Conversations with Propertarianism's Curt Doolittle
"I work under the principle that the laws of nature, the natural law of man, and the evolutionary necessity of transcendence are the same in whether we state them in Theological, Philosophical, and Scientific language. So whether you intuit, think, and speak in the Christian, Deist, or Naturalist language, and whether you choose to adhere to physical laws, the natural law of man, and the necessity of evolutionary laws out of faith, reason, or science, is irrelevant to the individual or to the polity, or to mankind unless you selfishly demand the rest of the world conform to your way of thinking, speaking."
This has been a helpful clarification for me as well. I am a person with very strong logical reasoning, with gratitude to my ancestors, yet I have been utterly convicted of the reality of a supernatural realm layered over the empirically measurable one. This is logical to me because of my experience and experimentation interacting with that realm - seeing its effects on myself and others and the world beyond any currently explicable psychological or physical mechanisms. For this reason, as many believers would echo, my relationship with Christ permeates every other aspect of my life.
I have heard John Mark criticize the Christian focus on salvation of souls, and I understand it, but I think that it is a criticism that arises out of the doctrine of sola fide and not traditional Christianity. The Catholic doctrine of grace, to put it in a popular phrase, is 'to pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you'. You aren't supposed to put God to the test by making imprudent decisions, regardless of how passionate you are to save souls. You can't actually save a soul simply by getting them to make a single act of faith. We are saved only by a lifetime rightly ordered to love. It is primarily when the sufferings of life are forced upon us that fidelity to the mission of saving souls becomes meritorious for civilization. Salvation of souls than is the victory of Truth/Love over death and the fear of death. This seems impossible to replicate to the same degree of sincerity without actual belief in the reality of Jesus, his historical and transhistorical work.
The Catholic doctrine is that the merits of Christ and man are hypo-statically united, and since human merit is obviously bound up with the application of reason, it makes some sense to me when you (Curt) say that proper theology, philosophy, and science come to the same practical conclusions in terms of law/politics. However, there does seem to be a hierarchy of Faith>Reason. They aren't parallel paths; the later is embedded in the former. Someone can truly be 'saved' (come into pragmatic union with Truth) by relationship with Christ even if their IQ is too low to participate consciously in the philosophical or political spheres of life. Relationship is the common denominator, which is why God needs to be a Trinity and needed to become an actual human being in the macrocosm of history (Jesus of Nazareth) and the microcosm of today (Christians!).
The same is true of someone who has been psychologically wounded, but is rather intelligent, like many Leftists. That person can often only find a place in the evolution of society through Faith, because their reasoning ability has been distorted (i.e. the first three Faith steps of a Twelve Steps Program lead to encountering the objective Truth in a disordered personality or situation). The Mystical Body of Christ is more than just a frontal lobe, so to speak, there is also a kind of spinal instinct that comes from Faith, which we call promptings of the Holy Spirit. Believers witness to a Helper and Advocate who pushes us into truths we could not have led ourselves to, kind of like Plato's idea of remniscence extended to every waking decision. Non-believers experience this too, but without knowing Who to thank, and with less agency. It can't well be argued that a relationship with mere mystery is better than a relationship with a revealed mystery, i.e. Christ.
My very serious questions, I think, are these:
How does Propertarianism account for the dignity of the human person by virtue of their potential for relationship with God versus their potential for advancing civilization?
Why doesn't Propertarianism promote Christianity?
The purpose of my above post was to argue somewhat the 3 points Curt made:
1. I don't think Christianity is argued in the same way as any other faiths (moral baiting), like I tried to say, it is the unique and unrepeatable Christian response to suffering and relationship that really converts and 'saves souls'.
2. Christianity civilized the West and not the other way around. I don't understand the idea that early Christianity was another religion of warfare from within. Christianity was spread by its own blood, not the blood of others.
3. The Church was always meant to lead the state, not compete with it. Like I said, the latter was embedded in the former (even when it deviated from its philosophy in practice).
Great Questions. Thank you.
It is difficult to transition between Theological, Philosophical, and Legal-Scientific thought. This is because the 'tests' (theological obedience, philosophical choice, and legal-scientific decidability in matters of conflict) in each system of thought vary from wisdom to choice to necessity. To think in terms of law and science means eliminating what is false and irreciprocal so only the true and reciprocal (good) remain. So while the theological attempts to sculpt with clay, the legal-scientific attempts to carve away stone. This difference between the positive and negative is a difficult transition for the faithful, just as the reverse is a difficult transition for the legal-scientific.
The difference between spiritual (emotional, imaginary, and intuited) and material (intellectual, actionable, and observable) is well understood in the philosophical literature as the difference between experience and action. experience and observation overlap but the Positive information from Experience, and the Negative information from Action are not the same. There is more 'felt' with experience than is observed. Both Faith and Science depend upon this difference. Faith to say 'there is more to life than the material", and law-Science 'there is means of settling conflict by the observable and material'.
Lastly, there is a difference between P-law (the natural law of sovereignty and reciprocity within the limits of proportionality) and my opinion. I have opinion. The law consists of what amount to 'proofs' of decidability under tests of sovereignty reciprocity and proportionality. So don't confuse the law with my opinion.
---"Why doesn't Propertarianism promote Christianity?"--
That's not true. Law doesn't promote it prohibits. Science doesn't promote it explains. We explain why Jesus' teachings were true and an innovation. We state it in scientific terms. Christianity is compatible with natural law, extends natural law, and contributes to high trust commercial society with middle class majority ethics. As such Propertarianism makes other religions illegal because they are not compatible with natural law and Jesus' extension of natural law. So we don't necessarily promote Christianity we prohibit competitors. We do not consider practicing heathen (love of nature and ancestors), pagan (love of heroes and archetypes), and christian (love of god) together as incompatible. We understand this as the evolution of religion from familial, to tribal to cultural to political - which is the evidence of the evolution of religion.
There are three sets of laws that God has shown us with evidence of his hand. The laws of nature, the natural law of reciprocity, and the evolutionary law of transcendence. Fundamentalist (literalist) Christianity is not compatible with Laws of Nature (science), and because of this, incompatible with the evolutionary law of Transcendence. The laws of nature are evidence of god's hand. So wherever religion is incompatible with God's hand then the men who wrote that religion erred. I seek to solve the problem of the incompatibility of religion with the evidence of God's hand. This leads one to the conclusion that the deists are right and Jesus was right and the Jews and Muslims and church doctrinists were wrong - but wrong only because they were doing the best they could with the primitive knowledge of god's hand they had at the time.
The basics underlying christian faith (god, soul, Jesus teachings, ten commandments as property rights, and devotion) are all compatible with the evidence of god's hand, in one way or another. And that the doctrine does succeed in causing the faithful to *behave* in accordance with god's hand.
--"How does Propertarianism account for the dignity of the human person by virtue of their potential for relationship with God versus their potential for advancing civilization?"---
We say it in scientific terms: if you demonstrate by your actions that you follow the evidence of god's hand, and do not act counter to the evidence of gods hand then you are due dignity and respect - just as those who do not, do no deserve dignity and respect. However, your experience is not observable, only your actions. How you believe and feel is not observable and decidable by other than your actions. If you do not treat others as Jesus would demand, then you are not christian regardless of what you feel and believe. There are many Christians who use Christianity as a means of doing nothing at all because others are not conforming to their demands. This is the ultimate selfishness, ultimate deceit, ultimately unChristian denial of Jesus's teaching, and ultimate heresy. These people are not christian. They are evil in Christian garb.
There are hundreds of Christian sects and all that they share is some point on the spectrum between priority for the tyrannical god of the old testament Semites that Jesus tried to reform, and the loving god evident in Jesus' behavior and teaching. Your faith is in your mind. Your behavior exists and is observable. So in this sense, Propertarianism (God's natural law of sovereignty and reciprocity within the limits of proportionality) judges your actions because no law can judge your mind.
---"1. I don't think Christianity is argued in the same way as any other faiths (moral baiting), like I tried to say, it is the unique and unrepeatable Christian response to suffering and relationship that really converts and 'saves souls'."---
As an example, the presumption that man's soul needs saving is the creation of a false debt. You will live a better life, cause those around you to live a better life, by following the teachings of Jesus, and thereby insulating yourself and others from the animal impulses within us all. If you do so you will save your soul from emotional suffering in this world and the next. To save yourself from physical suffering requires more than saving yourself from emotional suffering. That is where science, technology, and medicine provide what faith does not.
---"2. Christianity civilized the West and not the other way around. I don't understand the idea that early Christianity was another religion of warfare from within. Christianity was spread by its own blood, not the blood of others."---
Why did Christianity (a Jewish heresy) spread among Europeans, rabbinical Judaism among Jews, and Islam (a christian heresy) among Arabs and non-Europeans? Because of what these people were beforehand. It is simply not true that other than a tiny minority accepted Christianity willingly. This is church mythos. In all cases it was imposed upon them by leaders who found political value in it, a useful tool for political control of people, and a literate administrative class in the priesthood to do so. even during the high middle ages the documentary record looks a lot like "political correctness" is practiced today: the common people gave lip service, the urban people went along, and the upper classes virtue signaled, with a minority of purists truly devoted to the faith just like today. Those who write write history. Fortunately we have a lot of documentation from outside of the church and the writings of these people are decidedly 'medieval', right up until the enlightenment.
---"3. The Church was always meant to lead the state, not compete with it. Like I said, the latter was embedded in the former (even when it deviated from its philosophy in practice)."---
The church was forcibly imposed on Europe by the Greeks after they defeated Rome and reconquered it, closed the schools, killed or outcast the philosophers, and destroyed the arts, temples, literature, and knowledge of the Greco-Roman civilization. The purpose of the church was to prevent the restoration of roman (European) aristocracy. Some monks in the north, particularly Ireland, worked to save what little knowledge remained in Europe. Some middle easterners saved the work of some of the Greeks and Romans. Then destroyed the rest with the Muslim conquest.
The problem was that the church was far more corrupt than the state it sought to replace. So after the institution of the church we had the monastic movement to defend the people from the church, then the protestant reformation to defend people from the church. The renaissance reformation and scientific revolution to escape the corruption of the church.
Jesus was a gift from god. He was the only christian. American Evangelical Protestantism the closest religion to the one Jesus imagined, and the church as a political institution the farthest thing from the one he would have imagined. So the church failed in the early medieval period. It failed in the high medieval period. It was punished in the restoration of European civilzation. And in the 19th Century it failed again in response to discoveries of science. And it has been destroyed by the Marxist-postmodernist-feminist revolution against both Christianity and aristocracy. And it wasn't until the middle of the 20th that protestant evangelicals finally cast off the corruption of the church, and returned Christianity to a religion of the people, by the people, in imitation of Jesus Christ. I have seen evangelical preachers take Christianity even closer to its roots by teaching Christianity as an intuitive more emotional close relation to our ancient religion of stoicism, and our scientific understanding of cognitive behavioral therapy.
My view of Christianity is an attempt to use Jesus teachings to create an institution of governance and oppression, where Jesus was trying to lift poor ignorant people out of tribalism, so that they were not a permanent underclass taken advantage of by usurers and tyrants, by loving each other as the greatest resistance movement against tyranny whether familial, tribal, national, or imperial in human history.
So I am personally hostile to 'Church-ianity" but I consider myself a christian who seeks to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ: "Love thy neighbor".
I am not sure anything else is required. There are five principles buried in christian teaching. Every one of them is reducible to "love thy neighbor and thy conscience shall be free." That's it.
Thank you Curt for your in-depth responses. I think my opinions here are generally representative of intellectual Catholicism today and throughout history, so finding reconciliation in our views is important. Not to say that I am the one to do that, but I do want to do what I can. I personally need to have some more clarity about Propertarianism, before I can comfortably sell it to the Catholics and Christians in my circles. That doesn't require us to entirely agree, just to be clear about the greater or lesser significance of our differences.
If we are talking about rebuilding Western Civ. we need more than the negative precepts, we need an overarching religious orientation as well. We need to know what we are moving towards (the positive) as well as what we are trying to prevent (the negative). The positive Truth of our ultimate destiny has to be the leader in order to give discernment to the meaning and usefulness of those negative truths of law and science. Christianity is a logical axiom, the very first principle, not a separate realm of experience. This was an essential element of our original American experiment, however subdued in the documents and the persons.
I am familiar (though somewhat removed of late) with the historical conversation about the overlap and distinction between philosophy and theology. There are different views, but the Catholic position is essentially one of illumination. Reason and science are illuminated (expanded and telescoped) by Faith in Christ. At the same time, there is an absolute necessity to Faith that doesn't exist for reason and science, as in the case of the intellectually handicapped who can still have a relationship with the Absolute. I can't get onboard with a philosophical system that doesn't give these people a place to exist and contribute in this world.
I do not know what the idea of evolutionary transcendence means? Is this like the theory of emergentism? Where is evolution transcending to exactly? I'm not convinced that deism and archetype/ancestor religions aren't incompatible with Christianity; the former faiths would have to be understood as mere psychological preferences and not propositions of objective truth.
When I talk about the dignity of the human person I am talking about an ontological reality not dependent on one’s actions in this life. The scientific definition you gave is a description of virtue or character but doesn't address the unqualified God-given dignity that all human beings possess. Christianity admits the potential for each human person to be redeemed, first by conversion to Faith i.e. AA, and then subsequently reintegrated into the scientific measures of character. This work of relational mediation between West Civ. and the other faiths and civilizations, needs to be a part of our system too. Christian civilization always provided for (and honored above the philosophical and scientific class) a class of formally religious people dedicated to this mission of reintegrating the lost sheep (the indifferent as well as the antagonistic) into God's hands through the missionary proposal (not imposition) of faith. This was often considered the saintly (high risk but also high return) character of the usually celibate person who forgoes direct participation in the political and economic system in exchange for 'saving souls'. I believe this calling truly does convert peoples and it isn't violent or coercive; its a true fatherhood by virtue of its sacrifice for those affected. These people need a place in society as well.
The doctrine of Original Sin is our only fortification against idolatry of whatever kind. The need for salvation is not a false debt, it is an obvious truth. Like you said, we need some insulation from animal instinct and that is what is meant by the battle between flesh (original man) and spirit (man reborn) in the NT. The redemption and rebirth begins with an acknowledgement of concupiscence or Original Sin, the acknowledgement that we are not yet good or true enough. Its not mere personal/psychological sin either because we know that we are social beings and can't be truly and finally free until each and every human person is free with us. We need God because we know we aren't God and because God is necessary for existence. We need Jesus because we need that invitation to a loving relationship at an absolute level that only He can offer (through the gateway of God's Incarnation as one of us). We need the Christian Church in order to share that freedom with the world and protect it through time (by means of an unbroken tradition and leadership).
I take issue with many of the historical claims you made above. Maybe in a different threads we could hash out specific periods and get into references, but I'll give my opinion briefly as you did... Christianity was probably a large minority throughout Rome and its provinces before the political alliance with Constantine. The mass proliferation of New Testament documents in the first hundred years of Christianity attests to this. There is evidence that Constantine's mother was a baptized Christian and that Constantine along with previous Christians were converted for reasons of conviction, not politics. Jesus gave us far more than a reiteration of the golden rule or the ten commandments. He illuminated those previously existing teachings to a new resolution of personal sacrifice. The entirely novel definition of love that Christ and his followers implemented set the example for a plethora of social advancements from the end of gladiator fights, the humanization and later suppression of slavery, to the invention of schools, hospitals, charities, more lenient governance, more reasonable courts, empiricism, and international law.
Where civilization did not advance, it was in proportion to its deviation from Christ's teaching, regardless of the nominal titles of people within the institution. Yes, the true Church has always existed, enmeshed within a corrupt society, but that is not to say that the corruption extended into the Christian dogma. The historical continuity of the dogmas of Christ (development without deviation) are in fact the main evidence for a divine element within the Catholic Church. The modern Church is no different than the medieval Church in terms of corrupt persons within it, but again, that doesn't transfer to the corruption of the tradition. Of course, following your brief and very contrasting review of Church history I can understand your hostility to 'Church-ianity'. The details and themes of history seems to be the crux of our difference here, but there are also obvious implications for how we define Christianity.
Curt's Blog Responses:
Thanks Curt! A few of those answers missed my meaning, but that's my fault for assuming too many categories of my own mind and mis-intuiting the landscape of your own. I was able to extract most of what I was looking for anyway. I understand what you are trying to do politically much better now too. I also see where you differ in worldview from a traditional Catholic. I completely agree that the competition of positive faiths has to happen in a free marketplace of ideas and not through monopoly or imposition, as does the CC. I actually believe that Catholic dogma can scale (this is part of the Catholic doctrine of the mystical body of Christ) but that that is a matter for history to continue working out and really a non-issue to your legal system. Happy Easter!
I finally had a moment to start E. Michael Jones’s new book “Logos Rising,” and after reading the introduction I realized something that was still bothering me about my questions on P-Law.
When I brought up the religiosity of the US founders I was referring only to a very basic common principle: that morality, and its subgenre of political law, must be grounded in God by a logical necessity (hence the ‘God-given’ ‘inalienable rights’). This is a philosophical truth that Catholicism specifically built into European civ. and consequently handed down to our Protestant and Deist founders.
It’s an important point because your responses to me sounded a little like moral relativism at times, and I’m thinking maybe it’s because you don’t actually have a coherent metaphysics undergirding your law?
Other religions and other forms of Christianity outside trad. Catholicism deviate to various degrees from the logic of the Catholic doctrines, but the most essential Catholic idea that I was trying to convey in several different images - which, according to your responses, you either can’t accept or don’t yet understand - is that our doctrine is a revelation of the internal functioning of everything. It’s the living Logos of nature and man and God alike. That’s what Jesus means to us. His resurrection IS the trans historical Catholic Body. That body, like a human body, has physical dimensions and limitations, a ritual heart, a doctrinal head, and a tongue that has refused to stop speaking for 2020 years. These are not poetic-psychological preferences, they are objective truth claims. I’m not saying everyone has to accept them, I’m just asking that they be called what they are.
I’m not sure how much this matters for P-Law as much as to your personal opinion, I just didn’t feel like you acknowledged Catholicism on it’s own terms. You gave it a very superficial treatment as just another political institution, but I really don’t think that does justice to the doctrine it has consistently professed. Nor does it appreciate the miraculous historical persistence of the thing.
Catholicism is unique among the religions in presenting its theology as a science, and as the inspiration for science. It’s not an accident that the best attempts at civilization have been built on the Catholic Church, either directly or through philosophical plagiarism. There is real evidence for this. I’m not a cradle Catholic driven by nostalgia or a man easily deceived by sentiment. I came to the Church from atheism by way of the scientific method.
The logic that defines the scientific endevour found its source historically and metaphysically in a God who loved us enough to reveal Himself to us, and in so doing also revealed the nature of everything else. What the ancient philosophers lacked was precisely this thread, Christ living in the Catholic Church, who could weave together natural science and supernatural science.
The ideal political law would protect human freedom so that the people have space to test their supernatural intuitions against the natural world. Christendom did this first and then in its death throws shot its dogmatic seed across the ocean to the new world, where it grew up to be another Constantine, instinctively and almost accidentally Christian, but Christian nonetheless. Now, he is being tested as to whether or not he will honor his heritage or forsake it.
Very smart fellow and intellectually honest. Pleasure discussing this with you.
---"When I brought up the religiosity of the US founders I was referring only to a very basic common principle: that morality, and its subgenre of political law, must be grounded in God by a logical necessity (hence the ‘God-given’ ‘inalienable rights’). This is a philosophical truth that Catholicism specifically built into European civ. and consequently handed down to our Protestant and Deist founders"--
Well, it's in our law which predates Christianity by over two thousand years.
Christian: God has given us his son Jesus as his prophet, and first among his laws is to live in imitation of Jesus and according to his teachings - teachings we call christian morality: to love thy neighbor as thyself,
Deist: God has given us the evidence of his hand: the physical laws of nature(the physical sciences), the natural law of reciprocity (morality), the law of christian love (Christianity), and the law of evolutionary necessity (transcendence).
Scientist: Whether a god exists or not these are the laws evident in the universe: the physical laws of nature(the physical sciences), the natural law of reciprocity (morality), the law of seduction into reciprocity (Christianity), and the law of evolutionary necessity (transcendence).
The human brain evolved to distribute between feminine and empathic to raise children in small numbers and masculine and systematizing to govern polities in large numbers. Each of us regardless of sex, has a mix of feminine and masculine intuitions. For those of you with more feminine cognition, the empathic is necessary - you must feel the spirituality. For those of us who are in the middle - practical - we must only undrestand that the norm works and imitate it. For those of us who are entirely masculine, we feel nothing, find faith childish, find norms arbitrary, and seek the science in faith and norm - because we cannot feel, we cannot just imitate, we can only calculate.
Throughout our history we have practiced Trifunctionalism: The martial aristocracy, the Religion of the Faithful, and the Judicial law to resolve our differences. We have always had three leadership groups: violence, law, and faith. Women and the faithful cannot think as men. Men and the empirical cannot think as women and the faithful. But by obeying the judicial law we can still cooperate despite our thinking.
There is no place for faith in truth or it would not be faith. There is no place for truth in truth or it would not be truth. There is no place for violence in either. As such we are left with the law to judge our differences.
Men and women can be loyal to one another. Men and women of feminine mind can marry. Men and women of practical mind can marry. Men and women of systematizing mind can marry. And under our law any combination in between - because loyalty is enough.
Likewise the faithful, judicial, and martial can be loyal to one another.
As we always have been. And both succeed.
Or we cannot and both fail.
And my name is Caesar so to speak. And my job is the law. ;)
Thanks for engaging with me. :)
It's true that the Greeks were almost there, but their system didn't really take root until it was baptized by Paul, John the Evangelist, the Cappadocian fathers, and Aquinas. Catholicism added to Plato and Aristotle something essential that they lacked. The intuition of the Trinity (necessitated by the doctrine of the Incarnation) brought a higher consciousness to the philosophical problem of the one and the many that the Greeks never sufficiently solved. I think it had a powerful explanatory power that penetrated both the rational and the mythological minded. Not unlike your own 'trifunctional' division of history and personality...
Haha, I like how you said 'you' feminines, but 'us' masculines... It's funny though because I've studied masculine and feminine language styles and historical gender norms quite a bit; it's something that I've thought and written a lot about. I can actually trace the inception of feminine cognitive biases in myself to the day of my religious conversion. I've always thought of it as a playing out of that archetypal scene at the foot of the cross... I took the mother of Christ into my home and she taught me how to see the world with her eyes. Before that time though, I would say I was 'enitirely masculine'.
I tend to think that we are genetically and environmentally disposed to being at a certain position on the continuum between masculine<>feminine, but once we become aware of ourselves, we can consciously develop the other side (to a degree), like any personality trait. So, in my opinion, the marriage of the internal mother and father takes place in each individual on the psychic/spiritual journey. Once one possesses both 'archetypes', there is a real 'oneness' that occurs, as I have been emphasizing... not mere parallel paths, but intersecting discourses. Maybe the feminine has more to contribute than you are allowing for? I dunno.
I'm working my way through your chapter on religion from the website and I am also listening to the lectures from In Truth Victorious' playlists. I think I'm starting to track with your view of science and history better, even though I disagree with several of the historical claims you have made, mostly having to do with the Church's politics. I appreciate all the work you have done and I am following closely, knowing that the time for serious solutions like yours may be upon us sooner than we would like.