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,.     

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