Shayne Wissler
“… to understand is, above all, to unify.” – Albert Camus

Core Values

August 01 2015

Proposed core values of rational intellectuals:

  1. Truth and Reason. We live in a knowable universe, but to know truth we must strictly confine ourselves to the realm of reason, i.e. the realm of evidence and logic.
  2. Simplicity. The cutting edge of philosophy consists neither in the arcane nor the superficial, but rather, in brightly illuminating and as completely and correctly as possible the crucial and impactful fundamentals of human knowledge. Exemplifying this are Newton’s Rule I and Rule II.
  3. Openness. Philosophy is a discipline that remains forever open to refinement or to revolution. Such is the nature of any rational discipline: to be confined to the realm of reason is to be open, in principle, to any case that one is wrong. But openness does not mean skepticism and doubt; it does not mean that there is no such thing as knowledge, it means that our deepest principle is to follow reason, which is to follow the evidence where it leads, which means both that we are continually open to new evidence and that we do actually follow reason, that we actually believe that which all evidence and logic indicates as being true. Exemplifying this is Newton’s Rule IV.
  4. Integrity. Whether we be knowers or fools inextricably depends on our intellectual integrity, on our sincerity, for “the true is the whole”; truth is only to be found in the harmonious integration of logic and all experience. To knowingly embrace even a single contradiction is to nullify oneself as a knower. Such a person may be of value in many realms – he may be, say, a good father or employee – but he is worthless in the realm of philosophy.
  5. Rationality. The founding virtue of ethics is necessarily “follow reason”, for there is no rational case that can be made for anything whatsoever without practicing this virtue.
  6. Judgment. Wisdom informs us that our modern institutions are in a state of politicized chaos, particularly in the humanities. Of particular consequence are the institutionalized disciplines of Law and of Philosophy: it is the duty of Law to pursue justice, but it doesn’t; and it is the duty of Philosophy to correct the Law, but it doesn’t. From these and other observations we know that society is deranged, that for all the good that now exists, a great deal of good that might have existed has been destroyed, and is continually being destroyed. Identifying and remedying this destruction is the most urgent emergency that true intellectuals face.
  7. Education. The world is filled with a crushing array of injustice; to fixate on it is to be paralyzed in horror; to fix it demands a disciplined focus on finding and teaching correct principles, for the abatement of widespread injustice depends not merely on identifying it or on crying out over particular injustices ad nauseam, but on creating a principled awareness in a sufficient number of people. Finding and spreading this principled awareness is one’s chief duty as an intellectual.
  8. Sincerity. A sincere concern for what is true necessarily leads one to a concern for what is right, and vice versa. To shun morality while alleging concern with the truth is to be a fraud; to fervently proffer morality while shunning a rigorous concern for what is really true is likewise to be a fraud. Furthermore, to believe in these things is to fight for them, not merely to be held in mind, but to be applied in reality, for rational ethics condones no breach between thought and action. The breach that has been created between science and morality is therefore a very deep perversion – a proper ethic is inextricably related to a proper science.
  9. Boldness. Political correctness is the enemy of truth. Contrary to politeness mongers, the more outrageously barbaric their aims, the more politeness they will demand, for to clearly identify what they are indeed aiming at is to be rude, and the dogma of “civility” is their most convenient form of cover. Boldness governed by sincerity is a virtue; to shrivel in the face of frank injustice is often more a form of cowardly political correctness than of prudence.
  10. Courage. Cynicism and hopelessness are irrelevant neuroses; the only relevant question is: what is the next logical step?
  11. Engagement. Since human beings are limited and since our educational institutions instill us with frank bias, rational engagement with those who disagree is an indispensable means both of honing our own perspective and of finding new allies. Engagement does not mean debate – we do not seek to further our own perspective, but rather, to further the truth, which is far more important than our own ego. In this engagement we strive for a consensus that does not sacrifice individual assent, i.e., a true unity and a total perspective on the truth. Such is the spirit of any science.
  12. Revolution. Institutions are the amplifiers of human belief, turning it into social power. So to believe that truth and justice can ultimately prevail is to believe in forming or reforming institutions, or in forming reforming institutions. The world has seen the power of genius governed by reason, but the power of institutions governed by reason is the final glory of mankind, and is, as yet, unseen.
  13. Legitimate Authority. Legitimate authority flows neither from myth nor government nor the individual; rather, its true source is reason. Therefore, there is an ethical symmetry of government and individuals, where no act of either should be taken with impunity, but should be a humble subject before the altar of rational justification.
  14. Liberty. Just as he who proffers an idea as true has the logical burden of proving it, so too does he who initiates or threatens to initiate an action against another party have the burden of justifying his actions (governments are merely individuals acting in concert, so this holds true for them as well), or if he cannot, to be regarded by all peaceful, rational people as a criminal (or as a tyranny). The rational default is that the individual should be free to take any action that infringes not the actions of another, unless some legitimate reason is brought forth, explaining why this action should be infringed.