•    Human Dishonesty Against Animals   

    Scales of a Balanced Justice

    By-Line: The term “Human Dishonesty Against Animals” at first blush sounds awkward. One might think, “shouldn’t it be ‘Human Dishonesty ABOUT Animals?’ ” We phrase it as “AGAINST Animals” in order to emphasize the point that this is a deliberate, calculating, intentional and intractable human exercise in “jaundiced perception” engaged in by humans as a matter of convenience, very much like political boundary gerrymandering that seeks to rob targeted groups of voters of their political voice in government. Human dishonesty regarding non-human animals stands as a blight on the integrity and intelligence of humankind. Because of it, humanity is disintegrating at a faster rate than it can regenerate its damaged vital organs. The epidemic violence throughout the World cannot be divorced from this intrinsic defect of dishonesty, because at its heart, where the epistemology of Compassion prevails violence does not, and where it has been rejected, violence flourishes. Substituting the epistemology of Rationalism for the epistemology of Compassion has proven to be a catastrophic mistake.

    Mahatma Gandhi understood this when he said, “You will know the advancement or decline of a civilization by its treatment of the animals.” This is, at its core, an epistemological problem. As Huston Smith phrased the problem: “Reason makes a good servant and a lousy master.” The examples in human history where “Reason as Master” ran amuck and caused tremendous harm are legion. When ‘Reason’ trumps ‘Compassion’ and subordinates it, horrific terrors like the Khmer Rouge genocides, Mao Tse Tung genocides, Stalin genocides, Lenin genocides, Serbia genocides, Nazi genocides, Srebrenica genocides, Rwandan genocides, Darfur genocides — will flourish unabated, precisely because Compassion has been denigrated, trivialized, and expunged. There are no examples in all of human history where ‘Compassion’ – as the Master – ran amuck and caused great harm.

    The dishonesty we are talking about is the surreptitious ‘slight-of-hand’ manipulations of so-called ‘facts’ when considering the interests of non-human animals versus the interests of human animals. Let’s start with the terms and the euphemisms. Usually we say “humans” versus “animals” — as though humans are not animals, but something ‘higher’ and more important than just ‘animals.’ We human animals tend to absolutely deplore any attempt to connect us with chimps, gorillas or the horseshoe crab, when reaching back through the biological causal chain of events for the origins of life. It’s a kind of condescending inbuilt bias humans have ‘for’ human animals and ‘against’ non-human animals.

    We also see this bias embedded in a phalanx of other terms. When referring to non-human animals humans typically refer to them as “it.” Most pet owners refer to their pets as “he” or “she.” The term “it” converts the creature into an object, like a rock or a table, as opposed to a “being.” Occasionally one hears someone refer to an infant as an “it” and I always cringe when I hear that. If there is uncertainty as to the gender of an infant or a non-human animal it is better to call them a “he” or a “she” and risk the 50\50 chance it might be wrong, as opposed to calling them an “it” which has a 100% guarantee that it is wrong. Whenever I hear a pet owner refer to their pet as “s\he” I feel relieved because I feel more confident that the pet is probably in a good home – because they see their pet as a ‘being’ and not an object..

    One couldn’t help but notice the disproportionate amount of attention lavished on the human victims of the BP Gulf Spill Disaster compared to the attention given to the non-human animal victims, who were suffering mind-boggling horrid deaths, while the human fishermen’s suffering was largely confined to financial losses. It’s a self-serving operating assumption of convenience, that “dead animals” are just incidental expendable “road kill” lying on the side of the road — something the Transportation Department should clear away as soon as possible so as not to create a hazard or an eye-sore for human animals. Beings are beings, and suffering is suffering. Suffering does not cease to be suffering simply because it is happening to someone else other than ourselves.

    This human dishonesty is particularly apparent when one looks at the criminal statutes and sentencing statutes for incomprehensibly horrific acts of cruelty perpetrated against non-human animals, even when they are someone’s beloved pet — a virtual, actual family member for most pet owners. The law treats animals as mere ‘property’ — “objects” – something humans ‘own’ and ‘possess,’ like a golf bag or a pair of shoes, which the law says one should be free to discard as one pleases. And if a human cruelly tortures and kills another human’s pet, the legal system holds that reimbursing the owner for the market value of the pet constitutes full and “just compensation” for their loss. The perpetrator makes out quite well when s\he tortures and kills a pet that was a pound mutt that is not a pedigree. This twisted mind-set goes beyond just being “dishonest.” It’s flat-out demented and sociopathic — and its deeply embedded in the human culture and legal system, even though pet owners most often see their pet companions as actual ‘beings’ and as actual family members.

    This human dishonesty even permeates the local government so-call “Shelters” (“Animal Kill Centers” — the Dog Pound), where sham euphemisms are routinely used to distort and misrepresent what is really going on behind closed doors. Typically you will hear a Pound director stating that they “Euthanized” 2,000 animals that year (for example) — because no homes could be found for them. (fn 1).   On July 12, 2010 CBS News had a story about “400 Canada Geese Killed for Air Safety Reasons.” The subheading for the CBS story read “Mass Euthanization of Geese a Step in Goal of …”. They did NOT “Euthanize” these animals or these Canadian Geese!! They “Exterminated” them. They “Exterminated” perfectly healthy, non-injured, non-suffering animals for human convenience. The ‘human convenience’ is that the Pound keeps picking up animals in the neighborhood in an effort to clear the streets of the rift-raft nuisance ‘items’ neighbors complain about. The ‘human convenience’ is that the humans saved humans the time, the expense and inconvenience of solving the Canadian Geese problem in an intelligent, non-violent, humanitarian manner. One way or another, this ‘rift-raft’ was to be discarded — either to an adopting human or to an incinerator. They chose the unintelligent, violent, ruthless ‘incinerator’ method.

    The term “Euthanize” only applies when it is done solely for the benefit of the Euthanized animal to alleviate horrific immediate pain and suffering of that animal, and only where it is a last resort because the animal cannot be medically cured of his\her disease or illness. It is worth noting that the fraudulent, deliberate misuse of the term “Euthanize” has deep roots in the Nazi propaganda machine that served Hitler’s Grand Plan for genetic purity (Eugenics Program), as they too sought to clear the streets of the ‘rift-raft’ — the physically disabled, the mentally disabled, the elderly, the gays, the gypsies and the Jews. Hitler and the Nazi Regime called this the “T4 Euthanasia Program.” (fn 3-6).

    This particular human dishonesty about the term “Euthanasia” regarding animals is virtually identical to the Nazi calculated misuse of the term, in that it seeks to conceal (via misrepresentation) the true reality of what is taking place and why, by hiding it behind a sham euphemism that falsifies the reasons for killing and the intended beneficiary of the killing, just as the Nazi Regime did. Virtually every respected dictionary and encyclopedia defines Euthanasia as: “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.” (fn 3 – 5). Sometimes referred to as “Mercy Killing,” it is unmistakably clear that the sole purpose of the mercy killing is to alleviate the pointless, unequivocal and extreme suffering of the creature being killed. There is no OTHER ‘ulterior’ motive — no OTHER intended beneficiary — no OTHER collateral purpose or interest being served when TRUE “Euthanasia” is implemented.

    Killing one being, taking one life solely for the benefit of another (namely the one doing the killing) is NOT, I repeat, is NOT “Euthanasia” in any sense of that term and that term should never ever be used to describe such conduct.

    Killing one being, taking one life solely for the benefit of another (namely the one doing the killing) is called “EXTERMINATION” because that is exactly what it is. It is precisely what Hitler’s Nazi Regime did with humans – he “EXTERMINATED” them for the twisted perceived benefit of society (others) under his demented notion of a genetically pure race of human beings. The killing of these Canadian Geese is no more “Euthanasia” than is the Nazi genocide.

    It would appear that all those engaged in this “Extermination Program” and all those in the media reporting about it, are acutely aware of how immoral, unethical, unjustifiable and reprehensible this “Extermination Program” really is, otherwise there would be no need to cover it up with fraudulent, sham euphemisms, as the Nazi’s did. Hitler knew that if he called it what it really was, “Extermination,” there would have been a mass revolt. Hitler deliberately falsified what he was doing by calling it “Euthanasia” knowing that most people deem Euthanasia to be a ‘humanitarian’ act of kindness, rather than a ruthless, senseless genocide. Hitler understood that the public had already fully accepted the misuse of that term (Euthanasia) at the animal control centers, where massive numbers of animals were routinely killed every day. Even though the public knew it was NOT really euthanasia that was going on, they accepted the misuse of that term, and Hitler’s plan was to get the public to react the same way with his planned “T4 Euthanasia Program” aimed at exterminating select categories of the human population. Hitler reasoned, “If you call it ‘euthanasia’ and characterize it as ‘absolutely necessary’ the public will accept it just as they had at the animal control centers. And as it turned out, Hitler was dead right. The public bought the dishonest snow-job, hook, line and sinker.

    So the deliberate, calculated misuse of the term “Euthanasia” sets a dangerous, horrific precedent for both human and non-human animals. For this reason, there should be a ‘zero tolerance’ for misuse and misrepresentation of that term.

    If the Extermination of the Canadian Geese is so defensible and morally justifiable, then come right out and call it exactly what it is — the mass extermination & genocide of perfectly healthy Canadian Geese purely for human convenience reasons, and in no way is it for the benefit of the geese.

    Therefore the media and everyone else should STOP calling these mass extermination & genocide crusades “Euthanasia” since that term absolutely does NOT apply. And the fact that this term does NOT apply is not a gray area of uncertainty or a debatable point today any more than it was when Hitler deliberately and strategically abused the term to facilitate his mass extermination & genocide agenda. Take a good hard look at these words — mass extermination & genocide — because that is what humans have been doing — NOT “Euthanasia” as everyone is fraudulently claiming.

    Either this action is justifiable when we call it exactly what it is (mass extermination & genocide) or it is NOT justifiable when we call it exactly what it is (mass extermination & genocide). In either case, falsifying the accounts of what is taking place by deliberately using what, ipso facto, is a patently false, inaccurate term (“Euthanasia“) to misrepresent what is going on is most definitely morally and ethically and logically wrong. If it is too horrible and too ugly and too disturbing to think about what it really is (mass extermination & genocide) then clearly it is something humans should NOT be doing. The media and citizens need to employ an honest, ethical standard of human decency and refuse to paraphrase “mass extermination & genocide” as “Euthanasia.”

    And the human dishonesty against animals goes on and on and on.

    Then there’s the dishonest flim-flam ‘slight-of-hand’ bamboozling that goes on in the Animal Experimentation debates. It especially happens when the argument hones in on why it is morally impermissible to experiment on humans. The answer is always the same — “because of the pain, suffering and death it would inflict on the human, where that human is not the targeted beneficiary of the experiment and this makes it immoral.” In every Animal Experimentation debate I have ever participated in, there is a staunch human refusal to honestly admit that this would apply to non-human animals as well and would make such experimentation equally immoral. What one always hears as a rebuttal at these debates comes in the way of pettifoggery, forgery, perjury, prevarication, dishonesty, chicanery, Machiavellian double-talk — as Ph.D. experimenters argue that “we do not know with any degree of certainty that animals suffer as humans do.” It’s a response only a sociopath or a pickpocket could embrace.

    These few examples are just the tip of the iceberg when we are talking about “Human Dishonesty Against Animals.” These are just a token list out of the vast littany of examples of the many embedded, surreptitious ways the human animal has been dishonest about their non-human counterparts — their brothers and sisters on this planet we all share.

    For now, it is sufficient to stress that there are horrific, lamentable consequences that flow from the human social practice of desensitizing ourselves via euphemisms and counterfeit logical schemes that alienate us from our conscience, our compassion and from the Truth. We do this at our own peril.


    Footnote 1 Link: “CBS News – “400 Canada Geese Killed for Air Safety Reasons” New York, July 12, 2010    Below is a Comment we submitted to CBS regarding this story.

    Footnote 2 Link: “Merriam Webster Dictionary – Euthanasia:  “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.”

    Footnote 3 Link: Encyclopedia Britannica Online – Nazi “T4 Euthanasia Program” (1939-1945)

    Footnote 4 Link: Jewish Virtual Library – The T-4 Euthanasia Program

    Footnote 5 Link: Middle Tennessee – The T-4 Euthanasia Program

    Footnote 6 Link: Disability Social History Project – Nazis, Eugenics, and the T-4 Program

    Footnote 7 Link: Encyclopedia Britannica – Euthanasia:  “Act or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder or allowing them to die by withholding treatment or withdrawing artificial life-support measures. Because there is no specific provision for it in most legal systems, it is usually regarded as either suicide (if performed by the patient himself) or murder (if performed by another). “

    (See also, “Rationalism Religion & Dogma – The Three Wicked Sisters” and “Mass Extermination is Not Euthanasia“).

    This brief summary stands as the framework for this subject category entitled: “Human Dishonesty Against Animals” This is an open forum and participation by way of Comments on the posted articles is invited and encouraged. At this point in time, no membership, registration or log-in is required to post a Comment.

    The Reflecting Pool Discourse Blog


     
  •    On Moral Questions – Science is Clueless   

    Scales of a Balanced Justice

             Recently (May 7, 2010) Sam Harris posted a blog at the Huffington Post blog site entitled “Toward a Science of Morality.” It was a follow-up article that was addressing an enormous amount of feedback he’d received subsequent to his TED Talk entitled “Science Can Answer Moral Questions.” This article will address Sam’s Huffington Post blog article and his TED Talk presentation, however this article really needs to be read in the context of and in conjunction with the parent article that precedes this article (“Rationalism Religion & Dogma – The Three Wicked Sisters“).

    I first discovered Sam Harris on an ABC News Nightline Face-Off program entitled “Does God Have a Future?” which featured a debate\discussion between two secular humanist skeptics (Sam Harris and Michael Shermer) and two so-called ‘God-defenders’ (Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston). Although it was one of Chopra’s worst-ever performances, this debate was one of the best “Skeptics vs. Religion” debates I have ever witnessed. The entire 1.5 hour debate is available online at YouTube and I highly recommend watching all of it, as it constitutes entertainment and education at its very best (“ABC News Nightline Face-Off: “Does God Have a Future?”“).

    From this Face-off debate I developed a tremendous amount of respect for both Sam Harris and Michael Shermer, whose works I had enjoyed for many years previously. The articles, arguments, videos and books they have produced, which track the skeptic’s and secular humanist’s problems with religion, have added tremendously to our understanding of all three points of view. I find it very difficult to disagree with Sam and Michael because so much of what they have said rings true. I totally share Sam’s concerns about the radical, fundamentalist Christian right-wing elements in this country threatening to seize control and turn America in the direction of a theocracy. I share his fear and his pain in this regard, and on many other fronts. I share Sam’s belief that much of organized mainstream religion today is little more than sanctimonious dogma rants of a largely political nature. And I agree with Sam’s assertion that much of organized mainstream religion, as commonly practiced and understood today, has no special moral voice and that mainstream religion is NOT exclusively or uniquely capable of addressing ethical \ moral issues. I also share Sam’s deep concern that mainstream religion, as it has historically been practiced and interpreted by mainstream mentalities, has proven to be a very dangerous and close-minded institution.

    The disagreement I have with Sam’s views, ironically, lies at the very core of his bedrock premises. So it turns out that I agree with a tremendous amount of things Sam says, but often for very different reasons, and those core ‘reasons’ . . . those core differences are, I believe, vitally important. So these are NOT trifling, trivial differences at all. But as I proceed to delineate the bedrock flaws I see in some of Sam’s analytical premises and conclusions, I urge readers to keep in mind that, even with these important pivotal differences, I still maintain a tremendous amount of respect for Sam’s clear insights and his unique ability to articulate ‘the problems’ habitually embedded in the typical mainstream human approach to religion. This is a profound respect that I also have for two other leading skeptic \ secular humanist giants, Michael Shermer and Paul Kurtz. So as I posit my disagreements keep in mind that, I do NOT denigrate these skeptics or their positions nor do I discount their views in their entirety. Even erroneous viewpoints can be vitally important in helping to pinpoint, isolate and articulate the core problems we all recognize and seek to redress.

    Prior to delving into the specifics, I can summarize the problems with Sam’s errant premises fairly quickly and succinctly. Sam has used sweeping generalizations utilizing overly broad brush strokes that are far too broad to be completely accurate. Sam appears to make no distinction between religious “fundamentalism” (extremist, black-letter literalists, fanatics) versus the “spiritual” segment of religion (St. Francis, Mother Theresa, Albert Schweitzer, Mahatma Gandhi, Buddhism, Taoism, Huston Smith, Shunryu Suzuki, etc). The result is that Sam tosses out the baby with the bath water, as is most glaringly evident in his “Does God Have a Future?” debate. And this error can be translated as an epistemological error in failing to recognize the fact that there are two totally different epistemological ‘branches’ (modus operandi) operating within his broad target category called “religion.”

    Had Sam made this critical distinction, he would have noticed (realized) that his arguments were consistently accurate and well-placed with respect to the “Rationalistic mainstream Religion” epistemological branch, while being consistently inaccurate and unwarranted with respect to the “Religion as Spirituality” epistemological branch (see our article on this blog site entitled “Has Religion Forsaken Spirituality?“). Once again, the nature and character of these errors and their consequences become most obvious and indisputably apparent in the ABC News Nightline Face-Off program entitled “Does God Have a Future?” — where Sam is caught red-handed by the moderator and called on it, on numerous occasions, for being overly broad in his sweeping generalizations about and attributions to ‘religion’ as a whole, without making these crucial distinctions.

    And in summarizing Sam’s errors in this regard, the mistake described above is compounded ten-fold by another ‘over inclusive’ mistake, which is his failure to make a critical distinction between “Applied Science” and “Pure Science” when he makes the blanket statement “Science Can Answer Moral Questions.” This crucial distinction is absolutely essential for several reasons, and if Sam had made this distinction he would have noticed (realized) that his arguments may have had some loose, tenuous application with respect to “Pure Science”, while being consistently inaccurate and unwarranted with respect to “Applied Science.”

    There are many who would persuasively argue that the notion of “Pure Science” has no actual reality in the world today, and it stands solely as a theoretical abstraction, a kind of theoretical ‘hypothesis’ for something that is currently non-existent in reality (a kind of “purist’s hypothetical”). I submit that a critical examination would disclose that all of science today is “Applied Science” — a severely denigrated, polluted, defective semblance of the pristine original, otherwise defined as the purely theoretical abstraction known as “Pure Science.” This distinction is crucial because “Applied Science” is invariably funded, motivated and driven by the greed-mentality of the for-profit corporate mentality that walks in the door with iron-clad conclusions and prejudices, complete with an acute tunnel vision that is directed solely at profitability, patent-ownership business issues which utterly eclipse any residual delusional notion of an objective open-minded quest for knowledge. In terms of ‘objectivity’ “Applied Science” can only be described as a barren moonscape that is utterly devoid of open-mindedness and is therefore completely unworthy of the trust and faith Sam invests in it for making important moral decisions. If anything, history has conclusively proven that this science is utterly incapable of helping us make moral or ethical decisions, and in fact, it is a terribly dangerous sociopathic instrumentality when misapplied in this manner. Those who empathize with this view, see Sam’s suggestion as tantamount to “jumping from the frying pan into the fire.”

    These errors in Sam’s examination of science and religion culminate with one enormous consequential oversight, namely, the failure to realize that the sum and substance of all Sam’s complaints about his over-generalized image of “religion” translate, ultimately, into a complaint against “dogmatism” NOT religion. Had Sam grasped this fascinating and crucial fact, he would have noticed (realized) that the inherent danger and unreliability wrought by “dogmatism” actually apply to ALL academic, epistemological and investigative disciples across the board, and are NOT uniquely the Achilles heel of mainstream religion alone. As much as I respect leading skeptics like Sam and Michael Shermer, I do see, from time to time, that human tendency for skeptics to become mired in the sticky cobweb of dogmatism, as they occasionally become very rigid, hard-headed, un-objective, petrified, close-minded and reactionary in their zeal to defend their egos, their prefab structures, their integrity (ego), their stature, and their belief systems which they have heavily invested in over an entire lifetime. This is a very real and common danger even for the ‘true’ skeptic who prides himself in recognizing ‘objectivity’ as the indispensable bedrock pillar on which his science stands.

    What a very different view of religion Sam might have had, if had not made these fatal errors in his perceptions of both religion and science.

    Sam’s viewpoints manifest through the epistemological prism of “Rationalism,” as I described that term in the Parent Article which this article is nested in. That is to say, Sam believes that the epistemology of “Reason,” i.e., the epistemology of “Rationalism” and the discursive intellect is the only epistemological faculty humans have, other than Empiricism. As a result, by my reckoning, Sam probably felt compelled to make the case that all of the moral and ethical ‘judgements’ that humans must make in the World and in their personal lives, can be fully and completely handled by the epistemological faculty of Rationality (Reason). Otherwise, he would have been left ‘twisting on the vine’ imprisoned within the untenable position of having to admit the only epistemological apparatus he recognizes, rationalism, is incapable resolving moral and ethical questions. I suggest that the terms “science” and “rationalism” are interchangeable in this context, and they are utterly incapable of standing as humans’ moral and ethical compass. In fact, I suggest that the horrendous, monumental moral ethical disaster we are all looking at right now around the World is the direct result of two utterly inept instrumentalities, “Dogmatic Religion” and “Applied Science,” being assigned the task of standing-in as a human moral-ethical ‘compass’ — a task for which they are both utterly unsuited and ill-equipped.

    I contend that this task assignment is as erroneous as mainstream religion’s false claims to ‘sole proprietorship’ in the morality–ethics domain, and it is just as dangerous, because any time a charlatan claims to be a brain surgeon, great dangers are presented. Most importantly, I submit that the decrepit condition in the World and in mainstream religion today, which both Sam and I lament, is the direct result of mainstream religion abandoning ‘spirituality’ in favor of Rationalism. I submit that the dogma-laden atrophied condition of mainstream religion is the direct result of the “rationalization” of religion, in conjunction with its utter abandonment of its inherent spiritual core (see prior blog, “Has Religion Forsaken Spirituality?“). This flight away from spirituality and into the arms of rationalism has been largely for the purpose of increasing its “audience & market share” and thereby, bolstering its ‘authority’ and its bank balance.

    I noted, with great dismay, that one of the very first things the new Pope proclaimed was a reaffirmation of the Aristotelian and the Aquinas peace-maker apologetic pronouncement that the epistemology of reason \ rationality is fully capable of delivering devotees to moral and ethical rectitude and the Promised Land. And now I hear Sam making essentially the same proclamation. Maybe Sam and the Pope have much more in common than Sam realizes.

    For both religion and global society, substituting the epistemology of Rationalism for the epistemology of Insight and Compassion has proven to be a catastrophic mistake. This is, at its core, an epistemological problem.

    Whereas Sam believes that Rationality is the only epistemological option that humans have available for such a moral task, I on the hand, hold the view that “Rationality is not nearly all of my eye,” in the sense of available epistemological options. As the Parent Article in this blog makes clear, there is the epistemological faculty of “Insight,” i.e., the faculty of the “intuitive” which manifests most commonly for most of us in the form of “Compassion.” This is a distinctly different epistemology altogether, and it alone, has the capacity, the ability to serve as a reliable moral compass, to reconcile what we commonly refer to as “ethical” and “moral” issues of empathy.

    Calling upon Rationality to handle such matters is like calling an electrician to the house to fix a backed-up toilet. You call an electrician to resolve electrical problems, and you call a “plumber” to repair plumbing problems. That is the fundamental error in Sam’s arguments. And when you call the plumber to fix a backed-up toilet, you do not demand that he present you with his “electrician” credentials, and you don’t demand that he use “electrician” tools, and you don’t insist that he lay electrical wiring in the toilet. Electricians handle what they are best equipped to handle, electrical issues. And plumbers handle what they are best equipped to handle, namely, household plumbing issues.

    When you look at the state of affairs in the World today, man’s inhumanity to man and animals, the immense amount of violence, greed — the rampant, acute sociopathic mental disorders on an epidemic scale — the moral decrepitude and bankruptcy that plagues governments, corporations, mainstream religions and politics — what you are actually witnessing is the horrific consequence of calling a plumber to correct an electrical short in the household wiring. And it doesn’t require a Harvard Ph.D. to figure out that, although the plumber may be an expert in plumbing, he is utterly incompetent at electrical work; he is profoundly inept at electrical repairs and if he tinkers with the wiring in your house, at your insistence, he is likely to burn the house down. The “rationalization” of empathy, Compassion and the moral \ ethical ‘conscience’ of humanity is the single-most colossal, horrific mistake in all of human history. The alarming extent of moral and ethical decay and depravity that is evident globally stands as proof-positive that “rationalism” in the name of Science, or Religion, or under any other banner, is utterly clueless and inept in the moral and ethical domain. Rationalism has been an abysmal failure at resolving precisely those moral \ ethical problems Sam would assign to it. Sam bitterly repudiates the manner in which it has operated within Religion as a useless, dangerous petrified dogmatic shyster, without realizing that it produces the same toxic rubbish when it manifests in “Applied Science.”

    There was blistering irony in Sam’s Huffington Post blog (“Toward a Science of Morality“), where he described the disapproving feedback he received from academic rationalists who invariably insisted that, from rationalism’s point of view, issues of morality are “indeterminate.” It was fascinating seeing rationalists cannibalizing each other, devouring their own kind, utilizing the same limited disfunctional instrumentality that makes ‘rationalism’ utterly incompetent and ill-equipped to handle matters of empathy, conscience and Compassion. And make no mistake about it, the concepts of ‘morality’ and ‘ethics’ were designed to supplant the epistemological function of “Empathy” and “Compassion” and “Conscience” because social engineers always desire, always seek a socially uniform cookie-cutter, rubber-stamp result that will be more amenable to “consistent mass production,” manipulation and control by social engineers and government leaders devoted to the belief society must be kept under tight reigns because it is always pulling on the leash in the direction of cerebral and spiritual independence. To read Sam’s articulate account of those academic rationalist objections, is to see first hand, precisely why rationalism is and always will be utterly clueless and inept at performing the task Sam has assigned to it. I strongly encourage anyone who reads this blog to take the time to read Sam’s Huffington Post blog “Toward a Science of Morality.”

    While Sam deduced that the discord was the result of confusion about the importance of having a “consensus” on such matters, he seemed oblivious of the significant fact that “rationalism” and its “rationalist” constituency had just effectively diluted and polluted the faculty of empathy and Compassion, converting it to nothing more than a mathematical “poll-taking” popularity referendum, which historically is precisely what rationalism has always done when it over-reaches in a territorial ‘land grab’ attempt to invade the province of another epistemological domain that is uniquely suited to handle such matters. It is that errant frolic through the desert that has cursed us with the “tyranny of the majority” lynch mob that has plagued most of human history. That is precisely what rationalism has historically produced when it lies about its abilities, namely, it produces a watered-down, plasticized, mutilated ‘semblance’ of the pristine original that it is trying to pirate, and that disfigured, atrophied, contorted, pirated ‘knock-off’ end-product ends up being a nutrient-poor surrogate for “the real thing” but invariably gets accepted, because most people are looking for a simple, easy “silver bullet” formulaic, spoon-fed, pill-popping silver-spoon opiate solution that doesn’t require them to get a lot of dirt under their fingernails.

    As stated in the Parent Article here, the problem with the “Rationalism is King” notion that rationalism (the intellect) is an all-around handyman who can fix everything, is that it isn’t true, it isn’t accurate. At best, it gives you a “Jack of all Trades — Master of None” charlatan snake oil salesman who is scavenging the countryside extolling his brain surgery expertise, to the detriment of those who believe him. At worst, it results in the wretched condition that is epidemic throughout the World today, namely, a rudderless morally destitute, spiritually malnourished culture that has abandoned “the Real thing” (Empathy & Compassion) in deference to a fraudulent surrogate that has dumped its passengers in the middle of a barren wasteland without a map or a canteen.

    It is bone-chilling to contemplate the repercussions of Sam’s notion that Science is capable of resolving moral, ethical questions (something his own Rationalist brethren say is not possible because morality & ethics are “indeterminate”). By Sam’s reckoning, we need not worry about genetic engineers ‘crossing the line’ and engaging in unethical, unscrupulous and environmentally dangerous behavior because science is fully capable of resolving moral & ethical issues. So by Sam’s reckoning, science can just “self-regulate” itself by virtue of this astute moral aptitude it possesses. And we all know how effective self-regulation has been in the field of science . . . right? I’m sure BP would just love to slot Sam into their PR department. Truth told, what makes such sciences, like genetic engineering, so horrifyingly dangerous is their profound ineptitude at drawing prudent, honest moral and ethical lines and limits for itself and resolving not to cross them.

    As Sam’s rationalist critics made clear, rationalism is utterly incapable of responsibly and competently performing the tasks Sam would assign to it. I first discovered this for myself in a simple twist of fate, and this brief story is most instructive here, so I will swiftly recount it.

    I was an avid undergrad philosophy student when I had an Animal Rights article published in the school newspaper. In essence, I was berating the prevailing social norm in which individuals do not include animals in their circle of compassion. A day or two later, I found a copy of my article stuffed in my department mailbox from a Philosophy Ph.D. student, with all sorts of comments scrawled in red in the margins. The gist of what he said was that “there is nothing in the realm of reason or rationality that informs me that I must or should perceive another’s life as being as important as my own. Everything that reason tells me is that ‘my life’ is of paramount importance, and that all other lives are quite secondary.”

    After reading it several times, I was absolutely convinced I could blast his position to smithereens, in such a conclusive and obvious way, that he would be forced to outright concede the point, like a chess player tipping over his king in acknowledgement of an impending inevitable checkmate many moves down the road. But every time I set my pen to the paper, my argument vanished. I started to make the point that an altruistic “equanimity of life” position would be the only way to create a society with any quality of life in it (a life worth living). But that argument evaporated in an instant once I realized that, if someone sees his own life as infinitely more important than other lives, he would merely be following that same self-interest objective by acquiescing to a “Quid Pro Quo” barter agreement which says “I’ll help you if you help me.” It would NOT serve to make the case that Rationality urges us to see another’s life as being equally important to our own.

    I intensely and tenaciously wrestled with that response argument for many weeks, until I finally gave up and conceded the futility of the effort. And at that very moment, the light went on and it dawned on me. The graduate student was right. He was absolutely right. Reason, aka, Rationality, the Discursive Intellect, will never, ever tell you the truth, that another’s life is as important as your own, because it is incapable of discerning that truth. That message comes from a different epistemological faculty altogether, the faculty of “Insight” — “Intuition” which commonly manifests for most of us in the form of Compassion. Compassion is NOT a product of Reason. In fact, Rationality hasn’t a clue what the hell Compassion is, so it tries to “reverse engineer” the thing and simply comes up with the simple-minded “Golden Rule” Quid Pro Quo “being kind to each other” reciprocity paradigm as the next closest thing it can think of that is ‘similar to’ but most certainly not identical to the original. Because rationalism is utterly clueless as to what Compassion is, and because it can only represent it mathematically, so to speak, as some vague, over-generalized over-simplified flattened-out plastic semblance, it ends up concluding that Compassion must be in the chemical Oxytocin, because Oxytocin levels in the body increase during friendly interaction between people and when you give people Oxytocin they are more considerate to others — therefore Compassion is Oxytocin or some facsililie thereof. That is precisely what Sam Harris and Michael Shermer argued recently during a ABC News Nightline Discussion \ Debate Forum entitled “Does God Have a Future?.” That is precisely the kind of ludicrous false lead misdirected misinformation rationalism intractibly and routinely spits-out because it is ‘stuck’ in its own limited operation which is inherently incapable of performing the tasks which the epistemology of Insight and Compassion perform quite easily and naturally, just as the ear is inherently incapable of experiencing or apprehending a beautiful sunset, something which the eye does quite easily and naturally.

    The latin root for the term “rationalism” is “ratio” – meaning “to cut up.” And that is the primary function of rationalism, cutting things up into categories and compartmentalizing things, differentiating things, labeling them, alpabetizing them, dating them, genus – species, directory–subdirectory. It’s the basic function of an office clerk, organizing and maintaining the files in the file cabinet, labeling each folder, and so on. And we all know how angry office managers get when a clerk says they “can’t find a file” or when they say they’ve “never heard of or seen the file” the manager is looking for. For rationality, everything has to have a place and a name and a label and a definition. And once rationality labels something, no matter how inaccurately, the label sticks and rationality can’t ever seem to let go of it. And that is the rigidity and the dogma of rationalism — every bit as petrified, arbitrary and capricious as the religious dogma they so militantly ridicule and repudiate.

    And when rationalism runs up against a completely “foreign” body — something it cannot trace to any of its preordained labels or categories, it gets frustrated and militant, and it will mutilate, butcher and bastardize the alien object in order to force a fit into the next closest thing it can associate with the unknown entity. That is precisely what it has done to the epistemology of Insight, Intuition and Compassion. These “alien objects” are as alien as alien gets, because they come from a totally different epistemology. But rationality is treating them as though they are just some kind of an unwieldy, quirky, anomalous hybrid spinoff from a sub- subdirectory within the rationalist epistemology filing cabinets. And although this represents a totally mistaken understanding and a patent misconception of this ‘alien object,’ it will remain misfiled in that misnomer compartment indefinitely, to become petrified and institutionalized there as another brick in the wall of rationalism’s dogma palace.

    I cited the philosophy department story, not as “proof” for these arguments, but simply to share this experience of the futile effort that I exerted to try and slot the Compassion animal (Equanimity of Life) into the Rationalistic epistemic register, WITHOUT SUCCESS. And if there is a message here (and there is), the message is this. In this ‘other’ epistemology of “Insight” – “Intuition,” no one can spoon-feed you the answer. You have to find it out for yourself, through your own self-inquiry. It doesn’t function like rationalism. Only then can you take ownership of it and make it your own. It can’t be transmitted from one person to another, because it simply does not operate like the rationalistic epistemology operates. It’s like the Socratic Method, which abandons the notion of spoon-fed, ‘person-to-person’ transmission of Insight, and instead, extracts the wisdom and the answers from within the student, the listener, thereby demonstrating to him that “You know more than you know.” That is how this ‘other’ epistemology operates. It is the only way in which it can operate. Buddhists and Taoists, from time immemorial, have always understood this.

    It is like the Buddhist axiom which states: “You can’t teach a hunter that it’s wrong to kill.” You have to come upon that understanding through your own life experiences of pain and suffering, of death, a near-death experience or loss of a loved one. There is no cookie-cutter formulaic rubber-stamp ‘silver bullet’ argument (or pill) you can ‘pop’ that’s going to deliver you to the ‘Promised Land” eureka of realization. And yes, you’ll have to get some dirt under your fingernails. Because we have spent our entire lives in the epistemic World of the rational, we have come to expect, even demand, crisp, succinct, unequivocal, articulate spoon-fed answers, although it is unclear why, since there are so many deep and vital questions rationality has been utterly incapable of metabolizing.

    As stated in the parent article, Rationalism is what you think & say; Compassion what you “are” manifesting as what you “do.” Equilibrium is having resilient, fluid open access to all epistemologies and all ways of Knowing & Being.”   ~~The epistemology of `rationalism’ will never connect you to the epistemology of `Compassion,’ just as the ear will never connect you to a beautiful sunset. ~~   So many today are drowning in rationalism and suffering acute starvation from lack of Compassion. If they continue to use only one of the two chopsticks Life has given us, they will miss another dinner and ultimately shrivel up to the size of parched pea from malnourishment.

    Poets, philosophers and song writers, from time immemorial, have written about Compassion without ever claiming to have “bottled it” or definitively “defined it” for all of posterity. And it is quite apparent that this article has attained no claim-holder’s right to level such a claim either. In the book “The Prophet,” Kahlil Gibran demonstrated that he understood the predicament precisely. In acknowledging the human tendency to expect and demand articulation in the answer, Gibran wrote, “and who knows, but what a crystal is a mist in decay.” Whenever I reflect on that passage, it conjures up the many, many Zen and Tao drawings and paintings which virtually always emphasize the peace, tranquillity and beauty of misty mountain tops and misty shrouded sunken valleys, just as their writings emphasize the serenity and imperturbable composure that lies within “The Great Mystery” of Life. Like a transient flim-flam artist, Rationality lies to us and lures us into believing that it has a crystal clear answer for everything, then it silently disappears when the defects, bounced checks and the legal-tender problems start surfacing.

    We have erroneously come to believe that fulfillment and satisfaction can be attained by finding the precise answer to our questions about life. And never does it occur to us that, perhaps, serenity and fulfillment eludes us, not because we lack the right articulate answers, but because we are not posing the right questions — questions which contain their own answer. And if we stubbornly demand that the answer have the clarity of a glittering crystal, how shall we ever find it in the beauty and wonder of the misty mountain top? What Compassion lacks in linguistic clarity it makes up for in panoramic insight.

    This “other” very different epistemological faculty has integrity and legitimacy in its own right, in its own sphere of influence and it is imprudent and premature to discount it or dismiss it merely because a different epistemology, of a different and perhaps an inferior scope, cannot metabolize its contents. By that kind of reckoning, String Theory, Parallel Universe Theories, Einstein’s Theories and a host of other prevalent astrophysics theories should be abandoned, simply because the answers they are likely to provide may well exceed the grasp of the rational intellect. Einstein often said, “I did not arrive at my fundamental understanding of the Universe through my rational mind.” He insisted that a new type of thinking is essential if humanity is to transcend to higher levels of understanding. Einstein was well-connected to this Intuitive faculty of Insight and knew how to actualize both the rational and the intuitive in his pursuit of a higher understanding.

    And while this “other” very different epistemological faculty may not be amenable to microscope identification and corroboration, it is nevertheless discernable. It manifests as: “I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but I know it when I see it.” Hence, the Compassion of St. Francis and Mother Theresa and Albert Schweitzer can be discerned without the intervention of the discursive intellect. But rationalism has trained us to mistrust it. It is entirely probable, realistically and credibly plausible, that this is an epistemology that exists beyond the faculty of the rational and beyond the faculty of language. There is absolutely no tenable, coherent logical basis for discrediting its integrity for this reason . . . just as it would make no sense to malign the integrity of the Radio Telescope’s findings, utilizing the limited results detected by the stunted reach of the Optical Telescope.

          (See also, “Rationalism Religion & Dogma – The Three Wicked Sisters” and “Has Religion Forsaken Spirituality?“).

     

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