Sunday, August 23, 2015

Propriety 5/1/16

Note: I mark revisions that change this post with strike-through and brackets. PRB, May 1, 2016.


          I’m pretty certain my mom and dad taught me propriety-- rules of behavior conventionally considered to be correct in their community. But they did not emphasize propriety among a civic people. A civic people includes those who recognize that beyond our social circles--determined by preference--are people who are connected to us by the land and [concurrent life] and we either 1) appreciate them because they collaborate to provide safety or we 2) limit them because they want to harm other inhabitants. They did not clarify that “We the People of the United States,” while held to be integral, is divided. That should be obvious, but find me the American who is aware of it and acts accordingly: I want him or her to help establish A Civic People of the United States. We need to celebrate division of We the People into these two factions: A Civic People and the others. Safety and security in the broadest terms is the goal.
 
I didn’t know it then, but by age ten or so, freedom of thought was more attractive to me than freedom of religion. If I’d had a good social civic worker or simply better advice from a psychologically mature Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln or Benjamin Franklin, I might have benefited from freedom of thought. But alas, my combination gullibility and propriety led me to self-repression for about five decades. Five decades is enough to ruin a life if you let ruined life stay ruined. I’m talking ruin: ruin a person cannot escape. Ruin like loosing a son and feeling that you contributed to the loss. Thank goodness there’s no need for me to elaborate, because William Faulkner wrote about it with no escape for the victims of ruin.[1]
 
          Aristotle said something to the effect that a person who does not collaborate for civic justice from young adulthood until near death is not a citizen. By that definition, I have always been a misdirected originalist—someone who looks to opinions about the authors of the constitution for the USA for civic justice. Luckily, I did not fall for Abraham Lincoln's revisionist's view that the Declaration of Independence (1776) founded the nation (1788). I naturally sought justice yet strained against the tension of opinion, especially “freedom of religion.” Justice Antonin Scalia was in the same box, but at a much higher level. His understanding is so deep into the labyrinth he cannot lead fellow prisoners out of the cave[2] of judicial opinion. (Justice Kennedy is so far out on his limb of adjudicated personal dignity he presents himself as the god of dignity and equality.)
 
          Adam Smith would say, in effect, that Scalia needed propriety[3] among his fellow justices. But critics are tacitly saying that within judicial prisoners' propriety, Scalia could not lead—judicial prisoners being those who cannot think outside judicial opinion. However, Scalia was also bound by a people who behave with misguided propriety. So Scalia needed to shake-up both justices and the people.
 
          The people long-since agreed that natural morality is dictated by their personal god, even though no two persons hold their gods to the same nature. The minute I approach the subject of physics-based morality, everyone retreats to the god propriety: "Phil, I don't understand what you are talking about. And that's final!" I explain that physics is energy, mass, and space-time from which everything emerges, but the person's mind has already closed. I persevere, because I appreciate a master of original thought: Albert Einstein, a man whose expressions nevertheless were subjugated by his attention to his audience’s fixation on religion. I don't try to accommodate religion: I cannot grasp how to say what I want to say so as to accommodate the minds I would collaborate with. I think speakers who attempt to address the other person's opinion, private as his or her opinion may be, end up obfuscating what the speaker wanted to say. I think Einstein, by responding to the audience's desire to understand science hid from himself the object of scientific study: physics. Such may be the case with Einstein's many attempts to include religion in statements about physics; he substituted "science" for physics in his own mind.
  
           Also, I persevere because I envision a culture of a civic people wherein every no-harm sub-culture may flourish. Even white Christian church with its white god should be able to flourish with black Christian church and its black god and both of those cultures collaborate for civic no-harm personal liberty with domestic goodwill toghether with natives and their red gods, everyone behaving with humility respecting physics. Skin colors and gods are valid subjects of art but are futile for dividing [establishing] a civic people. Much evil was perpetrated in the past and we should learn from it as best we can. However, unraveling responsibilities for past evils is not a worthy endeavor when we are in an abyss of our own making. We the People of the United States vie for adult satisfaction while each newborn faces some $4,600,000/newborn in growing debt. See www.usdebtclock.org/ with current debt at $18.4 trillion for 4 million babies per year. The elite push the debt, and the masses wait for supernatural relief. That's an unintended consequence of James Madion's Federalist 10 and Chapter XI Machiavellian thinking. Propriety for that? It's also a product of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s check cashing portion of his "dream speech," 1963. Not me; I have no propriety for these civic dividers.
 
          In a 1941, warm speech for believers, Einstein said, in my paraphrase: Civic morality is determined by physics-based morality. Thanks to our friend Sam Harris, Einstein's speech is available online[4]. In wonderfully warm language, Einstein gives only one example of physics-based ethics: civic people, speakers, don't lie[5] when they express a civic concern so that civic listeners' statements will not respond to a lie. I dub lying a soft example, and one of its hard analogs is: a civic people don't run red lights so they can trust green ones. In the above paragraph we illustrated that a people don't overspend so that they can protect personal posterity; that's more meaningful on a personal basis. An adult saves and invests for assets so that in maturity he or she does not pass debts on to children, grandchildren, and beyond. American elites apply that last thought to their children with no regard for fellow citizens; the elite want to increase their share of the national assets so that they can carry a poor class, but that plan is obviously out of control.

          Einstein wrote that if we examine each civic issue with such precision, we can build a system which we dub "civic morality." Civic morality leaves to the individual any no-harm religious morality they'd like to pursue. Yet civic morality cannot exist without each person’s collaboration for security in the broadest perspective. Einstein used the word “cooperation,” but no-harm personal liberty often does not seem cooperative; rather each person pursues private interests privately. The master pianist does not count his or her thousands of hours of practice as a public good--only feels the self-satisfaction of playing well the works of the masters, and thus, with a wrong view of civic appreciation feels selfish. Yet collaboration, a usage argued by daughter Rebekah Beaver as beyond "cooperation," facilitates civic goodwill.
 
          In a more controversial application of physics-based ethics, we perceive a woman's ovum and a man's sperm form a single cell that may implant to be gestated into a baby person; the baby person owns her or his heritage and would not contract to relinquish the heritage. Adult contracts that deny the baby person his or her heritage rebuke civic morality according to physics-based ethics. Physics-based morality is far-reaching. For example, suppose 100,000 years ago the US supreme Court had authorized dabbling with our heritage. Mitochondrial DNA informs us that everyone alive is a descendant of one woman with perhaps more than one mate who lived more than 140,000 years ago. The descendants of that woman’s peers died off, unable to adapt to the environments they encountered. I would not want to risk supreme Court opinion in competition with evolution.  Religious morality has no standing in this civic issue. Perhaps the age of human evolution is over and heritage is nonsense; I doubt it. Perhaps fidelity is nonsense; I doubt it. The supreme Court's neglect of a single-cell embryo's dignity and equality seems like infidelity to physics, the supreme Court, the embryo, and a civic people. The Church claims that life (personhood) begins at conception. However, many embryo do not implant, and thus pass out of the woman's body unnoticed. Of those that implant, 50% are aborted due to physics error. Physics is reliable [and aborts its errors, the woman's decision to end her pregnancy being the ultimate physics back-up].
 
          The physics-based argument exists for a woman's decision to terminate a pregnancy (and again, religious morality has no standing).
 
          The supreme Court is out on the limb of Judeo-Christian constructs that were embraced by Aristotle before Christianity was politically constructed. They endorse "legislative prayer" to maintain a semblance of divine control. State-church control is Chapter XI Machiavellianism[6]: state-church partnership can live high on the hog and govern any way they want and people with a personal god will neither rebel nor leave the country. This principle, known by James Madison and contemporaries, has been kept secret from the people for obvious reasons but is failing on its own evil. The supreme Court, deep in opinion about opinion pretends unawareness of the transition and thus continues to impose Capter XI Machiavelianism: the supreme Court holds that legislative prayer is for legislators and thus is none of the people’s business (Greece v Galloway[7]). A civic people do not accept the opinion that legislative prayer is not their concern. Greece v Galloway is as regrettable as Dred Scott v Sandford.
 
          The 1787 signers of the constitution for the USA created an imperfect document, which even with an erroneous or utopian subject created the opportunity for the achievable combination no-harm personal liberty with civic morality—PLwCM. The utopian totality expressed in the constitution’s subject, "We the People of the United States," was at least tacitly endorsed by 100% of the signers but only 70% of the delegates to the convention. History has shown that even with this great civic sentence, the 30% who were dissident, for whatever reason, could steer civic morality astray. Propriety plays its role in the gradual negation of the governance made possible by the 1787 draft constitution for the USA: James Madison, in Federalist 10, envisioned elected representatives that would be so patriotic and noble that they would defend the image of a civic people represented in George Washington’s four pillars (farewell address, June 8, 1783). With federal economics that are out of control, there is obvious need for reform; The elite, empowered by obsolete, Protestant, common-law opinion, cannot be trusted with federal governance. Therefore, a civic people, we think 70% of inhabitants in 2016, must come out of the closet of imposed propriety and candidly collaborate using the guidance of the literal preamble and the civic determinant: physics-based morality.

          Albert Einstein expressed many profound civic thoughts. However, to a fault, he exercised Adam-Smith propriety: he constructed statements that would be acceptable for both the crowd he was in and peace in his own quiet life. However, a few people meeting in library-discussions in Baton Rouge, LA are unlocking Einstein's theory of civic law. The transition from freedom of religion to freedom of thought requires a method for establishing civic morality, allowing religious moralities to flourish for diverse real-no-harm believers. Physics-based morality now serves as mediator and can be recognized not only by a civic people but by their states, the federal administration, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. It will take blunt, candid talk, with propriety in appreciation for a civic people, heretofore unknown. [We write "heretofore unknown," because for 3000 years philosophers for moral politics have extolled the social good rather than the civic good. "Social" indicates preference, class, or imposition.]  A Civic People of the United States is advancing a promising theory and needs your collaboration.
 
          Propriety is important, but a person should not misplace it. Propriety toward opinion can be ruinous. Religion is opinion. Long ago, some people thought they observed a supernatural power that controls what is in unknown. Some people imagined a god. Imagination is the first step in the discovery of reality; so far so good. Many people with that imagination--supernatural control-- built an intellectual construct to support what they imagined: constructs built on imagination instead of repeatable evidence are dangerous. Work to prove intellectual constructs based on opinion can be ruinous. Humankind must benefit from what-is or perish. For example, no opinion can stop death, and no one can describe the afterdeath. And demands to supply wants are not viable. Physics-based morality is based not only on discovery of what-is but evaluations as to how to benefit from reality. So far, discovery of physics has neither confirmed nor denied a supernatural power; the imagination that a god exists cannot be discounted, but none of the constructs holds. Therefore, human propriety seems directed toward acceptance of physics-based ethics for civic morality and caution regarding opinion.

Copyright©2015 by Phillip R. Beaver. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the publication of all or portions of this paper as long as this complete copyright notice is included. Revised October 14, 2015 and May 1, 2016.


[1] William Faulkner. Absalom, Absalom! 1936.
[2] See a depiction of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and read it online at faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/cave.htm .
[3] Russ Roberts, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, 2014. Also see plato.stanford.edu/entries/smith-moral-political/ (I prefer the Stanford source).
[4] Albert Einstein, The Laws of Science and The Laws of Ethics,” 1941. Online at www.samharris.org/blog/item/my-friend-einstein .
[5] There are variations that touch beyond a civic people. For example, if we lie to ourselves, we doubt our thoughts. If we lie to the enemy we entrap them into the annihilation we will effect if they aggress.

[6] Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XI, 1513.

[7] Supreme Court decision in Greece v Galloway, online at www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/12-696   .