The 2008 financial crisis spread from Wall Street to the world almost overnight, threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions, even though its causes had nothing to do with the production and distribution of any of the basic necessities of life. Instead, the crisis erupted because the financial system had become unhinged from its real function: supplying credit to productive enterprises. Finance capital increasingly made its money from complex “derivatives,” which are not claims on a company’s proﬁt (as shares are) but on debts packaged and sold as investments. Immense profits were made, which provided the incentive to create more derivatives, causing debts to be piled on debts, all sold with guaranteed returns. Many of these derivatives involved American mortgages. Since these were backed by a physical asset (the house), they were advertised to institutional investors as highly secure, but the models assumed that housing prices would continue to rise. As it turned out, the housing market was a bad-mortgage fuelled bubble. When it burst, the “mortgage backed securities” became worthless, and banks from Athens to Iceland collapsed. Instead of having to foot the bill for their recklessness and greed, major banks were bailed out with hundreds of billions of dollars of public money. Workers lost their jobs, housings, and savings; Wall Street bankers paid themselves bonuses for the greatest failure of the financial system since 1929.
But knowledge is not knowledge if it is not life coherent. To be life coherent, it must speak to the felt side of being, of which emotions are key, or it is inconsistent and life-blind. But emotions alone mislead us all over the place unless they are moored in life coherent action too – mainly with words that distinguish… Read More
When the UNESCO-EOLSS Secretariat asked me in 2004 to organize a Philosophy Theme for the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, I accepted with an ultimate commitment. We were united in our shared concern for the future of life on the planet, and the world itself needed what philosophy can offer – critical examination of first principles and underlying value assumptions at a system level. The cumulative degradation and collapse of the globe’s life-carrying capacities was by then undeniable to thoughtful people, and I had already published much research on the unexamined value system regulating the globe. With the sciences and economics misleadingly claiming value neutrality, and philosophy and the humanities not engaging the value- system problem at a planetary level, I sought to meet a seemingly impossible task of explaining world philosophy across specialties and areas while coming to grips with the emergent world crisis. Forging explanatory connection between ruling thought systems and the deep-structural problems of civilization had long been central to my research, and so I understood this invitation as a call to enlist the deepest and most comprehensive resources of philosophical analysis to explain philosophy across schools, to lay bare the fatally misguided assumptions and their consequences pressing in upon us, and to spell out a life-coherent way of reason to move forward. “How to live” has been philosophy’s ultimate question since the ancients and “what is good and true”, or not, has been its unifying quest. Common problem and method of understanding it whole were joined by this project.
Organization of the Chapters
The work found in this publication has two major ‘volumes’ of explanatory analysis. The first is my Theme Essay on Philosophy and World Problems which is written in a cumulatively building explanation to fulfill the project in one unified volume. Its 12 chapters are set out in full in the Table of Contents ahead. Here I shall only summarize their research and findings in a very general way. Analysis begins from our current human condition with an anatomy of the global crisis in terms of opposed and unexamined value systems (Chapter 1). The next chapters then critically analyze and move beyond the immutable idea of the good as happiness and release from pain (Chapter 2) to critically excavate other general theories of value across classic and leading contemporary forms (Chapters 3, 4 and 5). The self-evident basis of all that human beings truly value is spelled out from the “primary axiom of value” with the “ultimate value fields of thought, felt being and action” explained and illustrated across problems and domains (Chapters 6, 7 and 8). The human subject and the manifold value systems constructed across cultures are then explained as the rules by which individuals and societies live whose validity or invalidity, justice or injustice can be objectively determined by life-value analysis in theory and practice alike (Chapters 9, 10 and 11). Rational choice and scientific method across contemporary theories are then critiqued in light of the life-coherence principle as the missing imperative of human reason and of the global system itself (Chapter 12).
The second ‘volume’ of original essays is by experts who have been selected to cover all the life-relevant fields of contemporary philosophical inquiry. Their essays cover three meta areas of philosophy, with each meta area consisting of a set of four or five essays. This organizing framework complements the all-inclusive Theme Essay by providing specialist accounts of major topic fields by philosophers with internationally recognized capacities of research in these fields. The three meta areas are: (1) Onto-Ethical Philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the present with overviews from a life-grounded standpoint covering virtually every known figure and school of philosophy up to contemporary environmental theory; (2) Modes of Reason consisting of systematic coverages of logic, science, natural language argument, and market rationality; (3) Philosophy and Society investigating competing historical and contemporary views of human nature, democracy, and human rights.
Philosophy resists conclusions because its method across disagreements – like modern science to which it gives rise – always leaves issues open to counter-argument and furtherance of understanding. This is how philosophy differs from religious, sectarian and other dogmas and closed systems of thinking. Yet agreement across the research contributing to this work is implicit or explicit on one meta principle: whatever is incoherent with organic, social and ecological life requirements through time is false, and evil to the extent of its reduction and destruction of life fields and support systems.
Members of the UNESCO-EOLSS Secretariat patiently supported and counseled on this complex “magnum opus” over six years. My former PhD students and now distinguished professors, Jeffery Noonan and Giorgio Baruchello, have been close and outstanding co-researchers and explainers of life-ground philosophy and the method of life-value analysis across philosophy’s domains. James Robert Brown, Alex Michalos, and (as joint authors) Tony Blair and Ralph Johnson have written definitive overview texts for the project as masters in their fields. Kai Nielsen has explained why he thinks that received moral philosophy in which he is a noted leader has been impoverished in facing the world’s problems. Jerry (G.A) Cohen contributed his renowned essay on non-market reason and community before his tragic passing. My longtime partner Jennifer Sumner has been an invaluable social-science researcher into the life-ground and the civil commons and has provided all-sided life support to the project.
I usually post my blog articles on several social media sites and list servers, and sometimes the feedback I get forces me to think deeper and wider and make more connections than I could have made without that feedback. In response to one such pivotal email feedback to the article A Resetting of our Life-Dysfunctional… Read More
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) Today is the second Son-day of Lent in which we reflect on and prepare for the ritualized remembrance of the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the founder of our faith. Each year, during my meditation on these important… Read More
Ep 19 VIDEO PREVIEW – John McMurtry explains the immutable social imperative to flip this cancer paradigm to life-coherence and how knowledge is the secret to all human advancement. Read More
The block against life-value onto-axiology begins as in “math anxiety” – felt incapacity at abstraction without familiar first-order concrete referents to go on. Yet mathematical abstraction can be overcome by locking into its life-indifferent game of uniform units in tautological formulae which can go forever with no confrontation by life reality. In deep contrast at… Read More
The Primary Axiom is realised in the real world by the following complete set of universal human life necessities and their defined criteria / measures of all life goods, capital and efficiency which govern any life economy, as distinguished from the dominant private money-sequencing economy called ‘capitalism’ whose financialization since John Locke is increasingly life-blind in principle.
“One basis for life and another basis for science is an a-priori lie” – Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, 1845.
Marx’s Base-Superstructure Theory (BST) has long been a major object of controversy. It is deeply embedded in a monumental corpus of system-challenging analysis while secondary interpretations are deeply conflicted and rarely reliable. In general, partial takes and opposed propagandas militate against primary-source understanding. Within the last 35 years, a sea-shift of global culture to anti-foundationalist relativism has uprooted the very idea of a common base or ground.
Definition of syndrome
- a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition
- a set of concurrent things (such as emotions or actions) that usually form an identifiable pattern
In my attempt to understand the root cause of the causes of life destabilisations, several articles synchronistically and serendipitously provided definitive answers yesterday that is consistent with the assertion that violence is an acquired syndrome rather that a congenital defect of our human nature. (Please see: US Defence Secretary Calls on Military to be “Ready” for War Against North Korea. “There are No Risk Free Options”, Army is accepting more low-quality recruits, giving waivers for marijuana to hit targets, War Culture – Gun Culture: They’re Related, and The Psychology of Mass Killers: What Causes It? How Can You Prevent It?.)
The last article was seminal for me in connecting different ideas I have come across over the years in my search for meaning and understanding of the underlying method of this violent madness that pervades every aspect of our society today. What I propose to do is summarise as best as I can in the author’s own words the ideas presented and how they are intimately connected to each other and to provide a neurobiological framework that connects the best neuroscience with the deepest analytical psychology in our toolkits of life appreciation.