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Saturday, February 1, 2020

Judaism and Christianity on Climate Change

First Reformed (2017) contains fundamental ideas concerning the human condition and wrestles with the relationship between religion and politics.  Ideas play a significant role in the film, hence it can be used in support of the thesis that film is a viable medium in which to make philosophical (and theological) ideas transparent and derive dramatic tension from clashing ideas. In this film, the ideas that clash concern the role of religion in the political issue of climate change—or is that issue primarily religious?

The full essay is at "First Reformed."


Brexit as a Contribution to Political Development

Britain’s secession from the E.U. was, I submit, based on a reaction within the state against it having given up some of its sovereignty to the European Union. The American states too were originally (i.e., from 1776) fully sovereign until they gave up some limited (i.e., enumerated) sovereignty to the federal level in 1789. In 1861, South Carolina, like Britain, also sought to secede based on the view that too much sovereignty had been transferred. Unlike the UK, however, SC (and then the other seceding states) resorted to force. Although the process of Britain’s secession was arduous, I submit that South Carolina and federal officials had been excessively rigid. Even though the “dual sovereignty” of the European and American federal systems is perpetual, only the E.U. allows for peaceful secession. This evinces a step forward in the political development of federalism. Both a federal union and a strongly anti-federalist state are better off with secession being possible, especially if the process is peaceful. Europe deserves to be congratulated, and America would do well in taking a lesson in order to benefit from the advance. Peaceful secession can be done in a federal system of dual (i.e., federal and state) sovereignty.

The full essay is at "Congratulations to Europe!"


Friday, January 31, 2020

The Senate Trial of President Trump: Riddled with Conflicts of Interest

At the beginning of a U.S. Senate trial on whether to remove an impeached U.S. president from office, the senators take an oath to be impartial jurists. The impartiality is important because the senators are theoretically to listen to the partial U.S. House prosecuting managers and the president’s defense lawyers. Were the senators themselves partial, they would simply reflect the two sides that make their respective cases. In the trial of Donald Trump, I submit that few if any senators had any intention of being impartial and thus as serving as a jurist rather than as an extension of the prosecutors or defense. In effect, the verdict is left to whichever political party controls the Senate. I contend that having the Senate try presidents is problematic due to conflicts of interest.

The full essay is at "A Constitutional Conflict of Interest."

Sunday, January 26, 2020

National Absurditas

Words can be stretched, or even abused, in the service of a self-serving ideology that is utterly unfair to other people as well as stubborn facts. Nietzsche theorized that ideas are the stuff of instinctual urges tussling for supremacy in the human mind. Against Kant’s love of the fixed laws of reason for their own sake, I submit that Nietzsche’s tussle of ideas can bend even the laws of reason, like the gravity of large masses can bend space (and thus light) and time. The basic framework of the universe is not static. Neither, I believe, are the rules of reason, and reasoning itself. Intense power, such as that of an ideology, can warp both the basic framework and process of reason. This can explain why ideologues can be seen by others to suffer from cognitive dissidence: holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time. A defense mechanism of ideology can block awareness of one of the two. Self-serving applications of the word, national, is a case in point.

The full essay is at "National Absurdity."