The Kodachi (Part 1 of 5) -- The Argument From True Love

There is a drawback to writing a book with 700 pages worth of comprehensive discussion:

It may not be very comprehensible!

It still might not be very comprehensible even if we’re only talking about 125 of those pages--which is about how far I’ve gotten in Section Two of Sword to the Heart so far.

So before I continue posting up chapters from that Section (and onward through the book), from now until Thanksgiving I thought I would try presenting the precepts I’ve been talking about once again, in a somewhat briefer and more colorful way--and maybe (hopefully!) in a way our readers will find more meaningful. Or at least easier to read.

These auxiliary chapters are taken from just such a shorter book I wrote years ago, after finishing SttH. Which is why I called it “The Kodachi”: a shorter quicker sword. (A hundred pages quicker in this case!)

Where should I begin, in summarizing a massive argument? Not only in summarizing, but in making it more accessible to people less concerned with technical details.

I will begin with something important to me... something more important to me than anything else.

I will begin with true love.

I might (or might not) be able to start on any topic, and eventually reach my conclusions; but this is my testimony, so I will start with my heart.

There is a sword in my heart. I sheathed it there long ago.

Yes, it hurts sometimes.

...sometimes it scours with fire eonian...

If it hurts so much--then why do I keep it there!?

Because I believe this is where that sword belongs.

To explain the sword, I will begin by observing its sheathe.

I am a person. I take my existence seriously. I have rights. I think for myself. I want you to pay attention to me, and treat me as a person. Look!--I am writing a book to present arguments for what I believe to be true! I want the credit for getting anything right. I did this. Me.

But wait--didn't I say I would begin with true love? And yet, here I am blathering on about my person and my importance. Am I in love with myself!?


... ... ... Well, actually--yes sometimes I am.

And no, that isn't good.

And the fact that most of us agree it isn't good (in principle, or to various degrees) for me to be devoted to myself, is very significant. But I will discuss that later.

For the moment, I will simply say that I am not in fact devoted utterly to myself (thank God).

I am utterly devoted to someone else. Someone who is another person; as I am a person. Someone whom I treasure for the person she is.

Someone I choose to sacrifice my own importance for; whatever it costs.

Even if that means I have to leave a hole forever unfilled, in my heart.

And you had better forget suggesting any philosophy to me, that denies her as a person. Ever.

The end. Period.

And yet, I myself am a person, too. It is important to affirm myself as a person.

So you had better forget suggesting any philosophy to me, that denies me as a person, ever.

To be a little more precise: you had better forget suggesting any philosophy to me, that denies her and me, as persons.

And yet (again!); most people in most times and places, would agree that I can think too highly of myself, and that I should not do so.

As long as I love 'her', I can easily see one such limit to my own self-value:

I should never value my own self in any way that de-values her.

So you had better (ever!) forget suggesting any philosophy to me, that inflates me at her expense.

These constraints can be summed up in one more constraint:

If the philosophy you propose, does not have true love at the center of it, I will not ever accept it.

I hope, instead, I would die to deny it.

I hope, instead, I would die to affirm and protect what affirms and protects her--and us.

Even if she does not believe what I believe.

Perhaps you, my reader, now are thinking I am naive; am I not putting rather more value on this 'true love' than really is there?

Not if I take my existence, and especially her existence, seriously.

And 'true love' isn't necessarily romantic love (although all romantic love should be true love, I think.) I could be talking about a mother; a teacher; a sister; a daughter; a cousin; a friend; a mentor. I could even be talking about a man: a father; a brother; a son.

I could be talking about God. (Or Goddess?)

I am thinking of a specific human woman (which is why I said 'her'. Little 'h'.) But I didn't have to be. Ideally, I should be applying these notions to everyone in the world.

I should be applying them to you, my reader.

Certainly, I had better be taking your thoughts and your person-ness seriously, if I am going to bother writing a book for you to read--and arguments for you to judge!

And to be honest: I (probably) don't know you. So I (probably) have very little feeling about you.

But I am willing to act in regard to you. And I am willing to believe, and insist, that you are capable of responsible actions, too... for better, or for worse.

Do I love you as much as I love her?

No. I don't.

But in many ways, I should.

And in some ways--I do.

But--this is hardly a serious approach to philosophy, do you say? Not a respectable approach? Not a scholarly approach?

On the contrary: the core of my belief in true love, involves real actions by real persons in a real common unity.

And every scholar wants to be taken seriously, and to be respected, as a real person, contributing real actions, in common accepted union with other real people. That is why a person presents an argument for judgment.

Every scholar implicitly affirms my core belief.

Even when they do their best to deny my core belief.

And that is what I will talk about next.

[Next up: Reductions and Absurdities]


Jason Pratt said…
Registering for comment tracking.
Ron said…
Interesting thoughts. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed, where he says that if materialism was true and he had mistaken a collection of atoms for his wife, a person, he'd rather reject materialism out of hand. It's not that this is an argument against the truth of materialism (normally philosophical arguments are directed towards truth) but against the existential ability of a person to really affirm it. One is almost obligated to hold out for the other option.

So, I think your argument might be good if geared towards existential realities of actual life. As an argument about the truth of materialism though it does not make any sense to say that materialism is false just because I don't like its conclusions about myself and those I love.
Jason Pratt said…
{{As an argument about the truth of materialism though it does not make any sense to say that materialism is false just because I don't like its conclusions about myself and those I love.}}

True; but it does illustrate just how far the issues are at stake.

Notice however that at the end I am already shifting over to an issue of "existential reality of actual life" that has far more relevance for conclusions about truth. As I said at the beginning of this entry, this 5-part series is summarizing the precepts of the formal argument I've been chewing over for the past 125 pages, and that argument was about the quality we end up necessarily presuming about ourselves in making any argument.

Our formal presumption of that quality, a presumption of qualitative worth in our own favor, is related to the presumption of personal worth we assign in loving other people, though. So the topics do overlap. The difference is that my love for 'her' does not involve a formal presumption I have to make for purposes of engaging in any argument.

Whereas I do have to make a formal presumption of qualitative worth in your favor in order to engage in any argument with you. {g}

Metacrock said…
Janson, you may not like to hear it but you are an existentialist and a romantic (in the sense of Johann Gottlieb Fichte

romantic influences on Fichte see Schelling and literature.

I knew there was a lot about you I like.
Jason Pratt said…
Incidentally, for our readers: Ron is talking about "eliminative materialism", which is the only sort of materialism that would involve mistaking a collection of atoms for a wife.

Reductive materialism would agree that the wife is real as a person, not only as a cloud of atoms, but that her reality would still be entirely accountable in terms of the behaviors of that cloud of atoms.

Non-reductive materialism, against both reductive and eliminative materialism, would agree that the wife is a real person, but would hold that her reality as a person is not ultimately reducible to (and so not entirely accountable by) her also being a cloud of atoms. Nevertheless the non-reduct-mat would still profess that the wife is in fact only and nothing more than a cloud of atoms, her properties as a person notwithstanding.

While most proponents of any of these materialisms are both atheists and philosophical naturalists, strictly speaking someone could profess a number of other metaphysics than naturalistic atheism and still be one of these materialists. However, in regard to human mentality, an atheist (naturalistic or supernaturalistic) would have to be one of these three I think.

Also, it ought to be obvious that in rejecting philosophies that deny or traduce the personal reality of the beloved, I would be rejecting a lot more than any atheism variants which did so. But for reasons I'll be getting to in the next post (and which I've discussed several times at length already in the main SttH text), my first big decision between metaphysics would be between atheism and not-atheism (or theism) broadly speaking.

Jason Pratt said…
And yes, that's one good description for me, Meta. {g}


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