Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Who & Whom of Persons & Racial Categories

The subject of race is so vapid and unedifying, no wonder the left never shuts up about it, for it ensures that they always have something vacuous to scream about, i.e., a non-problem with no political solution (or better, pretend solutions that aggravate the pseudo-problem, which calls for ever more pretend solutions, especially in an election year).

Yes, there is a solution, but the race hustlers of the left would never consider it, because it would put them out of business overnight.

To paraphrase someone, you can't expect the tenured to understand something when their whole livelihood depends on not understanding it -- in this case, a rudimentary grasp of the Golden Rule: I don't want to be reduced to a racial stereotype, therefore I don't depersonalize others in that manner.

Persons are persons, not races. They are, however, male or female. Note that, as usual, the left has it precisely backward and upside-down: they want us to pretend race is of critical importance while denying the cosmic significance of sexual differences. Indeed, the Supreme Court reads this twisted ideology into the Constitution.

Let's stipulate the formerly liberal (and always conservative) principle that a person is an individual and not a racial category. But what is a person?

Conveniently, I just finished a book on this very subject, The Selfhood of the Human Person. It started off very strong, but got a little tedious about midway through. It could have been half the length if the author had fully digested the subject instead of thinking out loud the whole time.

But I suppose that's the way it is with phenomenology. It can get more than a little.... flabby, since it is the opposite of abstract, reductive, aphoristic, etc. It gives you the whole existentialada, literally.

We prefer to look at things through the opposite end of the telescope, which is to say, principial, metaphysical, integral, and synthetic, while never ignoring the universal experience of any- and everyman in every time and place, AKA human nature. I suggest we flip through the book with this in mind, and try to subsume the raw phenomenology into our half-baked noumenology. Whatever that means.

Crosby follows the personalist tradition of John Paul II, which vindicates "that which makes man irreducible to the world." Obviously this flies in the face of all modern forms of scientistic reductionism, but also the postmodern pathologies that so cluelessly deny human nature and essence. You could say that modernism and postmodernism are just two sides of the same worthless metaphysical coin.

Which is not to say there is nothing worthwhile in science, only that it renders itself stupid when it elevates itself to a metaphysic. There is, however, nothing worthwhile in postmodernism, as it is in its essence a doctrine of idiocy when it isn't Satan's own worldview (yes, literally).

This post may be a little random. Or rather, continue to be random. Besides, I'm feeling a little fuzzy this morning, which makes it more challenging to slice through this like the proverbial hammer.

Some things are better seen and recognized when we are deprived of them. Who notices oxygen until we can't breath? Who could begin to understand time if we weren't constantly threatened by finitude?

Similarly, perhaps personhood comes better into focus when we are deprived of it. Why is life in Saudi Arabia or China or Iran or leftist campuses so awful? Because real personhood is not permitted. More ominously, why is our country lurching in this very direction, away from individual freedom and personhood toward leftist conformity, collectivism, and groupthink?

America is founded on the principle that a person is a Who and not a What -- an I and never an It. Lenin and Stalin were correct in reducing politics to the question of Who and Whom. The question is, who qets to be Who, and who is to be treated as a mere Whom, i.e., an object or means to an end? (Hint: all leftists think they will be a Who, and are always surprised when the mob comes for them.)

Note, for example, that rioters and looters are treated with great respect by the left as dignified Whos, while people who wish to protect themselves from rioters and looters -- e.g., the McCloskeys -- are Whoms to be destroyed by the media-state complex.

Am I reducing the mob to a Whom by calling them rioters and looters? Not at all, since I hold them fully responsible as persons for the rioting, looting, thuggery. Damn right they're persons! Now, treat them like it, good and hard. You'll find they won't like it.

Rather, they'll want to hide behind a Whom and say something to the effect that "race made me do it" (or variants such as "structural racism," "white privilege," etc.). I can't help it! I have no agency or free will! I'm depraved on account'a I'm deprived!

Good question: "what do we understand about persons when we understand the moral immaturity of those periods in history in which slavery was taken for granted? What do we understand about persons when we see slavery as radically depersonalizing?"

So easy to tear down statues of our founders, but why is slavery wrong? What are we recognizing when we recognize it as such?

No, we are not recognizing "the equality of races." Suppose science continues to mount evidence for the inequality of races -- for example, that Asian Americans and Ashkenazi Jews on average have higher IQs than Euro- or African-Amercans. Would this justify slavery?

No, because we are persons before we are statistical categories of general intelligence. Slavery is wrong because it is in the nature of a person to have property in himself. A person is his own end, and must never be treated as an object who only exists for the sake of another. Yes, China wants to enslave us, but it would be wrong no matter how many math and engineering majors they produce.

Nor is a person a mere part of a whole, whether it is a race, state, or tribe. Not to belabor the point, but this is why the disgusting ideology of identity politics is at antipodes to the American ideal:

there is no totality that can encompass a person in such a way as to relativize the totality that he or she is. Persons stand in themselves in such a way as to be absolute, that is, unsurpassable, unrelativizable totalities.

In short, a person can never be contained by anything lower than personhood. I'll buy that. But by virtue of what principle? Or relative to whom?

Correct: the divine person, more on whom tomorrow.


Gagdad Bob said...

Interesting that both the Declaration & Constitution are rooted in subjective personhood: We hold these truths to be self-evident, and We the people. In contrast, the first sentence of Article 1 of China's constitution says

"The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state governed by a people’s democratic dictatorship that is led by the working class and based on an alliance of workers and peasants."

State and ideology come first, and the people at the top are the Who -- ideas they appropriated from our own left.

julie said...

while people who wish to protect themselves from rioters and looters -- e.g., the McCloskeys -- are Whoms to be destroyed by the media-state complex.

There is a bit of bitter irony in there, as the McCloskeys were all for the "protests" until it was their home being threatened. The scales were rather forcibly removed from their eyes; I genuinely hope that this experience wakes them up permanently to the truth of the other side: that we are against all of this not because of racism, but because we don't want to see our country torn apart by lawlessness and injustice. Now they themselves are being threatened with prosecution, because of course they are. Their long history of support for leftism will not save them from the consequences of defending themselves against the leftist mob.

julie said...

Apropos of nothing, this is fun and well done:
Jazz with Pipeline and Saxophone

Gagdad Bob said...

As with the French Revolution, every leftist thinks he'll be Who until the blade comes down on them.

Gagdad Bob said...

The guy with the pipe reminds me of a group that recorded in an underground cistern.

ted said...

Pipeline funk will be the newest fad... the ultimate social distancing!

Anonymous said...

Here’s a little hymn-like thing that accentuates the WE ....



Anonymous said...

“United We Stand Divided We Fall”

Just as “Slavery is Freedom”, that phrase is really an obvious declaration than anything collectivist is always going to be evil. I shall not allow anybody to ever speak it again. Ya'll need to fix your own damned self.

Anonymous said...

China is kicking our economic asses. And they'll soon be worldwide space and technology leaders, courtesy of our own leaders giving them all of our knowledge and production, leaders who were mostly looking out for their own damned selves.

Will China revise its constitution, or will it just say: "We win! You're all gonna be socialists now." I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

neal said...

I worked for some Chicoms many moons ago and could not abide.
They wanted to combine the Pope with microchips and rule this place.
I was told my talents were needed.
I ran off into the waste places and watch most invest into whatever they are entrained.
Hell of a thing.

Walter said...

Dude, Chicom is not the preferred Nomenclature, Asian-American please.

Don Key Aphorist said...

Solutions to “racism”, such as the elimination of Aunt Jemima, are nothing more than vapid and unedifying virtue signaling. Few corporations care about the race of the purchaser of their products, only that they get purchased.

Just because you’re tenured, doesn’t mean you’re out to get white people.

These days, persons are persons from environments first, a race second, especially since the enslavement/segregation/marginalization of negroes/Asians/native Americans… isn’t much of a thing anymore.

Since modernism and postmodernism are worthless, may I suggest cubism? It’d be a lot easier for simple minds to understand.

Science is worthwhile until it elevates itself to metaphysics, where it's worthless, mostly because exorcism isn’t a required course anymore.

Opportunities are better seen and recognized when we are deprived of them.

Our country is lurching away from individual freedom and personhood toward leftist conformity because people can’t afford to buy all the coolest stuff like they used to.

It’s better to be a rich who than a poor what. Yet God says he doesn’t give a shit. Go figure, especially since prosperity gospel became vogue.

Rioters are treated with great respect because otherwise they’ll burn your small business down. But big corporations (especially media) encourage rioting because their business never gets burned down. Plus they like garage sales.

My race is better than yours because it’s my race.

Slavery is right because eventually, AI will re-insert me into the matrix and I’ll be somebody important, like an actor.

Christians are better than Muslims because they’re evil. But are Muslims, being kinda sorta half right, better than athiests, who are concentrated evil?

Anonymous said...

Personhood is possibly over-rated.

Leftist conformity is not necessarily a bad thing.

Does everyone have to be somebody?

Can't people rest content by being first and foremost members of a racial group?

Why not just labeled as part of group and give up the exhausting struggle to be an individual.

You'll be so much happier if you can just relax into the collective and quiet your mind.

Tenured professors are superior people and we all must depend on them to provide leadership and guidance.

To become tenured one must exceed very high physical and intellectual standards and have impeccable morals.

It is only natural to be jealous of the tenured and hate them for being superior people. In time you will get over that, you will learn to love the tenured and think of them as beloved grand-parents.

Now go about your business, try to blend in, conform to the group you belong too, and don't think too much. All will be well.

And the Chinese are nice. Buy their products, you will like them.

Anonymous said...

Hello out there in Internet land:

How is everyone faring? Had your coffee yet?

This is a great day to think about who and whom, and racial categories.

I'll open the floor.

I have physical characteristics specific to my race. How should I think about these physical differences? Do they matter in terms of '"who I am?" Or not?

What about skin color? What does everyone think about skin color? Does skin color matter?

I'm not sure about any of these things. What should I be sure of? That is the question.

Another question is brandishing fire-arms. When is an appropriate time to brandish fire-arms?

Don Key Aphorist said...

If you have to worry about skin color, then you are quite certainly inferior.

The only race that matters are the Jews, Gods chosen people. Yet boy are they always seem to get into trouble.

Now, have you ever seen a black man dancing with the Haredi? Even with a fake hooked nose, paled up skin, payot and schtreimel on Shabbat, even with good dancing skills, and with the properly segregated and sheiteled ladies enjoying watching the large bouncing bulges, he is almost certain to be discovered and pulled aside as an imposter.

Is this because most Jews vote Democrat? What about the rest of us? I'd love to dance with the Haredi. It looks like great fun. Sure I'd bounce around a bit stepping on toes before I learned all the moves, but why cant I just declare myself one of them, even as a goy?

Jewish law forbids Jews from performing certain tasks on the Sabbath, so they usually get a goy to do them. But what if they got an Islamic goy? Can you imagine what would happen if a Moslem goy tried to dance with the Haredi, without even trying to dress the part? Just left dish towel on head and bathrobes on body. You know damned well a video from such an event would make it to Youtube.

I was supposed to be typing up aphorisms and apparently got sidetracked. My apologies. I have no idea how to aphorize about these "Chosen People".