When is persuasion a form of bad manipulation?

Some insights on this have become a lot clearer to me in the last few years….

The way I would frame this issue is in the context of expressions of personal will, and the impacts of those expressions on both the human agency of others and, ultimately, the good of All.

Inherent to my persuading someone is an impact on their agency - the imposition of my will on theirs. Beyond a specific threshold, this imposition is inherently problematic, regardless of intent or outcome. And what is the threshold? Well, it will be different for different people. Issues like personality disorders, anxiety disorders, PTSD, codependence, differences in social status (including gender status, familial status, positional influence, etc.), and level of ego development (e.g. moral maturity) can all result in a very different threshold for different people…or the same person in different situations. It is therefore incumbent upon me, wherever possible, to understand and appreciate the context and subjective conditions involved. For if I knowingly and willfully impose my will on someone and deprive them of agency, I consider this destructive manipulation.

The challenge here, of course, is in the phrase “wherever possible.” In posting this answer, I could conceivably persuade someone subject to the very vulnerabilities I’ve described to do something “against their will.” But I really can’t know that, can I? So the best I can do in this context is try to state my case and “let the chips fall where they may.” That changes in interpersonal situations, where I can hopefully be more sensitive and perceptive. Even so, some portion of responsibility still rests on a person who is easily persuaded (against their will) to signal their own vulnerability. Likewise, I am also responsible for communicating my own vulnerabilities to others in this regard. But of course both of these situations depend on a fair amount of self-awareness, ability to communicate, and self-control….

Which leads us to intent: what do I intend? If my intentions are sincerely focused on the good of the person I am trying to persuade, issuing from a place of compassion and affection, perhaps this can mitigate some level of manipulation (as imposition of will). Any parent knows this has to be true in regarding their children! But I must also be aware that, to whatever degree possible, if I really do wish for the good of others, then I need to empower them to make the best decisions on their own…that is, to provide good information and - whenever possible - insulate them from persuasion. If mutually agreed to, this helps keep everyone’s agency intact, and (in my observation and experience) enhances efficacy and positive outcomes ten-fold. Indeed, this is also true of parenting.

Lastly we come to outcomes: what is the result? The good of All - that is: the greatest good, for the greatest number, for the greatest duration? Of course this may be desired, but it is never guaranteed - just as the effectiveness of any approach to ethics is not always certain. Which is why wisdom comes into play - including factors of discernment, awareness, insight, timing, etc. And indeed constant practice and discipline; this is how ideal and praxis intersect.

So for shorthand, we could use the formula: compassionate intentions + situational awareness + self-awareness + appreciation of cultural/power dynamics + situationally adaptive skillfulness + predictive efficacy = non-manipulative persuasion.

As you can see, there is quite a complex balancing act here. And honestly I believe many cultural value systems promote this balancing act in the normal course of human interaction - in other words, it is tacitly implicit, and transmitted by example. Unfortunately, some cultures (and indeed some individuals) lack the emotional intelligence, language and perceptive ability to recognize, internalize or actualize such a formula. And such challenges can then be exacerbated by commercialism, consumerism, individualism, materialism, selfishness, family abuse, workplace stress, social injustice and so forth. For those cultures where tacit understanding and transmission are absent…or for individuals and relationships that have yet to fully invest in such compassionate dynamics…well, then it would have to become a more conscious enterprise. The challenge then becomes that, for certain folks who routinely capitalize on manipulative persuasion (i.e. profit-driven marketing and advertising, religious zealots, political ideologues, etc.), there is tremendous resistance to such awareness, sensitivity and caring about the agency of others.

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/When-is-persuasion-a-form-of-bad-manipulation/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are your thoughts on the 19th century publisher and anarchist Benjamin Tucker?

I think Tucker is important because he is representative of a flavor of individualism that has amplified itself in the U.S. anarchist tradition in fairly pronounced - if not unique - ways over time, and which continues to do so today. In other words, he is an important part of that canon. In addition, as a publisher and translator, he was also an instrumental and seminal influence in the U.S. movement, bringing truly original and disruptive ideas (such as Nietzsche and Stirner) into the fray. As a consequence of all of this, I would also say that Tucker occupied a singular position in promoting some of the fundamental errors in the thinking of individualists, egoists and anarcho-capitalists over time. These include:

1. Differentiating economic equality from equality of liberty (i.e. from individual or collective agency). We simply can’t do this and remain intellectually honest, because concentrations of wealth always result in concentrations of influence and/or formalized political power. There is simply no precedent for real-world situations unfolding differently (whether government is involved or not). Because of this, liberty is always negatively impacted by economic inequality, which becomes de facto coercion. This is an inescapable truth, and is perhaps best illustrated both the consequences of natural monopolies throughout history, and by Nozick’s theoretical elaboration on the inevitability of “voluntary slavery” in laissez-faire environments.

2. Misunderstanding the relationship between collective agreement in civil society and individual liberty (individual agency). Without the collective agreement expressed in and by civil society and its institutions (and I do not mean the State, but what can be diffused and distributed civic mechanisms), individual liberty either does not exist, or it becomes an arduous process of constant renegotiation that itself is prohibitive to agency. One the one hand, it would be like having to negotiate how to progress in a safe and orderly fashion through each intersection when driving - at each intersection, over and over again, coming to a mutual voluntary agreement about how to proceed. And on the other, the individualist anarchist is simply not recognizing the facilitation of liberty that civil society (again, ideally in diffused and distributed capacities) establishes over time; that liberty is in fact positively created by the very conventions that individualists tend to rail against. As I write in “The Goldilocks Zone of Integral Liberty:”

“It doesn’t require much investigation to realize that… the idealized pinnacle of individual sovereignty in modern society is supported by an endless intersection of facilitative factors, like the majority of mass for an iceberg that lies below the water but is invisible to the casual eye.”

3. Being overly attached to the Labor Theory of Value and its corollary/extension via private property and labor appropriation. For me this is the least subtle problem with individualist variations of anarchism. Firstly, this belief inevitably results in the entire world being fenced off by those actively employing their own precious portion of private land for their own purposes, thus depriving anyone else of the freedom to access and use that land. This is simply an untenable proposition, given (among many other reasons) the fact that land is limited, but human population keeps growing. Secondly, what constitutes labor or utility is entirely subjective. If I spit on a stick, am I adding value? If I plant trees on my property to create artwork that is only viewable from space, can’t I claim utility in perpetuity (or at least as long as the trees are alive)? These are just some of the problems inherent to the LTV and theory of labor appropriation, making their suppositions either absurd, or ultimately dependent on the same institutionalized collective agreements that individualists strive to shirk.

4. A tendency to reject a priori, intuitive, emotional, relational and spiritual dimensions of human cognition and experience - in favor of empiricism, reductionism, solipsism, nihilism and egoistic utility. This has always been - and continues to be - one of the biggest divides in philosophy. In my view, it is inherently problematic to exclude any of the input streams available to human experience and consciousness, or claim - as an arbitrary and capricious value judgment - that only one of them has primacy over all of the others. I have written about what I think the model should be: integrating all available input streams in a balanced, careful and conscious way. You can read about that here: Sector Theory 1.0 – Todd's Take on Epistemology; and here: Managing Complexity with Constructive Integralism. (the full PDFs are also available here: Essays by T.Collins Logan)

At the same time, Tucker’s thinking is so diverse that I also find myself agreeing with at least some of it - such as his description of the Four Monopolies and concerns with what came to be called “rent-seeking” behaviors (i.e. what Tucker calls “usury”).

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/What-are-your-thoughts-on-the-19th-century-publisher-and-anarchist-Benjamin-Tucker/answer/T-Collins-Logan

A Healthcare System for California That Could Work

This is doable. To get there, here are what I believe to be the primary considerations for making an affordable healthcare system a reality - in California, or anywhere else in the U.S. for that matter:

1. Controlling runaway administrative overhead.

2. Mandating the negotiation of uniform fees for all medical products, services and procedures.

3. Incentivizing positive health outcomes and preventative care, instead of perpetuating a fee-for-service model that maximizes profit instead.

4. Providing a secondary insurance market for boutique or elective medical products and services.

5. Ending direct advertising of healthcare products and services to consumers, and providing better vetted and participatory data for patients to make decisions about their own care.

6. Identifying a reliable source of revenue to pay for the new system.

What we are aiming for here is a way to maintain quality and choice for everyone who needs healthcare and wants to preserve options that are important to them, while containing costs and disrupting perverse incentives. Right now the opposite is increasingly true: choices can be limited, costs excessive, and both care providers and medical product suppliers are incentivized primarily by profit. Here is how we might address these core considerations, one at a time....

1) Controlling Runaway Administrative Overhead

Right now the administrative overhead of private, for-profit health insurers runs upwards of 20%, whereas, in contrast, Medicare administration costs are under 2%. Insurers currently have no incentive to lower these costs - which is likely why they have continued to rise, which has contributed to escalating premiums. Containing such runaway administrative costs does not, however, require us to create a single-payer system. In Switzerland, private (but non-profit) health insurers compete with each other for customers, under government regulations that - among other things - guarantee certain levels of coverage and cap administrative overhead. The focus, of course, is to shift healthcare itself from a for-profit enterprise to a non-profit enterprise. Why? Because illness and poor health actually increase profits in the current U.S. healthcare system, thus creating self-perpetuating perverse incentives.

2) Mandating Negotiation of Uniform Fees

To contain costs, there is no reason that healthcare providers and medical manufacturers should not submit to fixed price negotiations in order to participate in the California healthcare market. Fees can be indexed using a number of factors, such as the necessity for everyone's basic care, production costs plus a fixed profit margin, cost-saving innovations, and so forth. In other words, products and services that lower overall costs while healing chronic conditions and improving long-term health outcomes could be rewarded with higher profit margins, while the more specialized and expensive products and services that simply mitigate chronic symptoms in the short term, and are less curative overall, would be provided much smaller profit margins. The goal here would be to incentivize actual healing and wellness rather than a gravy train of ever-increasing profits. As just one example, pharmaceuticals are subject to price controls in every other developed country, so that U.S. consumer pay between 30% and 300% higher drug prices than everyone else.

3) Incentivizing Positive Health Outcomes

Along the same lines, why could healthcare providers and medical manufacturers be rewarded for improving patient health outcomes (say, above an established baseline)? For example, a primary care doctor who sees more patients and keeps all of them more healthy than his fellow practitioners with a similar patient demographic should receive a nice fat bonus, don't you think? Why should doctors be rewarded for seeing patients more often, or ordering more tests, or prescribing more drugs, if their approaches do not improve the health and well-being of their patients? Again, the system we have now is upside down in terms of incentives. In fact, there should probably also be mechanisms for disciplining doctors, service providers and medical product manufacturers who are either contributing to poor health outcomes, are ignoring proven curative but low-cost approaches, or are otherwise operating in a profit-centric, rather than wellness-centric, orientation.

4) Secondary Boutique Insurance

There will be folks who want special advanced treatments, alternative treatments with as-yet-unproven efficacy, more expensive pharmaceuticals, elective surgeries and so forth - so why should they not have access to those options? This is where the traditional model of health insurance could operate similarly to how it always has - except of course that the insurance would be targeted to inherently more expensive products and procedures. There will be a market for this - even if it is expensive and its related costs continue to rise - so it might be worth the experiment. At the same time, any patient should also be able to obtain a desired form of treatment as an out-of-pocket expense.

5) Ending Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Advertising, & Providing Better Data

The U.S. is the only developed country on the planet that permits pharmaceuticals to advertise directly to consumers. This is, frankly, a ridiculous practice, and has led to countless problems in treating all manner of conditions - both real and imagined. Shouldn't a patient be made aware of all of the options available, including which are most effective, which are most costly, which have been in use the longest, etc.? Of course - but this is not what for-profit advertising offers consumers. Instead, a web-based information clearinghouse that is overseen by doctors and other medical professionals can provide educational information on the efficacy of all manner of treatments and technologies. In addition, patients could also weigh-in with their own experiences, ask questions, etc. It would then be incumbent upon California regulatory mechanisms to make sure the data was accurate, and that contributors are real and not just medical industry advertising bots.

6) A Reliable Revenue Stream for the New Healthcare System

Prop 13 Reform

I think a main component of the solution is obvious and straightforward - because we can fix a gaping hole in California's tax landscape at the same time. Article XIII of the California Constitution needs to be amended to eliminate Prop 13 benefits for corporations, commercial property owners and developers, while retaining Prop 13 tax increase limits for residential homeowners. Since this initiative was intentionally deceptive when first proposed and passed - being sold as protection for retired homeowners with a fixed income, when really it was a huge windfall for corporations - it's long overdue to be amended. And of course the fact that commercial property ownership changes hands more slowly (or more deceptively, thanks to some sly legal maneuvering) than residential property just adds insult to injury - making those same vulnerable homeowners liable for a larger and larger share of the tax burden. The solution? A split-roll tax initiative (or legislative amendment) that keeps the protections for residential homeowners, but returns commercial property taxes to current values. One estimate (see http://www.makeitfairca.com/) puts the annual revenue increase from such reform at $9 Billion.

Closing Other CA Corporate Tax Loopholes

According to a recent review performed by State Auditor Elanie Howle
of California's six largest corporate tax incentives, there is approximately $2.6 Billion in tax breaks that have either never been reviewed to determine whether they are actually fulfilling their intended purpose. One of them, for "research and development," is $1.5 Billion all on its own. And, unlike most other states, California has no regular review process for these tax breaks!

And...well...the rest is math. Let's start with the estimated $400 Billion for the current single-payer proposal (SB-562). If $200 Billion can be reallocated from existing Federal, State and local healthcare funds, that leaves $200 Billion. And if administrative overhead can be reduced by 90% (as proposed above in item #1), then the rest of the funding required could be generated by some combination of: closing California's gaping corporate tax loopholes (#6); proposed pricing controls (#2); the transfer of high-cost or ineffective treatments and technologies to boutique supplemental insurance (#4); a reduction in advertising-generated demand (#5); and incentivizing lower-cost, more highly effective healthcare overall (#3). Whatever costs can't be met by these efforts could conceivably be covered through a variable, progressively tiered tax on all Californians. Also, the proposals I've offered here do not require a single-payer system - though that is certainly one framework that could integrate all of these variables.


There are a number of different scenarios that can successfully provide higher quality, lower-cost healthcare to Californians. The major barrier to such solutions has traditionally been the lobbying of medical service providers, insurers and product manufacturers who profit most when patients either a) don't get well, or b) otherwise require expensive specialties, drugs, medical devices or procedures in an ongoing way. But the current, corporate-controlled environment turns the priorities of healthcare upside down. Lobbyists should not be able to override a common sense approach to fixing these problems in California and other places in the U.S. To date, even well-meaning initiatives and State assembly bills have fallen woefully short of addressing some of these longstanding. If elected politicians cannot be swayed to do what's right for Californians, perhaps we need to approach this issue via the initiative process.


This approach to CA healthcare was inspired by the Level 7 philosophy and approaches: see http://www.level-7.org

Also, here is a thoughtful overview of how the current single-payer proposal could work, with some caveats: https://rantt.com/honest-thoughts-on-californias-single-payer-healthcare-proposal-c82c2d0b5d39









Is there evidence against (substance) dualism?

I suspect that will depend on what you will accept as evidence. Some possible avenues of exploration:

1. Quantum physics.

2. Unio mystica or “nondual” peak experience.

3. Sartre’s existential nausea.

4. Perceptions evoked by psilocybin.

On the other hand, we also have what can be considered “supportive” evidence for substance dualism, such as:

1. Experiencing astral projection.

2. Ian Stevenson’s research on reincarnation.

3. The reports of various religious adherents regarding visiting other realms of existence.

4. Encountering a ghost or spiritual entity.

Then again, having researched and/or personally experienced all of these myself, I’d have to say that dualism (of any sort) is an operational state that pulls at our consciousness like gravity, while nonduality is an enveloping and interpenetrating foundational substrate that - in a cyclical and iterative dialectic of creation and destruction - both generates and dissipates that duality. I suspect that the relationship between the two even hints at the origins of consciousness itself…like the impact of tidal zones on evolution. They are not, therefore, mutually exclusive, but synergistically linked.

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/Is-there-evidence-against-substance-dualism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Black & White

In school
I always struggled
with multiple choice questions
those black-and-white options
never sufficient
– whether two, five or seven –
because so much seemed in-between
so much life in the shadows
rich earth full of endless microbes
and squirming worms.
But this world pares through pairing
excluding, dismissing, casting out
while darkness seethes
and Light blinds
until – all too soon – we turn away.

What is the sacred movement
of the unseen?
Waves across eons
heating inner spaces
bringing forth life
despite the Night:
I do not believe the Universe
was a snap decision!
So why do we rush in
to pound such lovely,
uniquely-shaped pegs
into ill-fitting holes?

I see the blisters and blood
across my palms
from force of willful effort
and I think: "I am an idiot,"
still struggling with those
multiple choice questions
still stumbling, not knowing
if it is truly dark
or I have trapped my heart
in the cold comfort
of dualistic craving.

What percentage of philosophers accept the Principle of Sufficient Reason?

I would offer two ways of approaching this question:

1. What percentage of philosophers - historically or contemporarily - explicitly and intentionally subscribe to, support or expand upon the PSR as a philosophical principle?

2. What percentage of philosophers - historically or contemporarily - unconsciously or implicitly demonstrate some acceptance or utilization of the PSR in their work?

These are very different questions, and the first is much easier to answer than the second. As to the first, the percentage is relatively small when including ALL philosophers in the West. The PSR wasn’t explicit until Leibniz, and since then has been the subject to a fair amount of debate - with just a handful of folks arguing for some version of the PSR. We might arrive at a formal percentage of around 15–20% of pro-PSR, post-Leibniz philosophers in this way - though of course debates over variations/extensions of the PSR have continued to this day.

The second question is much more difficult and conditional, relying on subjective assessments of an implicit reliance on - or demonstration of - the PSR, rather than explicit statements by the philosopher in question. It also will vary widely depending on which particular definition of the PSR is being employed (there are many - see Kant, Shopenhauer, Wolff, Hume, Leibniz, etc.). However, if we were to take every definition of the PSR into consideration, it becomes pretty clear that - at some point or other - nearly all philosophers in the West either employed a version of the PSR in their thinking, or it was otherwise implicit in their style of reasoning. Thus, using this approach to survey all philosophers in the West throughout recorded history, we arrive at close to 100%.

The real issue at hand, IMO, is what constitutes a priori (deductive) processes. That is really the ultimate “ground” from which the PSR arises, and why it is so difficult to escape. In psychological terms, we might say that PSR actually stands for the “principle of sufficient rationalization.” Human beings are quite clever at ordering their suppositions, evidence, language, semantics and logic around what they want to believe. And of course this includes the use of a posteriori (inductive) processes - resulting in various forms of bias. In other words, our tendency is to reinforce or affirm a priori beliefs with a posteriori experiential knowledge, despite all efforts at analytical rigor. Stepping back a bit, it is really rather humorous when philosophy attempts to escape the fetters of its own contingent parameters: to think itself out of a maze created by - and conditioned upon - human thought.

So I would say that, when attempting to answer such questions, it is important to examine one’s epistemology, hermeneutics and what I would call “semantic containers” (affinities/categorizations of thought and experience) before diving in. Because it is likely our methodology for defining, say, what a “brute fact” is, or what constitutes causality, that will likely be distorted by our a priori conditions - often to the point of glaring internal contradictions.

My 2 cents.

Why are people like Noam Chomsky (considered the greatest philosopher today) never interviewed on major media stations?

Chomsky’s views were not considered all that radical or non-mainstream in the 1960s, when institutions, government, corporations and the societal status quo were being challenged and questioned en masse. He was part of the populist wave of salient criticism and intellectualism of that era.

However, since the concerted neoliberal efforts to recapture media, cultural institutions and government since the early 1970s (see Lewis Powell’s Memorandum: Attack On American Free Enterprise System), Chomsky has been pushed farther and farther out of the mainstream - and certainly the mainstream media.

Just consider how successful the neoliberal agenda has been on several fronts in its expenditure of billions to increase its cultural and institutional controls over civil society - and most particularly with respect to the media - while lining the pockets of the wealthy along the way:

1. Election of **Idiot #1** (Ronald Reagan) as puppeteered by the Kitchen Cabinet, resulting (among many other neoliberal priorities) in the end of the Fairness Doctrine and a generally persisting “anti-government” populism, regressive taxation and militarism

2. Complete takeover of the IMF/World Bank to facilitate self-enriching globalization

3. Creation and lavish funding of conservative/far right media

4. Further globalization under Clinton, as well as a more aggressive onset of regulatory capture

5. Installation of **Idiot #2 **(George W. Bush) under the careful handling of Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, with a handsome war profiteering success and decimation of government institutions, and near complete regulatory capture

6. Inventing then corrupting the Tea Party movement

7. At long last capturing the election process itself (dark money protected under corporate personhood “free speech” via Citizens United)

8. Election of **Idiot #3 **(Donald Trump) as a direct consequence of the economic impact of neoliberal policies on the folks who so angrily blamed everyone BUT the neoliberals!

Now how could the media, who are so carefully directed by these wealthy elite, ever interview someone who pulls back the curtain to reveal the aging rich white dude pulling all the levers…? We’re much more likely to witness Milton Friedman’s artful propaganda being replayed instead…because that feeds the false narrative rather than contradicting it. And, as a final nail in the coffin of Chomsky’s media viability, he of course says and writes stuff like this: What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream, which basically explains that mass media - even public and academic media - is a parasite feeding off corporate wealth and, unwittingly or complicity, fulfilling their agendas.

My 2 cents.

What are the biggest current blind spots or uninvestigated areas in sociology?

Thanks for the A2A, but wow this is a really broad question. Those familiar with sociology know it has almost endless specializations and variations - both theoretical and applied - so it is a bit difficult to generalize. Also I haven’t really kept up with the intradisciplinary literature for more than a handful of sub-specialties, so I’m likely only speaking to a very narrow slice of the overall picture. Lastly, I would say some of these issues apply to much of academia.

Hmmm…blind spots. Okay:

1. Predictive methodologies seem woefully underdeveloped in sociology. This would be an ideal field to aggregate diverse metrics for predictive analysis for all sorts of sociological impacts and change that are, in fact, already being studied independently of each other.

2. Postmodernism seems to have shattered interest in a cohesive theory of sociology. IMO, academia could and should be making a concerted effort to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I recognize that there have been recent individual efforts at doing this, but (and I’d love to be corrected on this point) I’m not aware of any sustained, broadly-inclusive, widely coordinated projects to resolve this lingering issue.

3. The distance between the dots in economic sociology that take on big-picture, meta-analysis of capitalism is far too great. When was the last major publication in this arena? Nee & Swedberg in 2005…or Fligstein’s work around the same time? And before them, Polanyi? And before that…Weber & Marx…? IMO such broad considerations should have been at the forefront of economic sociology in a consistent way. Too often this topic has been ceded to economists…who almost always arrive on the scene with an indoctrinated axe to grind. Again, though, please let me know if I’ve missed some notable, more recent contributions.

So there are three. Let me know what you think.

From: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-biggest-current-blind-spots-or-uninvestigated-areas-in-sociology-and-what-makes-them-difficult/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are some reasons on why Anarcho-Capitalism doesn't work?

Here are the basic failure points in anarcho-capitalism, as evidenced by what we know of history:

1. Natural monopolies occur even if there is no government. And once those monopolies occur, there is no longer competition, and the advantages of a free market evaporate.

2. Voluntary contracts can still be coercive, exploitative and oppressive if there is no other way to survive except to submit to them. In anarcho-capitalism, there is nothing standing in the way of of the “haves” effectively enslaving the “have-nots” in exactly this voluntary fashion.

3. Private property is tyrannically oppressive to liberty - the “fencing off” of the world to first-come, first-serve opportunists effectively eliminates liberty and opportunity for everyone who shows up late. Multi-generationally this exacerbates capricious inequity, especially if children can inherit what they haven’t earned. The same is true of wealth accumulation and its relationship to power. Private ownership and its inevitable concentrations of capital ultimately consolidates power and freedom around a select few.

4. The profit motive has been predictably corrosive to social cohesion and civil society in its amplification of individualist materialism, rewarding of psychopathic egotism, and toddlerization of dependent consumers. It’s just not a good idea to rely on the profit motive to sustain civil society. You usually end up with despots and thugs in fairly short order.

5. For any form of anarchism to function, the entire society - down to every outlier - must voluntarily agree to whatever basic assumptions and expectations are in play for things like commerce, transportation, communication, morality and the other nuts-and-bolts of civil society to function reliably. And frankly we just aren’t there yet - the diversity of such assumptions and expectations is just too great.

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-reasons-on-why-Anarcho-Capitalism-doesnt-work/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What reduces your free will?

A wide range of internal and external influences or conditions that constrain our ability to either formulate independent thought and action, or to follow through with them or expand on them. In my paper The Goldilocks Zone of Integral Liberty: A Proposed Method of Differentiating Verifiable Free Will from Countervailing Illusions of Freedom, I call these “variations of poverty.” They include things like:

· Poverty of existential security – lack of food, shelter, clothing, safety from harm.

· Poverty of justice and equality – experience of social prejudice, disruption of ability to obtain competent legal representation, inferior treatment under the rule of law, unequal treatment in the workplace, etc.

· Poverty of economic freedom – disrupted ability to generate disposable income or access desired goods, lack of opportunity to trade, disruption to development of desired skills and abilities, lack of employment opportunity.

· Poverty of trust and social capital – experience of alienation or disenfranchisement, lack of access to supportive social networks, consistently encountering closed doors rather than open ones.

· Poverty of knowledge & information – lack of access to established knowledge, or to accurate and independently verified new information.

· Poverty of self-reliance – disrupted capacity for confidence or independence, and lack of access to tools or experience that support a belief in own self-efficacy.

· Poverty of education – disrupted ability to think critically (i.e. carefully evaluate new information, challenge internalized assumptions, relax cognitive bias, escape conditioned habits), learn valuable skills, or gain a well-rounded understanding and appreciation of the world through diverse, interdisciplinary learning.

· Poverty of moral development – disrupted ability to mature past an egoic, tribal, or individualistic orientation (I/Me/Mine or Us vs. Them).

· Poverty of access or opportunity for advancement – being “in the right place at the right time” never seems to happen, no viable pathways out of one’s current situation seem available, no amount of effort seems to change these conditions, and barriers to access and opportunity persist.

· Poverty of emotional intelligence – disrupted ability to interpret social cues, facial expressions, emotional content of interpersonal exchanges, or to empathize with the experiences of others.

· Poverty of love – disrupted ability to develop compassionate affection for self and others, or experiencing a consistent lack of compassion from others.

· Poverty of self-expression – lack of opportunity and support for creative, athletic, intellectual or other form of self-expression.

· Poverty of spaciousness – lack of discretionary time, quiet, solitude.

· Poverty of common property – lack of resources held in common, or lack of access to those resources.

· Poverty of physical or mental health – poor nutrition, excessive stress, unhealthy family dynamics, genetic predispositions for illness or substance abuse, subjection to psychologically incompatible or physically harmful environments.

· Poverty of perception and awareness – disrupted ability to see past the spectacle, perceive or process things multidimensionally, or maintain a neutral holding field while assessing complex information.

· Poverty of spirit – disruption of connection with higher Self, spiritual insights and gnosis, and/or relationship with divine mystery.

· Poverty of holistic perspective and vision – disrupted ability to comprehend the bigger picture, cultivate a guiding purpose and intentionality, or to keep these in mind throughout the trials of daily life.

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/What-reduces-your-free-will/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What is The Night of the World, as Hegel puts in?

Cheng Wen pretty much nails it. Here’s what I would add:

In one sense the “night of the world” is the undifferentiated unity of everything - of existence and non-existence, of being and non-being, of the “I” and everything that “I” symbolically projects within itself and outside of itself (including itself). From this perspective it is close kin to what Sartre would later describe as evoking an overwhelming experience of existential nausea. In another sense it is the fundamental consciousness of the soul (human/Divine Spirit) that intuits this undifferentiated unity as a negation to itself, and responds by differentiating, symbolizing, “naming” and organizing…thereby synthesizing an active interdependence of being. In another sense, the “night of the world” has the flavor of Jung’s collective unconscious. What Hegel then alludes to is that we can glimpse this night in ourselves and in others for the briefest of instants…and it is terrifying in its power of negation and nothingness. As a former existentialist and current mystic, I can attest to the accuracy of Hegel’s depiction of this encounter - both as an intellectual intuition, and as a felt experience of mystical gnosis.

From: https://www.quora.com/What-is-The-Night-of-the-World-as-Hegel-puts-in/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Georg Hegel (philosopher, author): What is the Hegelian concept of freedom?

Hegel’s conception of freedom contained these essential ingredients:

1. As a precondition of freedom, the individual may unconsciously or reflexively conform to social norms - and to the order of community and State - while at the same time cultivating a voluntary choice to do so (ideally as a consequence of learning, thinking, intuiting and understanding the deeper currents in play…such as the next three ingredients).

2. While inherently an expression of Divine, universal spirit that self-actualizes through human beings, the individual spirit can become aware of that essence, relationship and purpose, and in the process actualize its own freedom and will.

3. While previous iterations of society and the individual have inherently been more self-limiting and less free, they provide the groundwork and context for the next iteration of actualization, which is less limited and more free.

4. While the individual is alienated from a full understanding of themselves, their society and the world around them, they have very little freedom. But once they apply a rationally speculative dialectic process to these subject-object relations, they can liberate themselves from that ignorance.

To appreciate how all of these syntheses aggregate and interact within Hegel’s worldview, I recommend researching the term Aufheben, and then widening your reading out from there.

My 2 cents.

From: https://www.quora.com/Georg-Hegel-philosopher-author-What-is-the-Hegelian-concept-of-freedom/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are the philosophical responses to emotivism?

I will approach this from my own framework regarding moral judgements.

To reduce moral judgements to any one thing is, in my view, an error. Why? Because they represent - realistically, pragmatically, observably, developmentally - a much more complex intersection of factors. These might include:

1. Innate, genetic predispositions (for example, a prosocial disposition vs. an antisocial one)

2. Learned and integrated responses from modeling observed in childhood (family of origin, peers, etc.)

3. Predictably observable, cross-culturally consistent stages of moral development (Kohlberg et al)

4. Conditioned conformance to societal norms (to facilitate survival, acceptance, social agreement, etc.)

5. Intuitions informed by emotional sensitivity and empathy, somatic responses, spiritual insights, intellectual leaps of deduction and synthesis, etc.

6. Conclusions and convictions that result from s reasoned analysis of prosocial efficacy (utilitarianism, virtue ethics, etc.)

7. Inculcation of formalized belief systems (religious education, military codes-of-conduct, study of philosophy of ethics, etc.)

Now of course most people do not consciously synthesize their values hierarchy - but neither do they reflexively adopt a rigid, unchanging one. So there is a spectrum of convictions, learned behaviors, experiences, insights and so forth that fluidly shape and maintain each individual’s moral thought-field. In addition, most moral responses are context-sensitive, and moral judgements in-the-moment will shift based on the relationships involved, being observed by others, the expectation of social obligation and reciprocation, current mental or emotional state, and so forth. These variables are what inevitably generate tensions between our ideal self, our perceived self, and our actual habits and proclivities as reflected back to us by others.

So can we really - with any intellectual honesty - maintain the meta-ethical position that individual moral judgements can be reduced to subjective emotions, or collective moral standards to a consensus agreement around such reactions? I really don’t think we can. In fact I think it would be a particularly foolish oversimplification.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-philosophical-responses-to-emotivism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What is the most practical solution to identity politics?

The most practical solution to identity politics is to abandon individualistic materialism as our dominant belief system. If people view themselves as uniquely different (both individually and as part of a particular tribe), and they view themselves (and their tribe) as having to maintain aggressive competition with everyone else in order to survive or thrive, the result will always be a corrosion of social cohesion and amplification of disunity. On a fundamental level, the fracturing of civil society by identity politics is really a direct consequence of I/Me/Mine commercialistic corporatism - because differences in wealth, economic mobility and economic opportunity have driven the oppression of marginalized groups that, consequently, came to rely on identity politics for internal cohesion and self-liberation. And so, when we grow beyond the moral immaturity of our addictions to capitalism and consumerism, our desire to cling to a distinct, oppressed identity will attenuate. We will begin to focus on what is most fruitful for all of society - the greatest good, for the greatest number, for the greatest duration - rather than scrabbling to secure on own little piece of the pie.

Half-measures would be things like unification of vision - in terms of collective goals - along with enhancing shared values, a collective narrative, and civic institutions that promote a more egalitarian political economy. In other words, mechanisms that enhance social equality in both civil rights and economic status. This has been the progressive agenda from the beginning, contrary to what folks like Charles Tips seem to believe. However, in the face of a juggernaut of capitalism and its inherent class divisions - divisions enhanced by the neoliberal propaganda that champions I/Me/Mine individualistic materialism - such progressive, egalitarian ideals are constantly being beaten down in favor of wealthy (and primarily white) folks expanding and securing their power.

We can see that identity politics remains useful in uniting those who feel oppressed, but it has been destructive to a sense of unity, common purpose, and collective responsibility and equality. Somewhat ironically, it is really the consequence of neoliberal, pro-capitalist rhetoric and activism that identity politics has been embraced by the poor and middle-class white folks with whom Trump’s vitriolic blather resonated. The bigger picture, however, is that nearly everyone is being oppressed by our current capitalist system - this reality is, after all, how the “identity” of the 99% could so easily gel during the Occupy Movement. But, as long as we all continue to invest in individualistic materialism, rather than evolving egalitarian collectivist perspectives and solutions, we will continue to feel isolated, frustrated and alienated - both as identity tribes, and as individuals.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post:

How did Aristotle influence the development of the West?

What a great question.

I might be overstating this…since I am a big fan of Aristotle…but I would say that Aristotle’s impact on Western civilization is probably only equalled by one other historical figure: Jesus of Nazareth. Although others - such as Aristotle’s teacher Plato - laid much of the groundwork for what became the philosophical tradition in the West, it was Aristotle who, more than any single influence, framed the trajectory of empirical observation, civic obligation and ethics, metaphysics, and analytic/reflective analysis that would lead to formal Christian theology, the scientific revolution, and the Enlightenment. Now I realize this may seem like an outrageous statement on the surface, but we can actually follow Aristotle’s profound influence on nearly all subsequent developments over the centuries - across innumerable hard and soft disciplines and specialities, including:

Civics and Democracy

Virtue Ethics


Christian Theology






Keep in mind, however, that I am not saying Aristotle’s conclusions were always correct or upheld by later thinkers and research. In fact you could say that Aristotle became important precisely because so many historically influential writers and researchers attempted to refute his assertions (sometimes succeeding, and sometimes not). In other words, Aristotle’s positions show up in nearly all of the later dialectics within areas of study to which he contributed (or invented)…all the way up into modern times. It’s incredible, really. As just one less-well-known example, most people in the West are familiar with Freud’s assertions about the pleasure principle, libido, id and ego in human motivation and ideation, and consider him to be the father of modern psychology. Except…well…it was Aristotle who first elaborated on those very same observations, though he named them differently. We could say with some confidence that Aristotle is the patron saint of the intellectual academic tradition itself. Aristotle has been so influential, in fact, that some less scrupulous authors have used his name to bolster their own positions. One of the more notable figures who did this was Ayn Rand, who very clearly misunderstood Aristotle on a fundamental level, but nevertheless claimed to derive many of her ideas from his writing.

So a modern citizen of the West can effectively thank Aristotle for living in democracies with institutions of higher learning, technologies and medicine that resulted from empirical science, a strong cultural tradition of analytical analysis and problem-solving, a much greater awareness of the human condition and the workings of the psyche, and the lingering (albeit waning and/or commodified) legacy of neoplatonic mysticism. What we can’t thank Aristotle for is capitalism, which we know from his writings he would have found repulsive, unethical and debasing.

Lastly, we should also not forget that Aristotle was also revered in Eastern cultures that came in contact with his teachings.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-did-Aristotle-influence-the-development-of-the-West/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Socialists: How would you deal with the "incentive" problem?

I'm asking in the context of current reality, not in a post-scarcity society. In a world of “from each according his ability, and to each according to his needs”, how would you induce people to work, rather than mooch? How do you avoid having high performers create black markets or leave?

So first I had a good chuckle over the ideological distortions among many pro-capitalist answers. Wake up folks. The data is in. This very old question has been thoroughly answered by real-world successes. For example:

1. **Open Source.** Many years ago I implemented Linux across hundreds of enterprise servers. It worked better (was more scalable, reliable and faster) than every other commercially available server environment. And all of the software running on those boxes was also Open Source. Some of it was authored by coders with pseudonyms, and supported by the faceless, nameless geeks in discussion groups. None of this software production cost anything. No one was rewarded. No one got an “attaboy” or ego boost from my implementations. All of the Linux-based environments were a product of passionate devotion to intelligent, flexible, open design. And because nearly all of the initial implementations were on old, retired hardware destined for the trash heap, there wasn’t even any capital outlay for that (it was like giving Moore’s Law a kick in the nads).

2. **Publicly Funded Research & Innovation.** Again returning to the tech industry, you know who created most of the innovations we rely upon today in our most beloved computing gadgets? Publicly funded academic and government research. Yup. And these students and researchers weren’t incentivized by the profit motive either. They were curious, or competing with their peers, or stubborn problem solvers…not folks working on commission or hoping for juicy patent windfalls.

3. **For Fun, Passion or Compassion.** There are clubs, societies, non-profit NGOs, government agencies, charities and a host of other organizations around the globe that engage the world with innovation, highly professional services, excellent products and high levels of productivity because they care. And the more they care, the harder they work, the more they innovate, the more they create…and so on.

The only reason that these obvious examples seem to be persistently overlooked by market fundamentalists is that they don’t want to see or acknowledge the obvious contradictions to their most cherished beliefs. Classic confirmation bias. In other words, the answer to “Where is John Galt” seems to be “He has no idea, because he can’t see the glaring truths in front of his face.”

My 2 cents.

Comment from Pieter Rossouw: "Great valid point. But, it’s hard to eat or drink Linux and if I wore it to town to see a movie I would be arrested. All 3 your points were made possible by wealth created by free markets affording the creators a good basic standard of living."

Ah that is the fantastical narrative that neoliberals, anarcho-capitalists, Randian objectivists and the like would have us believe. But it is false. What created the conditions for the activities, pursuits and values I’ve described was not “free markets,” but civil society. Without civil society - the rule of law, the willing sense of political obligation, the mutual generosity and support, the active engagement in society’s betterment, protections for the marginalized and exploited, the elevation of prosocial behaviors, etc. - there would be no “good basic standard of living.” There would be no social good at all…just thuggery. All of the wealth would simply concentrate in a few lucky thieves and cunning opportunists. That is the true nature of unrestrained capitalism and laissez-faire “free markets” - at least as demonstrated throughout history and into modern times. It is a lovely fantasy, to be sure, for us to believe that natural monopolies do not occur, that slavery does not occur, that oppression and exploitation do not occur, and that capitalism left unchecked does not simply result in a brutal resurgence of feudalism. But this fantasy is a distortion (and/or a nefarious hoodwink) that we need to leave behind - IMO as soon as possible, so that we can focus on what really matters.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Socialists-How-would-you-deal-with-the-incentive-problem/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How can educated, intelligent people believe in a god without proof of one?

Because they don’t limit themselves to an extraordinarily narrow, mechanistic or reductionist slice of acceptable “proof.” Almost all discussions of “proof” regarding any given POV (for, against, agnostic, etc.) are understandably restricted to the kinds of proof that are acceptable to the belief systems of those participating. This is a classic example of confirmation bias and it’s sibling exclusionary bias across all spectra of beliefs. It’s very human, but it’s inherently polarizing. There are people who don’t “believe” that human beings ever walked on the moon, or that anthropomorphic climate change is real, or that Donald Trump is an idiot, or that cigarettes cause lung cancer, or that eating lots of beef is unhealthy, or that extraterrestrial life is possible, or that fine art is culturally important, or that wealth doesn’t provide happiness, or that empathy is a critical component of human relationships. It doesn’t matter how much evidence we offer…they just won’t accept evidence contrary to their belief investment. In fact there is ample research to suggest that countervailing “proof” just amplifies cognitive dissonance and pushback. In other words, humans are pretty consistently irrational beings - and most especially when they “believe” they are being rational. So for one person, there are qualities of proof that allow them to accept a spiritual dimension of existence, whereas another person just doesn’t trust those flavors of proof at all. And since we tend to be aggressively self-justifying regarding our beliefs, of course we also “believe” that our particular standard of proof is superior to those who disagree with us. IMO this is really the heart of substantial disconnect between theists and non-theists. Beyond that, there is also a frequent inability to accept the other person’s position at all - not even in a speculative sense - so that opposition becomes that much more entrenched. It’s silly, really, because when one person says “my experience has shown me that trusting in, and relating to, the Divine is a worthwhile, self-justifying and intrinsically valuable practice,” that is not inherently contradictory to another person saying “my experience has shown me that trusting in and relating to the Divine is a fruitless superstition with no intrinsic value at all.” These are two separate experiential truths, and both are inarguably true from the perspective of the issuer. At this point, asserting that one position has intellectual voracity and ego superiority to the other is vainglorious masturbation…but that never stopped anyone from dismissing another’s belief as being “without proof.” Just as, in fact, this question has done.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-can-educated-intelligent-people-believe-in-a-god-without-proof-of-one/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Do you enjoy being the center of attention? Is it important that your work is recognized?

I think those are two separate things. Years ago, when I was in a traveling theatre troupe, I wanted our production to be appreciated; that is, I did want the audience to be engaged…spellbound even…during the performance. And sure…I wanted them to pay attention to me when I was on stage - and to my fellow actors while they were on stage. But after the performance, I really didn’t want to interact with the audience at all. I loathed afterparties or meet-and-greets. The fawning, praise, false sense of intimacy…I found it viscerally repulsive. And I think this speaks to a very clear difference between having one’s efforts appreciated in context, and becoming “the center of attention” is a social situation. Those are two very different experiences, and they’ve provided a repeating contrast throughout my life. For example, when I have taught classes, I really enjoy becoming a facilitator of discussion, drawing people into it, exciting new conceptions or angles on a given topic, and synthesizing meaningful conclusions from group input - I really love doing that. But again, after class, when students approach me to offer their excitement or appreciation around my teaching style (rather that the topic itself), I try to be gracious but I am actually really, really uncomfortable.

Recently, I entered an essay contest. I haven’t done that in nearly thirty years, though this habit was part of my attempt to “become a writer” in my twenties. :-) In any case, the same dynamic is in play with writing efforts as well: I’d really like to be heard - I want folks to read what I write - but I don’t particularly enjoy a lot of attention after-the-fact. As the months have dragged on since I submitted my essay last November (some six months ago now), I find myself a little disgruntled that I haven’t heard any status on the contest. Is it because I wanted to win? Not particularly, no…it’s actually because I want my ideas to be heard, to be discussed, to influence discourse around a topic I care about. And that can’t happen if my essay is sitting in a closed office in someone’s read-me pile, instead of shared on my website, on FB, here on Quora, via Academia.edu etc. Which is why most of my books and essays are downloadable for free - here again, it’s nice to make money off of books sales, which to a small degree reflects some recognition of and attention to my work, but if people buy my books and don’t read them, that would be pretty pointless, right? So again it’s more about engagement and synthesis in the noosphere. That’s what really excites and sustains me.

Obviously the same phenomenon occurs on Quora. Although I can’t be sure that all of the “views” are actual full-length reads of my posts, it’s the “views” rather than the “likes” that I pay most attention to over time. More than that, when people engage me on Quora by posting comments or questions on my posts, I’m thrilled. I really enjoy immersing myself in a back-and-forth on complex topics. But if that turns into a love fest of mutual praise…well, that’s always nice but it doesn’t facilitate synthesis. It’s often just “preaching to the choir” as it were (again…this can feel nice or affirming…but it isn’t what motivates me to write).

This was a bit of a stream-of-consciousness data-dump…but hopefully I’ve made a useful distinction here.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Do-you-enjoy-being-the-center-of-attention-Is-it-important-that-your-work-is-recognized/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are the main flaws in Objectivism?

There are many, and many that have been widely discussed here on Quora. Please see:

T Collins Logan's answer to Why is Ayn Rand not received well in Academia?

T Collins Logan's answer to What was Ayn Rand wrong about?

Following up on these, the main problems are that a) humans aren’t primarily motivated by self-interest as Rand defines it, but by prosocial impulses, b) effective human reason and rationality are not confined to logic as Rand defines it (for example, human emotions - and empathy in particular - are key cofactors in human decision-making capacity and efficacy), c) human perception is highly variable and unreliable, in contradiction to Rand’s assertions, d) there is evidence that a priori knowledge is accessible and available to people who cultivate specific skills of insight, also in contradiction to Rand, e) her definition and consideration of free will are woefully incomplete. There is more, but these are some core issues that have been contradicted by a growing body of research since Rand’s initial proposals.

Hope that helps.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-main-flaws-in-Objectivism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Why didn’t quantitative easing affect inflation in 2008?

A complicated issue which we can attempt to break down this way:

- First it would be good to bone up on the concept of financialization. It can be said with some confidence that the 2007–2008 financial crisis was a direct consequence of some thirty years of the U.S. converting to increasingly financialized productivity where speculation, derivatives, and debt-based financial instruments dominated profit seeking. At a fundamental level, aided as it was by loosening leverage ratios and lax oversight of financial institutions, this meant that there was “no there there” in terms of real assets. This was all pretend…psychological, high risk gambling really.

- Now if banks don’t have adequate cash reserves to cover such risky gambling, and that gambling gets exposed for what it really is (i.e. payments come due and can’t be made), then the whole game falls apart like a ponzi scheme. The “no there there” becomes a financial death spiral - lending seizes up to disrupt the credit cycle, banks and insurers go under, and economic productivity grinds to a crawl. Remember…this shift away from a production/consumption economy to a debt-servicing speculation economy meant that there wasn’t anything to take up the slack in terms of investment (well there actually was…it just wasn’t perceived to be such any longer, but we’ll get to that in a minute). So the bottom fell out, resulting among other things in tremendous deflationary pressure - especially in terms of debt deflation. [BTW, this is a classic example of how the market fails to make good decisions at a macro level…but that’s another discussion. The point is, this face-plant created a huge amount of essentially unsecured debt that couldn’t be rescued.]

- Here is where QE steps in. How do you get banks to start lending again? Well fatten their reserves of course - every dollar in reserves can lead to $1,000s in economic activity once reinvested. But..um…what if they just pocket the money and don’t lend it out? And, well, this is exactly what happened. Credit remained ridiculously tight…ironically, for much lower risk investments than had previously been gambled upon. For example, small business loans and lines of credit just could not be got, even with a sterling business credit history. That seems odd, doesn’t it? Well it is. It’s actually ludicrous. But remember that lenders had essentially “forgotten” any other investments besides their beloved debt instruments…so they just packed QE surpluses away, like rats building a nest in the dark. But remember those “deflationary pressures” I mentioned? Well they kept holding the interest rates down with voracious psycological intensity - collateral (residential real estate, for example) remained both undervalued and in an excess supply…a supply that grew rather than diminished. Which meant there was no inflation. And because that excess supply also discouraged traditional productivity (no labor, materials or other inputs were required), economic growth remained stagnant from such inactivity as well.

- Eventually, of course, the credit cycle did loosen up a bit and businesses and consumers could get loans, which in turned began to generate more economic activity. It has taken several years, though, for those deflationary pressures to relax, and increasing collateral value and pent up demand to evidence themselves. I think it’s still pretty tenuous, still in process, still uncertain, and still sluggish.
Which brings us up to the current political and economic climate, which is happily broadcasting a renewed loosening of financial restrictions, a relaxing of oversight, and and encouragement of shiny new risky gambling behaviors. The good news, of course, is that the American taxpayers are still available to socialize the risk of Wall Street high rollers - a role they seem quite happy to accept, since they voted in 2016 to make the an unstable and unsustainable U.S. financialized economy “great again.” Weehaa!

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Why-didn%E2%80%99t-quantitative-easing-affect-inflation-in-2008/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Why is spiritual awakening often mentioned happening in a single instant?

I would say that “old habits die hard,” and so we try to create new habits. This applies to mental habits, physical habits, spiritual habits, emotional habits - all kinds of habits. So we study and meditate and exercise and learn how to identify our emotions and how all of these impulses and patterns arise in ourselves. Through certain practices over time - and also sometimes spontaneously - we arrive at “aha” moments, peak experiences or insights that strip away the seeming rigidity and force of all these habits. We recognize what they are, and where they are coming from, and for a time they are intrinsically de-energized. At which point there is no more trying, there just is.

However…and this is I think what you may be referring to…there is tremendous momentum behind all of the old habits. What our body desires, what our mind desires, what our heart desires, what our spirit desires…all of the energy may dissipate in an awakening, while the impulses and habits have nevertheless remained available just beneath the surface. Like rabbits sitting on a lawn at night, seemingly still, but ready to bolt into action once we reengage ordinary, routine attention. And what happens then? Many possibilities. Without continuing the practices that led to our aha, the force of our old habits may slowly return. Or, as we get older, we may forget our earlier appreciation or understanding. Or we might try to cling to the aha experience in a nostalgic or needy sort of way - like we are holding our breath - which is also unhelpful. Or we may find ourselves in an environment that reinforces - even demands - reassertion of all of those previous rabbit-habits. And these situations can and do interfere with what we might call “integration” of the aha experience into daily life. So although devotees of various traditions often tend to shy away from it, we could even say that awakening is itself subject to impermanence. And then the rabbits start running all over the place again - not like they were before, because we are conscious of them now, but nonetheless with renewed energy.

However - and this is a fairly hefty contradiction to what I’ve just said - waking up to a new way of seeing and being does change us in permanent ways. The extent of that change depends, I think, on the readiness of the person - both developmentally and in terms of the innate structures they have available. Which again is why ongoing practice is important. For some (perhaps most) it is also fruitful to have a supportive community with whom to share and mutually encourage the “integration” process, as well as a mature tradition that can inform and contextualize our journey. But the point is that changes or consequences of a peak experience persist, whether or not we consciously recognize, energize or integrate hem. It’s just that they may not feel particularly helpful or beneficial - they can even exacerbate suffering. Knowledge and insight without acceptance can be oppressive rather than liberating.

But all of this discussion is really just a shadow-projection on the cave wall until we leave the cave. And so we return to disciplined practice, because this anchors us and invites stillness. Then, when the helpful awareness arises that our witness consciousness is itself just one more of those rabbits…well, when we’re done laughing, we will have the momentum and energy of our actively cultivated habit-disciplines to help us retain a little courage and compassion amid the hilarity, so that we can accept and integrate…and not forget.

My 2 cents.

Was Thorstein Veblen a social democrat?

This is an interesting question to me because it exposes the critical issue of interpreting how movements/ideologies change over time - and how definitions of those movements/ideologies change over time as well (and not always in a synchronized way). If we take a snapshot of Veblen’s culminated ideas about institutional (social) economics and criticisms of rent-seeking financialization, these do indeed seem to be broadly supportive of what social democracy eventually came to embody after WWII. But at the time Veblen lived and wrote, the term “social democrat” would have been too narrow of a box to confine Veblen’s thought, as I believe it was more specifically focused on transitioning capitalism to socialism at that time. So although there are some similarities of appearance - when viewed from afar - the endgames would have been quite different. I think Veblen was much more interested in restoring industrial production and the LTV to their “rightful place” in a classical economics sense, and either taxing non-value-adding activities, or pointedly excluding them from profit-seeking and shifting them into the public domain. This could then be viewed as pragmatic socialization in the context of a mixed economy - so again this might align with what “social democracy” came to represent in the latter 20th century.

Now at the same time this would also be perceived by neoliberals as extreme “socialist” intervention, to be sure…but Veblen’s provocation of such reactions has, I think, always been and continues to be mostly about his criticisms of those self-serving rentiers, rather than about his proposed institutional remedies or desired linkage between capitalist enterprise and social value. In other words, it’s a knee-jerk reaction. Remember that any regulation, attempts to constrain monopoly, attenuate the advantages of inheritance, reduce worker or consumer exploitation, or shift speculative risk back to the speculators is a direct frontal assault on the neoliberal fantasy. Neoliberals believe that any and all profits (and subsequent concentrations of wealth) are self-justifying…no matter how obscene or destructive they may be to society itself. And since Veblen’s intense criticisms of such views are bound to resonate with Marxists, libertarian socialists, anarchists and the like, it would be (and has been) easy to overgeneralize that proposals from all of these camps share the same goals. But of course they don’t…not really. Further, would Thorstein Veblen agree with all “Third Way” social democratic formulations and trajectories that evolved later still? I dunno. On the surface, perhaps, it might seem that he would. But I suspect that he would also have a biting, snarky and insightful critique to offer about them as well.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Was-Thorstein-Veblen-a-social-democrat/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Is calculated neglect the most powerful, most destructive weapon that no one sees, talks about, hears about or recognizes?

Thanks for the A2A Carl. Oh yes, absolutely I think you are correct. Calculated neglect (twin sibling to deceptive manipulation) is the Pit yawning behind the spectacle - the Abyss of Despair just beneath the superficial surface of panem et circenses. In terms of identification and disclosure, I think these are known threats to human well-being - and indeed human existence. But they are artfully concealed and (routinely) rhetorically dismissed. I find religious language from the Judeo-Christian tradition quite useful here. The references to the tactics and evidences of the Beast in Revelations, for example, align with surprisingly accuracy to globalized capitalism. And of course the warnings about evildoers in Proverbs are really…well…they are also spot on. In other words, whether one is religious or not, there is clear evidence that this kind of “evil” has been clearly identified - described in careful detail - for millennia. It’s just that we’ve gotten out of practice at recognizing it. We have, culturally and individually, lost our capacity for discernment.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Is-calculated-neglect-the-most-powerful-most-destructive-weapon-that-no-one-sees-talks-about-hears-about-or-recognizes/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Why do liberal democracy and capitalism go hand in hand?

Because they arose in their quasi-modern forms around the same time, and were both promoted (to varying degrees) by the same group of European intellectuals (Hobbes, Locke, Smith, Rousseau, etc.) during the Age of Enlightenment. Both the American and French revolutions were an outgrowth of these ideas, aiming to free the average person from oppression by monarchies, the Church, class distinctions, lack of knowledge and education, feudalistic labor relations and so forth. It was really an incredible time and an understandable outgrowth of the preceding scientific revolution. The prevailing assumption was that a society empowered with individual autonomy and agency, acting collectively in both capitalistic markets and self-governance, would result in the greatest freedoms for all. The flaws in this reasoning were that representative democracy could and would be usurped by a de facto elite class and/or concentrations of wealth - anticipation of this outcome was actually debated a fair amount. In other words, that social privilege and plutocratic/monopolistic influence would mimic the feudalistic/monarchistic relations of the systems being rejected. And this did eventually happen - to differing extents in different systems - with ever-increasing efforts by both the electorate-working poor and the wealthy-elite to wrench power away from the other side; we’re still struggling with these same issues today. But the point is that before the Enlightenment, democracy and market capitalism had not come to full fruition - they effectively did not exist on a large scale.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-liberal-democracy-and-capitalism-go-hand-in-hand/answer/T-Collins-Logan

In layman's terms, what is philosopher Gianni Vattimo's idea of "weak thought"?

LOL. Reducing complex philosophical concepts to “layman’s terms” is perhaps itself a byproduct of weak thought - as we can only frame such discourse in the concepts we have learned via the culture through which we swim. Be that as it may….

My understanding is that Vattimo is passionately invested in the idea that nothing a priori - and most certainly not our “being/essence/ousia” - is self-evident, extant, or a reliable basis for philosophical disclosure. Thus to engage in a priori speculation is to demonstrate “weak thought.” We can only know (in the sense of strong thought, i.e. a posteriori “deductive cogency”) from our experience and, more reliably, what Vattimo calls “scientific calculation and technological organization.” Thus “Being” per se is fluid - it has no definite or stable structure. From Vattimo’s Weak Thought (2012): “One has access to Being not through presence but only through recollection, for Being cannot be defined as that which is but only that which is passed on [si tramanda].”

First I would say that this idea isn’t particular new - Proust makes clear reference to the same observations about transience and recollection in his writing. Of course I wouldn’t dream of implying that Vattimo is reappropriating here. I’m just saying it’s not particularly original.

Secondly I would say that Vattimo’s argument narrowly holds true for a very thin slice of concrete sequential reasoning, and not for the many other cognitive input streams humans have available to us (see Sector Theory 1.0 – Todd's Take on Epistemology). This is what I would call classic exclusionary bias. When Vattimo asserts that “we do not have pre-categorical or trans-categorical access to Being,” he is simply mistaken.

Lastly, where Vattimo seems to claim that the metaphysical tradition has no ”coherent unity,” IMHO he is evidencing his own incomplete understanding of that tradition - and his oversimplifying (or reducing) of its nuances - rather than any demonstrated continuity in his own logic.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/In-laymans-terms-what-is-philosopher-Gianni-Vattimos-idea-of-weak-thought/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Although humans are part of nature, human activity is often understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena. Why is this?

There are a couple of reasons that come readily to mind. The first is that humans - as a species - have a tendency to be arrogant, myopic, self-referential, xenophobic, acquisitive and obsessed with controlling everything around us. The second is that, at least for the more recent span of human history, our activities have been wantonly and overwhelmingly destructive to the natural environments we inhabit. So, from a psychological standpoint, we pretty much have to self-justify these attitudes, proclivities and behaviors by placing ourselves “apart” from everything around us. In a way our species acts a lot like a narcissistic psychopath - believing we are special or better than everything around us, and acting quite hostilely towards all we perceive to be “other” as we manipulate it towards our preferred ends. Of course, humans also have great capacity for empathy, compassion, moral conscience, self-awareness, and a sense of connection with others and the world around us. These more prosocial characteristics allow us to feel awe and reverence for Nature, to accept a more equivalent importance for our species among its functions and process, to see other conscious critters as independent family rather than just facilitators of our self-centered needs, to care about all of the Earth, and to seek harmonious coexistence with our natural birthplace. Unfortunately, as these human qualities are usually at odds with our more psychopathological ones, they have often been suppressed, rejected, belittled or - if they rise up in too great of a concentration or disruption individually or collectively - murdered and enslaved. Thankfully, sometimes our better nature percolates up through a particular zeitgeist, culture or timespan, so that it effectively reins in our pathology. And I think we have potential to continue to blossom our more prosocial selves into prominence over time, so that we become less destructive, and less “apart” in our self-conceptions. But these two facets of human interiority have been battling with each other throughout all of recorded history, and continue to do battle in our current times. The tension never seems to abate for long. One could even say these internal forces are the basis for conceptions of Light and Dark - or good and evil - in many traditions. So the question then becomes: which path will we choose; which wolf will we feed (see Cherokee Legend - Two Wolves)?

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Although-humans-are-part-of-nature-human-activity-is-often-understood-as-a-separate-category-from-other-natural-phenomena-Why-is-this/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What do Socialists think of the statement, "The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money"?

Speaking as a socialist, I think it’s a pretty stupid statement. But it exemplifies what has happened to our political landscape: the reduction of complex concepts into propagandizing sound bites. It’s how elections are won, and both Reagan and Thatcher were arguably brilliant at jingoistic oversimplification en masse. At the same time, of course, their neoliberal ideologies failed - and continue to fail wherever they are implemented. But such facts don’t discourage pro-capitalist folks from continuing to promote supply-side or trickle-down economics, austerity measures, destruction of social safety nets, and the aggressive obliteration of successful and/or popular government programs. Ironically, the most successful economies in the world are mixed economies - where socialized public sector controls and enterprises coexist with the private sector - rather those economies that lean more towards laissez-faire capitalism.

Now at the heart of the sentiments expressed by this silly sound bite is a profound conviction that welfarism, mixed economies and “The Nanny State” are all antagonistic to both wealth production and wealth accumulation. This is a primary tenet of the neoliberal belief system, and drives resentment of regulatory “government interference” in markets, a general mistrust of government bureaucracy, a constant anti-tax drumbeat, and apoplectic frothing-at-the-mouth over Keynesian economic policies or New Deal styled progressivism. But is this sentiment justified? Part of it is, sure - the interference with obscene concentrations of accumulated wealth is real. But this neatly sidesteps the reality of how much of that wealth is generated: that is, by callous rent-seeking activities, financialization of the economy, the exploitation of cheap labor and perpetuation of wage slavery, wanton destruction and depletion of natural resources, and complete disregard for any and all negative externalities. In other words, the feudal lords of neoliberalism want to oppress, exploit and despoil everyone and everything around them to amass their profit, and then prevent any crumbs from falling from the master’s table onto the floor for the rest of us. It’s a pretty nasty way of looking at the world, IMO, but it gets transmuted into the type of leadership and rhetoric that Thatcher exemplified, and into quips such as “taxation is theft.”

At the other end of the spectrum, we could say “The trouble with capitalism is that eventually you run out of other people’s labor.” But here again, this is a gross oversimplification.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-do-Socialists-think-of-the-statement-The-trouble-with-Socialism-is-that-eventually-you-run-out-of-other-peoples-money/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What would you choose to happen to you after death if you had a choice?

I’d like to have all of the following options available, which I could try out and then revisit after sampling them:

1. Have my consciousness re-enter my younger self with the knowledge and wisdom of an older man - mainly to correct all of the bad choices I made in my youth, but also to re-experience some of the coolest moments.

2. Go to angel training camp so I can learn how to skillfully aid mortals in enlightening themselves.

3. Become a deity on my own planet so that I could experiment with different forms of consciousness and life…you know, just for fun.

4. Become an unfettered consciousness that can travel faster-than-light all around the Universe to observe and explore.

5. Hang out for a while with all my favorite historical peeps, in whatever form they have inhabited the next life.

6. Have my consciousness be extinguished while giving all of my life force back to the Earth, secure in the knowledge that it will amplify love and light in the world.

7. Enter the next phase of the Great Journey - in whatever dimension, manifestation and role that may be - carrying all I have learned and experienced with me.

8. Become a ghost that haunts the Earth, disrupting the commercial spectacle until capitalism is finally abandoned and I can rest in peace.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-would-you-choose-to-happen-to-you-after-death-if-you-had-a-choice/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Does the mass media psychologically prey upon the audience?

Most certainly. I have studied this phenomenon for many years. There are exceptions - pockets of well-meaning public media, Open Source communities, etc. - but commercial/corporate media is mostly all about brute force deceptive manipulation to expand profits. There is nothing good about it. Even the folks who believe there IS something good about such manipulations (i.e. market fundamentalists) have arrived at this conclusion after being brainwashed by neoliberal propaganda - they have been marketed into submission. And of course many governments recognize the potential dangers of such nefarious marketing and advertising, which is why, for example, most developed countries in the world do not allow direct consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals, or constrain the advertising of cigarettes and alcohol to children, etc. But these are weak half-measures that cannot stem the tide of deceptive manipulation. We can say, almost definitively, that while awe-inspiring creativity has arisen in the marketing and advertising professions, and that there are of course many products and services deserving of persuasive media, the level of deception generally does correspond to the lack of clear benefit. If people must be artfully enticed with lies to try something, then they probably don’t have an existing need for it.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Does-the-mass-media-psychologically-prey-upon-the-audience/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Post-Postmodernity's Problem with Knowledge

Sell Sell Sell

This may actually be a pretty straightforward problem, with a challenging but nevertheless obvious solution. Here's my take....

I would propose there are nine primary forces at work in present-day knowledge generation, dissemination, evaluation and integration, which I would sketch out as the following inverted values hierarchy:

A. Titillation to entertain or make money.
B. Arrogant ideological agendas.
C. Tribalism and groupthink.
D. Extreme, self-protective specialization of informational domains and language.
E. Democratization and diffusion of knowledge.
F. Appreciation of an ever-increasing complexity and interdependence of all human understanding.
G. An understandable fluidity of exact knowledge.
H. Critical self-awareness.
I. The humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth.

What seems immediately evident when looking these over is that personal and collective values have tremendous influence on the efficacy of a given approach to knowledge - and, perhaps most importantly, this influence can and does defy any institutions created to sustain a more diverse or fruitful values system. For example:

1. If the profit motive reigns supreme, then titillation to entertain or make money will trump all other variables. This has clearly had a role in news media, where entertainment and sensationalism have far outpaced accuracy or depth. More subtly, this has also had an impact on scientific research, where competition for grant money has distorted methodology and data in order to attract sufficient funding.

2. If a particular belief system is venerated above everything else, then arrogant ideological agendas destroy truth in favor of persuasive propaganda - especially when combined with tribalism and groupthink. We see this with religious indoctrination and exclusionary bias (i.e. denial of empirical evidence), with conservative news media that promote neoliberal political and economic agendas, and with the refusal of institutions of higher learning to allow truly diverse or controversial perspectives among their events and curricula.

3. When democratization and diffusion of knowledge is prioritized above every other value, then we end up with the armchair Dunning-Kruger effect, where folks believe they have mastered a complex discipline after reading a few Internet articles, and are then able to confidently refute (in their own estimation) the assessments of more educated and experienced practitioners in that field. Social media seems to provide considerable reinforcement of such knowledge-distorting self-importance - as do participatory systems and institutional dialogues that refuse to qualify or evaluate sources of information or their veracity, and give all input equal weight.

4. With extreme self-protective specialization, we end up with isolated islands of understanding that do not fully comprehend or appreciate each other - and in fact often can't function harmoniously together in society. One consequence of this are graduates of universities who are preoccupied with scholastic performance at the expense of actual learning, or who cannot understand their field in a way that actually adds value to its execution in the real world. In other words, an education system that rewards one narrow flavor of performance, while devaluing creative productivity in order to generate compliant specialists.

There are also some nasty values combinations in the post-postmodern era that seem increasingly pernicious in the destruction of knowledge, mainly because they deliberately exclude F, G, H & I - that is, the humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth, fluidity of exact knowledge, critical self-awareness, and appreciation of ever-increasing complexity and interdependence. Really, whenever these four characteristics are deprioritized or absent, insight and understanding tends to be thoroughly crippled. But let's briefly take a closer look at each of these fundamentals....

What is "critical self-awareness?" I think it could be summarized many ways, such as taking one's own opinion with a grain of salt, or having a healthy sense of humor about one's own understanding, or being able to effectively argue against one's own position and appreciate its flaws - i.e. some of the central themes of postmodern thought. The "humbly inquisitive ongoing search" is certainly a kindred spirit here, but also implies that our journey towards the truth is never-ending; it's not just humility about conclusions, but about the process of seeking itself. Appreciating the "fluidity of exact knowledge" is an additional variable to balance out other, less rigorous impulses. It means there will be few black-and-white conclusions that are accurate; that ambiguity and imprecision are inevitable; that assertions should be tested in small arenas for limited periods, rather than as sweeping revisions; and so on. This fluidity does not, however, insist on a nihilistic or dismissive orientation to qualitative truth; on the contrary, it can recognize and integrate absolutes while remaining keenly aware of context. And, finally, "complexity and interdependence" means that we will of necessity be synthesizing a collective understanding together - there isn't much opportunity for elitist leadership or vanguardism, except perhaps in a few highly abstracted or technical areas. In other words, functional truth is perpetually intersubjective. At the same time - again as a balancing factor to the diffusion and democratization of knowledge - we will also need to appropriately weight the insights of experiential "experts" to help us navigate complexity.

These four characteristics can be viewed as attitudes, character traits, virtues, priorities, beliefs, operating assumptions, etc. The point is that if we prioritize these four above all considerations - subordinating our other beliefs, reflexes and desires to them - we can begin to formulate a healthy, fruitful relationship with knowledge, both culturally and interpersonally. If we don't prioritize these characteristics...well, then I suspect we'll keep making the same kinds of errors that have led us into our current state of apoplectic befuddledom. We simply can't afford to constrain the four essential qualities of truth-navigation in a straight jacket of what really should be extraneous and subordinated values and habits. And thus we arrive at a proposed values hierarchy that maximizes the utility of any approach to true and useful knowledge:

A. The humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth.
B. Critical self-awareness.
C. An understandable fluidity of exact knowledge.
D. Appreciation of an ever-increasing complexity and interdependence of all human understanding.

E. Democratization and diffusion of knowledge.
F. Extreme, self-protective specialization of informational domains and language.
G. Tribalism and groupthink.
H. Arrogant ideological agendas.
I. Titillation to entertain or make money.

As you can see, this is simply an inverted version of the current status quo. Okay...if we can entertain this thesis, how do we get from here to there? Well I think education about this issue will help, but really we need to evaluate what is generating the memetic force of competing values hierarchies, and disable or de-energize that force wherever possible. How is it that titillation to entertain or make money has gained such prominence? Or that arrogant ideological agendas or tribalism and groupthink have usurped both the scientific method and common sense? Why has extreme, self-protective specialization so often shattered collaborative, interdisciplinary exchanges and synthesis? And how has the democratization and diffusion of knowledge rallied itself into such a farcical exaggeration...? Is there a common denominator for all of these trends...?

Well I think the answer is pretty straightforward, and I along with many others have been writing about it for a long time - it was Aristotle, I believe, who most clearly identified the same core issues we face today. The central problem is our highly corrosive form of capitalism. But perhaps I should forsake my own confidence for a moment and - applying the very virtues I've exalted here - humbly offer that a culture of acquisitiveness, infantilizing consumerism, competitive egotism and blindly irrational faith will likely not facilitate the four essential qualities humanity requires for thriving and productive knowledge. And I do believe this is a cultural decision - one in which we have all become complicit, and have all reinforced through tacit acceptance of the status quo. To break free of our shackles, we will need to let go of some of the habits and appetites we most covet and adore. But I could be wrong. Perhaps we can achieve equilibrium through our continued bluff and bluster, through ever-greater fabrications, self-deceptions and carelessly conspicuous consumption. That seems a risky bet to me...but again, I might be mistaken.

Are you a spiritual hypocrite?


I got a good laugh from this one, because OF COURSE I am a hypocrite - on spiritual and countless other levels in nearly all of my habits. I think it is part of being human. For example:

1. I detest conspicuous consumerism and rail against it constantly…while also consuming beyond what I really need (that is, for the pleasure of consuming).

2. I believe that compassion is the truest expression of spiritual development - and that I have cultivated manifestations of my spiritual Self - but I make choices that are not compassionate all the time.

3. I decry the irrational stupidity of conservative Americans for their self-contradictory choices and reflexive groupthink…while at the same time I will sometimes defend contradictory progressive values without carefully thinking them through.

4. I encourage my clients and students (in meditation, coaching, etc.) to let go of animalistic reflexes in favor of conscious, skillful self-nourishment…but I feed my inner primitive wolf quite often with my own reptilian frustration and impatience.

5. I am confident that the Universe advances along its given trajectory with or without the involvement of my will…but I can still be willful or try to control outcomes in a way that contradicts that belief.

At the same time, I also do TRY to overcome this rampant hypocrisy by adjusting my thoughts, behaviors and responses to align more with my professed values, and avoid situations that would entice me to undermine them more easily. And of course this is like a game of Whac-A-Mole. Ha. But really I think this should flow effortlessly out of my way of being, not in response to conscious discipline. And so for now I must just accept that I haven’t progressed as far as I sometimes wish that I have…and try not to judge myself (or anyone else) too harshly for being a raging hypocrite.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Are-you-a-spiritual-hypocrite/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What do you think about Karl Marx's Fragment on Machines?

see: http://thenewobjectivity.com/pdf/marx.pdf

Well I think we have waded into the “deeper waters” of Marx’s complex thought here.

To appreciate what Marx seems to be saying, we need to go back to his fundamental assertion that what makes human labor unique is the creative and knowledge value that human beings add to their work. This is a critical consideration in understanding how capitalism then corrupts, distorts and negates this value - through subsuming labor, objectifying it, abstracting it, appropriating it, alienating it, commodifying it - in this case via mechanical automation. Machines help turn people into predictable, usable, but essentially valueless and non-living variations of fixed capital. At the same time (and here Marx contradicts himself a bit - or at least provides contradictory arguments for similar ends) machinery both reduces the time that human labor is involved in a given measure of productivity, while at the same time prolonging a worker’s capacity to work. In one way or another, Marx sees this as working against capital’s own definition of how wage slaves can enrich themselves, even as surplus value (profit) is expanded for the capitalist. Thus Marx is arguing that both the qualitative and quantitative value of labor is being eliminated in service to capital, and that this is - intuitively, if not obviously - unsustainable and self-defeating.

The second part of Marx’s argument, concerning disposable time, is a bit more subtle. What I think he is getting at is that the increase in worker free time because of automation will result in greater self-development of the individual. And this development, in turn, will inherently set itself against the non-agency of automatic, mindless, lifeless labor - because “real wealth” will then be measured in disposable time, rather than wage income. The irony he points to is that the objective of capitalism is to maximize surplus labor, while a consequence of that very effort is an increase in disposable time, which is antithetical to surplus labor. Further, all of these trajectories - an increase in disposable time, an increase in soulless labor, and a desire for greater profit from surplus labor - are all fundamentally contradictory. And this is what Marx hints to be an inevitable transformative current in society. At least I think this is what he is getting at here. If someone can find the original German for these passages and post it here, I might be able to provide some better insight. Translation is an art…and not always accurate if the person translating doesn’t understand the concepts being discussed.

As to what I think of all this…I think Marx is basically correct, and that history has already proven much his assessment to be valid. I also think that he was essentially inventing language for concepts and dynamics which themselves were relatively new, which is why his wording and reasoning can sometimes be so abstruse.

My 2 cents.

P.S. As I was describing this post to my wife, I ended up summarizing it this way: “Basically if Marx watched Office Space, he would nod knowingly and say ‘Yes, yes, I saw this coming….’”

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-think-about-Karl-Marxs-Fragment-on-Machines/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Does the Western literature lag behind in mysticism? If yes, why? If no, what are some Western magnum opuses that bring mysticism into prominence?

As you can see by my bio, I myself write about mysticism, and I live in the West.
However, IMO there are three distinctly separate threads of mysticism that have arisen in the West, and it is important to distinguish them:

1. Egoic. Mysticism schools that have some useful information, but tend to amplify the ego and enhance personal power and abilities. These include things like Theosophy, the work of Alistair Crowley and George Gurdjieff, certain New Age literature like The Secret, and esoteric and alchemical practices found among secret organizations (Free Masons, etc.).

2. Contemplative. Mysticism schools that grew out of the Christian and Neoplatonist traditions, but (surprisingly, in my view) have not propagated much throughout Western culture except in very small enclaves, denominations or esoteric schools. This would include the works of the Gnostics, Hermeticists, Neoplatonists, Christian contemplatives (Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhardt, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Jakob Böhme, Thomas Traherne, Thomas Merton, The Cloud of Unknowing, etc.), the Eastern Orthodox Desert Fathers (see the Philokalia), the practices of the Quakers, and some recently revitalized threads found in New Age literature (the writings of Kryon or Richard Bach, for example, or Meditations on the Tarot - A Journey into Christian Hermeticism).

3. Intellectual-Philosophical. This is where we find mainly a left-brained exploration of mystically influenced thought. Here we find the works of folks like Teilhard de Chardin, the German idealists (Fichte, Schelling, Hegel), William James, J. Krishnamurti, Aldus Huxley, Jean Gebser, Joseph Campbell and many others.

As to why these are not more popular, recognized or known - that is likely the result of several factors. Mainly it is because the dominant religious institutions in the West tend towards exoteric ritual and encourage dependence on authority. This is in stark contrast to Eastern religions like Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism, which - although they can and do succumb to similar institutional failings - tend to emphasize individual practice, development and “paths to enlightenment” in ways that never really have caught on in the West (other than through cults, self-appointed gurus and expensive weekend retreats). In the West, religion is also often much more commoditized and consumerized as a consequence of the ascendence of capitalism.

As for a magnum opus, I recommend Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism as a useful starting point. You can also read some of my works on mysticism, downloadable for free here: Integral Lifework Books & CDs.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Does-the-Western-literature-lag-behind-in-mysticism-If-yes-why-If-no-what-are-some-Western-magnum-opuses-that-bring-mysticism-into-prominence/answer/T-Collins-Logan

End The Madness - How To Resist The Propaganda Machines

As an attempt to pry well-meaning folks free of the orchestrated spectacle that is keeping us all at odds with each other, I've created a meme to share:

End The Madness

What are the criticisms against market socialism?

Here’s the thing: there are many different forms of market socialism. I am actually a proponent of one form, which I call a Level 7 political economy (you might call it “market-friendly libertarian socialism”). However, I am critical of some other forms, so I will focus on one of those and describe how my proposals seek to remedy its problems.

Proudhon’s mutualism is probably the most widely-considered version of market socialism - at least when differentiated from authoritarian, State-centric Marxist-Leninist proposals. I actually agree with several components of Proudhon’s reasoning (for example, his arguments regarding property), but differ in a few important areas. One of these is the Labor Theory of Value. The LTV attempts to rigidly constrain the value of a good or service to the labor required to produce it - and then restrict the exchange to other goods and services with equivalent labor inputs. We can quickly see the problem with such a system with respect to the realities of subjective valuation - how people actually value things in a social context. You can also read about additional criticisms here: Criticisms of the labour theory of value - Wikipedia.

My answer to this problem is to create a different system of valuation that is non-capitalist, but still encourages friendly competition for some (but not necessarily all) goods and services. I call my approach to property exchange value “holistic valuation,” and it includes a host of factors - intersubjective use value, effective nourishment value, accounting for negative externalities, etc. - that redefine scarcity as “scarce quality” or “scarce safety,” and advocate consideration of perverse utility that potentiates harm. These concepts are discussed in more detail at this link: Level 7 Property Position, and in the book from which that excerpt was taken (also linked at the top of the Property Position page). Such property then can be part of an exchange economy that includes both limited for-profit and non-profit businesses that are owned and managed by workers and members - with input from the surrounding community. My goal is to include as many democratic controls as possible over larger free enterprise and the markets themselves.

With respect to various forms of market socialism, there are also other questions regarding resource valuation and management, how currency is backed, and how essential infrastructure and services are provisioned. My approach to these also departs from other proposals as well, as I advocate a Social Credits System tied to a Universal Social Backbone, to avoid the moral hazards of a social dividend or basic income. In addition, I believe it is critical to address the issue of economic growth - both as a functional dependency and as an unsustainable trajectory - which is why I also advocate Sustainable Design principles, proof-of-concept piloting, the precautionary principle, etc. Again you can explore these concepts by perusing the Level-7 website links.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-criticisms-against-market-socialism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How does one cope with a spiritual crisis or a dark night of the soul?

Some thoughts:

1. Make sure all other dimensions of your being are fully nourished - relationships, learning, creativity and self-expression, healing from past trauma, physical exercise and a good diet, intimacy, affinity groups that share your other interests and passions, and so forth.

2. Read St. John of the Cross’ exploration of THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. Read both Book I and Book II. Meditate on them. Re-read them. Meditate some more.

3. Have compassion for yourself - be patient, forgiving, and accepting.

4. Let go. Relinquish any clinging to both what you have been and what you expect to become.

5. Read Lao Tzu’s Te-Tao Ching (I like the Robert Hendricks translation)

6. Find support and refuge in a like-minded spiritual community, keeping in mind that the community may not be where, who or what you expect. It may be Sufi or Baha’i; it may be a Buddhist sangha; it may be a Hindu temple; it may be a Christian congregation of an unfamiliar denomination; it may be a Wiccan discussion group; it may be some secular humanists at a Unitarian Universalist church…Be open, check stuff out, and abandon your prejudices.

7. Spend some time with Daniel Ladinsky’s renderings of Hafez.

8. Find an authentic, client-centered spiritual mentor, coach or therapist to help walk you through your experience and provide nonjudgmental support. However…don’t become dependent on them for guidance, but continue to look within.

9. Be careful not to push yourself too far, too quickly. Take a break from spiritual work if necessary; give yourself space and time to process and integrate new insights and information.

10. Read the Bhagavad Gita.

11. Begin to actualize the change in direction you now perceive to be most spiritually authentic. This also doesn’t need to be rushed…but it very likely does need to happen. The most fruitful and facilitative changes in circumstances will arise of their own accord…if we open the door to that process.

12. Disruption of routine is a normal consequence of spiritual crisis…but it is also important to watch out for distractions, old defenses, denial and destructive impulses, any of which can derail positive consequences.
13. Read Lex Hixon’s Mother of the Buddhas.

14. Allow yourself to grieve. There is real loss along this path.

15. Remember that we are never fully aware of where we are in our spiritual journey - and in any case we aren’t where we think we are. However, two helpful metrics I have found are these: How sincere is my felt experience of compassionate affection right now? How sincere and present is my expression of that compassionate affection - towards my own being, in my interactions with those around me, and in consideration of All That Is?

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-does-one-cope-with-a-spiritual-crisis-or-a-dark-night-of-the-soul/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Can anybody simplify Hegel's theory of alienation?

This is a tough one but I’ll give it a shot….

My understanding of Hegel here is that, in order for consciousness to understand itself, it enters into an ongoing synthesis of self-discovery. This self-discovery occurs through first observing an object “outside” itself, then realizing that the object is really a subjective conception of that object, and then realizing that, via experience, a sort of confirmation of the subjective conception can then be verified or negated. Once experience moderates the subjective conception of an object, an objective understanding of that object becomes a bit more real…a bit more objectively concrete. This dialectical synthesis of subject-object relations is thus the process whereby consciousness can ultimately recognize its own functions…and by implication can recognize itself as an object as well. So, through experience, consciousness advances closer and closer to an “absolute” understanding of the subject-object relationship, inclusive of its own subject-object existence.

What is alienation, then? Alienation would be not understanding the process as just described - whereby consciousness is alienated from both a more accurate understanding of its own function, a more accurate understanding of the world in which it exists, and a more accurate understanding of the dynamic relationship between the two. In this way spirit is also alienated from material existence. Can consciousness ever completely overcome this hurdle? Hegel indicates several milestones in its progress, but I seem to recall he also indicates the process is ongoing. It also appears evident that consciousness isn’t always aware of its various levels of alienation…and that becoming aware is not only a healthy part of our growth, but that deliberately invoking alienation (as when consciousness objectifies itself) is a means of achieving greater understanding. The key, it would seem, is for us to remember our previous errors in understanding (i.e. our misunderstanding of the stimulative subject-object interaction), and continually moving to the next horizon of dialectical awareness. And of course all of this is cradled within a unitive spirit, which continually supports and integrates the interplay of subject and object.

Now this dialectic can also be applied to cultural development and our context of “self” within society, so that culture itself evolves to support more and more complete self-realization with a more unitive aspect (with the self becoming less differentiated from others), thereby (ideally) alleviating alienation in both individual consciousness and society. This is what Marx then took and ran with in advancing his own variations on history and human value.

So…I don’t think that was terribly simple, but perhaps it will help. Please let me know if it does.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Can-anybody-simplify-Hegels-theory-of-alienation/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How do religious anarchists reconcile their religion and political views?

Most religions of the world (theistic or non-theistic) teach very similar principles with respect to civil authority: don’t make waves, follow the law, be a good citizen, and practice your faith on a personal and interpersonal level, rather than a political one. In fact, nearly all of them advise against overt political involvement (with respect to applying particular spiritual principles, for example), since politics is about worldly or illusionary power, and religious traditions are “supposed” to be about spiritual or ontological concerns. However, many also encourage compassionate action that could be expressed in one’s voting, or proposing legislation, or working to elect a candidate who seems to embody compassionate values.

Now in reality most wisdom traditions eventually get coopted by dogmatic “orthodoxy” and highly political institutions. This is where the worldly and political overtake spiritual, interpersonal and ontological concerns. It is in this context that the spiritual instruction of a given tradition will apply most directly to politics: that is, the politics of one’s own religious institution. Beyond that, the larger political sphere has little or no intersect with spiritual practices and beliefs (in terms of it competing with them), because it is not focused on the interpersonal. So, because the basis of your question assumes that there is a competing intersection, that is really where the disconnect resides.

In my own life, my personal beliefs and spiritual practice will continue regardless of the political environment I happen to live in. However, my investment in left-libertarian political solutions is grounded in my spirituality and informed by my personal beliefs. For me, moving away from individualistic materialism, conspicuous consumption, and corporate exploitation and enslavement is a spiritual as well as pragmatic imperative. Because I care about the well-being of my fellow humans, I would prefer they retain their personal and collective agency and liberty - and have relief from suffering - and the skillfulness with which I approach aiding others in this way is informed by my spiritual beliefs.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-do-religious-anarchists-reconcile-their-religion-and-political-views/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Some people say that people should be able to be slaves if they consent to it. Why is this morally wrong?

Here are some different takes on why voluntary enslavement is morally wrong, assuming that the “slavery” involved is for a prolonged period of time and for purposes that primarily benefit the slaveowner (i.e. not just an afternoon of bondage fun and games):

1. Such an agreement is immoral because extinguishing one’s own agency - even voluntarily - and participating in the extinguishment of another person’s agency are both heinous interferences with a person’s individual sovereignty and liberty. They are, effectively, akin to suicide and murder.

2. Such an agreement is immoral because the volunteer abdicates personal and social responsibility regarding how they live their life - that is, they are shirking their sociopolitical obligations and their individual quest for meaning and purpose.

3. Such an agreement is morally wrong because it violates the spiritual principle of reciprocation: that because the Universe has conspired in favor of our consciousness, we should conspire in favor of the Universe.

4. In an Aristotelian sense (somewhat ironically, as the case may be), such an agreement is morally wrong because it a) demonstrates a lack of courage, b) abdicates temperance to another’s will, c) disables the capacity to be just or good (i.e. to effect justice against wrongs in society).

5. Such an agreement is morally wrong because it artificially imposes a power dynamic that inevitably (historically and as shown by psychological experiments) leads to exploitation, degradation and generational disadvantage.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Some-people-say-that-people-should-be-able-to-be-slaves-if-they-consent-to-it-Why-is-this-morally-wrong/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are the main differences between how Bakunin and Kropotkin saw Anarchism?

I think there are some important differences. Kropotkin developed the idea of “mutual aid” as a way of understanding natural forms of cooperation (in Nature and human communities) and what we now call prosocial character traits. This played a central role in his conceptions of a collectivist society. However, Bakunin’s vision seemed to retain the prevailing view that competition and reward were driving social and productivity factors - at least in part. More specifically, he still saw a role for an exchange economy, albeit where prices were set by production costs and labor value, rather than via demand. This is also, I think, why Bakunin still framed human work as something that required specific valuation and remuneration (labor vouchers) - and the question then became whether control over such valuation would lead to problematic hierarchical (and potentially bourgeois) relationships - or even resentment and conflict between different sectors of his exchange economy. By the same token, this is why Kropotkin rejected the idea of money and payment for labor - and the concept of labor value in general - in favor of free distribution and collective production grounded in the sentiments of mutual aid. In Kropotkin’s vision, there would therefore be less of a need for an exchange economy, and indeed little requirement for “work” that was tied to conceptions of productivity. We can also see a parallel contrast in how Bakunin and Kropotkin viewed violent revolution: Bakunin advocated for it almost fanatically, while Kropotkin resigned himself to the possibility while advocating careful preparations of persuasion and education to mitigate bloodshed. In one way, we could summarize their major philosophical and operational differences this way: Bakunin was still oriented to capitalistic scarcity in his proposals and expectation of both competition and conflict; whereas Kropotkin oriented his thinking around a more voluntary, cooperative, relaxed and decidedly post-scarcity system.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-main-differences-between-how-Bakunin-and-Kropotkin-saw-Anarchism/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How can one determine the size and variation of flows on which the incomes of ordinary people depend on in a given territory?

First I think you would need to define your terms more specifically. Who are “ordinary people,” in terms of income and spending habits? What is a “given territory,” in a macroeconomic context? Also, what is the timespan involved? The “size and variation of flows” for any combination of sectors is going to be informed by these descriptors.

Even with specific definitions, this is an especially complicated and dynamic calculation. Let’s say you could account for every sector…when you then attempt constrain those sectors to a given geographical region, the data gets a bit slippery. For example, intersecting financial capital flows with that income data, how can we arrive at a regional representation when the actual assets and exchanges could be anywhere? Imagine, for example, a person who works for a transnational corporation and receives matching 401K contributions as part of their “salary,” and where those contributions, in turn, are invested in a REIT with widely distributed assets. How would all the flows involved (the international employer’s assets, diverse investment portfolio assets, tax-deferred income, etc.) be holistically represented? And how would all of the income velocity and transactional velocity in play over time be captured for any given increment? It could be done, but not without higher quality data than is currently available methinks. Of course, such data could be approximated in order to estimate such flows…but how accurate would it be? Hence the tough nut. Then again, if you restrict this type of speculation mainly to more generalized, large-scale macroeconomic models that are both homogenous and span large periods of time, you could come up with some useful insights. At least…that seems to be the domain where economists get it right more often than not. :-)

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-can-one-determine-the-size-and-variation-of-flows-on-which-the-incomes-of-ordinary-people-depend-on-in-a-given-territory/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What is the difference between liberty and autonomy?

Autonomy is the ability to act on your own, from your own initiative, according to your own values, in order of your own priorities, and without reliance on someone or something else to actualize a given objective. In this sense autonomy is individualistic in its orientation, and is concerned most with an individual’s self-directed thought and action.

Liberty is a much broader and deeper semantic container, with many other components and considerations. In an individual context, having autonomy is just one facet of liberty. Additional facets include lack of substantive interference with autonomous thought and action, and productive conditions that facilitate individual ability to self-actualize, and even enhance opportunities and capacities to do so. In a more collective context, liberty is a consensus expectation of mutual (passive) permission and (active) support for maximized autonomy. This is where “enhanced opportunities and capacities” become a collective, mutually beneficial consideration.

However, in a collective context there is the added layer of an agreed-upon values framework. In other words, a framework within which some actions are permitted, but others are not. This is where the intersect of collective standards of liberty and individual aspirations of autonomy can potentially interfere with each other, and it has frequently been the aim of civil society at various points in history to reconcile the two.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-liberty-and-autonomy/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Why do some people think that anarcho-communism can work?

To me, the idea appears as an oxymoron. Communism requires some authoritative power (government) to be successful and anarchy is a lack of government. Am I wrong with this logic? If not, what can I tell a peer who identifies as an anarcho-communist to talk some sense into them?

Thanks for the A2A…I think.

So first off your assumption is incorrect: no oxymoron here. Your conception of communism seems rooted in Lenin’s version of a rather murderous and authoritarian form of Marxism, which was then exported to China, Vietnam, etc. Marx and Engels had envisioned a much more democratic arrangement (read up on the Commune of Paris | 1871 as an example). Also there were examples of a more spontaneous form of anarcho-communism “in the wild” in many places around the globe. Not just what happened early on in the Russian revolution, before the Bolsheviks killed off the competition and consolidated power, or what arose in Spain prior to Franco. A pretty sound argument can be made for primitive communism being the default mode of political economy in early, primitive societies. In any case, one problem was that Marx presumed some stages of transition did indeed involve expropriation, central controls…and yes, violent revolution. So there is that. But folks like Kropotkin (whom you should read) had a very different vision of distributed, diffused and self-directing communistic transitions and management. His The Conquest of Bread is a fascinating read. Before you engage your friend, I would encourage you to read that book - it’s pretty short and easy reading (unlike most of Marx).

Now your broader misconception - that communism requires centralized authoritative power - is an understandable mistake. It’s one that Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and many others also made. But I think that is mainly because revolutions involving force were the only examples or models those folks had for change - in a historical sense; their information was limited. In any case, I would encourage you to look into libertarian socialism (of which anarch-communism is a subset) for a broader understanding of nonviolent approaches to cooperative proposals. Also, you can check out my website, which also approaches political economy from a libertarian socialist perspective: Level 7 Overview.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-some-people-think-that-anarcho-communism-can-work/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What are Milton Friedman's debate secrets?

LOL. Thanks for the A2A. I would say they include:

1. Lie like your life depends on it. Have real conviction.

2. Dismiss any complex or nuanced positions your opponent offers as if they are an idiot.

3. Cherry pick highly selective economic data to support your position.

4. Sound very reasonable when in fact you are promoting a totally insane position.

5. Revise history to fit your worldview.

6. Smile a lot.

7. Interrupt your opponent precisely when they are summarizing really good data that eviscerates your argument.

8. Admit that your opponent is partially correct, but then accuse them of overemphasizing or over-applying that small slice of truth (when in fact this is exactly what YOU will be doing).

9. Completely exclude entire chunks of reality from your argument, and constantly speak around them as if they are unimportant or don’t exist (for example, underestimating the impact of monopolization and corporate power on market distortions).

10. Don’t have any integrity at all with your own stated ideals with respect to how you actually comport yourself (and advise on economic policy) in the real world.

11. Frequently wave both your hands at your opponents like your are casting a banishing spell.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-are-Milton-Friedmans-debate-secrets/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Could someone into Christianic monasticism/mysticism tell of what I describe below?

It is known by some Greek orthodox people as ”άκτιστο θείο φώς”/ non-material-divine-light. Most likely there's a feeling of God, and likely an out of body experience/altered state of consciousness.

Thank you for the A2A Chrysovalantis.

Encountering light, working with light, entering light, being filled with light…these kinds of experienced are referenced in the literature of nearly all mystical traditions - theist and non-theist. Sometimes the light is associated with God, sometimes with a particular Buddha, sometimes with life-force energy, sometimes with the unmanifest aspects of the Divine, sometimes with one’s own soul, sometimes with angels or spirits, sometimes with a particular region in a spiritual realm, sometimes with a particular form of consciousness or peak experience. It’s everywhere. Among the gnostic Christians there seems to have been a major interest with one’s own “light,” as well as the light of Christ, and the gospel of John is replete with references to light as a manifestation of the logos, then stating directly in 1 John 1 that “God is light.” The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5, pretty much spends that whole chapter discussing light, and I would encourage you to read it and meditate upon it. Also, throughout the Bible we find encounters with the Divine - and agents of the Divine - as often accompanied by a blindingly bright light. So again, it is everywhere.

Regardless of mystical tradition, entering the light, dwelling in the light, and/or allowing the light to dwell in you is more than a metaphor. It is part of an initiation and an ongoing practice. And the many forms of meditation or prayer that invite these conditions are central to mystical practice.

My 2 cents.