The Rational-legal Argument

The case is about definitions- from definitions we get benefits—if there were no benefits associated with being married this would not be a case. What was the intention of associating marriage with benefits; it is to support some sort of belief—we believe that marriages are relationships that are of moral foundation. It builds a sense of unity among people—even if it is only between two people—it really takes us out of a war of all against all, the state of nature, and into a state of civil relations between each of our kind. Marriages symbolize the very structure of society e.g. there is a “head of household” section on tax forms, symbolizing the republican nature of our society—we form units of shared beliefs and values, as well as shared life, liberty and property, and each of those units have representation. A marriage license is a symbol of unified wealth-whether it be in a monetary, intellectual, propagatory terms. Moreover, the marriage signifies a relation of mutual contributors, where the terms of wealth are pooled together. When marriages are denied to parties it compromises the fundamental right to property.

The bottom line, the definition of marriage should be disassociated with the dogmas and social mores that blow with the wind.

This being said, the court cases will not decide whether or not marriage between homosexual individuals is allowed, rather it will decide if it is a state right to define marriage. This is a case of federalism and unification of terms.


Two quotes and Philosophical Rambles

“The time is always right to do what is right.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

When we think of right, we think of wrong; they work as opposites and the difference between the two influences our decisions. The difference between right and wrong can be answered by various moral theories. When we look at morality, we think of the decisions’ effect on others; “does it conform with my set of moral principles?” But are we faced with moral dilemmas with our everyday decisions? Yes. We have to embody our moral code with every decision. If we lack consistency then we lose purpose and integrity to ourselves. Everything we do must be oriented to the greatest good, or “what is right”; and that also applies to the mundane tasks we encounter daily.

At this point you may wonder “what is the morality of eating an apple?” Well, eating an apple over the bag of potato chips is, on surface, a question of nutrition and physical wellness; but in a deeper sense, that apple may help you to lead a more healthy lifestyle which will prolong your life, extending your ability to do what is right. Getting enough sleep→ optimal functioning→ greater number of people influenced positively. If you were in the army, peak physical fitness must be acquired and held in order to function properly and effectively in order to respond to whatever comes your way. Though the army responds to orders, us civilians respond to the good of others, our sense of what is right. Every decision we make must be directed towards what is right, so we can respond at any time, which according to Martin Luther King, is right now, to do what is right.

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.” — Sandra Carey

            As an amateur philosopher, I am in the field of wisdom. As a college student, I am in the world of knowledge. Wisdom is applied knowledge adapted to contexts, situations, and various “ologies”. From the study of knowledge, we can gather connections and theories, generalities and conclusions. Wisdom is the culmination and conglomeration of all these. Knowing facts alone, does not orient your thinking, it merely consumes space in your brain. You may be able to rattle off facts and figures to your superiors in order to succeed in your career, but it is the ability to use those facts and figures and to apply them to your life, which really matters.

So we can look at this quote and apply it to this course or our whole liberal arts “education”. You may be able to spew out answers to the questions of our tests and succeed in terms of grades, but we never truly think about what it means in context to our lives. We apply all we learn to the way we live. Each academic field employs the same process of understanding to its respective body of knowledge. Connections between fields are the goal of a liberal education. The ability to make connections between fields is the same ability that we need to adaptable in our own lives.

A spinoff from Socrates: A fact not learned is a fact not worth knowing.

-Daniel Wohlberg-

On Reason

A majority of philosophers hold that man is rational, almost to the point that it goes without saying. They usually use a deductive method and prove it by the hierarchy of life– basic life (plants), beasts or animals, and man…what separates ourselves from the lower forms of life is the ability to reason. There are two directions I would like to explore from this: is this a correct assumption and given this hierarchy what lies above man? The latter is impossible to come to a conclusion because we don’t understand what is beyond reason. Aristotle and other ancient philosophers point to forms and perfections. Philosophers of religion and mysticism point to a transcendent being, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. Some political thinkers believe that not all men are rational. Descartes and other modern thinkers hold that reason and thought are all illusions. So this problem is one for later consideration, so I will delve into the former and ask, “is this a correct assumption?”.

In my view this is the hierarchy:

Basic life- living/surviving;

Beasts – preservation of life, life according to the senses, impulse;

Man-Quality of life/reason?

Beasts rely on impulse of the senses because their reality is of a physical nature. It requires no thought to live within a physical reality. Man exists in the physical reality and a reality that is largely constructed by mental aberrations– religions, economies, political systems, social constructions. We only act on impulse within our reality, according to the reality we mentally created. We rely on impulse to preserve our lives within this reality. Yes, the reality in which we live requires thought to react, (because without thought you wouldn’t exist in man’s mentally established reality), but it is still merely thought…just because we live in two realities, the physical based on the senses and the mental based on thought, does it really mean we are rational?

So I ask again, is rationality a trait of man? Or do we act out of preservation within our separate reality?

Impulse is the preservation of life according to the senses. Preservation of life only concerns your immediacy, one’s own self and those around them. Impulse is largely short-term thinking/understanding. Reason is the preservation of others, it works to a higher end and not just the preservation of life; it is characterized by consistency, commitment, understanding, causal decisions, and is long-term in nature.

Today we live in the moment, act on impulse, understand superficially, and our actions lack direction. This is hardly rationality. The ability to reason is a trait of man, but not all men have the ability to reason.

-Daniel Wohlberg-


“My purpose is but to show the folly of endeavoring to prove Infinity itself or even our conception of it, by any such blundering ratiocination as that which is ordinarily employed.

“Nevertheless, as an individual, I may be permitted to say that I cannot conceive Infinity, and am convinced that no human being can. A mind not thoroughly self-conscious–not accustomed to the introspective analysis of its own operations–will, it is true, often deceive itself by supposing that it has entertained the conception of which we speak. In the effort to entertain it, we proceed step beyond step–we fancy point still beyond point; and so long as we continue the effort, it may be said, in fact, that we are tending to the formation of the idea designed; while the strength of the impression that we actually form or have formed it, is in the ratio of the period during which we keep up the mental endeavor–of fulfilling (as we think) the idea–of putting the finishing stroke (as we suppose) to the conception–that we overthrow at once the whole fabric of our fancy by resting upon some one ultimate and therefore definite point. This fact, however, we fail to perceive, on account of the absolute coincidence, in time, between the settling down upon the ultimate point and the act of cessation in thinking.–In attempting, on the other hand, to frame the idea of a limited space, we merely converse the processes which involve the impossiblity.” – “Eureka: A Prose Poem” by Edgar Allan Poe

If we accept that we cannot truly conceive of infinity, how miraculous is it, then, that we can name infinity? I believe that this is the most remarkable of all the traits that humanity exhibits- the ability to name and discuss that which we cannot comprehend it its totality. This is the basis for all compromise and all peace. Simply because we cannot understand an idea or concept in all its complexity, it does not then follow that we cannot accept that idea or concept.



Ideas Part II

J.S. Mill believed that no idea was so radical that it ought to be suppressed, whether it be by political or social censorship. Some ideas are just not palatable and readily accepted by the current social or political context in which it is addressed; every idea has the potential to be correct and no idea is infallible.

What views do you censor in your lives?

I confess that I, until recently, censored myself away from the current music scene; deafening my ear against most music from this side of the turn of the 20th century. I found an outlet into a realm of music that I vowed to never get invested in, this was the band Mumford and Sons. Their songs are largely acoustic and prominently use lead vocals and folksy harmonies. The lyrics were not superficial, the generalization I held against this era, but rather deep and meaningful. They told timeless stories like Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel and the classic artists I fell in love with.

But lucky for me, there are no political or social agents that censor and bar me from listening to Mumford and Sons. But what if there was and I never had the chance to listen to them and the other bands that followed? I would have missed out and I would still be listening to Romantic/Post Romantic composers and classic rock artists that reflect similar qualities to those of their classical forebearers. I wouldn’t know anything else. Nothing to look forward to. No new album. No new lyrics to let my mind wander; no new insight.

There are no new ideas, just variations of previously voiced ideas; they occur as transformations of practices, beliefs, understanding, and theories. (See gov’t footnote) Reality is a theory and a theory in itself. We make adjustments to our theory, which is how we progress.  The right to voice these ideas is essential to our progress.

-Daniel Wohlberg-

Tribalism to Monarchy; Monarchy to Aristocracy; Aristocracy to Popular Government.

Intro to Philosophy

Philosophy is easy to understand for people who immerse themselves fully into it, but we live in a world that compromises our ability to do this. We are too practical and caught up in fufilling our bodily needs, whether it be satisfying basic means to live or servicing the needs of others. So we will think about the philosophy of these actions but that is the extent of our philosophical dialogue. But I would argue that learning, or at least thinking of philosophy, that is seemingly far from what we care to concern ourselves with, can have profound influential power to govern decisions within our daily lives. What principles tie our decisions together?, what is the nature of society?, what is reality?… ; all are questions that have practical implications.

If you don’t have the time to read philosophy, then at least practice philosophy by an inner dialogue. A great way to think philosophically is to have an inner dialogue with a hypothetical child; the child-parent dialectical approach to philosophy. Approach a problem that a typical, curious child would ask, like, “who made me?”. Take it step by step, continue the series of question and answer, and pretty soon you will be discovering the metaphysical realm of philosophy.  “What is love?”, could lead you to the moral and ethical realm of philosophy; “Why are we here?,  could lead you to a political or social realm of philosophy. The great thing about explaining answers to children is that you have to reduce it to the simplest terms and avoid telling the child about the harsh realities of life (avoiding the superficial, practical thoughts).

-Daniel Wohlberg-

Carry On

It seems to me that in the pursuit of the American Dream, we have forgotten just what that dream is all about. The backlash from this election astounds me. Staunch democrats act as if Jesus himself has come again,  and staunch republicans act as if the end times are approaching at lightning speed. In my opinion, both of these dramatic and drastic reactions reject the American Dream. Although this “dream” has been spoken of so longlingly for so many decades, it has never twice meant exactly the same thing. The beauty of the American Dream is that it is different for every single person. My dream can be drastically different from the dream of a man in California, and yet both of these dreams are equally valid. The one consistent tenet of the American Dream across the years has been this: there is not one perfect way to achieve the American Dream. Success comes in many varieties, many forms, via many routes. The same is true of this country. Simply because, as a nation, we decided upon one path yesterday, that does not mean that we chose either perfection or annihilation. We simply chose a path which we will continue to tread together. This is not the last decision that we will make as a nation. This one decision will not make or break our futures. We do that, with the combination of decisions that we make every day. Americans can not and will not solve division with derision. We will solve division with the understanding that every single one of us walks a different path, and that each of us relies upon the others to cheer us on to success.



Tractatus de Terra

The purpose of this blog is to provoke thought and understanding, reduce reality to fundamental principles, and to engage in philosophical inquiry.

As writers of this blog, we do not feel that we ought to reiterate what is popular, but rather what is right; it is right because it comes from within; nothing from outside of oneself is true unless one believes it to be true.

-Daniel Wohlberg-

Language and Meaning

Recently, I’ve had a “the chicken or the egg?” type problem bothering me. Language is the medium that we use to convey meaning. However, meaning is a building block of language. So which came first? Does language create meaning, or does meaning create language? It seems simple to say, “Naturally, meaning came first.” After all, our words must have motivation behind them. Humans are not born using language; we learn to use words which we associate with various meanings. On the other hand, though, is it entirely true to say that language always develops after meaning? Could language not influence the formation of meaning in a culture? For instance, the word “happy” has not always been associated with a pleasurable emotion. At first, the word simply meant that something was fortuitous or lucky. Over time, the meaning behind this word changed as a new use for it was commonly constructed. Clearly, language and meaning are interdependent entities which rely on one another entirely. But the question remains: Which came first?



Transcendental Masterpiece

Life is a masterpiece, a great work of art. We are all but figures, colors, shapes etc. within this painting. We are the embellishments to the outline the Painter has created. Our goals, purposes, principles, values flow throughout the piece and tie it all together. I have faith that the Painter has not finished his work and let the pigments run, the colors fade, the medium deteriorate, and the frame gather dust.

-Daniel Wohlberg-