THE PHILOSOPHY OF RESPONSIBLE FREEDOM
Online & Ongoing, Free & Freeing, Adventure in the Academy of Ideas
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Academy of Ideas Videos Brought to Life for You By Two Very Different Philosophers
STARTING SATURDAY, 4 PM EST, OCTOBER 22 – Jack Carney and Steven Yates
EVERY SATURDAY AT THE SAME TIME
Worth noting is that there are three presentations.
1. Fridays 9 PM New Zealand Time where Jack will be the sole facilitator-teacher. These days and times are targeting Oceania, S.E. Asia, and Asia.
2. Saturdays 9 P M New Zealand time where Jack will be the sole facilitator-teacher. These days/times are targeting Oceania, S.E. Asia, and Asia.
3. Sundays 9am New Zealand time which are Saturdays 5pm Chile and 4pm E.S.T. time, where Steven will be joining Jack and Co-Presenting. This day/time is targeting the U.S., Canada, S. America, Europe, and Africa.
ZOOM CONNECTION DETAILS SCHEDULED FOR ALL 50 SESSIONS
1. FRIDAYS, 9PM, starting October 21, 2022 New Zealand time
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2. SATURDAYS, 9PM, starting October 22, 2022 New Zealand time
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Meeting ID: 860 9663 1190
3. SUNDAYS, 9AM, starting October 23, 2022 New Zealand time / 4 pm Eastern Standard Time.
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“It is important to note that we will be presenting and reviewing video material from our independent perspectives. Our presentations will involve, therefore, disagreements but we pledge to keep our disagreements mutually respectful, and to respect our audience by encouraging them to do their own thinking on the topics we shall be covering. We hope that by engaging polar opposites this way, we can set an example for others to follow that may help get us past the divisions currently rending Western civilization — or point toward a new way forward, in case that ship has sailed.”
Jack’s perspective: Materialist Naturalism, Atheism, Voluntarism, Autodidact.
Steven’s perspective: Christian Worldview (non-denominational, non-dispensationalist), Conservative “Populist,” with a PhD in Philosophy and four books the most recent of which is What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory (Wipf & Stock, 2021).
Jack is seeking an audience in the East (including China), given his New Zealand location, but is also seeking a Western audience, hence his joining with Steve.
Steven seeks an audience in North and South America, and perhaps Europe if Europeans by any chance see this.
The same video(s) will be presented in three sessions. You are welcome to attend all. Not to worry, these sessions are free. (Perhaps we will put up a tip jar. 😊 )
“My conception of Responsible Freedom (includes Self-Actualization):
To be Free means that you understand how your Mind from birth has been captured (programmed, indoctrinated, ordered) by Nature (Genes) and Nurture (Upbringing) to obey Authority — Something or Someone other than You. We are born to conform to and obey the Authority of our Parents, Culture, Government, Religion — the totality of the Belief Structures we inherit. To be Free is to discover and disable this default setting of Obedience to Authority and to reset it so as to become your own, sole, ultimate Authority.
To be Responsible for your Freedom means you have taken the time and effort to free your Mind as described above and that you allow no one to control your Mind. You think your own thoughts rather than being thought by them; you regulate your emotions rather than being driven by them. You control yourself using the scientific method, reason, and your own experience. You become your own, sole, ultimate Authority obedient only to Reality.
These four Au- words comprise the Gold (Au) Standard of the Responsibly Free Individual (etymological definitions):
AuTonomy (Self Law Maker)
AuThencity (Self Doer/Being)
AuThority (Master, Leader, Author)
AuThor (Originator, Creator, literally “One Who Causes to Grow”)
To Self-Actualize is do the above and become as fully as possible, Responsible for your Freedom. The degree to which you do this is the degree of your Self-Actualization. This is a never ending, forever ongoing task that must be committed to, reviewed and renewed, consistently and frequently. This Self-Education to value Freedom and become Responsible for it is generally not taught anywhere and it does not come naturally. To help others discover and disable the default setting of Obedience to Authority is why I have created this Adventure of Ideas. See my Free Friends Project https://www.resourceforyoursource.com/9_free-friends
“My provisional definition of Responsible Freedom:
The conscious capacity to live according to one’s own choices, not those of someone else (or the dictates of an institution not of one’s choosing), establishing goals of one’s own choosing and working toward achieving them, learning what one needs to learn or acquiring the skills one needs to acquire, in association with those of one’s own choosing provided those others have made the association one of their choices.
Why I have introduced this as provisional should become clear shortly.
The caveats and qualifiers: (1) The chooser has agreed de facto to accept the consequences of his/her choices and associations. (2) Freedom is not the freedom to do anything one pleases. Freedom is not an absolute — an abstraction — but a concrete reality or particular. Freedom is enhanced by systems (physical, historical/cultural, behavioral). These are all around us, and part of our heritage. They have been maintained because, sometimes with necessary modifications, they have solved the major problems of civilization. The good news is that you can create behavioral systems for yourself, and these become your habits, including habits of thought.
This all means that responsible freedom is both made possible by, but also invariably constrained by, physically/systemically available options, one’s knowledge of those options, and one’s capacity to make use of them. This will include one’s beliefs or mindset about what is possible for oneself and one’s associations. (3) Absence of immediate physical coercion is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for freedom, if other forms of coercion are present: hidden and unrecognized perhaps (psychological), or systemic (sociological or organizational). Recognizing their existence is the first step towards getting rid of them.
Final caveat (4): this is a reflection of freedom understand where we are now: in a liberal civilization that arguably is collapsing (collapse being understood as a process, not a singular event as a Hollywood film would depict — see, e.g., Dmitry Orlov’s work on the topic). As we’ll see in a minute, there are almost surely societal states of affairs in which my conception of responsible freedom might not even be understood. I don’t consider it “frozen in time,” as it were.
It is also a given that believers in different Worldviews will come to different conclusions about What is responsible freedom? The question will also be answered differently in different Stages of Civilization.
It is also a given that believers in different Worldviews will come to different conclusions about What is responsible freedom? The question will also be answered differently in different Stages of Civilization.
Auguste Comte gave us what he called the Law of Three Stages. We do not have to be “disciples” of his (I am not!) to find the idea at the beginning of his Introduction to Positive Polity useful. Comte also calls them states or conditions. His conceptual system implied Progress: each stage invalidates its predecessor. I will suggest that we jettison that assumption. In most advanced nations in the West we find all the stages existing side by side, however uneasily. I believe that stages of civilization are more akin to stories or floors of a building with competing enterprises on the various floors. There are, moreover, stairwells and elevators connecting them despite the competition between them, and possibly a commons area on the ground floor where all can meet and discuss, perchance over morning coffee, hopefully in front of a picture window with a view able to remind those inside that we inhabit a common world.
With that as background:
At the First Stage of society in its highest development, the worldview is invariably monotheistic or some equivalent, and so it could be called the stage of faith. Institutions develop accordingly. Obvious examples include Christian, Judaic, and Muslim societies. Freedom in these societies is the freedom to submit to and serve the will of God/Yahweh/Allah (the word Islam means submission in Arabic). Focusing on Christianity since I know it best. Freedom according to Christianity is found through the process of acknowledging one’s sin (separation from God), that one cannot save oneself, that one must therefore appeal to Jesus Christ for salvation (absolution for one’s sins, for which Christ paid the price on the cross). It is then service to one’s fellow humans in Christ’s name, especially the attempt to win more souls. The long and short of it: freedom is found in the submission or subordination of one’s private will to God’s will as best as one understands it. (Caveat: none of this denies that in-house disputes will not arise, as they obviously have. Muslims have Shiites and Sunnis; Christianity has its broad divisions between Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. Judaism has its own divisions, although Ashkenazi Jews have become strikingly dominant.)
Worth noting here is that in all these cases, God’s existence is a given, not the product of a philosophical attempt at proof. One could therefore speak of the Age of Faith.
Key drawback of first stage thinking: philosophical thought does not bow to institutional authority and its claim to speak for God, meaning that philosophers (even theists) are likely eventually to rebel against first stage thinking. The human tendency to ask questions, even within the bounds of the assumption of the Authority of Scripture, is one of the main reasons the in-house disputes happened, and why they remain.
At the Second Stage of society — at least as it emerged in the West — the dominant worldview (beginning around 300 A.D.) remained Christian, but philosophers had emerged who sought to prove the truth, e.g., of God’s existence with a philosophical argument. In other words, reason (logic) and not faith is the bottom line in this stage. Even for the theist, that is, reason is epistemically more basic than unaided belief. Institutions have developed which are able to nurture the intellect and enable theological debate at a level that the first stage will not permit. By medieval times, monasteries served as examples. Freedom is the freedom to use one’s reason to arrive at one’s own conclusions independent of that of ecclesiastical or other institution-bound authorities, within a community of likeminded thinkers (e.g., Kant’s “kingdom of ends”). Second stage civilization eventually gave rise to both the scientific revolution and the Protestant revolution in Christianity (helped along by the Gutenberg press!).
Worth noting: the variant on the Christian worldview that emerges at the highest level of this stage affirms God’s ideal rationality (logos) and ethos — as Creator of a universe that is therefore rationally ordered (designed), and of beings created in His image (us) who therefore have the cognitive ability to grasp the Creation as it is, at least in part if not in whole. Science becomes possible if fallible. The capacity of technique to solve specific grand problems (e.g., of energy-production, propulsion, etc.) and make dynamic advances is explained.
Theologians made peace with the idea of offering a philosophical proof of God’s existence, such as the ontological proof of St. Anselm of Canterbury or the cosmological proof of St. Thomas Aquinas, or the second ontological proof of René Descartes.
Steven’s opinion: this was a wrong turn. If second stage thinking subjects belief in God to the rational test of philosophical argumentation (ontological, cosmological, etc.), it leaves theism in limbo if/when the proofs cannot stand up to criticism. Descartes in particular made God just a stepping-stone of his methodological quest for absolute epistemic certainty (“I think; therefore, I am.”)
Another potential drawback: in seeking explanations for physical phenomena, how far can scientific explanation go? Why, given the failure of the philosophical proofs, should science presume the existence of a Creator? It might have seemed like a logical question to ask at the time. Why not just be an empiricist — in epistemology, empiricism is the thesis that all our knowledge comes through the senses (that pure reason discloses nothing except abstract logical relations and that claims to divine revelation that cannot be publicly validated disclose nothing at all). (Rationalism is the contrary stance in epistemology holding that some knowledge of matters of fact can be reached through abstract reasoning alone.)
This progression began the shift within Western civilization from the Christian worldview to the materialist one, i.e., an extrapolation from sense experience allegedly corrected by emerging scientific method: the ideas that the universe is self-existing, not created; that it is known exclusively through science / scientific methods, which are empiricist. This shift was underway by the start of the 1800s among the more avant garde Enlightenment thinkers. It got legs within the intellectual centers (universities) at large when Darwin published his theory of evolution by natural selection (1869), and began to infiltrate the larger culture in the early 1900s, especially under the spreading influence of Freudian psychoanalysis. Turning points included such events as the Scopes Trial and, later, the abolition of prayer in government schools. By this time, we were in the third stage of civilization.
The Third Stage of civilization — what Comte called the Positive stage — is the stage of empirical science, technique (technology), commerce (even though Comte himself was a socialist and would not have enjoyed capitalism’s triumphs), and universal education. It encourages cosmopolitanism and liberalism — having replaced the idea that all men and women are equal in the sight of God with the idea that all are rational beings and therefore, on this basis, moral equals. Respect for tradition dissolves if its basis cannot stand up to scientific scrutiny; there is no respect for place if respect for place inhibits the spread of markets and monetization. The idea of Progress already noted is especially important to third stage thought: yesterday’s theories in science are supplanted by today’s better ones; today’s techniques improve on yesterday’s; commercial enterprises (corporations, businesses) bringing new products into the marketplace are making our lives better and better as they spread across the globe; universal education is making even the masses smarter so that they can work for corporations or (in a few cases) create their own, etc., etc.
That could be viewed as a very long historical background for our subject matter in this course.
It is during this period — late 1800s onward — that things get very interesting for our purposes. And, I would argue, a shift began from a third stage of thinking to a fourth stage Comte did not see and would not have understood.
We were all increasingly a part of “the system” (supervening economic systems driven by the need to earn one’s living under the circumstances of emerging industrial civilization). Søren Kierkegaard was the first philosopher to stand up and shout, “I am not in your system! I demand the right to be free, by being different!” (Nowhere did he say this literally, of course, but his voluminous writings that are regarded as “founding Christian existentialism” began a trend of rebellion towards what were perceived as the strictures of industrial, third stage civilization resulting in unfreedom.)
Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed the “death of God,” by which he meant: everything that God’s existence had given meaning to was gone, had been destroyed by scientific progress as he understood it, which had fostered the materialist worldview as it then existed. Nihilism — belief in nothing — knocks on our doors, like the proverbial figure in black bearing a tall poker whose eyes are hidden by a black hood. All previous ethical systems, including the “secular” ones of Kant and other Enlightenment philosophers, are useless, because they try to maintain a fundamentally Christian ethos stripped of its supernaturalist foundation (God). They must go. We must have a “revaluation of all values.” We must recognize that our actual freedom is found when we create our own values. For Nietzsche, these were the values of survival and advancement in the universe described by materialists: strength (including physical prowess), health, determination, and resilience in the face of the universe’s manifest hostility to human life.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, over in Russia, however, had warned that “if God does not exist, then everything is permitted.” Except, perhaps, getting caught. Or, if one has sufficient power via the backing of others, or through having instilled fear in them, one can do essentially as one pleases. In this he probably anticipated Communism (and Nazism and other twentieth century “isms”). Dostoevsky also scolded us for any temptation to think the masses really want freedom. “The Grand Inquisitor” portrays them as having been told by Christ, “the truth will set you free” and then having laid that freedom at the feet of the Almighty Church! (Later merged into the Almighty State!)
Bertrand Russell, writing in “A Free Man’s Worship,” described the materialist’s universe, emptied of transcendent meaning, and stated that “in it our highest ideals must find a home,” these being peace and social justice (Russell was jailed more than once for his pacifism, so at least he put his money where his mouth was). Russell eventually embraced the slowly emerging technocratic view that the masses could be conditioned to accept and even love their servitude through proper forms of conditioning being served up by behavioral psychology.
Arguably, right around 1914, the Utopian tendencies of third stage civilization collapsed at once, with the Great War (later: World War 1) illustrating how little real, moral progress the human race had made, including its governing elites and the intellectual and technological forces now driving them consciously or otherwise.
Was a materialist world a meaningless world, and human life in a materialist world therefore meaningless, morality a meaningless concept?
The early twentieth century art world was already portraying a meaningless world by producing meaningless art (Duchamp’s “found objects” are an example). Music would follow when composers such as Schoenberg abandoned the tonality of his predecessors, producing compositions that verged on unlistenable. Literature was, more and more, portraying human beings acting in, and responding to, a meaningless world, a world they found nauseous (Sartre’s La Nausée) or in which murder could be committed for no reason because meaningless lives are expendable lives (Camus’s L’Etranger).
Science was not helping. It was furthering its own shift from a third stage to a fourth stage interpretation of the world (Nietzsche would have called it). Via some of the interpretations of quantum mechanics, theoretical physics was beginning to cast doubt on the knowability of physical reality as it is, in itself. Whether light consisted of particles or waves seemed to depend on how the experiment was set up and how observation took place. Reality came to seem “observer dependent.” Was Schroedinger’s cat alive or dead? Neither: until you opened the box and looked!
Philosophy, sadly (with rare exceptions), had become an exclusively academic enterprise retreating completely into the articulation of formal logic and detailed explorations of “ordinary language”: perfect for an industrial civilization that placed no commercial value on ideas that did not lead to something that could be sold to consumers.
Meanwhile, evidence was emerging that this civilization was empowering a sociopathic elite embarked on a campaign of global dominance. Although you had to know where to look, because increasingly, mass media, mass education, and other dominant institutions were structured to hide this development. This elite did not philosophize about freedom much. They just saw it as the freedom to do as they pleased, answerable (perhaps) only to each other.
Third Stage thinking regards truth as determined by empirical science — the scientific method. Practical problem solving, science applied to technology — plus the generalizing from particular results — was the test. Knowledge is had through the five senses, not from revelation (because God either does not exist or can be treated as nonexistent: operational atheism) or pure reason which yields only the empirically empty truths of logic (Kant’s analytic-synthetic dichotomy, emerging as the difference between truths of logic and definition, versus truths of empirical fact.
As far as ethics goes, we are on our own — to pursue what Russell called our “highest ideals,” Maslow’s “self-actualization,” or anything else, because we do not answer to anything Higher.
Third stage thinkers see science and technology (some) and commerce (others) as having set us free from superstition, slavery, institution-bound authority, and in principle, poverty, injustice, and war. They saw a future of boundless prosperity and unending progress.
In that case, they failed. The Great War was behind us, after all; an even more destructive war loomed, and we still had to learn about how many people totalitarians who certainly believed they answered to nothing / no one Higher than themselves could kill!
Fourth Stage thinking (and civilization) is the result of the manifest failures of third stage thinking (and civilization).
In various ways, fourth stage thinking either denies the reality of objectively-knowable truth, or denies the meaningfulness of such: objectively-knowable truth doesn’t matter even if is obtainable, because it is obtainable only in limited and trivial cases (e.g., “The cat is asleep” is objectively true if whatever cat you are talking about is indeed asleep). If its purveyors were fully honest with themselves (they are not), they would acknowledge Nietzsche as their most important forebear and add that we did not “transcend” nihilism because, given only the tools of third stage thinking, we could not — because the designing of a workable universal ethic on the foundations supplied by materialism in metaphysics and empiricism in epistemology make this impossible.
The twentieth and (so far) twenty-first centuries have witnessed a playing out of this unpleasant reality.
Even as leading intellectuals have struggled mightily to evade or avoid it!
Postmodernists are fourth stage thinkers in my sense, although I would not limit fourth stage thinking to postmodernism. Everyone who looked at where industrial civilization was going and saw Dystopia instead of Utopia and thus threw cold water on the third stage “myth of progress” (as he/she would call it) could be classified as a fourth stage thinker (this includes Huxley, Orwell, others).
Fourth Stage thinking celebrates hedonism (“the good is pleasure”) and the absoluteness of personal choices and associations, because it sees no reason not to celebrate them. It views every moral norm not of one’s own creation or choosing — or the creation or choosing of one’s peers — as an unjustifiable imposition of “authority.” Ultimately human life itself is a mere option, and not a gift (along with one’s abilities) from that which is Higher however we understand this last. Hence life’s ultimate cheapness and expendability (think of the abortion-mill death culture, the longstanding Western war machine, and the likelihood that the covid-19 “vaxes” will bring about a hidden euthanasia of “useless eaters” before the latter can gobble up scarce resources).
The test of this worldview, which is the worldview of materialism, is that the civilization that embraced it is collapsing. The collapse is becoming so obvious that the mainstream can no longer avoid it.
Money long ago became its real god — even as its monetary/financial system collapses. Note the one thing that the abortion death culture, the war machine, and the covid-19 “vaxes” have in common: all are extremely profitable, with profit being an end in itself for corporations and not a means to a better life for all concerned.
During the mid-twentieth century (before materialist premises had fully taken hold in both business and popular cultures), the economy really was a rising tide that lifted all the boats. During the 1970s and 1980s, capitalism shifted from this towards a financialized system that redistributed wealth upwards — corporate welfarism, or the welfare state in reverse.
Now we have a state of affairs in which the top .001 percent, a group of people that would fit comfortably into a high school auditorium, control more wealth than the entire bottom half of the world’s population.
The middle class created from the 1940s up through the 1960s began to diminish in size during the 1980s and beyond. Today it threatens to pinwheel over the economic cliff.
Government is everywhere, of course. But the real locus of power is the global corporation, or the superelite-controlled network of such, partnering with government and non-governmental organizations of various sorts (the UN, think tanks, semi-secret societies such as the Trilateral Commission and others). The reason for this is simple: corporations have the money, and ways of getting more. Their CEOs have mastered the art of “passive income,” (i.e., money obtained without working for it, or contributing anything to the real economy:“money making money”).
In other words, poverty has not been extinguished. If anything, it is increasing (stats showing income increases aside: all they mean is that more and more people, the world over, have been pulled into the global money political economy, even as their currencies lose their purchasing power). Economic hit men have gone around the world, luring “developing nations” into the web of global indebtedness. Local leaders who resisted often died in “accidents” or were overthrown, and someone “more reasonable” replaced them. (See John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man 2004; 2nd Ed. 2015,)
War has not been extinguished, because wars are profitable!
Nowhere to be found is a “justice system” that can be trusted to deliver justice, anymore than there is a public school or university to be found that dispenses real education (the “liberal arts” including academic philosophy fell to the agendas of the wokesters long ago—possibly because very little that preceded their rise, going back at least half a century, was exactly setting the world afire).
The Superelite, mentioned above, gravitated into the corporation long before that, so that legitimate institutions could be hijacked. Its members created the Federal Reserve (1913), the Bank for International Settlements (1930), the U.N. (1947), and other means of dominating the world by dominating the economic systems of individual nations. (“Free Trade” agreements going back to GATT furthered their goals for specific nations.) They did this not based on any system of “rights” but because they could.
They had sought to dominate mass media by the 1910s (so that the Great War could be presented in ways favorable to their interests), and set out to dominate “public education” before that.
They understood that the masses could be controlled if the information reaching their more intelligent members could be controlled (the rest would then go along, and the populations as a whole could be herded like sheep). Hence control over public education, which actually goes back well into the 1800s.
Being responsibly free, if it means anything it all, means transcending and getting past this kind of civilization! At the fourth stage (with plenty of the third still admixed), freedom is freedom from all constraints whatever — except those approved by wokesters, of course, which typically work against real freedom (which includes free speech). This includes freedom from constraints imposed by Reality (e.g., the reality that there are two and only two sexes, and that this is not a fact we can be responsibly free from.
I am assuming the unlikelihood that we can go back to earlier stages — any more than you can unscramble an egg (though anyone who wants to, is welcome to try). We are where we are, and we can only go forward — not into the Brave New World or the Great Reset but around them, and past them!
Into what I call a Fifth Stage, difficult as it will be to envision.
We can, of course, speculate — using such ideas as a means of negotiating our way in the direction we want to go even if we aren’t entirely clear where we will end up.
At the Fifth Stage … we’re still trying to find out … but should it be possible, it might include freedom from the hidden authority and tyranny of a money political economy.
How might we accomplish that?
Perchance by reinvestigating and then making use of Nikola Tesla’s ideas (?), learning how to create systems based on the possibilities of abundance, especially regarding energy and food, instead of maintaining systems based on a presumption of scarcity which enables the further enrichment of corporations able to control governments. Abundance by its nature brings down prices to next-to-nothing. We need energy to power an advanced civilization, and an abundance of energy would bring down its costs far more than anything being done now (because what is being done now keeps the corporate-governmental machinery in business).
This would enable decentralization of power away from central points dictated by that corporate-governmental machinery for those who claim it. Recent technological marvels such as 3D printing have the potential to create abundance in other areas such as housing, bringing down costs in that realm.
This, of course, is just one theme to be explored in transcending the morass where third and fourth stage thinking have left us.
Others including revisiting the earlier stages and identifying specific strengths they might still offer. (I do this in the final chapter of my What Should Philosophy Do?)
The Fourth Stage teaches us to at least be skeptical of authority structures of whatever sort, and to be wary of those who indeed confuse positions enabling authoritarian gestures with knowledge of what is true; or which confuse consensus with truth.
The Third Stage teaches us that objective knowledge is at least possible, that what science and technology do, they do very well, and that no other enterprises are as well suited to discovery of truths about spatio-temporal reality. It tried (unsuccessfully) to caution us about demanding absolute certainty as a condition for knowledge.
The Second Stage gave us the structures of reasoning, which are well suited for the organizing and classification of ideas.
The First Stage teaches us, finally, that in the absence of certainty — if we are ruthlessly honest about it — that our first premises, ultimate starting point, is a profession of faith in those premises. (Obviously we cannot “prove” them, because whatever we used as proof would then be more basic than those premises.)
Steven will thus ask, is your faith going to be in God as Creator, or in that which is Higher; or in something called Matter (Mammon?)?
Steven will invoke the most important advance in philosophical theology in the past century: Presuppositional Apologetics: a challenging term for a fairly simple concept: that (as was the case for the first stage thinker) God’s existence — or nonexistence — is your starting premise logically speaking, or starting point, not the result of a chain of reasoning or inference from a range of experiences. There are—surprise, surprise—different versions of it, such as that put forth by Cornelius Van Til and that of Gordon Clark, but we need not get into what divided them.
Being free surely includes being free to choose your first premises, based on your best judgment given all that you have learned and all that you have experienced. Being responsibly free surely includes recognizing the gravity of the matter, because the choices we make as individuals do not just affect us. They affect those around us, and thus have ripple effects within our families, associations, and communities. Thus, the importance of choosing wisely — fully conscious of the reality that choices have consequences, not just for us but for those our words and actions will affect.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF RESPONSIBLE FREEDOM 50 ACADEMY OF IDEAS VIDEOS
“This is not, first of all, an academic philosophy tutorial. It is presented with the intention of providing a thoughtful but practical and relevant exploration of ideas, both historical and more recent, that are critically important to anyone who wishes a freer life and a more peaceful world, in which the barriers to these are neutered. My portion of the discussion will draw on the stages-of-civilization material presented above, and what it might mean to “progress” to civilization’s fifth stage—which I firmly believe we either do, or the West soon goes out of business! We will be going through, and discussing, 50 videos from the Academy of Ideas http://www.academyofideas.com/
Our presentations will be conducted over Zoom. This is necessary because Jack and I are on different continents, and those who join in will be on still other continents. This is a global scale (but not globalist!) project, in other worlds.”
It is free, no charge; and hopefully, freeing. There is no commitment required. Each of the three sessions, two with Jack only and the other with the two of us trading ideas and sharing our individual perspectives, will last around one hour + (up to 1.5).
The only thing we ask is that you enter the Zoom session a few minutes before the starting time. We will close entry to the session around 10 minutes after the starting time. You will be recorded with the possibility of the video being published. You can have your video and audio on or not if you want some degree of anonymity. You can leave the session whenever you want without notifying us. You can participate to whatever degree you wish including remaining silent and simply watching. You will be allowed to record each Zoom session which will appear on your device after the end to watch again.
Please inform one (or both) of us letting us know ahead of time if you plan to attend a session — although this is not necessary. You can just drop in unannounced if you want.
Email Jack at email@example.com
Email Steven at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE ACADEMY OF IDEAS
The “Academy of Ideas” is a Canadian based (two brothers) Voluntaryist education service with some 200+ YouTube videos on all aspects of philosophy, especially as they relate to Responsible Freedom and Self-Actualization. Each video is 7 to 12 minutes long, and includes beautiful, classical paintings to illustrate the ideas presented as well as many focusing quotes from a variety of ancient to modern philosophers, especially those concerned with living the morally good life and not abstruse academic arguments. There are transcripts as well as copies of the paintings, so you can prepare ahead or explore more afterwards.
Each video explores and explicates a set of ideas on a central topic or theme.
The first of the fifty videos is “The Benefits of Reading Great Books.”
The theme is how the body, or canon, of cultural classics of both the East and the West including literature, music, philosophy, and works of art can serve us if our goal is to free our minds, especially from the dominance of institutions and the constant barrage of noise from the political system and mainstream corporate media.
These quotes give the flavor of this first video, from the transcript:
“Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use?…They are for nothing but to inspire.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“We need to learn not simply to read books but to allow ourselves to be read by them.” Mark Edmundson
The Brothers’ script and the concluding quote:
“And if we decide to be one of the few to make reading great books a priority what we are likely to discover is that as we become more fixated on the wisdom contained in them, the pull of technology and the white noise of culture around us, will lose its grip on our mind. For as Edmundson explains: ‘People who have taught themselves how to live — what to be, what to do — from reading great works will not be overly susceptible to the culture industry’s latest wares. They’ll be able to sample them, or turn completely away — they’ll have better things on their minds.’”
The final, 50th, video is “How to be Free in an Unfree World”.
From the transcript:
“If such epics were the highest values of life — our peace, our independence, our basic rights, all that makes our existence more pure, more beautiful, all that justifies it — are sacrificed to the demon inhabiting a dozen fanatics and ideologues, all the problems of the man who fears for his humanity come down to the same question: how to remain free?” Stefan Zweig, Montaigne
“Moral autonomy is life promoting under any conditions it is especially important at times of social upheaval and rapid change. If this crisis proves significant enough to fundamentally re-order the structure of our society many of us will soon discover that the ways of life that supported us up until now have become obsolete. Change or perish is the motto of a Brave New World, and unless we are willing to take responsibility for our own future, to act with autonomy and to cultivate the traits that autonomy necessitates, such as curiosity, self-directed learning, a willingness to take risks, and an openness to new experiences, then the only alternative is to place our life in the hands of another. Asserting our moral autonomy and doubling down on our psychological freedom has benefits that extends beyond the merely personal. For in choosing to retain our status as a free man or woman, and striving to behave in ways that reflect this, we become a force that pushes the world back in the direction of freedom.”
HOW THE TUTORIAL IS PRESENTED
Jack will oversee playing the videos, with English subtitles (for English-as-Second-Language learners).
Sometimes we play them once only, stopping to give our explanations and interpretations of ideas we find inspiring or to clarify words and ideas we think might be challenging to understand.
We invite your responses — comments and questions — as we go, inviting each of you to share your questions or understandings of the ideas being discussed.
Sometimes we play them twice: once all the way without stopping for comments; then a second time stopping for comments.
Our aim is to facilitate — make useful and enjoyable — your exploration of the ideas presented, adding our respective own comments as we go that we hope will deepen your understanding.
Before, during and after our seminars we will also mention and supply access to relevant books, articles and videos (as well as URLs) so that you can prepare for or review and add further to your exploration and understanding.
Jack has put the 50 videos below into a specific sequence that he believes will be progressively accumulative and synergetic, leading you at the end to understand what it means to Self-Actualize Responsible Freedom.
Steven used to ask his classes, at the end, “Are you free? Why or why not? How can you become more free, i.e., what beliefs and specific courses of action does this call for?”
THE 50 VIDEOS WE WILL ENCOUNTER & ENGAGE, EXPLORE & EXPERIENCE, EXPLICATE & EXPLAIN
1.The Benefits of Reading Great Books
2.Suffering and the Meaning of Life
3.Ernest Becker and the Fear of Death
4.What is Religion
5.Nietzsche and the Death of God
6.Introduction to Nihilism
8.Nietzsche and Morality–The Higher Man and The Herd
9.Abraham Maslow and the Psychology of Self-Actualization
10.Life as a Quest
11.Philosophy as a Way of Life
12.Diogenes the Cynic
13.The Ideas of Socrates
14.Epicurus and Ethics
15.Introduction to Stoicism & Stoicism vs. Epicureanism
16.Ralph Waldo Emerson and The Psychology of Self-Reliance
17.Introduction to Existentialism
18.Introduction to Ethics
19.Frans de Waal and Our Inner Ape
20.The Psychology of Conformity
21.The Psychology of Authenticity
22.Why You Should Strive for a Meaningful Life, Not a Happy One
23.Social Media and the Psychology of Loneliness
24.Performing Therapy On Yourself–Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization
25.Existential Psychotherapy–Death, Freedom, Isolation, Meaninglessness
26.Collectivism and Individualism
27.Fear and Social Control
28.Machiavelli–The Rulers vs The Ruled
29. The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind – Gustave Le Bon
30.Eric Hoffer — The True Believer and The Nature of Mass Movements
31.Edward Bernays and Group Psychology
32.Introduction to Propaganda
33.What is Brainwashing?
34.Do We Live in a Sick Society
35.Public Schools, the Fixation of Belief, and Social Control
36.Why Public Schools and the Mainstream Media Dumb Us Down
37.How We Enslave Ourselves
38.The Psychology of Obedience and The Virtue of Disobedience
39.How the Greater Good is Used as a Tool of Social Control
40.George Orwell and 1984: How Freedom Dies
41.Aldous Huxley and Brave New World
42.Democracy and the Road to Tyranny
43.Spontaneous Order vs. Centralized Control
44.Why We Can’t Vote Our Way to Freedom
45.The Individual vs. Tyranny
46.How Civil Disobedience Safeguards Freedom and Prevents Tyranny
https://academyofideas.com/2020/12/how-civil-disobedience-safeguards- freedom-and-prevents-tyranny/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=gnodcLLEZw4&feature=e mb_logo
47.The Psychology of Power – How to Dethrone Tyrants
48.Freedom vs. Force — The Individual and the State
49.How to Fortify the Mind in Times of Crisis
50.How to Be Free in an Unfree World
YOUR TWO PRESENTERS ONLINE WORK
STEVEN YATES. EMAIL email@example.com
News With Views, Steven Yates https://newswithviews.com/author/steveny/
Patreon – Steven Yates https://www.patreon.com/stevenyates
Lost Generation Philosopher https://lostgenerationphilosopher.com/
Medium – Steven Yates https://stevenyates.medium.com/
Gravatar – Steven Yates https://en.gravatar.com/fifthstageenterprises
Amazon – Steven Yates https://tinyurl.com/2jex6skw
PhilPaper – Works by Steven Yates https://philpapers.org/s/Steven%20Yates
Greenville to Santiago: Why I Left the United States for Chile Should You Do It Too? http://thestatelessman.com/2013/04/01/chile/
Prof. Steven Yates Speaks To The Remnant
JACK CARNEY EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
1.Responsibly Free School for Self-Directed Learners, Home-Un-Schoolers
2.Pairing Today for Committed Consummate Relationships
3.Parent Effectiveness Training for Peaceful Parenting www.parenteffectivenesstrainingnewzealand.com
4.Resource For Your Source for Self-Actualization and Everything Voluntary
Substack – Jack’s Responsibly Free News Letter
Blog Themes Of Jack https://themesofjack.blogspot.com/
Slideshare Jack Carney https://www.slideshare.net/TheMesofJack/presentations
YouTube – Jack’s Channel (57 videos) http://bit.ly/2kqyXle
Linkedin Business https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackinnewzealand/
Liberty.me – Libertarian Community http://resourceforyoursource.liberty.me/
October 13-17, 2022