Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Consttituion in an Image Driven World

During her confirmation hearings, Sonya Sotomayor wanted to dodge the negative label "activist judge." When asked if she held to the idea that the Constitution was a "living document," she gave the answer that the Constitution does not change but that society changes.

Sadly, she is right.

A key element to the classical liberal world of the Founders that produced the Constitution was their commonsense approach to logic. The Founders received a distilled version of the Aristotelian tradition (The Port Royal Logic, etc.) that seemed to preserve the best in western thought without the divisiveness that kept Westerners at each other's throats throughout the Dark Ages.

Sir William Hamilton wrote in the introduction to the 1861 translation of the Port Royal Logic:

"The severity of self-consuming dialectics was tempered by a more varied range of study and a wider sphere of sympathy. Metaphysics and physics, philosophy and science, were pursued harmoniously together; and, as the natural result, there appeared a spirit of freedom, a love of truth and tone of health, in philosophical writings to which they had previously been strangers."

The love of liberty comes from an appreciation of rationality and a love of truth.

The modern tradition (Kant, Hegel, Marx, Dewey, Moa, Chomsky, etc.) realized that if one changes language and logic; then one can effectively change the interpretation of the artifacts at the foundation of society. This tradition elevated Plato, Sun Tsu, Machiavelli, Rouseau, Voltaire and others to the forefront of discourse. The modern tradition placed dialectics, paradox and conflict at the foundation of reasoning. The modern thinker created a new paradigm where manipulation in the grub for power is central.

The difference between classical liberalism and modern liberalism is largely an approach to reason.

The American Revolution was the Classical Liberal Revolution. It led to a Constitutionally limited government and a free market that produce a leap in prosperity.

To preserve the Constitution, one must preserve the classical liberal approach to reasoning.

Unfortunately, the defenders of liberty seem to be dominated by people like Bill O'Reilly who has apparently accepted modern dialectics by positioning himself as a Sun-Tsu general in a "culture war," or by Glen Beck who pounds the drum that the exceptionally elegant appreciation of reason that occurred at or nation's founding is "Common Sense."

If the freedom granted by the Constitution were common sense, then it would have evolved naturally in most societies. The historical truth is that the freedom that modern liberals are eager to toss aside for promises of free health care was one the greatest exceptions in history.

It was the product of unique circumstances which distilled out a very solid system of reasoning.

The distillation of logic that we call common sense is an exception. It is not the rule.

The rule is a class society with a contemptuous ruling class driven by political expediency and the majority tolling away as slaves hoping not to be crunched by the Machiavellian machinations of the elite.

Conservatives lament that activist judges are systematically destroying our Constitution. In reality, the nasty work was done in the highly partisan public education system which yanked the study of logic from the curriculum last century.

Sotomayor's approach to law--along with content free confirmation hearing--are simply the fruits of the deep capture of the education system long ago.

Without an understanding of informal logic, Americans systematically lose their appreciation for reason. Without an appreciation of reason, one can neither appreciate the reasoning behind the Constitution, nor figure out how to apply the principles therein to life.

Yes, there is a large number of conservatives who publish books listing sets of principles. But if we don't know how to apply prinicples, then the stated principles mean little. Even worse, the logically inconsistent principles in the self help literature simply feed the modern belief that everything is paradox.

By yanking the study of logic from the classroom some half century ago, the left won the war. To a world weaned on dialectical materialism taught in our nation's schools, the Constitution is nothing but a bizarre artifact of a "failed" bygone era. We know it failed because our leader lays on the label "failed" in just about every speech.

In a world trained to react to images, the struggles of the founders are nothing but a remote and quaint image competing with sexier modern images.

Our Constitution is a relic because our public education made it a relic. Regardless of whether our rulers are Republicans (who start wars without declaring war) or Democrats who seek to socialize medicine, the Constitution is a relic so long as our schools hold to dialectical mateerialism in lieue of classical logic.

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