Looking-Glass Selves

Personal Reflections

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Monday, August 6, 2018


Natural rights is a social fiction. The problem is that I define freedom as emancipation (freedom) from oppression. You define it as did Aleister Crowley: Do as thou wilt is the whole of the law. We are both using the same word, but we are not in the same ballpark. I try to avoid waxing religious, but I see no alternative. I believe we have God-given rights, not natural rights. Our rights are based solely on God's Will, not on nature. Natural rights originated in Ancient Greek philosophy. Somewhere along the line, it got picked up, and adapted, by certain theists. God is the Innermost Essence of reality. Nature is God's creation. Natural rights is a Peripatetic first principle or, perhaps, a Kantian postulate. It is either accepted, or it is not. As a first principle, you cannot deduce a belief in natural rights from another axiom. Arguing for the interchangeability of rights coming from a Deity or from nature says, in effect, that it makes no difference whether rights are the product of a willful Person or are, instead, an abstraction of that Person's emanation. The principle might work if you buy into Scholastic philosophy. Otherwise, it is just one more idea to add to the marketplace. Anyway, this subject gets more into my academic area, religious studies, than what we usually discuss here. In applying these issues to the so-called real world, it certainly makes a difference whether we are talking about God or nature. You must bee willing to bracket (Husserlian epoché) the objective world and intersubjectively engage only with your like-minded others. Of course, determining whether the First Cause is a volitional Being or merely a force of nature makes a significant difference. That is true in almost any theological discussion. How do you pray to nature? With a Person, there is the possibility of engagement and making a request. How do you make a request to a natural abstraction? You say, “... the important point in praxis is that we have inalienable, inherent rights.” Fine, and how do you know that? For instance, say I made the statement, “the important point in praxis is that termites have inalienable, inherent rights.” Why is the first one true and the second one invalid? Go ahead. Prove one proposition or the other without resorting to a tautological fallacy. To be honest, I don't think that either humans or termites have inalienable, inherent rights. All rights come from God. We have those rights only by His pleasure. If He decided tomorrow to take them away, couldn't He? If so, they are not inalienable or inherent, correct? If not, then God is not sovereign, correct? He is merely a passive instrument of nature. Now, if you want to believe in natural law, natural rights, etc., that is your own business. However, bear in mind that your acceptance of these principles was solely based on a personal decision. In other words, you have not proven anything. What I am suggesting is that, if our rights come from nature, they may be somewhat immutable (assuming that nature remains the same). However, if they come from thinking Personal Deity, those rights can be taken away instantly. In other words, I think that the assumptions required by natural theology require the individual to reject God's sovereignty. Honestly, I doubt whether most believers in natural theology and natural law are fully aware of the implications of their views. If God is sovereign, why can't He take away whatever rights He chooses and, then, either replace them with new rights or give us no rights whatsoever? For one thing, as someone who rejects the existence of natural rights in principle, how does anyone even know that a belief in natural rights isn't merely the product of self-delusion? Common sense is circular reasoning and self-confirming. It is simply a way of saying that a particular idea conforms to one's a priori assumptions. There is no way to test it. What is common sense in one group or society can be non-sense in another. Who gets to define human rights? We have a debate in my social problems classes each semester on the subject. The second textbook we use is called: Social Problems: a Human Rights Perspective. He defines human rights based upon a United Nations document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If you read it carefully, as I have, you will notice that much of it is lifted, sometimes almost verbatim, from the U.S. Bill of Rights. What gives the Universal Declaration of Human Rights its authority? The United Nations. What gives the Bill of Rights its authority? The United States. Say, I wrote my own document, Mark A. Foster's Declaration of human Rights. Who could say that my document — which I hypothetically typed out on one of my computers — has any less authority than either the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Bill of Rights. No one. They are all just human documents. So, what are human rights? Who decides which rights appear in the final draft and which ones are excluded? Now, I am a supporter of human rights. To me, they are deposited in divinely revealed texts. Now, if you accept those texts, they have authority. If not, they are just paper or bits and bytes. However, as I see it, the only Being Who has the authority to determine human rights is God. My sister is ADHD, and she hates it (as do many others). I am Autistic, and I have had constant battles with people in the neurodiversity movement who believe that curing Autism is a kind of genocide. I don't buy it. I yearn for a cure. Whatever benefits there might be to Autism (like intensely working on one's special interests) are outweighed by the pain. I hated my life as a child.