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posted on 07 November 2017

Inadvertent Errors 1517-2017

Written by , The Somist Institute

On 31 October 31 2017, it was pleasing for me to post on the Internet this Thesis that tries to outline the cascade of errors that (inadvertently) flowed from Martin Luther's 95 Theses, which are believed to have been affixed onto the door of the Cathedral at Wittenberg on this very day 500 years ago.

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Martin Luther was well aware of the pitfalls ahead. He was convinced that the changes we make seldom improve anything, and that the best we can do is only, paradoxically, to start all over again and again (Luther's Works 13:217, 25:478).

In fact, as rarely realized Luther's rejection of external authority and the Catholic Church's unwillingness/inability to answer each one of those Theses in order to (re-)establish the foundation of her moral authority eventually resulted in the separation of the actions of men and women from morality.

In the following, I will shy away from theological controversies.

These are the errors that flow from the implicit Declaration of Freedom of Conscience. The goal then, as the great goal now for us, is the search for balance between the rights of freedom and the duties of authority:

1. The conscience becomes unmoored from the virtues;

2. Hence, freedom is no longer moral freedom, but becomes political freedom;

3. Political freedom is granted by other people's will: the will of the King in a monarchy, the will of the majority in a democracy;

4. As Shakespeare knew, freedom of conscience leads to a tortured conscience: "to be or not to be";

5. The elimination of doubt is resolved by the assumption that the mind is fount of all certitude;

6. This lead to Descartes' affirmation of "I think, therefore I am";

7. Which led to the separation of the mind from body--and soul;

8. Which led to rejection of God in human affairs; see David Hume et al:

9. Since "I" am, who needs anyone or anything else?

10. This error actually started with St. Thomas Aquinas, who believed that "all that exists is";

11. This is an error of philosophical proportions, because only Being is--everything else Exists, and exists only in relation to Being;

12. The separation of mind from body and soul made room for Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), in which morality becomes--explicitly--an expression of our fickle feelings:

13. In time, Freud came along;

14. In time, Hugh Hefnercame along;

15. Smith's theory of moral sentiments has had so much sway, not because it borders on empty sentimentality, but because it is the result of a highly sophisticated interaction of elevated feelings and opinions;

16. Smith's construction of the autonomous conscience is crowned by the conception of the "impartial spectator";

17. But, who is the impartial spectator?

18. The theory of moral sentiments falls apart upon the discovery that the impartial spectator is lui meme, he himself;

19. Morality and hoarding are inextricably tied togetherthrough relatively complex relationships;

20. Adam Smith, powerfully aided by the culture of the Enlightenment, as we have seen corrupted morality and, as we shall see. obliterated hoarding;

21. Economists cannot see hoarding;

22. Thus, economists cannot see the economic wisdom of Mosaic laws of the Jubilee;

23. Or the economic wisdom of the Parable of the Talents;

24. And theologians redact economics from the Bible and other religious texts;

25. Thus, economics becomes the religion of the age--and Mammon its deity;

26. By corrupting morality and obliterating hoarding from economics, Adam Smith gave intellectual permission to Jeremy Bentham to publish his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789), which provided the foundation for "utility" and utilitarianism--especially in economics;

27. Even though the conception of the "util" was eventually discarded because no one ever measured a util, utilitarianism still has sway in economics;

28. For a good reason after all, because economics is based on money--and money is "the best labor-saving device" ever devised;

29. Economists have yet to discover this verity;

30. It is The Theory of Moral Sentiments, more than Smith's Wealth of Nations (1776), that stands at the foundation of ("moral") capitalism;

31. Nowhere to be found in the Wealth of Nations is the doctrine of economicjustice;

32. And since Adam Smith is the father of modern economics, nowhere to be found in economics today is the doctrine of economic justice;

33. Adam Smith was aided in the destruction of economic justice by John Locke, who, in his Two Treatises on Government (1689) diverted our attention from the doctrine of economic justice onto a similar looking, but incompatible, stunted search for the justice of property rights;

34. Which gave rise to the antinomy of Karl Marx, who preached the "injustice" of property rights";

35. Property rights can be justified only if based on economic justice;

36. The doctrine of economic justice ruled the world from Aristotle through Thomas Aquinas to John Locke;

37. Today we are ruled by the doctrine of social justice;

38. Trouble is, no one has ever defined or will ever define what social justice is;

39. So, we allow the few to assert their freedom to legally acquire as much wealth as they wish, unrestrained by any sense of morality;

40. And then we beg them to give us something back "to take care of the poor";

41. On which basis? On the basis of legal and moral extortion;

42. It is only responsibility that grants us rights;

43. My right is tied to my responsibility toward you; your right is based on your responsibility toward me:

44. We argue about our mutual responsibilities and we agree on the common good: your good and my good.

45. The common good might also lead us to become all more humble: The achievement of religious and intellectual freedom yielded to pride, the pride of religious and intellectual freedom as extraordinary achievements of the human mind;

46. Especially in America, both freedoms eventually were reinforced by Emerson's insistence on the supremacy of self-reliance;

47. What to say of this approach to life? Rooted in pride, self-reliance is a strong mixture, in equal parts perhaps, of cynicism (there is no one to help you), braggadocio (I can do it alone), and sadness (poor me, there is no one to help me). It ultimately reveals a total misunderstanding of the true nature of human beings--human beings are most happy when they help each other--and accordingly it reveals absence of God, and an absolute absence of love for God.

48. As Bruce Lee points out, "There is fear and insecurity in pride because," quoting Eric Hoffer, "the core of pride is self-rejection";

49. As it is becoming more and more evident through concentration on these issues, especially spurred by the recent publication of Kurt Andersen's Fantasyland(2017), religious and intellectual freedom brought to us via Martin Luther and Descartes have morphed into a fierce entitlement to custom-made reality, a world of illusion, a world of collective delusion;

50. Hence, Trumpism.


This article is adapted from an essay posted at OpEdNews 01 November 2017.


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