agit-prop, opinion manipulation and well-poisoning games Defending our Civilization Logic and First Principles of right reason Signs of our times

L&FP, 41a: Worldview formation, plausibility structures and geostrategic signs of our times

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In discussing worldviews, I added an update on how they are formed and relate to plausibility structures, influencing how we decide and act individually and as community in ways that can be at least framed if not outright predicted.

As such, I think this is worth headlining separately:


An illustration on factors and influences in worldview formation:

Here, we can observe how our perceptions stimulate our thinking, which is also influenced by available knowledge, opinions and views including on key themes tied to core ideas on the world and oneself in it. As we work through our interior lives, we have perceptions, expectations, emotions, focus of attention, reasoning/logic, valuing informed by sense of duty/morals, solution strategies for challenges, discernment, decisions and judgements, actions and influences. As embodied agents in a world and community, we orient ourselves, move, manipulate objects, communicate.

Knowledge and its warrant are key issues, raising questions of reliability, credible truth, degree of certainty, possibility of error, opinion vs soundness and more. Such is a gateway to characteristic themes of philosophy:

  • the nature of knowledge and its credibility [epistemology]
  • the nature of reality — what exists, whence, what is the world, what are we etc [metaphysics embracing ontology, logic of being],
  • the accepted “world story” that uses these elements to build a narrative on how the world came to be or always was, how we came to be in it, how we are where we are now, why we are as we are
  • similarly, where are we headed individually and collectively
  • what death is and signifies
  • what is ultimate or source reality, or does such exist
  • what is duty, what of right and wrong, what of beauty [axiology, ethics and aesthetics]
  • what, then, is valuable and to be prized
  • thus, religions, philosophies, ideologies, mindsets etc and associated “plausibility structures”:

“In sociology and especially the sociological study of religion, plausibility structures are the sociocultural contexts for systems of meaning within which these meanings make sense, or are made plausible. Beliefs and meanings held by individuals and groups are supported by, and embedded in, sociocultural institutions and processes.” [Semantic Scholar, using Wikipedia]

  • what is seemingly or actually sensible, reasonable or logical [logic, plausibility, epistemology, ethics etc]
  • what is knowledge, what is known, why, who or what hold credibility, authority and wisdom, why should we trust such sources [epistemology, logic, language, decision-making, governance, policy, law and justice, politics, ponder Plato’s parables of the Cave and of the Ship of State (cf. Ac 27 as a real-life microcosm)]
  • Hence, we may see the significance of the following progression of equations:





  • what makes for a good and successful life
  • is there direct awareness of knowledge, i.e. intuition
  • is there knowledge communicated from God, revelation
  • etc

These help us to understand how we come to have a worldview. And, of how and why, in Francis Schaeffer’s phrase, “ideas have consequences.”

It is worth adding, that once a certain pattern of worldviews, associated patterns of attitudes, expectations, values, life goals etc is established, this model can help us identify the likely reaction to situations, trends, shocks, messages, communication etc.


Worldviews mapping is clearly a highly useful exercise, especially in so dangerous a geostrategic situation as has been developing in recent years:

We would be well advised to ponder where we are taking our civilisation. END

45 Replies to “L&FP, 41a: Worldview formation, plausibility structures and geostrategic signs of our times

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Worldview formation, plausibility structures and geostrategic signs of our times

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It is worth clipping Naugle on the history of the term:

    There is virtually universal recognition that the notable Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant coined the term Weltanschauung, that is, worldview in his work Critique of Judgment, published in 1790. It originates in a quintessential Kantian paragraph that emphasizes the power of the perception of the human mind. Kant writes, “If the human mind is nonetheless to be able even to think the given infinite without contradiction, it must have within itself a power that is supersensible, whose idea of the noumenon cannot be intuited but can yet be regarded as the substrate underlying what is mere appearance, namely, our intuition of the world” [Weltanschauung].[3] That last phrase — “our intuition of the world” — is an English translation of Kant’s coined German term Weltanschauung.

    The context of this quotation suggests that for Kant, Weltanschauung means something rather simple like a perception of the world gained empirically. Martin Heidegger notes that Kant employed Weltanschauung in reference to the mundus sensibilis, that is, as a “world-intuition in the sense of contemplation of the world given to the senses”[4]

    From its coinage in Kant, who used the term only once and for whom it was of minor significance, it evolved rather quickly to refer to an intellectual conception of the universe from the perspective of a human knower. [–> signs of an idea whose time had come] Kant’s Copernican revolution in philosophy, with its emphasis on the knowing and willing self as the cognitive and moral center of the universe, created the conceptual space in which the notion of worldview could flourish. The term was adopted by Kant’s successors and soon became a celebrated concept in German intellectual life.

    Weltanschauung captured the imaginations not only of the German intelligentsia, but of thinkers throughout Europe and beyond. The term’s success is seen by how readily it was adopted by writers in other European languages either as a loanword, especially in the Romance languages, or as a copy word in the idiom of Slavic and Germanic languages.

    This concept, indeed, had legs. Given its prominence, it was impossible for it to remain isolated on the Continent for long. Soon it crossed the channel to Great Britain and made its way across the Atlantic to the United States. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, within seventy-eight years of its inaugural use in Kant’s Critique of Judgment, Weltanschauung entered the English language in 1868 its naturalized form as “worldview.” Ten years later, the German term itself gained currency as a loan word in Anglo-American academic discourse. Since their mid-nineteenth-century beginnings, both Weltanschauung and worldview have flourished, and become significant terms in the thought and vocabulary of thinking people in the English-speaking world.

    Throughout the nineteenth century, therefore, Weltanschauung became enormously popular. By the 1890s, the Scottish theologian James Orr could say that as a concept, it had become “in a manner indispensable.”[5] It is no wonder, then, that Orr himself, as well as Abraham Kuyper, capitalized on its notoriety as a convenient and potent expression to configure their respective versions of a comprehensive Christian worldview of Calvinist persuasion.

    Naugle also cites Chesterton’s striking remark on significance of the term (which also hints at its tie-in with the older term, philosophy):

    But there are some people, nevertheless — and I am one of them — who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether, in the long run, anything else affects them.”

    In short, rhetorical gambits that have tried to stigmatise the term as a dogmatising projection by those branded with the scarlet label, Religious Right or the like, fail. So long as people have a framework that tries to make sense of significant aspects of the world and to orient themselves therein, or claim to know or understand significant things about the world, they have a worldview.

    Which is therefore open to significant consideration informed by philosophical themes.

    Where, too, particular propositions, beliefs and disbeliefs — including the assertions of agnosticism or “positive form” or “negative form” atheism do not stand in isolation. They are part of worldviews. Indeed, that should be obvious from the existential and logical implications of the claims of certain new atheists — a fading but still significant movement — that their disbelief in God should be regarded as default (often on their assertion that it is those who make a positive assertion who have a burden of “proof”).

    Such claims bristle with far-reaching worldview import. (And, as is usual, if the unexamined life is not worth the living, unexamined metaphysics are not worth thinking.)


  3. 3

    Anyone who is drilled for 15 + years in the education system, to think in terms of material and fact, cause and effect, things being forced, will naturally have a materialist worldview. And the political application of materialism is socialism.

    The only real solution is to teach the difference between fact and opinion in school, which is already an established education goal. But then learn it more precisely with the creationist conceptual scheme.

    1. Creator / chooses / spiritual / subjective / opinion
    2. Creation / chosen / material / objective / fact

    So imagine what would happen if the creationist conceptual scheme were taught in school.

    Then in the first place it is a question if students would accept it, because there is a very deep psychological obsession with making good and evil out to be facts. Students may just rebel and discard it.

    But say it is accepted, then there would be a general atmosphere of acceptance of the validity of personal opinions, as distinct from matters of fact.

    Materialism, socialism, would be gone. Students would just choose personal opinions, and it would be obvious that everyone should pay dedicated attention to subjective issues, as in religion. And by paying dedicated attention to it, and praying to God, they would produce better personal opinions.

    And then you would probably still get a lot of evil, evil of the kind that is dangerously exciting and tempting. Straightforward greed and lust. But not this kind of systematic evil of materialism / socialism that is based on insanity, because of throwing out subjectivity.

    And intelligent design theory would be accepted as a matter ofcourse, based on accepting the fact that choice is real. Everyone who accepts choice is a reality of physics, also supports some form of intelligent design theory, just because it makes perfect sense.

    So simply by teaching the diference between fact and opinion the major problems are solved.

  4. 4
    paige says:

    KF, thank you for the welcome.

    I have no desire to get into an in-depth philosophical discussion about religion and world views. What I look at is whether or not a person’s worldview, and how they apply it, can cause harm to others or to our society. Every religion has people with extreme views that, in my opinion, can cause harm. This includes extreme views of atheism.

    If a worldview does not cause any harm, the best thing for society is to tolerate and protect people following these worldviews. Regardless of the “truth” of the worldview.

  5. 5
    Viola Lee says:

    I second both the welcome and Paige’s point of view.

  6. 6
    paige says:

    Just a correction to my last paragraph.

    “ If the application of a worldview does not cause any harm, the best thing for society is to tolerate and protect people following these worldviews. Regardless of the “truth” of the worldview.”

    You don’t tolerate and protect a worldview. You tolerate and protect how someone applies it.

  7. 7
    Viola Lee says:

    Yes, it is how beliefs turn into actions that is important.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Paige, this is a bit cross-threaded, but so it is. I suggest, on your concern, that people do harm because of the moral hazard of being human. We are finite, fallible, morally struggling, too often stubborn and ill-willed. This can be reinforced by deeply flawed views that open the door to injustice and may destabilise the cultural buttresses of lawfulnness, liberty and the civil peace. That civil peace of justice is marked by the due balance of rights, freedoms and duties. In that context, it is in the interests of the community to support the principles of that civil peace, starting with recognising the inescapable, self-evident duties to truth, right reason, prudence, sound conscience, neighbour, fairness, justice etc. (Even one who objects, must appeal to our duty to gain rhetorical traction.) In that context, a society that while it acknowledges freedom of opinion, promotes soundness, good governance and liberty under just law, will be more stable and long-run sustainable than one that yields the intellectual, educational and media high ground to those who would substitute licence, anarchy and libertinism or particular interests and advantages for the due balance of rights, freedoms and duties. (Here, I often point to the consequences of having dehumanised our living posterity in the womb, 800+ millions in 40+ years, the worst holocaust in history, which, sadly, proceeds apace.) In that context, education in worldviews and comparative difficulties is of significant value. KF

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One of the things that haunt me:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State [ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. [–> the issue of competence and character as qualifications to rule] The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction [–> the sophists, the Demagogues, Alcibiades and co, etc]; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable [–> implies a need for a corruption-restraining minority providing proverbial salt and light, cf. Ac 27, as well as justifying a governing structure turning on separation of powers, checks and balances], and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)


  10. 10
    paige says:


    Paige, this is a bit cross-threaded, but so it is. I suggest, on your concern, that people do harm because of the moral hazard of being human. We are finite, fallible, morally struggling, too often stubborn and ill-willed. This can be reinforced by deeply flawed views that open the door to injustice and may destabilise the cultural buttresses of lawfulnness, liberty and the civil peace.

    Agreed. But even if the views are deeply flawed, why shouldn’t they be tolerated and protected if the application of these views does no harm?

    Obviously Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Native spiritualism, atheism and many more can’t all be correct. But as long as the application of these do no harm, and are not forced on others, shouldn’t they all be tolerated and protected?

    In other words, where does supporting your worldview end, and prohibiting another’s worldview begin?

  11. 11
    EDTA says:

    >But even if the views are deeply flawed, why shouldn’t they be tolerated and protected if the application of these views does no harm?

    My first question is, who gets to decide what is harm, and whether harm is being done? Different worldviews will answer that question differently, clearly each seeing their worldview as not doing any harm. How do we resolve that, in the absence of any global worldview we all agree on?

  12. 12
    jerry says:

    But as long as the application of these do no harm

    In other words, where does supporting your worldview end, and prohibiting another’s worldview begin?

    Communism and socialism have a track record of hurting people. Should any worldview that includes either be prohibited?

    Should any worldview that prohibits free speech be prohibited? There is a contradiction here because those who are against the prohibition of free speech are then sanctioning those who would eliminate the protectors of free speech.

    We are currently in world where power is increasingly being used to control others and prohibit free speech

    Those who advocate “Can’t we all just get along” are then met by a substantial sub population that want to impose their will on everyone.

    It gets very messy quickly.

  13. 13
    paige says:


    My first question is, who gets to decide what is harm, and whether harm is being done?

    I agree, this is the biggest question. Some harms are easy to discern. But once we dispense with those, others become more subjective, and some harms may not surface for years.

    Different worldviews will answer that question differently, clearly each seeing their worldview as not doing any harm. How do we resolve that, in the absence of any global worldview we all agree on?

    We don’t. All we can do is to grow, learn, experiment and learn from mistakes. But if we start from the point of tolerating and protecting different worldview applications until they clearly demonstrate harm, then it is my opinion that we as a society will benefit.

  14. 14
    paige says:


    Communism and socialism have a track record of hurting people. Should any worldview that includes either be prohibited?

    There has never really been a real example of communism so it would be hard to say. But my personal belief is that true communism simply is not compatible with human nature.

    Socialism is a different case. The Scandinavian countries, NZ, Canada and several others would be considered to be far more socialist than the US, but I can’t agree that they are causing harm to their citizens. Are they perfect? Of course not.

    I will try to respond to the rest later but I have to go paint my basement before it gets dark.

  15. 15
    jerry says:

    Socialism is a different case. The Scandinavian countries, NZ, Canada and several others would be considered to be far more socialist than the US, but I can’t agree that they are causing harm to their citizens. Are they perfect? Of course not.

    Nonsense. They are free market economies.

    Where did you ever get the notion they are socialistic countries?

  16. 16
    Viola Lee says:

    A response to two posts on slightly different subjects.

    I think it is more useful to be more specific about actions and about what good or harm they might be do. As Paige said, if we are in agreement, then perhaps it’s not important what from what worldview we are deriving or supporting our actions.

    For instance, let’s take the national interstate system, to take something that is perhaps not likely to be controversial. Although not everyone directly benefits from it by driving on it, everyone benefits, I think, from the overall economic value of having a reliable and efficient system for transporting goods. Does it make any difference if an atheist and a Christian might have different reasons for caring about the overall social good if they agree that the system is worth being supported by our government.

    And a related question: is the interstate system an example of socialism because it is built and maintained by the federal government? Does the label “socialism” cast too broad a net of judgment? Would we not be better off looking, again, at specifics and see where agreement might exist rather than using labels like “atheist” or “socialism” to divide us without looking at actual actions and details?

  17. 17

    Kairosfocus is going for “good” opinion again, and taking freedom of opinion for granted.

    Free speech is attacked at universities, attacked by big tech, and government. That is reality.

    It is very obvious that the whole concept of personal opinion must be supported intellectually, defended against the fact obsessed materialists / socialists.

  18. 18
    EDTA says:

    I am not as concerned about the aspects of society that are “down in the noise” as they say. I’m focused on the big things: rapid growth of government, rapidly growing division in our society (US), and so on. The things that are dividing and weakening us. For me, all these issues are critical.

  19. 19
    jerry says:

    is the interstate system an example of socialism because it is built and maintained by the federal government?

    No. It was not build nor is it maintained by the federal government. It is financed by the federal government and managed to some extent by federal bureaucrats. Three things I am aware of that are socialistic in the US are the military, veterans hospitals and Amtrak. There is also some policing operations such as border patrol and customs. But not too much else. Does the Post Office count? There are some large government financial bureaucracies that deal with the private sector such as for mortgages.

    Locally, nearly every functional jurisdiction has policing powers and such things as road maintenance and building. But here a lot is contracted out and not run by any local government. Collecting trash in much of the country is financed locally but very often uses private businesses.

    Very little is produced by governments except some critical services and often these are actually done by private organizations.

  20. 20
    Viola Lee says:

    Yes, EDTA, but I’m trying to get to more specifics and less “division by label”. Only by getting more specific can potential middle ground issues be worked out.

    And I think the tendency towards broad labels, be they about worldviews, religions, political parties, political philosophies, etc. are major obstacles to progress being made.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    Paige, freedom of expression covers freedom to speak, teach, publish, believe, advocate etc, though for example defamation is a limit, so is fraud, likewise confidentiality, privacy, protection of minors, obscenity, despoiling the public with graffiti, wartime or even peacetime national security etc. I have not advocated arbitrary censorship or suppression or crushing freedom of conscience — though as one convinced regarding harm of ganja, I would have continued to say that posing that as a sacrament does not prevail over the public interest; now it looks like the best I can hope for is strict regulation to restrict the harm similar to alcohol. What I have advocated is that we recognise and teach well established civics, logic, history etc. and broadly recognise that the due balance of rights, freedoms and duties forming the civil peace of justice is not a suicide pact. KF

    PS: One is free to be a Communist, though not to subvert government or play terrorist or riot etc. It is sad such now have to be spelled out.

  22. 22
    paige says:


    Nonsense. They are free market economies.

    I didn’t say that they were socialist countries. Just that they take a socialist approach to many things that the US doesn’t.

    Did I ever mention that I hate painting? 🙂

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    VL, do you mean to require differentiating Stalinism, Maoism, Fidelism, Hitlerism, Fascism, Alinskyism? Those would be traditions under a common frame tracing to Marx, all dangerous. All, leading to lawless oligarchy. Going beyond, the central planning, state domination issue was settled 30 years ago, von Mises was right. Markets under responsible law are the way to go. Distractions and agit prop agendas that distract from that result after 70 years of struggle and north of 100 millions needlessly dead, are doubly dangerous and utterly, suicidally foolish. It remains the case that no central network of the self anointed can plan an economy on the whole with any soundness, the information is too subjective, too dispersed, too perishable, too dependent on intuition, even ephemeral. The processor architecture challenge is decisive. KF

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    EDTA, you are in the early mid-game of a 4th generation, agit prop and lawfare heavy, civil war. It is a major theatre of a global slow burn war that is currently low kinetic. You have faced a black theme colour, colour revolution push with connivance of key classes and institutions. That was a Pearl Harbor analogue, leading to apparent running the geostrategic board. Now you are entering a Midway-Guadalcanal phase with heavy losses to be expected, but the forces that tried to pull the US into a radical state over-stretched badly. The result will be their crushing, grinding defeat. However, I suspect this may be a distraction that opens the way for a China blue ocean breakout, which will be bad news for the world. Iran looks to be surging too, but it will also fail. KF

  25. 25
    jerry says:

    People confuse the welfare state with socialism. Social security and Medicare are not socialism nor are poverty expenditures.

    Socialism has to do with worker’s control of production or second best, government control of production. This has a long history of failure. Related to this is strong government control/regulations of private corporations so that they are essentially government entities.

    Some countries spend more on welfare programs than others. That is not socialism. If one wants to debate the amount of welfare, that is a different debate. A different debate from either of these is the amount of government financing of external projects such as the interstate system and the regulations over these projects.

    When the private corporation ends up essentially under government control, a different form of socialism happens. This is what happened in Mussolini’s Italy snd Hitler’s Germany.

    If one wants to understand socialism, I recommend Joshua Muravchik’s book, Heaven on Earth.

    But the real danger today may be coming from a different direction, control of the economy from oligarchs. They are not interested in getting along but are exercising control as gate keepers of information. They either just rigged or bought an election and are not interested in sharing freedom with the average person.

    Hundreds of billions of dollars each year are being invested all over the world in technology startups with the hope they will be bought out by one of the oligarchs. It’s a threat no one knows where it will go.

  26. 26
    EDTA says:

    VL @ 20,
    Yes, I don’t care for labels much either. Different people associate them with different sets of specifics, and they cause problems that way.

    Not quite sure what you are referring to when you speak of specifics on middle-ground issues.

  27. 27
    Viola Lee says:

    FWIW, I have some experience as a negotiator and mediator. One of the first steps is to find out what facts people can agree, and also to find out what people’s needs and desires in terms of outcomes are. It is a mistake to jump right to proposed solutions because they are often inadequately informed and divide people into for or against too soon.

    I’m trying to think of an issue that I have enough background on to speak knowledgeably, without making it too controversial and already severely dichotomized, and without making the issue itself the topic of discussion rather than the meta-issue of how to people with differing perspectives work together to solve problems. I can’t think of any right now, but I’m open to a trial subject.

    I’m planning on replying to Jerry about sone of what he wrote, so perhaps will occur to me then.

  28. 28
    paige says:

    I think the first step in understanding is to stop labelling people. Calling someone a Christian, a Muslim, an atheist, a Darwinist, a materialist, a Marxist, a Democrat, a Republican or any number of other labels only enhances divisiveness.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    Paige, we understand by marking appropriate distinctions, and applying labels. That linguistically associated activity is a key to our success as a species. KF

  30. 30
    paige says:


    Paige, we understand by marking appropriate distinctions, and applying labels.

    We also bias and prejudice our interactions with others by applying labels. When we apply a label, that comes with a stereotype and a generalization. I make every attempt, not always successfully, to avoid applying labels to people.

  31. 31
    EDTA says:

    I have found that if I dodge people’s attempts at labeling me, they start asking questions. After the second question, they say, “Oh, so you’re a ________”, and the label has been applied. So people won’t even let other people get away without being labeled…

  32. 32
    paige says:

    EDTA, yes, I have noticed that as well. And, all too often, this label is used to dismiss any argument I have been making, without any attempt to counter any of the points I have made.

  33. 33
    Viola Lee says:

    Of course the whole process of abstracting and creating words for concepts is critical to our cognitive abilities, but, as is often said, the map is not the territory, and the real world is full of spectrums of shades of grey that shouldn’t be obscured by too much of a black-and-white approach. There are some places (math for example) where absolutely clear distinctions are necessary. On the other hand, dividing people into, for instance, being good-looking or not, as a dichotomy, would obviously be very untrue to reality for multiple reasons.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:


    >>We also bias and prejudice our interactions with others by applying labels.>>

    1: This is possible, tied to the moral hazards of being human.

    2: However, it is not inevitable and utterly frustrating of observing, recognising, naming and defining characteristics of people that are material and even vital to our functioning in society.

    3: This brings up Reidian common sense: while we are prone to error, our senses, common sense, investigation and reasoning are capable of helping us to form accurate though limited knowledge, understanding and discernment.

    4: If we deny such, our ability to function in society and the wider world collapses.

    >>When we apply a label, that comes with a stereotype and a generalization.>>

    5: The priority of “stereotype” in the list and joining it to “generalization,” implies a negative connotation to both. This is unwarranted. Whist stereotyping that is inappropriate is possible, our ability to apprehend truth and infer associated categories and concepts allows us to learn and use truths about others.

    6: For example, it is a generalisation to recognise that one is a living member of the class, human being as distinct from a dead member of that class or an agouti or iguana or nesting hummingbird in the backyard.

    7: Similarly, one may accurately and relevantly infer that one is part of a family and a community involving other living members of the class human being, who are prone to death. It is of course vital to recognise and respond appropriately to death.

    8: All of these pivot on generalisation, recognising class membership, distinctions, individuality and more.

    9: In short, the generalised — yup, your remark is self-referential — negative response to generalisation and abstracta that are involved fails. Some generalisations may reflect inappropriate stereotyping, bias and injustice, others are sound and necessary.

    10: Going further, your assertion implies strictures on inductive reasoning, inference on empirical support that may warrant a conclusion but does not strictly demonstrate it. This is the pivot of science, legal practice, management and many other vital activities in a functioning civilisation.

    11: Perhaps, a better way to put the concern is that one may make hasty, faulty, inappropriate generalisations, and needs to practice prudence and fairness in reasoning through appropriate use of first principles of right reason.

    12: Already, we see worldview level considerations and comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power at work.

    >> I make every attempt, not always successfully, to avoid applying labels to people.>>

    13: Already, “people” is a label and a generalisation, implying membership in the class, human beings.

    14: That on your premise, you fail at the outset suggests that the maxim you are trying to apply cannot consistently be applied to society, leading to chaos. Where, yes, I am highlighting Kant’s categorical imperative as a test that here identifies a potentially damaging error.

    15: I suggest, while the wish to avoid prejudice or bigotry etc is commendable — and note how many generalisations lurk in that — adjustment is in order, towards a better balance that will be more workable.


  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    VL, you have indeed seen an aspect or two of a problem. However, I do note that there are in fact reasonable principles of aesthetics applicable to attractiveness [and much more broadly to beauty], that for example plastic surgeons use in their work. Marquardt face mask analysis is a relevant case in point. Obviously, physical attractiveness is not inner beauty, virtue, wisdom etc, but it is an objective issue that can be a significant challenge for people. KF

    PS: If you doubt, notice what taking a reasonably attractive face through a photoshop session with the mask does Of course, that is by no means what is feasible through surgery! Note, the ratio phi is deeply embedded.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:


    I want to put on the table the issue of self-evidence, as a pivot of right reason. The concept is that there are things that, once we are mature enough based on experience of life and thought, we recognise as so, as necessarily so, and that on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial.

    A good example is, hold up your hand, with the middle three fingers up and thumb and little finger down, a three and a two. Now, put up all five: ||| + || –> ||||| This five is self evidently the sum of three and two. You can perceive an empirical reality, you can conceive and label truths, you can see that it is undeniable on pain of manifest absurdity.

    A slightly more advanced case is Josiah Royce’s E: Error exists. Obviously, if you went 2 + 3 = 4 or the like and got a red X for it in school, you recall, accurately [that’s memory telling truth!], the experience that error exists. There is also a general agreement on this, a point Royce highlighted. Yes, sometimes a social consensus is right.

    However, E is also undeniably, self-evidently true.

    To see that, try to deny it, ~E. That means that error does not exist, i.e. that if someone affirms, E, error exists, s/he has made . . . an error. Oops, the attempt to deny E immediately implies that error does in fact exist. E is undeniably, self evidently true.

    There are many other such truths. However, they cannot amount to enough to build a worldview. Indeed, not even mathematics can be constructed on self evident truths only. In C19, we learned that for Geometry, alternative axioms are possible and meaningful. In C20, it was further discovered that no complex system comparable to Arithmetic can have a set of axioms that is complete and consistent. Worse, there is no scheme to construct limited sets of axioms that are guaranteed consistent.

    Sciences, which are inductively founded, are weaker.

    So, yes, we find that paradigms and schools of thought are reasonable faith, pivoting on responsible investigation but open to correction and revision for good cause.

    Cultural, political and common sense systems of thought are similarly faith ventures, pivoting on first plausibles that on the whole are plausible, not self evident. Though, the self evident first truths and duties allow us to test with natural plumb lines.

    Yes, we all live by faith, the issue is which one, why.

    In that context, worldviews emerge as the frameworks we have for life, pivoting on first plausibles. They all bristle with difficulties and comparative difficulties [outlined in the OP] becomes a key method.


  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: E is highly significant. It is true, accurate description of reality. It is warranted to undeniable certainty. It is knowledge [though rather humbling]. So, schemes of thought that deny reality of objective truth, knowledge etc fail.

  38. 38
    William J Murray says:

    When your worldview conflicts with self-evident truths, and resulting necessary truths, it doesn’t matter how plausible it is, or how it stacks up with comparable worldviews; your worldview is wrong. It may b very useful; it is still wrong.

    The inductive and implication process of worldview-building must conform with self-evident truths and necessary truths stemming from those self-evident truths. Otherwise, you have abandoned the plumb-lines, and no appeal to consequences, common sense, common human experience, comparative difficulties, implication or inductive logic can save your worldview from being wrong.

  39. 39
    paige says:

    KF, I was referring to how people often apply labels to the people they are debating. If the discussion is about LGBQ rights, of what value is labelling one side a right wing social Christian and the other side a a left wing progressive? Or when discussing health care, of what value is labelling one side a socialist and the other a capitalist? Is it not possible to discuss the pros and cons of contentious issues without applying labels to the individuals?

    The only purpose of applying labels to individuals is to sow division and discredit the opposition. When people apply labels to others during discussions where there is no consensus, they have no desire to understand the viewpoint of the other side.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:


    I hear you that some labels are less than helpful, but even flawed labelling such as the conventional left-centre-right spectrum has some utility. I find it better to think in terms of the more historically anchored band, autocracy, oligarchy, constitutional democracy, anarchy/state of nature.

    The issue on socialism is that socialistic systems tend to ideologically driven oligarchy and oligarchies strongly tend to become lawless. Also, hostility to the market place has been a strong trend among the college educated for maybe 150 years, but centrally planned economies or over bureaucratised economies have tended to mismanage economies, especially in a time driven by innovation. The use of issues to incrementally push us back into ideological oligarchies that then become abusive is a serious problem.

    I have pointed to what restrains that tendency, recognising the built in principles of moral government constituting a law coeval with our humanity and pivoting on first duties. That then governs civil law and administration by providing plumb lines to test what has become a crooked yardstick.

    Beyond that, I point out that economies are scarcity-/value- allocating networks, implying a choice of planning architecture. Widely dispersed through firms and households in many markets, or strongly concentrated in inevitably politicised bureaucracies. The evidence is, that the information is too dispersed, too perishable, too intuitive, too locked into unusual insights to be effectively concentrated in a timely fashion. Entrepreneurship is real and makes a huge difference, as the rise of ICT since the mid 70’s shows.

    Government can contribute as the space programme and DARPANET — now Internet — show, but that is not to be taken as showing that bureaucracy can manage economies properly. Where, once power is concentrated, it is so addictive that getting it back is a generational struggle, often bloody.

    So, though there are issues, there is reason why those concepts and their names come up.

    And much more.


  41. 41
    William J Murray says:

    Paige said:

    The only purpose of applying labels to individuals is to sow division and discredit the opposition.

    I doubt that’s the deliberate intention of all but a very few people. I think people deliberately use such labels because they actually believe such labels apply. Psychologically speaking, I think that in conversations like these, categorizing people under a label makes it easy to use well-rehearsed arguments, copy-paste clips, and talking points in a debate.

    It’s really hard to understand and properly respond to any individual perspective or argument; it’s much easer to just label them X and trot out all the old arguments against X.

  42. 42
    Viola Lee says:

    WJM writes, “It’s really hard to understand and properly respond to any individual perspective or argument; it’s much easer to just label them X and trot out all the old arguments against X.”

    There are certainly ample examples of this here at times.

  43. 43
    jerry says:

    Here is a current article in the City Journal about the resistance to Big Tech/MSM (are these labels?) who are suppressing freedom of speech.

    A history as well as an attempt to show what is happening currently. Some good quotes from Milton Friedman

    We shouldn’t be surprised. Free speech and free markets have long been entwined. Both emerged out of the Enlightenment; both emphasized the absence of coercion and the importance of choice. Economist Milton Friedman even argued that it was free markets that made all other freedoms, including that of expression, truly possible.

    “Government controls over people almost always involve compulsions and prohibitions against their ownership, use, and exchange of goods and services. Control of the press, speech, and religion necessarily follows the controlled market, because, in one way or another, all of them also directly concern the use of property,”

    he said.

    If Capitalism (freedom) has any drawbacks, is the answer just more capitalism (freedom?)

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerry, the answer to problems of the free market is sound governance in corporations and civil society. This includes first, rule of law backed by a sound concept of law rooted in our first duties, i.e. justice. Next, sound bookkeeping and accounting systems, with sound law of contract, independent and high integrity courts, and reasonable regulation in the public interest. In that context, externalities can be managed, commons can be preserved from over-exploitation, and more. Such need to be further backed by free, independent media and civil society as well as genuine academic freedom. Nothing much, just the dusty old rubbish currently being carted away by our new massas and their minions. What could go wrong? KF

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One of the dirty secrets of thinking in worldviewish terms is the matter of the ruling vision and passions of the heart. Here, Paul cuts to the heart (!) of the matter, in a riff on Jesus’ words recorded in Jn 3:

    Jn 3: 19 ” . . . And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

    Paul, praying:

    Eph 1:17 . . . that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you . . .

    Then, in a more sombre tone, he counsels:

    Eph 4: 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.

    18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

    20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,6 which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness . . .

    All of this echoes themes in that all-time greatest sermon, given on a mountain in Galilee:

    Matt 6: 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust5 destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

    24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money [–> as a god, Mammon].

    Here, the theme is, that the condition of our hearts, the controlling centre of our passions and visions, is pivotal for good or ill. A heart blinded by warped standards that put a crooked yardstick up in the place of what is straight, upright and accurate, becomes devious, self-deluding and depraved, benumbed, besotted, debased and ultimately reprobate. Virtue enlightened by a sound conscience is a condition of right reason seeking to live by the truth in love, purity and The Spirit.

    So, it is unsurprising that there would be a contention of light and darkness wracking our civilisation today, for it is patent that many confuse darkness for light, crooked for straight, being addicted to perverse evils.

    It is time for a fresh opening up — indeed, a new awakening — to truth and right.


    PS: Thomas Sowell’s sobering counsel:

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