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A new and improved American electorate?

Long story short, a rigorous training program in philosophy (and even better, one beginning at as early and age as feasible, ffs already) would be the biggest cure-all for what ails us politically or otherwise.  For now I'll focus on the political since that seems to be a topic a lot of folks pay attention to; its subject matter just seems more accessible somehow than that covered in metaphysics and epistemology.  (Wait, we can live better by studying constituent ontology or the foundationalism vs. coherentism issue?  Would I bet the house on that?  Actually I think I would, but I'm not quite yet in a position to prove that, or else that book would have been written by now.  Right?)

I'm not saying get the nonphilosophical (if they become philosophical, how does that process of change work exactly? does the nonphilosophical person pass away to be replaced by the philosophical?  how can the non-existent replace the existent, given Parmenides' formulations about being and change?) onto Parfit right away.  They'll have to be eased into it, over time.  Show them Parfit (much less Hegel) and it'll only drive them away with their belief confirmed that philosophy is just too damn hard or something.  (Heck, I'd caution against jumping right in with the relatively more accessible philosophy literature without some guidance or context of some sort.)

I'd like to address the ever-fascinating topic of Congresswoman/Comrade AOC.  In a tweet the other day she used the term "nascent (technology)."  She's not exactly an idiot.  I wouldn't say her voters are exactly idiots.  They're just in a very electorally un-competitive district is all, making serious dialectic hard to come by in that locale.  Put their ideas to the test of a non-strawmanned Rand or Nozick and their comebacks (if they can muster them) will begin to look silly.  Or put the ideas of a deep-Red State district up against a Chomsky test, and the voters there will probably flail about and bemoan how the academic intelligentsia are aligned against the forces of decency and common sense.  The electorate just isn't dialectically prepared for these kinds of intellectual onslaughts.  (If you want a more intellectually challenging leftist to analyze, Chomsky is a better bet than AOC, that I'd bet the house on.  Well, on economic theory they both seem to be flaky leftists.)

I'll begin with AOC's statement just the other day that the (rank and file?) workers "are the ones creating wealth," with the obvious implication that it's those folks who can do what Bezos does (and yet they don't, presumably because of obstacles placed in their way by the privilege-protecting One Percent).  ("There's plenty of wealth, it's just in the wrong hands." -Comrade DeBozio)  I mean, she supposedly has an Economics degree from a not-shitty university.  I'd be willing to bet, though not a large amount, that she even spent more than a few minutes in the HX (Socialism/Communism/Marxism) section of her university's library, perhaps studiously overlooking the Mises and Kolakowski books there.  Cramming for a term paper or something, she might have even visited the main Econ section (HB) once or twice, probably to get Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers (this would be the one time a student of economic literature would be guaranteed to see the world "philosopher" at least once in the course of her studies; surely she managed at least that?) (and I'm not assuming that the likes of Ekelund/Hebert or Blaug are not above her pay grade).  Anyway, somewhere in the course of her "education" she got it into her head that the non-Bezos workers are the main wealth creators, and he just siphons of their production into his idle bank account, somehow.  (The privilege of capital ownership, I guess.  He just somehow got to control Amazon's means of production; the real workers already had this massive distribution system in place, somehow, and he just took control.)

So she isn't exactly an idiot, because she can use the word "nascent," and yet she repeats, parrot-like, the usual bogeyman stories about how terrible it is what the billionaires are doing to the workers and the country.  I don't get it.

She used that term, "nascent," during a series of tweets in which she pushed back against ridicule for her newfangled doctrine of legal liability.  Why can't Wells Fargo be held liable for damages caused by leaks from an oil pipeline that they financed but don't operate themselves?  Why?  Why the f didn't the legal system think of that one already?  (I'm guessing there would be no coherent way to implement her newfangled doctrine, and that, right there, is a problem for legal institutions.)  Seeing that her newfangled legal doctrine which she might have made up right there on the spot was a non-starter, she goalpost-shifted and went on to the topic in which she is a real expert, climate change.  The greedy oil companies (who surely seized the oil rigs and technical know-how created by the workers alone), using their extractive ethos (to adopt the phrase of intellectual heavyweight Comrade Naomi Klein, to whom AOC should probably turn over her congressional seat forthwith), a single-handedly causing climate change, and they, not Congress, are the ones to be held responsible for this.  (In oldfangled legal doctrines, the greedy oil companies have a fiduciary (not nascent, fiduciary) obligation to maximize shareholder value within the limits set by law.  But that's oldfangled stuff.) 

I'm hoping no one noticed her goalpost-shifting to the climate change topic here, which seems to have more of a veneer of intellectual credibility than her newfangled liability doctrine wherein WF Bank needs to pay for oil spill cleanup.  It's just like laws requiring bartenders to cut off drunk customers.

Does AOC (or anyone else for that matter) really need to get her facts straight, as long as she has a superior moral compass?  Is that too high a standard to hold public officials to?  Let's say we all start playing that game, where superior moral compasses are what really matter.  So what if the Green New Deal can't realistically be implemented in 10 years.  It's the moral intentions that count.  I mean, maybe it can be implemented in 10 years, but that's not really the point.  The real point is the moral intentions.  And she's signaled her moral superiority.  Well, I care about climate change, too.  I want to see nascent technologies address that problem.  I haven't the faintest how that'll be done, but that doesn't matter, not when moral intentions are the key here.

Enough picking on AOC (for now).  I'd like to integrate the topic of moral intentions with the superior moral intentions of rightists at present who care more about life than others do.  I'm referring specifically to their virtue-signaling about supposed Democrat-supported laws legalizing infanticide.  Now, does it even ring true on its face that Democrats (in their moral inferiority and all) are in support of such an idea?  Or even late-term abortions?  Does it ring true on its face that they favor late-term abortion on demand for whatever reason?  Because they care so little about life?  If you watch Fox News regularly, you've probably been bombarded recently with the message that this is what Demon Rats are up to, along with their embrace of socialism (which does ring true; Comrade Bernie Sanders almost did win the '16 Dem nomination, after all).

(Rightists are ignorant of socialism, you see.  In their mind, all socialists should be addressed as 'Comrade,' like Lenin and Stalin.  But conceptual clarity here isn't as important as moral correctness.  But that aside, it's not like commies want to take away all personal property, just capital-property.  There's an important difference, you see.  If instead of buying another toothbrush you save a bit and lend it at interest or start a business, then you're becoming an exploiter.  But actually by socialism AOC means the Scandinavian model where there's private ownership (well, control - the rich control a country's resources, you see; they even control their minds/intellects (a subset of the country's resources), with all the inegalitarian consequences of that) and a morally superior cradle-to-grave welfare state.  So you do get to nominally own/control roughly half of your marginal income if you're rich, and that's morally a lot different and superior than state ownership/control of industry.  Which is why it's ignorant to refer to Bernie or AOC as Comrade; they actually do support the nominal rights of rich people against excessive state control, just as long as they're not siphoning off too much of the worker-created wealth and withholding it from those who need it more, that is.  (And since "good" and "need" are metaethically coextensive, that makes needs a fundamental focus of political ethics, right?  What about the distinctly human need for freedom?...)  (As leftish folks keep reminding us, people need opportunities, in order to flourish.  Surely, then, lefties have made it a priority to develop an art or science of eudaimonia (i.e., self-actualization, i.e., complete needs-fulfillment) for making maximal use of opportunities, so that all the opportunity-talk isn't for naught.  Surely then they've promoted Aristotelianism and philosophy as a top priority.  AOC and Chomsky and the rest of the intellectually- and morally-superior Left will weigh in on that all-important task any minute now.  Surely the intellectual ammo in this area from the Rawls- and Aristotle-influenced Nussbaum & Co. has filtered down to the Left from the philosophy departments by now.  Surely they know by now that when all is said and done eudaimonia is ultimately a self-generated, self-directed activity that the state, polity or demos thereby cannot make happen whatever push they give?))

Back to those morally-superior rightists.  Does it really matter if they get their facts right about what Democrat reproductive-rights (sic) legislation contains, as long as the moral value of life is upheld?  (Embryonic life is just as morally significant in all its rights-entailing glory as that of a rational-decision-making adult, you see.  It's not like the concept of rights arose for the purpose of securing a space of rational/autonomous living for rational/autonomous moral agents; it's about protecting generic biologically-human life, you see.  It's right there in the Declaration of Independence, a Christian-God-given document.)

Is America a Christian nation, meaning Muslims are not exactly welcome?  Well, ask your average Fox News viewer.  Ask your average Hannity viewer, i.e., Palin supporter.  Moral superiority all on display here.  And who's to say AOC's brand of moral superiority is superior to theirs?  Isn't it all just competing intuitions at this point?  Is that what America's bitter political divide all comes down to, is competing and irreconcilable moral intuitions?  It's like there's no intellectually-demanding route (whatever the hell that might involve) out of this pickle, or something.  You have your Trumpian facts, I have my Comrade AOC ones, and let's ultimately-pointlessly battle it out on social media, making sure to emphasize cleverness over wisdom.

America was founded as a Christian nation?  I have my historical narrative, you have yours.  Doesn't really matter if founders like Jefferson or Franklin were deists.  It's all due to Judeo-Christian heritage, the single fount of moral wisdom in the Western tradition.  And those godless left-wing degenerates are the sole cause of the nation's ills (and Trump is all that stands in the way of their making America a barbarian socialist hellhole).  When all the moral wisdom you ever need is in Scriptures, why bother with philosophy?  All the most important American Framers were members of the American Philosophical Society, but that's irrelevant because America was founded as a Christian nation.  If that doesn't exactly ring true, just remember: moral correctness supersedes factual correctness.

Okay, maybe that's going over-the-top.  But now suppose that a philosophical gadfly were to prompt a Fox News host or viewer to explain what they mean by their constant use of the phrase "but the media are biased and corrupt, the media won't tell you about such and such," and so on.

Gadfly: What do you mean by 'media'?
Fox News Viewer: [googled dictionary definition]
G: Fox News and talk radio are part of the media, then, right?
FNV: I mean the mainstream/legacy/drive-by media, the leftist biased media.
G: Wouldn't it help to make that clear when you use the term "media"?
FNV: You know what I mean when I say "biased corrupt media," stop being a pedant.
G: What if we need pedantry to avoid corruption of the language that leads people to accept certain narratives?  What about non-bullshitty conceptual clarity?
FNV: That's a nice high-minded ideal but we're in the realm of politics here, and politics is war by another means.  You have to fight Alinskyites with their own tactics, else they win.  That's why we need Trump as president.  Fiorina may have had the best arguments but Trump had a better chance of beating Crooked Hillary.
G: Isn't there a better way than that?  Shouldn't we aspire to higher standards of intellectual honesty and clarity?  Can't the people be better educated than that?
FNV: The educational system is already corrupted through and through by leftists and teachers unions.  They're godless socialists set in their ways.
G: People do tend to get set in their ways, yes.  It's a matter of habituation and life experience, forming coherent narratives about the way the world works (Marxists refer to the process here as ideology).  When these narratives clash, isn't there some process, something that takes place in dialogue-form, say, that might resolve these narrative differences?
FNV: Ideally, yes, but all the conceptual analysis and untangling required to make that productive would be very demanding and time-consuming.  When I get home from a hard day's work, I just want to relax in front of my favorite news programming.
G: And the CNN/MSNBC viewers do likewise, getting their version of events.
FNV: Correct.
G: So, what about those who have a lot of extra time on their hands to practice the art of conceptual analyzing and untangling, who aren't worn out by a hard day's work, whose minds aren't yet formed by whatever narrative ideology their life experiences hardened them into?
FNV: Oh, you mean the children?
G: Yes.
FNV: Children require education in Judeo-Christian moral values to live a good life, and they don't get that in the godless socialist schools.  How can we entrust their education to the current education establishment so they don't turn out like CNN-or-AOC-parroting drones?  Better that we fight that establishment through alternative media.
G: Aren't the educators basically well-intentioned even if they produce a mediocre product?  Don't they, in the end, want to cultivate independent critical minds who don't accept whatever is fed them as the truth?  Isn't that what education is for?
FNV: You're starting to get annoying.  I've said that the leftist educators are set in their ways, and their version of what it means to cultivate independent minds is not the same as ordinary decent folks' version.  Sure there are well-intentioned educators but too many of them are wicked and/or lazy and the wicked/lazy ones' tenure is protected by union rules.  I don't see a way around that problem from within the establishment.  At the university level, there are too many leftist faculty who, by having too little exposure to the real world, don't know how the free market system works.  Look at the products of that system, like AOC, or the drive-by media.
G: I don't mean to be annoying, I'm just trying to find a way out of this seeming predicament.  It seems like education would be the way out of it, but we don't have a clear agreement on what that education process should be like.  Should it involve teaching evolution?
FNV: If it involves teaching evolution, Intelligent Design should be given equal time.
G: Here's the problem with that: the vast majority of experts in the sciences don't consider ID to be science properly speaking.  Generally speaking, should ideas or theory of unequal merit be given equal time?
FNV: Of course not.  That's the current problem with the education system today.  Socialist and secular ideas are certainly no more meritorious than capitalist and God-fearing ones, but the kids are fed one a lot more than the other.  The educators are convinced that this is as it should be, since in their worldview capitalist and God-fearing ideas can't compete on the merits with socialist and secular ones.  And look how their secular decadence and socialist state-as-provider mentality has encouraged disintegration of the traditional family unit, rendering students less adequately prepared for proper learning.
G: Well,
FNV: I'm starting to tire of this discussion, I've had a long day of work and would like to relax with my news programming.  You may not be annoying per se, but I'm getting annoyed.  Besides, the last thing we need is for our youth to be corrupted and to start denying God, which is where the current crop of educators would lead them with their notions of "critical, independent thought."
G: Okay, then. I'll leave you be for now.  Talk later?


G: Pick up where we left off?
FNV: *sigh* Where do you think we're going to get with all this?
G: I propose teaching philosophy to children, or age-appropriate philosophy as early as can be introduced to them.  There's actually a growing body of research that says it can be done.
FNV: *sigh* Aside from the problem of how we can trust the current crop of educators not to screw up that task, how about you name me any philosophers who believe in a Judeo-Christian God.  Without belief in that, our civilization is doomed.
G: Haven't you heard of the Euthyphro Dilemma?
FNV: Would you please answer my question first.
G: Fine.  Augustine, Aquinas, and (alive today) Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne.  You can search google and wikipedia for more names.
FNV: Aren't they in a small minority of philosophers these days?  Nietzsche said "God is dead."
G: One thing about philosophers is that their statements almost always get taken out of context or misconstrued by someone.  Some have even been sentenced to death based on such misunderstandings.
FNV: So Nietzsche didn't say "God is dead"?
G: Well, he did, but there's a whole context to all that.  He's been called a nihilist even though his aim was to overcome nihilism through a revaluation of values.  That ties in with the Euthyphro Dilemma....
FNV: God created the universe and in the process determined what is good and evil for his creatures.  His creatures as he created them have certain needs or requirements - requirements for wisdom in humans' cases, which begins in fear of the lord, Proverbs 9:10.
G: The love of wisdom is a fine thing, indeed.  Shall we live for the sake of the fine or noble?
FNV: How we shall live is set forth in the Scriptures.
G: And only the Scriptures?
FNV: Everything else is buttressing, basically.  Jesus' central message is one of love: to love God and to love one's neighbor as oneself.  You learn to love through life experience and practice and pointing yourself in love's direction, and you don't need a bunch of book-learnin' for that.
G: You do need to love intelligently.  The road to hell can be paved with good intentions.  How about having a hard head to go along with the soft heart?  Isn't that basically what Aquinas was getting when assimilating Christianity to Aristotelian thought?
FNV: Alright, yes.
G: And God created our intellects along with our hearts in order that we may perfect our intellective soul along with the rest of our soul?
FNV: As long as that intellect is directed toward love and intellectual, um,...
G: Contemplation?
FNV: Yes, contemplation of divinity, of the Lord.  That's what the secular socialists educators don't get.  Intellectual perfection, as you call it, all that science and learning, is all for naught when it isn't directed in the end toward what is most important, to what gives our lives meaning, and that is God - that is, the relationship we have with God.
G: I find a lot here that resonates with me, even if I might put it in other terms.  Arguably the greatest of the so-called secular philosophers had this idea that the intellect is the most divine thing within us, and the most divine object in existence is (to put it crudely) "thought thinking itself," which Aquinas in turn identified as God.  So if we did have a program for philosophy for children, it would involve exposing them to this idea for sure, for their consideration and contemplation.
FNV: Of course.  Secular socialist teachers may not be so keen on that, though.
G: Why not?
FNV: For one thing, the love of God, or having a God-centered life, focuses our attention away from political power (such as the power involved in state-run education), and from the material concerns of life.  Secular socialists are not all fine and good with that.  They believe in this world only and so pursue the powers and pleasures of this world.  They had their chance to receive the Lord's message and turned away from it anyway.
G: I assume that as a Christian you believe in free will, so what if they're given another chance, only this time you edify your message intellectually with the ideas of Aquinas and Plantinga.
FNV: Oh, I don't know...
G: What we're talking here is a change of mind and heart, and that's usually not easy.  And as you say, a majority of philosophers these days are unbelievers.  That Euthyphro Dilemma still nags at me, because even though these philosophers don't believe in a God (definitely not in the sense that you mean, anyway), they do believe in right and wrong, good and evil, and many leave decent enough lives so as not to live like barbarians and treat fellow humans un-lovingly.  Maybe they've hit on grains of truth that can be discovered without explicit acknowledged aid of God's guiding light.  Which is to say that they don't need to attest to belief in God in order to discover moral truths even if God is the ultimate explanation for how they came to discover it.  In the jargon of philosophy, God would be metaphysically explanatory without being epistemologically explanatory here.  But let's say that there are moral truths whether God exists or not.  Do you entertain the proposition that God might not exist?
FNV: You mean to take the perspective of a doubter?  Encountering and grappling with doubt is part of the normal Christian experience, a rite of passage, yes.
G: Yes, that's what I mean.  To entertain a proposition without necessarily accepting it.  To see where it might lead.  That's a philosophical activity.  Because a lot of us are mistaken in at least some of our beliefs.  You don't hold the same beliefs as a Muslim.  Both of you can't be right.  So unless you want to resort to non-rational means to resolve your conflicts of belief, you need to subject your ideas to the light of scrutiny.  Just as is the case with your conflict of belief with the secular socialist educators.  You both possess the freedom of will to change your minds in the face of honest inquiry.
FNV: Easier said than done.
G: As one of the not-exactly-secular but not-exactly-theist philosophers once said, all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.  Philosophy or intellectual refinement is not easy, but the reward is a better if imperfect grasp of the truth.
FNV: It sounds like you're trying to lead me from premises I accept to a conclusion I am wary of, that philosophy is the route to enlightenment.  Scripture says to be on guard about that sort of thing.  The fool says there is no God, even if the fool uses clever-sounding arguments.
G: Yes, such fools are known as sophists, and their very name indicates an appearance of wisdom or love of it, but their notorious MO is to lead people to conclusions by specious arguments.  A key aspect of wisdom or the love of it is to be able to tell specious arguments apart from the truly fine or best ones - to tell the fool's gold apart from the real.  We do necessarily aspire to the true gold for the soul, for how truly valuable it is, which makes it all the more important to know what's the true and what's the fake.  And that is the task of philosophy or love of wisdom, so as to best order our souls for the finest living.  Which is why I ask you not to simply accept my argument if you are wary of it, but to think it through, to examine it for flaws you may find in it, and to make clear what exactly you find in it that makes you wary of it.
FNV: Fair enough.  All I know is, the Scriptures are darn great, they are a treasury of real gold.
G: The Muslim says the same about the Quran.  The task of philosophy in this case is to examine where the gold is to be found in both of your perspectives.  It's not like the life experiences and habituation of the Muslim makes it weird that the Quran would be of great value and appeal.  What would be weird, from a philosopher's perspective, is to take a position of great skepticism toward one holy book but not another.  They both must be subjected to the same warranted skeptical attitude.  That means, of course, that the Bible must be subjected to as much scrutiny as the Quran, as well as the secular socialist worldview you are rightly skeptical of.
FNV: Subjecting the secular socialist worldview to intense scrutiny sounds like a wonderful idea.  I wish the educators were more amenable to that than they are.
G: As long as they profess a love of wisdom and learning, they would be hypocrites not to be amenable to it.  And who dares not to profess a love of wisdom and learning, lest they be ridiculed?  The sophists wouldn't even dare.
FNV: The devil at his most devious comes in disguise, professing love of what's holy.
G: Indeed.  How, then, is philosophy not a cure-all for human soul-ailments?
FNV: Well, you tell me.
G: I don't know much, but I do know that I haven't yet encountered anything that would disabuse me of the idea that it is such a cure-all.
FNV: So what you're saying is that the fool AOC is peddling fool's gold, and philosophical education would combat this.
G: It's not just AOC.  We all have faults, but it's the attitude we take to those faults that decides our level of wisdom.  As you put it as a Christian, we have human weakness and the appropriate attitude toward that is one of humility.  The fool is full of hubris.
FNV: That's the issue I take with the educators today.  They think they're intellectually superior to us Fox News viewers when they're no better on average than we are.
G: And as a Christian, are you throwing stones from a glass house here?  By which I mean, both you and the educators today are finding fault in the other and regarding one another as you do.  The result has been a not-very-productive exchange of insults, vilification, caricatures -- you've reduced educators to "secular socialists" with little or no redeeming value, while they've reduced you to "gullible Fox News Viewer" or "deplorable Trump voter," as though that defined your personality.  Philosophers qua philosophers - i.e., in their capacity of such, abstracting from their own human shortcomings - tend to take a different approach, as a matter of habit and training and experience in encountering and combating human cognitive foibles: they take a more collaborative than oppositional approach.  It's nice to win an argument, but even better for both sides of the argument to attain a better or more refined grasp of the truth.
FNV: The problem is, the political reality of today is that of a power struggle, and I don't see philosophers - ones well-identified as such at any rate - taking part in this.  Don't they do a lot of contemplating and study away from this ugly fray?  Where is philosophically-minded commentary and literature in all this?
G: There is some of it, but what there is of it seems to be drowned out by battles on social media platforms.  Philosophers tend to put their ideas in long-form presentation in blogs, for example, if they're even doing that sort of thing online rather than in books and print articles.  Whatever its benefits, social media is driven by a different dynamic than a truth-seeking one.  Here we get back to that whole definition of "media" we started with.  Especially in the age of the internet, the media are increasingly you and I.  Speaking of getting clarity on definitions, have we even pinpointed what we mean by "wisdom," that thing we say we love so much?
FNV: Oh boy....
G: We could start with [googled dictionary definition] and go from there.
FNV: Do you ever get tired?  Alright, you win, philosophical education far and wide, ffs already.  You do you, I've got other things to do now.  Tucker Carlson's on shortly.  Hell no, he shouldn't have to apologize for remarks he made on Bubba the Love Sponge show of all places, are you fucking kidding me?  Context matters.
G: Say, have you heard about dialectic, the art of context keeping?
FNV: Oh boy....


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