Reproduced from: https://artsonline.uwaterloo.ca/rneedham/sites/ca.rneedham/files/needhdata/McMurtry-1.html How Unexamined Premises Lead to World Oppression: John Locke, The Theory of Private Property and Money John McMurtry College of Arts Department of Philosophy University of Guelph The most fundamental principle of the market doctrine is the grounding of human right and freedom in private property. This principle is foundational because one… Read More
Human beings are integrally natural and social creatures, dependent upon natural life-support systems for their physical existence and socio-cultural life-development systems for the nurturing and realization of their emotional, cognitive, and practical-creative capacities. Societies whose developmental dynamics become alienated from their natural conditions of existence face inevitable doom. Oblivious to the ways in which their reproductive dynamics undermining the physical foundations of social life, they collapse the very basis upon which their institutions and value systems depend. Let us say that any society which unsustainably converts scarce natural resources into tokens of social power (as, for example, capitalism converts natural systems and elements into money) faces a material crisis of life-reproduction. The manifold environmental crises unleashed by capitalism, crises which persist even in the midst of on-going economic stagnation, are evidence that capitalism will ultimately face a problem of material life-reproduction. Yet, this material crisis is not the only crisis that capitalist civilization faces. Since human beings require not only life, but meaningful, purposive life, societies can also fall into what I will call spiritual crises of life-development.
Spiritual crises arise when the ruling value system and institutional structure of a society becomes alienated from citizens’ need to feel that they belong to a socio-cultural whole which values their contributions to its reproduction and development. More precisely, spiritual crises arise when the ruling value system and institutional structure of a society actively alienate citizens by treating them as mere tools of its material reproduction. When people are treated as mere tools of system-reproduction, their moral being as intrinsically life-valuable centres of experience, action, and interaction, cognizant of the social conditions of their freedom and well-being, and desirous of enhancing the social foundations of their individuality, are attacked. In these alienated circumstances social problems are presented to the populace as technical problems to be solved by political and economic experts working in the service of the established asymmetries of wealth and power. Spiritual crises thus arise when ruling classes attempt to solve a material crisis of social reproduction by treating subaltern groups not as participating members of a social whole, but as passive objects whose life-interests must be sacrificed to the health of the system understood as a reified whole indifferent to the life-requirements of the people who live under it.
The failure of the Durban Conference on Climate Change, (December, 2011) to agree to anything more substantial than that all nations would work together to develop binding targets for reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 is a metonym for the life-crisis besetting globalised capitalism. Because global capitalism subordinates what John McMurtry calls “life-value” to the expansion and accumulation of money-value, it progressively undermines the conditions of planetary life-support, human life-requirement satisfaction, and meaningful human life-capacity development and enjoyment. Resources, relationships, practices, norms, institutions, and forms of life-activity have life-value when they: a) satisfy objective requirements of human life-maintenance, reproduction, and development, b) thereby enabling the expression and enjoyment of the human life-capacities of sentience, imaginative and cognitive thought, and creative activity in ways which are, c) life-coherent. McMurtry’s principle of life-coherence asserts that in order to be good, expressions of life-capacity must not only follow from the free choices of the agents who enjoy them, but must also, “consistently enable ecological and human life-together.” In other words, good forms of individual life-capacity expression must contribute to, rather than undermine, the natural field of life-support and the social field of life-development within which individual life-activity is grounded. The vaunted “liberties” of liberal-capitalist society are blind to the natural and social grounds upon which all good lives ultimately depend. Hence, capitalism is a system that necessarily generates crisis in all important dimensions of being alive. In the present essay I will explore the four most fundamental dimensions of capitalist life-crisis and the adequacy of egalitarian liberal, human rights-based cosmopolitan, and twenty-first century socialist responses to them.
JUSTICE is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on public television. Nearly a thousand students pack Harvard’s historic Sanders Theatre to hear Michael Sandel, “perhaps the most prominent college professor in America,” (Washington Post) talk about justice, equality, democracy, and citizenship.
https://www.uoguelph.ca/philosophy/people/john_mcmurtry Rationality and Scientific Method: Paradigm Shift in an Age of Collapse JOHN MCMURTRY Department of Philosophy University of Guelph ABSTRACT: This paper explains what has long been missing across domains and levels of analysis: (1) the life-blind inner logic regulating contemporary paradigms of “rationality” and “scientific method”; (2) the reasons why these regulators… Read More
I deal with suffering, dying and death almost on a daily basis. On my ward rounds with my students at the hospital, I always think to myself or ask my students if the suffering or premature death of this or that particular patient could have been prevented. I have alcoholics being re-admitted over and over again… Read More