I’m in the midst of writing a book in defense of the human mind. I keep calling it an essay or a treatise, but by now I realize, to my chagrin, that it’s going to turn out to be a book. I’ve known for my whole adult life that I have to write this book, that this is my life’s work, and I realized this morning that it will be my magnum opus — the best work I will ever do.
Here’s a piece of it, just a little bit of show-boating in celebration, in which, among other achievements, I burn Hume’s guillotine to the ground. The SplendorQuest is about self-adoration before anything. This extract is an artifact of my own self-love.
From: Man alive! A survival manual for the human mind.
Evil ideas lead to evil ends — ultimately to Squalor — but good ideas lead to Splendor. The problem for the mind — for your mind — is to distinguish the one from the other.
As a matter of ontology, of being, your life is your self — your own iteratively self-abstracted idea of your life — and your self is your life’s highest value. Because we have been indoctrinated to despise and denigrate the self, people will be quick to disagree with that claim, saying things like, “No, my family is my highest value!” But the word that matters most in that sentence is the one that shows up twice: “My.” If we think about it all the way through, the statement unpacks to this proposition: “My own on-going self-regard would be diminished if I were not to provide appropriately — intellectually, financially, emotionally and as a moral exemplar — for my spouse and children.” What could possibly be more egoistic than that? Even suicide — self-slaughter — can be an expression of the self as the cardinal value in a fully-human life: “I cannot continue to live with my self after committing or enduring this atrocity.”
The putatively egoist moral philosophers I picked on at the start of this chapter will insist that “everyone is selfish.” That claim is false at both ends of it. My objective is to change this sad state of affairs, if I can, but very few people alive as I write this are fully, consciously committed to pursuing the values most vitally important to the self. While most of us manage to produce enough human values to stay alive as human beings, we do that job pretty badly — mostly because we have voluntarily diverted our minds away from our own values and toward those of our despoilers. Not only do we forge the chains that bind us, we celebrate our self-inflicted slavery as the highest of virtues, and we do everything we can to preserve our sacred chain-gang: “We’re all in this together, damnit!” Moreover, the unexamined pursuit of bodily or pecuniary utility can very easily lead us to a condition of self-loathing. How does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?
The cardinal value of your life is your self. This is a statement of ontology — of being — not of teleology — shoulding. You did not choose to become a self, but, if you had not become a self, you would not be a human being. You would be alive, and your life would be precious to the human beings who love you, but you would simply be a genetic homo sapiens within whom the flower of Fathertongue either was not or could not be cultivated — or was, but was later cut off by a non-lethal brain injury. The ontologically-unavoidable existence of the human self is the metaphysical link from is to ought — from ontology to teleology and back — that thoughtless philosophers have insisted for centuries does not — and cannot — exist. Whether the ends they sought were good or evil, they failed to think about human nature as it really is, and, in consequence, they were unable to see how a being of Free Will — of rationally-conceptual volitionality — could be as much constrained by the laws of nature as a rock or a tree or a reptile.
You cannot avoid being a self. You cannot both be a human being and not be a self. That is the law of identity as applied to human beings — genetic homo sapiens within whom has been cultivated the gift of mind. That cultivation by your parents and their friends and family members induced you to abstract the idea of your self within your blossoming mind, and, once you have mastered that idea, you cannot eradicate it from your mind without eradicating your mind entirely. And while you might have surmised that I believe that modern philosophers, theologians and other so-called “thought leaders” want to eradicate your mind, I know this is not so. They don’t want for you to be a Dancing Bear — a mindless animal soiling its own identity in pursuit of ephemeral “treats” — they just want for you to volunteer to sacrifice every value the uniquely-human life requires in exchange for their empty praise.