On the idea of hate

Everything that exists, inasmuch as it is what it is, is distinct from whatever it is not. Inasmuch as each being is distinct from other things, it has certain qualities that define it, whose opposite are not consistent with it remaining what it is.

Among beings, some, those that are living, are capable of actively protecting and opposing the previously mentioned qualities. This is the original meaning behind the Greek root of our word ‘autonomy’: a living being is one is capable of securing its nomos – i.e.  its essence, the inner law of its being – in, through, and by itself (auto), i.e. by its own behavior.

As such, each living thing must behave in ways which maintain those qualities and resist its contraries as a condition for its existence as what it is. Consequently, every autonomous creature has certain conditions that it must nourish, and others that it must repel in order for it to continue to be – it must advance certain conditions and repel others as a condition for its existence. The emotional form these basic imperatives in human beings are happiness and anger, which manifest themselves intentionally as love and hate.

Through our capacities for abstraction, we can arrive at a basic idea of hatred, in a way similar to how we abstract the idea of the number two from intuiting pairs of like things. But just as two-ness itself has conditions for existence which are abstracted from in the analysis of the concept, so also hatred has conditions of existence which are not included in the conditions required for thinking it. One such condition is the aforementioned intentionality: though one can think hatred without thinking of the hatred of any particular thing, hatred by definition involves the directing of wrath or anger towards something.

But because things that are hated, too, have conditions and qualities without which they cannot be what they are, any act of hating some given thing is simultaneously an act supporting those qualities which oppose the hated thing, and hence gives support to those beings whose existence flourishes under conditions contrary to those under which the hated thing would flourish. Consequently, inasmuch as hatred is an intentional act which must distinguish the hated thing from things which it isn’t, it is impossible to hate everything.

Since there is no such thing as an indiscriminate force of hatred, neither can there be opposition to such a force. In other words, one cannot coherently oppose hate as such.

Authors picks, May 2019

Below, I provide a summary of my favorite posts from the month in the order they were published.

On passionate disagreement and self-identity argues that incorrigible disagreement fundamentally doesn’t arise from disagreement over present facts, but rather over disagreements about how present and past facts relate to a presently indeterminate future. Inasmuch as any individual’s sense of self is attached to a particular idea of and attitude towards the future in question, incorrigible disagreement always, albeit indirectly, involves an attack on identity, i.e. one’s understanding of oneself in light of an assumed trajectory.

A dilemma for a constitutionally protected, publicly funded right to abortion argues that based on the rationale presumed in current U. S. jurisprudence on the subject, abortion may be constitutionally protected or publicly funded. But it cannot be both.

On semantic ambiguity in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s argument for God’s existence examines St. Anselm’s famous ontological argument for the existence of God with an eye towards asking how many different interpretations of its key phrase ‘God is that than which nothing greater can be thought’, there are. I show that there are at least ten different interpretations of this phrase alone, and Anselm’s argument relies on at least two.

On logical fallacies employed in the philosophical use of the term ‘tautology’ shows that the term ‘tautology’ has two closely related uses. On one of these, a tautology is something that is true by definition. On the other, it is also grasped immediately. Philosophical tendency to regard tautologies as meaningless relies on the ambiguity between these two meanings.

Object-oriented objects aren’t objects is, at the time of this writing, now the most viewed post ever posted on this site. I argue that objects in object-oriented programming are closer to an obscure late 17th century theory of substance – Gottfried Leibniz’s theory of monads –  than they are to objects as commonly understood.

On the consequences of capital concentration and its addendum show how a wide variety of contemporary political problems are directly caused or otherwise conditioned by the concentration of capital according to class and location.

What non-cooperative games can tell us about suffering for a cause discusses a simple, real-world example of a non-cooperative game – a traffic jam – and draws from it the broader claim that even the possibility of obtaining the best, most harmonious outcome for any group considered as a whole requires some of its members to suffer gratuitously, so long as the ideal conditions sought after fail to obtain.

Another puzzle on logic and obligation

Yesterday, I showed that axiom commonly called ‘ought implies can’ (OIC), if applied to logical reasoning itself, implies that a good part of what are considered logically valid deductions in logic various logics, including the standard formalization of deontic logic itself, would have to be rejected. Today, I’ll discuss a different principle – that obligation implies contingency – and draw another counterintuitive conclusion from it.

If you’re not sold on the axiom, I offer the following argument. For any obligation, the weight of that obligation is only given in experience via the possibility of its absence: in other words, one can only feel obliged to bring about something if it is possible for that thing not to be. Consequently, if there were obligation to bring about what is necessary, it could never be given in experience. While an obligation does not be require its being recognized as such, it at least presupposes the possibility that it be recognized. No such possibility exists in the case of necessities. Therefore, it must be that

(O~□) OA → ¬□A,

which is equivalent to

(O~) OA → ¬A

Given (OIC), this gives us

(OI𝒞) OA → (A ¬A)

We can then define a contingency operator 𝒞 such that

(𝒞) 𝒞A A ¬A

This allows us to rewrite OI𝒞 as follows:


Now, apply this reflexively, as before, to the case of logical reasoning itself. The implication is that for any claim A and agent x, if x is obliged to infer A, x‘s actually inferring must itself be a contingent act.

Now there are two ways to understand this statement, depending on whether we understand reasoning to include in its domain reasoning that can be engaged in, but isn’t, or instead to refer to an act of reasoning actually engaged in. On the less controversial reading, Ought-implies-contingency means that x could simply not engage in a given reasoning process: perhaps our logician has chosen instead to spend the afternoon bingeing on Taylor Swift songs. But on the stronger reading, it means that x, while engaging, could fail to get it. The latter, if correct, would imply something about the kinds of beings to whom logic actually applies, viz. that logic doesn’t apply to ideal reasoners. Consequently, even leaving aside the problem of circular definition, a correct set of inferences or axioms would not be able to be defined by appealing to the kinds of inferences ideal reasoners would make.

A puzzle concerning logic and obligation

The standard axiom for deontic logic, (D), reads as follows:

(D) OA → PA

Where ‘OA’ is read as ‘A is obligatory’, and ‘P’ is read as ‘A is permissible’.

An equally well known principle, albeit more controversial, is that obligation implies possibility.

(OIC) OA → A

The principle the axiom captures is often referred to simply as ‘ought implies can’.

1 The problem

Logic itself, on at least one conception, is a normative discipline: it is about inferences we ought to make.

Applying (OIC) to the subject matter of logic conceived as such, the principle states: any axiom of the correct logical system is one capable of being inferred by the reasoners to whom the obligation to reason so applies.

A problem with this is that as is well known, some axioms of just about any propositional modal logic are infinite in length: for instance, □((p v ¬p) & (q v ¬q) & (r v ¬r)…) i.e. the conjunction of excluded middle for each propositional parameter in the language. If you reject excluded middle, then you can substitute some other example to make the same point (or not!).  The problem, then, is that deontic logic, applied to the domain of logic as such, requires those obligated to reason so to be capable of completing infinitely long chains of reasoning.

Thus, applying a claim of deontic logic reflexively to logical reasoning implies that most theorems of most logics, including those of standard deontic logic, should be rejected.

On economic growth and commodification, 1

There are (at least) two ways in which the growth rate of an economy may be increased.

The first is through an increase in the production of goods or services purchased, as occurred, for instance, when goods like automobiles, phones, computers, etc. first came to market.

The second is through an increase in  accounting of goods that previously existed, but weren’t previously accounted for – that is a movement of goods from non-inclusion in a market to inclusion in it. Letting other things be equal (and because of opportunity costs they usually aren’t), a person who purchases herself a meal rather than cook one, for instance, does not bring about an increase in the production of goods, but only trades in a non-market good, the time and labor used to make her own meal, for a market one, and leads to that good being accounted for. Likewise, if we imagine we line up all the parents of underage children in a given city in a circle, and suppose each parent pays the parent to the right of them the same rate – $20 an hour, say – to watch their children, the real value of services produced would not be greater than they would be in a situation where everyone watched their own children. But since the labor in the latter situation isn’t accounted for in market relations, the former situation would lead to an increase in the nominal value of goods and services relative to the latter. Something similar occurs when a previously illegal good is legalized.

A short remark on specialization in professional philosophy

Public discourse on the nature of philosophy and the future of the philosophy profession currently divides into two camps. One pushes for philosophy to somehow be more public, to move away from specialization by reaching out to the masses. The other holds that the future of philosophy is bound to be more specialized, with different kinds of philosophy available for different subfields, categories of individuals, or even different economic sectors.

Behind the latter view is a pair of assumptions about the nature and understanding of wholes: 1) that wholes are sums of their parts, and 2) that consequentially, distinct knowledge of a whole is built up from, and thus presupposes, distinct knowledge of its parts.

Both of these assumptions are false.

Weekly recap,May 12-18, 2019

This week the blog put up three new posts.

On the consequences of capital concentration and its addendum show how a wide variety of contemporary political problems are directly caused or otherwise conditioned by the concentration of capital according to class and location.

What non-cooperative games can tell us about suffering for a cause discusses a simple, real-world example of a non-cooperative game – a traffic jam – and draws from it the broader claim that even the possibility of obtaining the best, most harmonious outcome for any group considered as a whole requires some of its members to suffer gratuitously, so long as the ideal conditions sought after fail to obtain.