"Right makes Might" or "Might makes Right"?

Discussion in 'IntroSpectrum' started by Mcg-, Sep 24, 2009.

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  1. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    WW2 US army image


    "Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it"-Lincoln


    Two conceptions of justice have existed for a very long time.

    1-The first is that might makes right, that is, having political power over people means that one's conception of justice is right. Whatever this conception is largely arbitrary, other than the effects on actual power this conception of justice has - it does not matter. This view is seen in authors like Machiavelli and Thucidides, and arguably in the positive law tradition, and is arguably the governing philosophy of both the republicans and democrats in recent years.
    By this I mean that they generally believe that two America's are possible, and which one is created in the future will depend on the political party that is in power that enacts its laws. I.E. its a game, and whoever gets the majority of their ideology's supreme court justices into power, controls the senate, the house of reps, and the presidency and appoints many many members of the bureaucracy will be able to create their vision of what is good for America. i.e. might makes right, or political power allows one to craft one's vision of the good.

    2-The opposite conception is that right makes might. That is, that political power and actual power (technology, army, etc) stems from having a correct conception of justice and doing the right thing. In everyday terms, what this means is that unlike the common saying that "good guys finish last" it means that they finish first. That is, knowledge, and ultimately power follows for those who do the right thing, including technological power. This view is seen in Lincoln's address, in the founding father's views, etc. Of course, this view can be extremely dangerous if one is mistaken in one's conception of justice. In terms of the political parties mentioned above, the view here is that IF one (or both) party enacts a view of justice that is wrong, the state will lose power, or the constitution (if properly constructed) will ultimately fix these anomalies by interacting with the legal instruments and ultimately souls of its citizens over time. That is, attempts to impose false views of justice ultimately lead to a loss of power, which ulltimately lead to those with correct views to correct these mistakes.


    which one do you believe and why?

    Personally, i think that right makes might, that is, that correct conceptions of justice lead to power for a people/state. Though at the same time, it is possible to produce an image of justice when one has power, so i also believe that Might allows for the image of justice. The implication is that it is not always true that a state's or person's power is an indicator of their rightness or wrongness, though I do think the greatest powers generally got that way due to having largely correct conceptions of justice in the past within their historical context (i.e. the US, Rome), even though eventually they may have lost their way.
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  2. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    hmmm 268 views in like 5 seconds. something weird just happened. glitch in the matrix?
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  3. Radium

    Radium f k

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    i used to think (from watching star wars religiously) that right makes might

    obviously

    because we are ultimately just debating the ways of the Sith vs the ways of the Jedi here

    and the Jedi won out in the end

    however

    why werent the Jedi always in charge if they were really so great? they basically got wiped out and had to restart the whole thing all over again. if the Jedi concept of right was really so mighty then why did the whole thing fall apart? A. Skywalker became a Sith Lord (that would be like Jordan being traded to the Knicks), Obi-wan became a name-less wanderer in the desolate wastelands of the desert planet Tatooine, as Yoda became a hermetic do-nothing philosopher on dagobah contemplating his navel underneath a tree somewhere.

    i thinks its because they actually weren't right despite proudly siding themselves to that lofty high-ground. but on the other hand, its not like the Sith were right themselves; the Sith being the might makes right contingent. Because everything they built up crumbled down even worse...

    we must go all the way back now

    to the very beginning where the deepest underpinnings of everything flow out from. in this universe only what works is allowed to exist. if whatever that thing is doesn't work: it falls apart to be immediately replaced by the some things that actually do work. this is how suns, solar systems, and planets come into existence opposed to random clumps of gas and rock floating around without purpose through space. and on those planets life comes into existence by primordial microbes more efficiently absorbing building blocks in the environment to reproduce themselves with a high enough mutation rate to dynamically adapt as necessary. these simple microbes then go on to become more complex forms of life with greater specialization at exploiting the environment and reproducing themselves. and those microbes who don't do that stop working and cease to exist or simply become stagnant.

    and this continues until some type of life-form can become intelligent enough to sustain itself through technology that can keep their native planet's sun from collapsing; or finding some new planet somewhere with a young and healthy sun to enjoy; or perhaps ultimately keeping the very universe as a whole from collapsing supposing the event of a big crunch. and i think this is the ultimate purpose of life-forms in general.

    any other forms of life (from those stagnant microbes that never adapted into becoming more complex life we were talking about, to the ones that only adapted into creatures of middling intelligence; like the dinosaurs) that doesnt ultimately do this is going to stop working and cease to exist

    so they're wrong. they are neither right or might...

    i think right ultimately does make might. however its kind of like some insanely complex mathematical problem that not even the greatest mathematicians can come close to cracking. ultimately "right" must have enough might to make sure it preserves the ultimate purpose of life-forms (sustaining themselves and hence the environment they exist in which basically means sustaining the whole universe) and be powerful enough to prevent anything from disturbing this process

    The Jedi were both right and wrong. I think they had the right idea to preserve their own existence yet lacked enough might to prevent the Sith from planning their revenge and taking them down

    their concept of right was middling. the true concept of right would be completely impossible to ever take down because the true form of right recognizes that it must make itself so powerful that nothing can ever stop it and cause it to cease existing. that it also assumes itself to be totally right also supposes by logical extension for everything else thereby to be totally wrong.

    and so to this extent i think the right-makes-might/might-makes-right contrast should actually be blended together so as to say: only absolute might is right. which is conversely equal to saying that whats right is only the absolute might. one thing cannot exist without the other thing. they are the same.

    which you correctly pointed out can cause incredible problems supposing the concept of whats right isn't actually right at all...

    because what exactly is absolute might/absolute right, anyway? what does that even mean?

    its an incredibly puzzling math problem to crack for sure.

    and whats even more puzzling is that whats absolute might/absolute right can probably only be correctly mapped by allowing conflicting concepts of right to exist to see what happens and how things play out. sort of like those primordial microbes with a high enough mutation rate to see what works and what doesnt work...
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  4. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    interesting post. I think the idea about absolutes is impossible to reach. To reach absolute justice would be impossible, as would reaching absolute power.

    Jedi/siths, these are both monarchy's. the siths are more individually evil than the Jedis, who are personally more virtuous, but does personal virtue equal a just political regime?

    I think the beauty of just political regimes is that it takes people as they are, it takes people that are sith likes, has them work in their own self-interest and for their own power, and in the process has them working for the greater good. Take for instance the presidency, is it necessary for the president to be a good person? is it even necessary for them to be particularly competent? Or is the political order so well put together that it can withstand, and dare I say, even USE a president with tyrannical ambitions for positive purposes? Could it be the case that a syth being president would make for a better America than someone like Luke Skywalker as president?

    I think text's like the US constitution or the Napolionic Code are ultimately based on extremely complex logic/math formulas bounded in particular concepts of human nature and nature and how they relate to one another. People read these foundational documents; yet these foundational documents also read people. That is, when the state and its people push towards tyranny and the political order is about to change, it pushes them back into place. To analogize, a constitution is an extremely complex yet elegant operating system on a computer, it interfaces with billions of people and billions of possible actions, sometimes bugs emerge from the multitude of possible uses, but ultimately the operating system fixes itself over time through people. The same is true of a constitution, except the interface occupies all of human existence from birht to death, even group formation possible and every action possible, and the political order it upholds lasts for hundreds of years, if not thousands, if properly constructed.

    The most Dangerous But also the Most Important of times are times like today, when the boundaries drawn by our most sacred of laws are not clear, and they require clarification. The clarification can either fork us towards the wrong or the right path.

    If they fork us towards the wrong path, it is possible that another fork will appear down the line and a move towards the right path may be possible at some point. Yet, it is also possible that this is the last straw holding the political order together, and that its all downhill from here. Only history can tell us that.

    It's also possible for the document to be interpreted correctly to put the polity back on track, or possibly even improve it, leading to another few hundred years of just rule until the next "bug" in the code comes up through the varieties of human experience.

    What's the right and the wrong path? who can tell us which fork to take? as you put it, this is some insanely complex mathematical-like formula that are generally inaccessible to anyone but select few, since this ultimately requires understanding human nature and nature on a level equal to or greater than the founders of the just state, to figure out even more correct or sound basis. And of course, attempting such a feat can lead to madness, since ultimately it involves a complete deconstruction of people, politics, and nature "staring into the abyss" as nietzsche put it. Not for the faint of heart
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  5. Radium

    Radium f k

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    I think we are at a period now where everything has evened out very flatly. democracy and capitalism have risen to the surface as the other things have drifted away in the tide and for the most part its because of what you said about people. people are the ones who do the work to power society and thus they must ultimately be the ones who are given the power to shape society into something that they themselves (not tyrants) can be content about.

    i think absolute might/absolute right is a destination

    i think these two things are parts that lead to that absolute might/absolute right end goal

    like a picture that is being drawn but uncertain as to what the finished product is actually going to look like

    a couple key themes though i think you glossed over:

    the most important thing is sustaining the system

    making sure that human nature is allowed to fully express itself and making sure that it can do this forever

    i mean, literally forever. not just for today, or for the next day, but literally for forever.

    thats where empires and dynasties of the past have failed i think. there was a short-sightedness that disallowed say, Rome from having the vision to last for today and for tomorrow too.

    its not good enough to just have a society that works pretty good right now. it has to be able to work in the future. to the extent that it can keep the sun from consuming its finite hydrogen supply and so forth to give an example. this is one of part of that absolute might/absolute right too. basically its not enough to just have a society that just works pretty good. you have to have a society that can create better technology to better accomplish the job of sustaining the species, the planet, the universe etc and just because your society works pretty good right now that doesn't mean your society is going to be capable of doing this (and things like this) in the future

    this is a goal that the human species necessarily *must* accomplish and society is only a vessel to this. hence, knowing that this is the ultimate goal of things you can work to create a society that works good for right now but also puts the necessary checks in place to make sure this goal is constantly being worked towards appropriately (democracy and capitalism for example just being two parts to help build up towards that)

    this is why always keeping that in sight is necessary: because it puts everything else into greater perspective.
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  6. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    ^ people with tyranical souls (who seek power for power) have and always will exist. Just like people who seek power for the sake of this of that cause (activists?), or for justice itself exist. (philosophers?) The right political order filters all the different sorts of dispositions people have for the greater good, while providing the people themselves liberty at the same time (i.e. the constitution does not rule everything, it has alot of 'give' to it).

    but then i think by calling them tyranical i am being too pejorative. Like i said, in the right political order, they are not not a bad thing to have. Basically, don't think plato's republic, civilization has moved past it to create much better political orders, although this book is useful to delve into the nature of justice/politics itself.

    normal people: "people", or more precisely, those who don't want power and just want a little bit of the good life. That is, they aren't reallayy willing to take on the sacrifices, risk, and some may lack the cunning it takes to make it a reality. They are perfectly happy living in their communities, going to work, eating 3 meals, getting married, having kids, etc. I know you would argue that these people are what everyone should strive towards, but they don't drive political and economic order. Just having a mass of people without a monetary system, without a political system, without governance and laws does not work.

    Then of course there are specialists in various disciplines, w.ho crave a certain degree of power or have certain value based goals in mind. For instnace high level doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. very high ranking professionals basically

    So basically none of these categories of people are good/bad, and having contempt/scorn for any of them or championing any of them is ridiculous, it simply takes the right laws to order them all correctly so that society functions and progress and stability is produced.



    About a perpetual society, doubt its possible. The longest have lasted what? 2000 years? and these only because they had the fortune to have re-orderes come in and fix things. plus what if its unjust? what if a just society produces the power necesaary to produce a perpetual society, but hte perpetual society created is ultimately a stagnant tyrannny (think brave new world). Why would anyone want this?
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  7. Radium

    Radium f k

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    whats the point of creating society unless its going to be one that can last forever? are you arguing for creating society that purposely doesn't believe it can even last? the whole purpose of things in the universe is that things are trying to find stability. things are constantly seeking more efficient ways to do this.

    and i agree (and have been agreeing) about your assessment of people in society. i think society just has to be something they can be content with: whatever that is.

    the only constant i argue is that they must have a society that is conducive to creating constantly better and more innovative technology. and the only reason for that is because its only through this that they can perpetually sustain themselves.

    look at early islam:

    they were once the leaders in science and technology then through changes in the way they did things culturally this tendency dropped off and became stagnant

    the right kind of society...

    cannot allow things like that to happen. so checks must be put in place to make sure society is always conducive to better and more innovative science/technology

    other than that though people can basically do whatever they feel is right supposing those things don't directly threaten their ability to keep society running. your hammering of that point seems kind of unnecessary.

    to your last point though:

    why would anyone settle for living in a stagnant tyranny that they dislike? society just has to do two things: be something people can be content about and to then perpetually sustain that.

    society invalidates its own purpose if its not something that the people feel is improving the quality of their lives. hence the successes of democracy/capitalism (supposing people don't like something they can make changes to improve the quality of their lives)

    to answer your question though

    the people wouldn't want it. so probably, it wouldn't exist, or at the very least it wouldn't last very long.

    so its the wrong society.

    and anyway to the larger notion that plato's concept of perfect-society is flat-out incorrect you keep saying its impractical yet have really constructed nothing to back that up

    my only criticism of Plato's concept of perfect-society is that he did not have enough "give" as you say in his society

    but that doesn't mean perfect-society isn't possible. it just means that it has to have an inherently flexible nature opposed to something thats more rigid
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  8. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    more innovative technology does not necessarily lead to stability, or even power for a state. of course it can play a positive role, just like those who seek power for power can play a positive role, if society is properly ordered. But don't equate technological advance with stability, because this is flat out wrong. Look at the extremely tight control states take over nuclear/space tech due to its massive potential to disrupt stability in both state and global order, it should be obvious.


    About Plato;s republic, lets make it very very simple.

    Would you want to live there?

    I sure as hell would not.

    Seems like a strict cast system based on birth me with no technological evolution whatsoever, monoculture, and almost no ability to improve one's lot. I'll take life in a western democracy thank you very much.

    Some people argue that this text is actually a dystopia. i.e. "here is perfect justice, and look, it would be a complete nightmare" in the same way that brave new world is a dystopia, "look, here we have a pure tech society seeking stability for its own sake, and it's a total nightmare". Neither are perfect societies, far from it.
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  9. Radium

    Radium f k

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    More innovative technology is an absolute requirement because the sun is going to burn up its finite hydrogen supply and when that happens the earth is going to be baked. this wont happen for another few billion years though and in that span we must also contend with things like giant asteroids colliding into earth (do you want to end up like the dinosaurs)

    and hopefully no major diseases mutate and become such efficient killers that they completely overwhelm us (do you want to end up like the dinosaurs)

    life on earth has been almost totally wiped out on more than one occasion. why? insufficient technology from insufficient creatures who did not possess the ability to create the right technology (do you want to end up like the dinosaurs)

    more innovative technology has a direct link to stability. and thus is absolutely necessary to society. any society that does not possess the ability (cultural neglect to their importance) to produce better/more innovative technology is eventually going to get wiped out by something. this is going to happen either in those few billion years before the sun destroys the solar system or after time is up and the sun actually does destroy all things in the solar system

    i cant really make that more clear. your criticism as to the importance of monitoring those technologies so as to make sure they don't corrupt is certainly noted though. powerful technology has the ability to become abused and to destroy society also

    fire keeps the house hot but can burn it down. that doesnt mean you should live in a house without fire though

    and i already said i thought Plato's society was wrong. i mean yeah...

    it sucked

    that doesnt invalidate the notion of a perfect-society though
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  10. Radium

    Radium f k

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    yes

    and the reason these societies are dystopian is directly because they are incorrect reads on human nature

    stability for the sake of stability is not a correct read on human nature

    humans constantly want to improve the quality of their lives. people that become stranded or lost in nature are encouraged to create simple games or endeavors as a survival tool to give them some sense of purpose and accomplishment to combat the depression of the bleakness of their situations.

    constantly seeking to improve the quality of one's existence is a base element to human nature. Nietzche calls that the will-to-power. hence there has to be a way for them to always do that (flexibility)

    a perfect society provides that
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  11. Radium

    Radium f k

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    i got you this time, Mcgirth.
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  12. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    The sun will burn out? Do you honestly believe our civilization is so stable that it should even be gearing its laws to address issues billions of years in the future?
    how about we get to at least one million year first... modern civilization isn't even at what, 700 years? Only 1428X times the amount of time of all modern civilization left to go to get to one million!

    Asteroids, bigger threat, but really, will an asteroid wipe out civilization completely? The dinos comet occurred 6 million years ago, and they were much larger in general and did not have the adaptability functions we have. 6 million years is a long time. Its probably the case that a comet will fall i nthe next 1000 years that can wipe out a city (though it will probably land in the ocean or in unused or sparsely used land and not in a city, statistically speaking.)

    disease mutations, much more likely to wipe out humanity or large swaths of it anyway. Particularly man-made diseases as biotech becomes more and more advanced and accessible, this becomes more of a threat much like nuclear tech became a threat. Here again we get questions of what technologies we should advance through free market, and which we can't (like nuke tech).

    Agreed innovation, or rather mastering innovation in science and tech, is key to stability. But this mastery concerns not just its growth but also controlling its branches of growth. To analogize to a garden, you need to both give it fertilizers, sun and water - but you also need to prune it, cut the grass, etc. but i think we agree here. I like the fire analogy.

    Also i think the tech mastery part is more so the civilization does not get taken over in war than any threats like asteroids, but of course things like predicting natural disasters and disease are also important.

    perfect society? not so sure about that one though. It seems to me there will always be a certain degree of disconnect between human understand and how things actually exist in nature (i.e. always an element of chance or fortune), though as Machiavelli said, a lot of it is masterable/controlable.
    Of course there is no way of knowing this for sure until science ends. (i.e. weve discovered everything about hte known universe that is discovrable)
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  13. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    not so sure these authors were going for correct reads on human nature. Plato was arguably trying to provide a way to understand justice, not human nature in general. I don't think Huxley was trying to provide anything in particular, except to provide a view of what it would look like if we had a society completly divoded to tech and stability without any concern for anything else. Neither were trying to provide perfect reads on human nature, only person who i can think does that directly and tries to build politics from it is Hobbes.

    Also i'm not sure that a correct read on human nature, if its even possible, would lead to a perfect society. Just theoretically, wouldn't you also need to have a perfect read of the whole of nature? after-all, humans do interact with nature, so how can you get a perfect society without also having a perfect model of it to build off of as well? Arne't human subject to natural disasters, as you so correctly pointed out, so how can we have a perfect society without also having a perfect science? (which i think is impossible, BUT only the future will tell us that!)

    I prefer the Hobbes or early moden way of doing things, just use things that have been true for millenia about human nature and nature and build off these to construct political orders. i.e. you don't need to know EVERYTHING.
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  14. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    haha
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  15. Radium

    Radium f k

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    perfect-society is just a society that can never be destroyed (impervious to physical threats) and can never fall apart (harmonious to human nature)

    and hence is a society that can literally last forever

    trying to create a society like this is really the only way to go about building your society. i mean, whats your alternative? purposely try to create a society that maybe might work/maybe might not work?

    you maybe might get destroyed. and probably do eventually get destroyed considering you have billions of years to exist yet only one tiny oversight or flaw in the way you run your show to crush everything or send you right back to the stone-age (dinosaurs not creating satellites w/ lasers to orbit earth and shoot down asteroids and Jedi not realizing that Sith had infiltrated the Galactic Senate and Rome basically just fucking up at everything)

    so whats the point of that? all for nothing, like Ozymandias

    perfect-society has to be the goal. there is really no other recourse.

    but I don't know what perfect-society actually looks like. I can only say what the requirements are as that part is pretty straightforward enough.

    i think it does exist though and that there is an invisible form of perfect-society floating around out there in outer-space somewhere and some species (maybe not us) is going to discover what it looks like and how to effectively put it to work.

    you correctly point out though that it would have to be a highly specialized/highly advanced people who have a tremendous understanding of reality itself

    but shouldn't we be aiming for that too?
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  16. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    The fundamental problem is that we never know when science ends. In the 19th Century, Lord Kelvin declared science virtually done at the theoretical level, and all that was left was better measurements. A Largely ignored point, is that Marx's ideas about politics presume that science is over. The problem was they were wrong, as Einstein came along and turned everything on its head. Science has not ended, there is an element of uncertainty moving forward, and no matter how forward we move, there is still a chance that we don;t know everything. More widely and showing the particualr flaws in our understanding of human nature and human affairs, the financial crisis and the total lack of foresight of economists show this point so distinctly.

    Since we don't know when science ends, both in terms of our understand of nature and humans, we can't plot out a perfect deductive political order.

    Machiavelli is correct, we must take fortune into account. It's always possible for something in the Modern Scientific State's blind-spots to come and destroy the state or at least knock the order off track, no matter how advanced.

    And even if science did end, there may still be an element of chance (i.e. not every outlier may be explainable).

    What this is means is that politics and governance may inherently be about mastering fortune, rather than about producing perfect orders.

    So an end of producing perfect order, or presuming that its even possible, may be counter productive. (though this is totally arguable if its rhetorically useful, it probably is, but in reality i don't think its possible or at least we can never know for sure if it is)
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  17. Mcg-

    Mcg- New Member

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    in ozy, i think one strongly implied point is that power for power (or stability for stability for that matter) is pointless.
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  18. Radium

    Radium f k

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    the ultimate purpose of things in this universe is to find stability to exist.

    hence why life-forms even exist at all (they were more efficient at existing than things that were less efficient at existing)

    your point on science ending or not (though accurate) is completely irrelevant to that

    because we necessarily (no matter what) need to pursue science/technology and a greater understanding of human nature precisely because this is gong to make us more efficient at finding stability so that we can exist

    we exist in this universe and so just like everything else that exists in this universe we are inevitably subject to its first dictum: find a way to become stable so you can exist; or perish

    constantly striving towards that goal is expressed in the human species as trying to improve our understanding of science/technology and human nature so that we can one day unlock that hazy form of perfect-society

    are we ever going to get there?

    who knows

    what is known though is that we must try because the universe offers no other alternative.

    but you already implicitly acknowledged that (despite not allowing yourself to overtly express that you did) in your last post i guess

    and anyway Ozymandias proves my point. and that is why i brought him up

    he was totally inefficient at the task of existing. and so the universe, with one of its many hands, destroyed him. the universe is telling us that we must learn from his mistakes from one of its many mouths.

    are we listening or not?
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  19. Joro

    Joro New Member

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    It's very simple ....

    To the ones in power, who hold influence and sway, to them "right makes might" .......

    The thinking is, "I've been given all this power, nay, been BLESSED with it, by a higher authority [be it ethics or morality or genetics or even a Divine Overseer], BECAUSE I AM RIGHT" .....

    Now, to the ones who are NOT in power, who are ruled over, to them "might makes right"...

    The thinking with these is, "I am ruled over and subject to injustice because of tyranny, and it is a self-justifying tyranny, believing itself to be right."

    In this way, "might makes right" is an expression of irony and cynicism (by the oppressed), while "right makes might" is an expression of optimism and idealism (by the oppressor).

    However this can be reversed.

    The oppressor may be aware of his tyranny and believe "might makes right"...saying, in other words, "I am right because I have the power to dictate what is wrong or right"

    Similarly, the oppressed may believe "right makes might", believing their cause of justice and freedom to be upheld by a higher authority than the oppressor which will inevitably reveal itself plainly.

    So .... "might makes right" and "right makes might" are both true .... true, simultaneously, to different people who have different perspectives on different situations.
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  20. Joro

    Joro New Member

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    And it's interesting that the thread began with a pic of a WWII tank.

    The United States believes it is the guiding light of the world, right in everything it does ....

    It, They, believe this only by the power of having won WWII.

    I'm assuming the Viet Cong have other ideas - along with insurgents in Iraq, the impoverished and exploited of America's ghettos, and Cuba, which has been isolated and punished with embargoes......to name a few.
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