Monday, May 27, 2019

What Is A Person? Further Abortion Thoughts

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." ---The United States Supreme Court, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, widely attributed to Justice Anthony Kennedy

(Author's Note: I can't find a juicy opposing quote. Find your own! I am neither a trained philosopher, nor an expert in Google, nor do I have an encyclopedic memory, despite some claims to the contrary. Who do you think I am, Bryan Cross? [No one would make that mistake.--ed.] I know, right? [At least you have hair.--ed.] For now.)

When you ask a metaphysical realist philosopher--or better yet, someone schooled in the Catholic Philosophical Tradition (CPT) what's wrong with societies today, he or she might point to this quote right here. It's not merely because this case reaffirmed abortion-on-demand in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Look instead at what it says about the nature of reality. We make our own reality. We define it. Words themselves become not expressions of meaning aiming at the truth, but self-expressions of personal desire. Post-modern deconstruction is a great example of this, and another name for it is emotivism. That is, every statement is reduced to an expression of preference. Post-modern deconstruction assumes emotivism, and then speculates. In the end, though, it ends up being a list of reasons why we don't have to listen to an old dead guy, because we don't want to.

Metaphysical realists had always operated under the assumption--to put it in simple terms--that reality was discovered, not made.

Idealism says that all reality originates in the mind. Other ideas, like nominalism (Ockham) and skepticism, (Descartes) undermined people's confidence in their capacity to know reality. Our political system, while encouraging us to be radical individualists and idealists, more fundamentally supposes that a collection of individuals creates the political society, in some sense trading absolute autonomy for the securing of certain rights (see Locke, Hobbes). The older thinkers, meanwhile, believed that the society predates any human political machinations, and no one is absolutely autonomous. Today, we have majoritarian will to power in slightly nicer words (Nietzsche, with some help from John Rawls).

7 justices (and then 5) on the Supreme Court said we can make our own reality, and we eventually went along with it. Then we said, "No one will take away my rights to do with my body what I want!" Conveniently, we re-defined that other body, that other person, as a "blob of cells" (scientism, reductionism). As I am fond of saying, reality has a way of asserting itself. On almost every conceivable issue, from city planning to euthanasia to divorce to alternative families, there will a reckoning. It'll be a reckoning for this arrogance, and it won't matter much who's in power, because true reality will leave us all with egg on our faces.

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