamentally different meanings. It is what we decide to focus upon. Thus, even objectively true facts have an subjective element. They need a factornator. And what is that factornator, you may ask. Well, that factornator is the two pronged force I have written about extensively in my blog, called the "and" and the "or" which group together and separate true statements.
In sum, knowledge and the facts of which it is composed seems to be, in part, a human creation, or to consist of a hybrid combination of objective realities and human groupings/selections. It doesn't exist apart from the human factornator, and the "and" and the "or" work through the factornator to create knowledge. This was largely the case for G.E. Moore, who recognized that facts, which he saw as factual propositions, were not objects in the same way that objects out there, or even mental objects were.
And if this is all that knowledge is, if this is all that truth is, it seems quite arbitrary. A largely human creation. Certainly not something to devote one's life to, to go to war over. But go to war we do.
We have said that the "and" and the "or" works in human perception/cognition much the same way it works in the objective world, and that thus perception serves largely as a window to the world, an open window at that, less separated from the world than a mirror, or some entirely separate realm.
But this doesn't explain the emotional tug that truth and knowledge often has for the knower. And I think the answer has something to do with property, which as I will explain in a separate post, is primordial in its own way, at least for living beings, whether they be plants, animals or emperors. Truth is is property; it belongs to us. It legitimizes each of us. Like food and oxygen, it is something we cannot live without. It may be, and hopefully is shared whenever possible. It often has a revelatory, nourishing quality.