Monday, February 17, 2014


An instrument of reason, even forged by the most rigorous logic and clothed in the most eloquent rhetoric, cannot solve Hume's Guillotine, bridge that most appalling chasm between that which is and that which should be.  On what basis does man communicate that which ought to be?

In dismissing this question as incomprehensible, the tender reader demonstrates an assumption upon which it is based, for no question could be anything but fully comprehensible were man's language his communication, but - as a fallen creature - man's words are only the means by which he attempts to communicate to another.  And misunderstanding the nature of communication appears to be at the heart of modern man's incapacity to recognize Kingship - that sublime way of being that bridges the is-ought gap by ignoring it.  After all, though by statements positive and normative man may respectively attempt to describe what is and ought to be, he communicates by means far more numerous, subtle, and grand than mere words permit him to (or enable him to fully explain!) and these means, perceived by their origin, are recognized to be consequences of his way of being.

Thinkers less misguided than most have claimed that might makes right.  Blissfully unaware that all great truths are inherently so, many progressives protest, dismissing this observation as mere truism.  And such progressives are right in a crude sense, for the process by which normative opinions are formed is hampered by truism, which, communicated itself - naked, alone, and divorced from any evidence - means nothing by the empirical standards of such modern fallacies as social science.  But, properly understood, progressives' protestations show the real value truism carries in contextualizing discussion most admirably.

Upon hearing that might makes right, a simple man may be reminded that force bows not to words - that the pen is only mightier than the sword inasmuch as the masses listen.  A mediocre man may be reminded that what is justified is determined to be so by those with the sword to enforce such penmanship.  A more clever man may be reminded that interests trump values - that in the public square logic does not an argument make and that swords tend to defend those pens with aligned incentives.  A sophisticated man may be reminded of the inherent futility of discussion - that taking up the pen in defense of truth is a fool's errand, as the limits of understanding are those of its nature.

The more intuitive the man the more incisive are his recollections upon hearing that might makes right.  But notice, tender reader, that all these recollections pertain to those invisible shackles that are placed upon his conduct.  Intuitions about the world in myriad ways limit, check, and restrict the human vice of seeking to control that which one does not.  It is in this way that the realities of truisms intrude upon the juvenile sophistry of having opinions.

For the record, upon hearing that might makes right, this conceited writer is reminded of his understanding - that might does not make right so much as is right itself.

Right pertains to truth, which is the highest value of the spiritual world; might to power, which is the highest value of the temporal world.  If right is pure and singular - existing outside the bounds of the mortal domain, might is corrupt and divided - exercised by as many mortal souls breathe.  Right is timeless, but might is thoroughly of the moment, everywhere ravishing, tormenting, and defiling.

Clearly, then, might ain't right, but that the striking corollaries between the temporal and spiritual realms have been forgotten renders the articulation of might as right useful as a frame in properly considering our original subject - how the is-ought gap is bridged by man.

For although all right stems from might, the original phrasing leaves open the possibility that not all might makes right - as if not all might is right or, by extension, not all power is just.  Were all control of power just, what would normative opinions be for?

The answer is nothing, which is very much the point.  Man is on a continuous quest for control of power.  Man lusts, lies, and loots for power; defiles, destroys, and degrades for influence; tortures, toils, and torments for control over others.  He dreams and hopes, schemes and prays for control and he desires - with every fiber of his being, he wants, always wishing for more than his lot.  Tender reader, no power, even that literally born of hereditary monarchy, is sufficiently just to such creatures to last forever.

Recall, tender reader: might is right.  Thus, a claim about that which ought to be is just that: a claim - nothing more, but also nothing less.

Over what full control is sought, partial control must first be exercised.  As all action is exercise of power and all communication is action, the mere expression of opinion is not only the seeking of control but also - and therefore - the exercise of it.  Thus, works of penmanship are works of swordsmanship and justifying sovereignty is itself a political act.

Sovereignty, of course, is not justifiable.  In a hereditary monarchy clarifying the rightful bounds of the sovereign not only is superfluous, but debases the authority of the sovereign, eroding social order.  Thus, not only can sovereignty not be justified - it should not be, for man grows tired of the familiar and contemptuous of the rational.  Indeed, before the modern era, it was widely understood among the learned classes that clarifying the rightful bounds of sovereign power is as much a cause as a symptom of the erosion of rightful, centralized authority.

The bounds of sovereignty, nonetheless, are clarified.  This occurs because it must.

Doubting the implications of such self-fulfilling prophecy is not so much a case of disagreement but of misunderstanding.  Let us consider the case of the United States - that much praised nation of 'laws not men'.  We see in this so-called constitutional republic the practice of clarifying the rightful bounds of sovereignty elevated to an esteemed discipline called constitutional law.  In the United States, of course, law is created by being interpreted.  How embarrassing this should be - should be for everyone!  Evidently, where sovereigns are not supposed to rule there is a disturbing lack of aversion to clarifying the rightful bounds of sovereignty, since such clarification is perpetually required in such an explicit manner to be very nearly self-defeating.

Whether by sword or pen, royal or republican, the bounds of sovereignty are clarified.

Sovereignty is an inherently centripetal, reparative force whose unifying benefits are amplified to the extent that its exercise is centralized and stable.  In the midst of the chaos born of human degradation, sovereignty is that pure and stable force that divines hidden powers.  Always and everywhere grounded in belief, sovereignty stems not so much from penmanship or swordsmanship so much as from kingship, for whereas the sword's work impacts man's body and the pen's work impacts man's soul, the king's work impact's man spirit and it is by the grace of his spirit that man possesses those sufficiently irrational beliefs to conduct his body and soul in a disciplined, virtuous, and peaceable manner.

In the strict sense, there has never been a mortal sovereign, but only the experience of sovereignty, which is by definition the participation in His designs through the prolonging of them, which is to say that His will is honored insofar as the rightful bounds of sovereignty remain static.  These rightful bounds are static, of course, except that man by his nature challenges sovereignty to the extent that he does not possess sufficiently irrational beliefs, which, tender reader, we must never forget is at the very best a negligible extent that nonetheless stubbornly refrains from being none at all.

When a sovereign communicates that which should be he is aligning the perceived interests of particular men at the cost of the alignment of perceived interests of everyone else in witness of the act and, in the long run, everyone.  When perceived interests are suitably misaligned to instigate a sovereign to compel obedience by force, he is coercing submission from one - with inadequate belief to volunteer it - at the cost of at least an infinitesimal portion of the belief by which all else in witness of the act volunteer it.

Those dogmas that entail thoroughly prescriptive judgments of that which ought to be, but that are sufficiently clothed in the descriptive garb of what is, comprise those beliefs sufficiently blind to stabilize society, for it is by assuming that reality must be as it is that reality becomes closer to what it should be.

Sovereignty is well exercised to the extent that works of the sword or pen are rendered unnecessary by these blind beliefs.

In His monarchy, perfect paradise, there is no struggle over control, but only pure and perfect harmony of incentive and power.  Here, perception really is reality and the boundaries of rightful authority are not only beyond reproach but immutable and everlasting.

As a society more closely mirrors this symmetry to His Kingdom, which is achieved to the degree that the distribution of power is mutually agreed upon and believed to be just (generally to the extent that the virtuous beliefs - such as prejudice, dogma, religion, and patriotism - are robust and secure) the lives of its inhabitants are relatively more tranquil.

And an individual mirrors this symmetry insofar as he communicates that which should be as little as possible.  The wise man implicitly knows that explicit claims of what ought to be are not only symptoms but causes of the breakdown of his control and, therefore, he issues prescriptive statements only for their effects - and even then as little as possible, knowing as he does that the act surrenders perceived control according to the maxim: expression of opinion, like all human action, is the seeking of power through the exercise of it - only more so.  Indeed, the more frequent and explicit one communicates ought statements, the less secure and robust is his perceived power - that itself is a force multiplier in those civil struggles known as negotiations, illustrating the virtue of that modern maxim to put one's best foot forward.  In other words, tender reader, it is almost always best to refrain from claiming, whining, and arguing for the same reason that showing strength is strength itself.

But notice the splendid symmetry of this reality!

Kingship means seeking to make judgments and communicate them only insofar as is necessary to benefit that which is fully within one's control - one's kingdom.

Communication for effect, for the benefit of one's kingdom, is always and everywhere best delivered with as little information as possible.  A King should not make a claim about that which ought to be.  But he does communicate what ought to be - sometimes by omission or nuance, wink or subtlety, nod or tone, but most of all, most regally, by stating what is in such a way so as to indicate to the listener what should be by virtue of his most untoward knowledge.

Every communication betrays implicit meaning just as every action betrays implicit intention - at least slightly.  Moreover, not only is communication recognized as one specific form of action just as (implied) meaning is recognized as one specific form of intention, but every action must be interpreted as communication - even if only in hindsight - just as every intention must be interpreted as (implied) meaning - even if only in hindsight.  Self-interest is justly assumed in any interpretation of implied meaning or intention, for nothing more thoroughly permeates or vigorously impels all human action.

Man's mortality is the child of his self-interest and the mother of his sociability, which know the two twin needs of his being: to survive and to subdue.  It is by his need to survive that his intention to advance his self-interest is communicated by his every action and it is by his need to subdue that implicit meaning imbues his every communication.

Time solves what reason cannot - especially the is-ought fallacy, which could never have occurred to any being but one that both experiences time and possesses reason - which is to say a mortal one.  The mortal being must act across time and the social being must communicate by action.  In sum, man communicates that which ought to be by necessity in two fundamental ways: by his inevitable action that inherently communicates and by his inevitable communication that inherently implies (meaning).  And so it is that an intuitive proof of the Mandate of Heaven is apparent to each man insofar as these twin necessities merge in his mind into that single ineffable way of being that, avoiding explicit communication as such by judicious prejudice, distinguishes the few from the many: aligning with the Creator so fully so as to communicate only by the implied meaning of action is an unintended consequence of complete devotion to one's own kingdom.  This is the manner of virtue, the wellspring of order, the imprint of sovereignty: Kingship.

No comments:

Post a Comment