On the Preservation of Species:

A Logical Argument in Support of a Rational Basis for Community including Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Sustainable Happiness for All Sentient Beings in a Hypothetical World

1989 - present

Thomas L Wayburn

The copyright has been removed from this book in recognition of  the principles of Open Source and Anarchist philosophy.  I expect that decent people will not abuse the content to change the meaning or intent.  The reader can determine what I mean by ‘decent’ by reading the book.

Table of Contents


 Chapter 1.  Toward a Rational Social Contract

 Chapter 2.  Emergy and Economics

 Chapter 3.  Toward Axiomatic Morality

 Chapter 4.  Philosophical Assumptions or Articles of Faith

 Chapter 5.  Materialism

 Chapter 6.  Tyranny

 Chapter 7.  Geophagy

 Chapter 8.  Falsity

 Chapter 9.  Pandora’s Box

 Chapter 10.  Proofs of Theorems

 Chapter 11.  A Reformed Society with a Natural  Economy

 Chapter 12.  How Social Change Might Occur

 Appendix I:  Fundamentals of Thermodynamics

 Appendix II.  Social Evils

 Appendix III.  Some Reasonable Objections Considered



GEORGE:  Well, they are people, just like us – from within our own solar system.  Except that their society is more highly evolved.  I mean, they don’t have no wars, they got no monetary system, they don’t have any leaders, because, I mean, each man is a leader.  I mean, each man – because of their technology, they are able to feed, clothe, house and transport themselves equally – and with no effort. – Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Terry Southern, Easy Rider, a film.  (George, an open-minded lawyer and an alcoholic, was played by Jack Nicholson.)

Table of Contents

The Preservation of Species

A New Political Philosophy Is Needed

Political Theory

A Vision of the Future

What Freedom Means to Two Very Different Types of People

The Plan of the Book

Additional Remarks

On Method


Beyond the Comfort Zone

Saying Everything First


Changing My Mind

Disparities of Scale

Not Being Famous Enough To Be Heard or Read

Bias against Visionaries

My Expectations



The Preservation of Species

During the last fifty years it has become apparent that man is capable of ending all life on Planet Earth.  The extinction of the human race is a natural consequence of the exponential growth of Man’s population beyond the Natural Carrying Capacity of Earth.  However, no species has had it in its power previously to so despoil its environment as to jeopardize the posterity of every species.  The band-aid measures proposed by single-issue environmental activist organizations have no chance to prevent this from happening.  The intention of this essay is to present proposals for the consideration of the reader as to what must be done to preserve all species for which it is possible to account including homo sapiens.  This will require fundamental political change.

A New Political Philosophy Is Needed

Ironically and tragically, most Americans are embracing obsolete ideas about society, politics, and economics – grasping with hysterical religious fervor ideas that are failing catastrophically.  We are approaching rapidly the time when the average wealth available for consumption will be no more than the minimum wealth necessary to live without unbearable misery.  Thus, wealth must be shared unless we wish to introduce horrible suffering – more suffering than mankind has even dreamed of.  No amount of prayer in school will have the slightest effect upon this problem and the hundreds of difficulties associated with it.  It is clear, too, that additional social change must accompany wealth-sharing to prevent repetitions of the past and achieve what was originally sought by the last generation of idealists.  It is incredible that almost no one sees that the time has come to dispense with government and leadership as we have always known them.

I believe in the possibility that some of the answers have occurred to me.  Yet I am not a charismatic man, not even a particularly good teacher.  I wish to influence a few people who are capable of teaching others in ways of which I am incapable.  It takes a special sort of person to learn from me.  But, such people exist and I have found a few of them.  This essay is my way of communicating with those people, who, as they say, are separated from everyone in the world by at most six degrees.  The difficulties I expect to encounter and my best expectations are presented below.  Please give me the benefit of the doubt until you have heard the entire argument in favor of reforms that may seem preposterous in an initial encounter.

Political Theory

To evaluate the desirability of a proposed political action, one must understand the vision of the person or group proposing the action.  If the success of the proposed action depends on a large number of people embracing the vision, it is essential that the vision be based on a derivable theory.  For example, Marxism is a promising theory, although not a scientific theory.  Marxism addresses inequities in wealth, but does not address the accumulation of power, except obliquely.  The theory proposed in this essay supplants Marxism; thus Marxism may continue to be an economic-political-social system that has never been tested – regardless of the false reports that it has been adopted by some of the nations that the United States has seen fit to oppress for its own selfish purposes [1].

The vision of the future described here depends on the thesis that continued competition for wealth and power in all of its aspects, including employment, trade, markets, “free” enterprise, acceptance of rewards for what we do or give, hierarchies in business and government, whether appointed from above or elected from below, must inevitably lead to a totalitarian Orwellian nightmare or the complete annihilation of mankind and many other species, whereas voluntary abandonment of competition for wealth and power will lead eventually to the highly desirable future to be described momentarily.

The vision of a desirable future described below is based on three simple moral axioms, namely, respect for the freedom of oneself and others, respect for the environment, including plants and animals, and respect for truth.  [Perhaps, the word “freedom” should be replaced by the word “autonomy”.  Nowadays, the word “freedom” is routinely abused whenever the speaker or writer wishes to represent repression, tyranny, slavery, or worse as something desirable that only we (Americans) possess.  – Chomsky]  These moral axioms are based, in turn, on our innate judgments of aesthetics and reasonableness and our experiential judgment of utility.  One may suspect the author’s aesthetic judgment and reasonableness, but he shall deduce scientifically the consequences of avoiding the recommended reforms.  The theory can be sustained on utility alone.  In this way it becomes a scientific theory subject to falsifiability.  These ideas will be seen as utopian by those who are the true utopianists, like the man who won’t quit smoking because by the time he gets cancer a cure will have been found.

It can be shown that competition for wealth and power (or, what amounts to the same thing, inequality in wealth and power) leads to tyranny, the destruction of the environment, and all types of falsity, including repression of dissent and Orwellian doublethink; whereas equality of wealth and power is beautiful, it is reasonable (every other arrangement can be shown to be unreasonable), and it is practical (inequality causes poverty, crime, war, and other modes of human misery).  Without equality freedom is impossible and without freedom sustainable happiness is impossible.  In Chapter 1, happiness is given a technical definition, following the behavioral psychologists Deci and Ryan [2].  This technical definition is in reasonable accord with ordinary experience.

We should not expect to get out of the mess we are in now without replacing the traditional institutions of money (paper wealth) and trade (particularly trading the time of one's life for money), the idea of “working oneself up”, leadership, law, government, and even the sovereign state itself.  What social activists ordinarily call change is no change at all.  I am talking about real change.

A Vision of the Future

I now wish to describe a state of human society that might be approached after a long series of small changes.  These changes are necessary and sufficient conditions for the sustainable happiness of all of humanity.  First and foremost, the population density should be steady near its optimum.  Since we Americans must reduce our use of energy by 84% or more, people should be living in small decentralized communities with everything within walking distance except for a few light links to nearby communities to effect economies of scale.  Mankind should live in harmony with nature with the compositions of the atmosphere, the oceans, and the soil varying only slightly about desirable steady states.  We must hope that renewable energy technology will supply the equivalent of one kilowatt per capita of high-grade energy, otherwise the future of most of mankind will be grim.  The extinction of the entire human race is a distinct possibility.

Economic enterprises, including the collectives of applied mathematicians who plan the economies, should be owned in equal shares by their participants who are all of one class.  Communicators within the enterprises should be chosen randomly; decisions should be made democratically or by professionals who enjoy no special power or privilege.  These isocratic enterprises will follow the economic plans of their choice.  We should create institutions to encourage enterprise without economic risk.  (Why should we encourage gambling in industry when we deplore it elsewhere?)

Our vast systems of law are ridiculous.  Laws should be replaced by a few simple moral axioms from which right action can be derived easily.  We should embrace rational morals that anyone can follow as opposed to religious superstitions and sexual and pharmacological prudery that no person of spirit can live by.  Dissent should be tolerated and even those who do not accept our rational morality should be accorded the dignity of sovereign heads of state.  Government should be nearly nonexistent except for a few randomly selected spokespersons.  In a planned economy it is crucial to prevent “natural” leaders from arising.  To break the endless cycles of leaders coming to power, becoming corrupt, and being replaced by new leaders after war or revolution, we should abandon the institution of leadership.  Isn't that obvious by now?

People should enjoy contrasts between positives rather than paying for a few days of leisure with weeks of drudgery.  (Presumably, Einstein enjoyed playing the violin without drudging at physics.)  People should not be concerned with what's in it for them, but, rather, with what is interesting to do (to be effective and, therefore happy).  This will liberate for useful endeavor the huge class of working people (perhaps as many as 90% of the working class if we neglect health professionals) who currently are concerned exclusively with how the pie is sliced up – salesmen, marketers, dealmakers, corporate executives, etc. – and those who serve them.  We would have a smaller but better tasting pie.  Generosity, equality, freedom, and intrinsic motivation would replace greed, hierarchy, tyranny, and fear.

Instead of trying to accumulate the most costly economic goods, rational people would be trying to consume as little as possible.  Thus, the need to ration scarce and desirable items with a finite money supply would disappear and with it the need for money.  Money would be obsolete.  Can you imagine how much more leisure you would have if you did useful work but did not have to be concerned with money (and an accounting problem that never ends associated with every aspect of life)!  No checkout lines, no tax forms, no insurance, no checkbooks to balance, no comparison shopping, no commercials on TV!

No one should have to work at something he hates to “earn a living”; that is, one’s livelihood should be non-contingent.  No one should hate his job.  Under these conditions of autonomy (necessary for happiness), we can expect tremendous variety in opportunities for involvement to accommodate everyone's need to be effective.  The arts and science ought to flourish.  Unpleasant jobs ought to be made into interesting activities or be eliminated, perhaps by robotics.  We should treat everyone the same with no celebrities, except, possibly, posthumously, and no awards or phony distinctions.  We can respect excellence without idolizing those who manifest it.

What Freedom Means to Two Very Different Types of People

Most people think of themselves as great lovers of freedom, with the usual proviso that my freedom ends at your nose.  However, among these champions of freedom we shall distinguish two distinct and antagonistic types:  Type Z seems to be in the majority nowadays.  He believes in freedom, in particular his freedom to accumulate power and wealth – normally by placing a number of his fellows in a position of accountability to himself according to the most binding species of what we call employment he can get away with.  He provides what we call a job with material remuneration to people whom he expects to do his bidding and to place his interests ahead of their own for a significant portion of the weeks, months, or years that constitute their period of employment from his view and the very time of their lives from theirs.

He defends his “right” to do this, which does indeed impose upon the freedom of those who have sold their inalienable right to liberty, and which most certainly extends his freedom to make his own decisions well beyond the tips of the noses of those so bound, because the wage slave has entered into slavery – the antithesis of freedom – voluntarily.  But, as we all know, the wage slave really has no choice.  The miracle is that wage slaves continue to believe they are free – unless they see the world as it actually is.  Therefore, most wage slaves are themselves Type Z.  This is really quite strange as they spend most of their waking hours under the command of a boss.  Why should such a person imagine that he is free!  Yet he is as enthusiastic about freedom, in the abstract, as a Type S person.  He imagines that he would die before he would surrender it, yet he gives it up without a thought every weekday morning.  Man is an amazing beast.

One would not expect employment to engender much in the way of loyalty; and, with few exceptions, it does not.  Normally, the wage slaver shares one peculiar characteristic with the chattel slaver:  He expects the slave to live, more or less, according to the moral code of the class of people who are sufficiently powerful to exploit their fellow man.  Normally, he supports laws that prohibit taking interesting drugs and engaging in interesting sexual practices.  Whether he, the employer, does or does not respect such taboos, he expects his employees to live by them - willy nilly.  Type Z has everything precisely backwards, which would be funny except for the catastrophic circumstances attendant upon it.  Would that I could make Type Z appear ridiculous – especially to himself.

In stark contrast to the Type Z person, the Type S person recognizes that the freedom to employ others and to engage in the competition for wealth and power is tyranny thinly disguised and is in violation of every principle of freedom.  Moreover, he understands that a person who cannot follow his personal moral code and is ruled by taboo morality, which quite generally prohibits whatever is interesting or fun, is essentially a serf.

March 1, 1998

Revised July 5, 2004

The Plan of the Book

In the first chapter, we discuss the building of a philosophy to provide a basis for a rational social contract upon which nearly everyone can agree.  Eventually, nearly everyone will recognize the folly of our present course; however, Mother Nature may have to intervene forcefully to ensure that society does indeed recognize its folly.  She will force social changes upon mankind some of which might be decidedly unpleasant for most of the survivors.  Chapters 2 - 5 are all that are required to elucidate this “new” philosophy.  In Chapters 6 - 8, we shall interpret the fundamental evils that torment almost all of humanity according to the principles espoused in this essay.  In Chapter 9, we shall prove that if one of these evils is present all of them will be present (perhaps after a short time lag); if one of them is missing – for a time sufficiently long that we may safely assume it is not on the way, none of them will occur.  This means that we must change one thing only – not a host of little things.  In Chapter 10, we shall be able to prove a number of interesting and sobering results at least as well as social theorems are ever proved.  In Chapter 11, we discuss a hypothetical reformed society and we indulge in some harmless speculation concerning what its institutions might be like.  (Personally, I would have liked to employ more graphics to illustrate my futuristic daydreams.  Perhaps, someone would like to produce a movie on this imaginary stage.)  Finally, in Chapter 12, social change, and how it might be achieved, is discussed.

Appendices I, II, and III are the last three items in the book.  Please do not confuse these with appendices to chapters, which are “lettered” in chapters with more than one appendix, e.g., Appendix A, Appendix B, etc., but which are not lettered in chapters with only one appendix.  Appendix I is a mini-course in thermodynamics.  This, along with the material in Chapter 2, is useful to understand the Environmental Axiom elucidated in Chapter 3.  Appendix II, which began as an attempt to catalog all the world’s evils, is really little more than a list of social evils sufficiently complete to convince one that society has real problems worth addressing.  In Appendix III, some serious objections are answered, hopefully in a manner that many readers will find adequate.  I hope that some readers will look at the appendices.  The third appendix probably will attract many skeptics – and I hope we are all skeptics.  The second appendix requires only a glance, but the first appendix employs some mathematics.

Note on equations.  I wish to pass on some remarkable advice that I received (by way of the written word) from Roger Penrose, I believe.  (If, due to a lapse in memory, it turns out to have been written by someone else, I wish to express my apologies to Dr. Penrose and to that “someone else”.  What I remember with a fair degree of certainty is that the purveyor of this advice was a person of no mean mathematical attainments, which is what struck me as very remarkable indeed and accounts for the impression it made on me.)  The advice is this: “Whenever, while reading, I encounter an equation I do not understand, I simply skip it and continue reading the text.  Sometimes, after reading the text, I begin to understand the equation without additional effort.  On the other hand, whenever it seems appropriate to do so, I return to the equations later and see if they don’t make better sense to me at that time.”  Now I have quoted so loosely that the words are virtually mine; but, I assure the reader, I got the advice from someone else and I merely retail it.  Naturally, I endorse it.  In this book, especially in Appendix I, many equations are encountered.  I wish to take a moment to assure the reader that they are not formidable; but, for the first reading anyway, just take the advice I have attributed to Prof. Penrose.  If it’s good enough for him, it’s sure as hell good enough for you and me.  In any case, you won’t miss much if you actually skip the equations because the text explains everything I want you to know.

I hope you will assess the validity of my ideas without prejudice.  Also, by now, you may be deciding for yourself whether or not our progeny will have a chance to enjoy a future without unbearable misery.  Be critical and think for yourself.  Don’t take my word for anything.  I am fallible.  As far as the future is concerned, all I can do is make guesses based on my education, my experience, and, of course, my dreams.  No one can predict the future.

Additional Remarks

On Method

In a book like this, filled with controversial claims, normally one would expect to find reams of statistics.  That will not be the case for three reasons:  First, I do not trust statistics.  “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”  In this essay, as far as I am able, I shall rely upon macrofacts only (very generally believed and easily verified facts).  The second reason that you will not see tables of statistics is that I believe that I can arrange my arguments so that the exact or approximate number of cases in point is not important.  The third reason for avoiding statistics is that I am unwilling to do the work to collect them.  If I cannot make my point with logic, common sense, and very general facts with which most readers would agree readily, I will have done the best I can under the circumstances.

In Chapter 2, “Emergy and Economics”, I have employed more statistics than elsewhere.  Emergy, with an m, is an energy-based measure of value that is adjusted to account for cost and/or usefulness, measured in emergy costs of production or, in case of fuels, for example, in the amount of reversible work that can be extracted from them.  For example, if 1 kWhr of 110 volt 60 Hz AC electrical energy were taken to be 1 emergy unit (MU), 1 kWhr of fossil fuel would be worth only one-third of an MU because it requires three units of fossil-fuel energy to produce one kWhr of electrical energy; but, one kWhr of work would be equal to exactly one MU.  If a manufactured object can be produced by an efficient process with an expenditure of X units of emergy, we say that the object itself is worth X emergy units.  Actually, to account for usefulness, we employ a thermodynamic quantity called availability that accounts for energy and entropy simultaneously.  These concepts will be discussed in Chapter 2 and Appendix I.

The arguments in this essay advocate the abandonment of social institutions, such as elected officials, laws, and money, and their replacement by other institutions, such as randomly selected messengers, internalized morals, and intrinsic motivation.  Each argument has two main parts:  First, I must show that the existing institution is immoral and/or does not satisfy the criteria of aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.  Second, and usually most difficult, I must show that we can do without the institution and/or that the institution I wish to replace it with is practical and, perhaps, ideal.  Clearly, to a moral and reasonable human being, the first part is enough; i.e., if I prove that the laws against drugs are immoral, they must be repealed; but, for the pragmatist, I must show, in addition, that repealing the laws is feasible, practical, and desirable.  I would like to perform experiments (or allow others to perform them) to show that the replacement institution will work; but, like the great American experiment in democracy, it may be impossible to perform the experiment without instituting the proposed reform.  In the case of the experiment in democracy, after much debate, it was decided to perform the experiment on part of society – excluding women, most non-Whites (I believe), and, also, non-property-owners (again if I am not mistaken).  Clearly, the experiment has failed after two-hundred years of increasing success, but enough of the nation has survived that another great experiment could be performed, this time with a great deal more compelling evidence, if not absolute necessity, in its favor.


Beyond the Comfort Zone

I am struggling with a number of difficulties as I attempt to write this book.  First of all, there is a huge gap between what needs to be done and what most people consider “reasonable”.  Liberals typically propose social changes that do not exceed the public’s “comfort zone”.  For example, liberals are against foreign wars, but being against war is, as Kurt Vonnegut said, like being against glaciers.  One needs to be against competition for wealth and power, but that takes one’s arguments beyond the public’s comfort zone and one risks being labeled a nut.  I don’t think we have any real choice, though, between (A) advocating changes that are considered “reasonable” by the public (even if they do not favor them – most Republicans think Socialists are evil but not crazy) if those changes are guaranteed to have no effect or even the opposite effect intended and (B) advocating the changes that we really need even though even Socialists might consider us crazy.  We must simply tell the truth (defined carefully in the chapter on axiomatic morality) as we see it and expect to encounter serious difficulty in gaining acceptance even if our arguments be irrefutable.  (I am holding myself to higher standards of proof than are generally encountered in public discourse.  Of course, I cannot attain mathematical certainty, but I have stated my assumptions, defined my terms, and derived my conclusions as rigorously as possible.)

Saying Everything First

The second difficulty, related to the first, is that books are linear media; the ideas have to be presented in a sequence.  I must choose the order of this sequence carefully.  It may be unwise to begin with bold promises.  If I promise the reader that I shall invalidate every American social institution (from the Academy Awards to the Bronx Zoo) within these pages and propose replacements that are guaranteed to remove every social problem in a manner that is within the power of ordinary human beings to implement, even though that is what I personally believe, the reader may stop reading.  (One ought to be suspicious of anyone who promises a panacea for all of our social problems, although no one has ever proved that a simple solution to our difficulties cannot be found.)  In Appendix II, I shall provide a list of defects of the American system and, in a very few cases, indicate why I think that particular feature is a problem.  Sometimes, usually in the more obscure cases, I shall indicate why I believe the reforms suggested by me will solve the problem without introducing unacceptable consequences.  At one time I had great plans for Appendix II, but the best I have been able to provide under the exigencies of the real world is not much more than a list.


The third difficulty is my own state of mind.  I am constantly at war with my own frustration and anger.  This is bound to come through on the printed page, but it will not facilitate reasoned discussion.  It is unlikely that I will be able to disguise my rage, so I frankly admit it.  Presumably, I am influenced in part by the disappointments of my own life.

Changing My Mind

The fourth difficulty is that this essay is being written over a long period of time and, during that time, the author’s viewpoint is changing.  This could result in inconsistencies, which may annoy or disappoint the reader, but I hope that none of them proves fatal to the author’s main thesis.  A final version will be sprinkled liberally with notes in proof correcting and amending older ideas.

Disparities of Scale

The fifth difficulty is that, if I invalidate a social institution such as money itself by a short and incisive argument, the disparity in the scale of the argument and the scale of the social changes implied by it will offend the reader’s sense of proportion.  I would like to appeal to the reader’s good sense and open-mindedness; but, if I rely too much on “common sense”, my argument will lack rigor.  I would like to supply as much logical rigor as one ever sees in discussions involving humanity.  I hope that common sense will overcome the strangeness of arguments that fly in the face of conventional wisdom; I hope that rigorous logic will convince the careful reader that the defects in the conventional wisdom are real; and I hope that common sense will help the reader accept counter-intuitive conclusions despite the disparities in scale.  Logic is a lever with which the world can be moved if one can find a place to stand, which brings me to my sixth difficulty.

Not Being Famous Enough To Be Heard or Read

My sixth difficulty is in getting a hearing for these ideas.  Part of this is due to the disappearance of free and democratic discourse in the United States and, perhaps, in the rest of the world.  While people of ordinary ability with no special qualifications interpret the events of the day on television, it becomes increasingly difficult to be heard if one is not famous.  A movie star can get a large cash advance for a book on cosmology; but an unknown scholar, regardless of the effort he (or she) puts into his work, will have difficulty getting a reading and a fair criticism, let alone widespread publication.  This is the source of a great deal of frustration.  As I write these words, I honestly do not know the extent of my hopes for this work.

I have made no effort to publish this book, which is still under revision; nevertheless, for the convenience of interested parties, I have decided reluctantly to post parts of it at least on the Web.  (Although the cost of downloading from the Internet, both in money and time, can be significant, the book will be free.) 

I have had remarkably little success in convincing my friends and colleagues to pursue my theoretical ideas in detail.  Even though I have made claims for my theory that ought to get the attention of any serious person, no one has read all of my essays.  What is going wrong?  I believe the answer lies in myself.  I am a Very Unimportant Person and I do not possess charisma, therefore everyone assumes that what I have to say is not worth hearing.  (Also, I am under five foot seven inches in height, which places me in one of the most persecuted classes of people in America, namely, short men – Ross Perot and Milton Freidman not withstanding.)  Also, I think people have a predisposition to avoid the solutions to their problems.  This “death wish”, if I may borrow Freud’s worst-case term, manifests itself in a number of ways.  I remember a cartoon of William Steig, the famous New Yorker cartoonist.  It depicted what appeared to be a carnival with performers standing on platforms distributed throughout a large crowd.  These performers were juggling, swallowing swords, etc. and each had a large crowd surrounding his platform.  One platform, however, had no crowd surrounding it.  The words of the man on that platform, which formed the caption, were “But I can cure you.”

Since I was born before the ideas presented here were accepted by my parents, teachers, and others who influenced my development, I suffer from an irrational desire to have my, presumably, superior ideas recognized by the general public.  However, I am not so egotistical as to have lost every semblance of rationality.  If I am able to bring my writing to the attention of intellectuals, I might have the opportunity to witness the triumph of reason within a narrow circle.  That would please me exceedingly, but I shall never be satisfied until the entire world attains equality, freedom, happiness, and reasonable expectations of permanence.  Of course, I don’t expect relief from injustice during my lifetime.  Even if my hopes and dreams were completely unworthy or hopelessly impractical, I would continue to write.  I would write for the sake of writing.

Probably, most of us have experienced the unpleasantness of writing something and several years later finding it embarrassing.  A former colleague visited me a year or so ago.  He asked me if I had a collection of his papers.  Well, of course I did; I had asked him to send me everything he wrote, some of which I had reviewed even.  I pulled out a huge stack of reprints from scientific journals.  He said, “Wow, I had no idea I had written so many papers.  Now, if I could just write one that won't embarrass me two years later when I reread it.”  Well, that used to happen to me when I was his age, but I didn't publish anything I wrote then.  Now, when I read something I wrote five years ago, I say, “Wow, did I write that?  That's good!”  The bottom line is that, whatever anyone else thinks of it, I enjoyed reading an old essay of mine yesterday.  Not publishing until after you're fifty won't make you a famous intellectual, but it has a great deal to recommend it.  I began reading Charles Sanders Peirce (pronounced like “purse”) recently [4].  Almost no one had heard of Peirce during his lifetime.  (He died in 1914.)  You may not know who he was yet; but, William James, John Dewey, and Bertrand Russell knew who he was; and they took advantage of it, which, significantly, did not bring his work to the attention of the general public.

Bias against Visionaries

The following observation is troubling me in my dawning comprehension:  I am reading many authors including highly respected philosophers from the last generation:  Russell, Popper, and other writers (who are not philosophers by trade) including Günter Grass.  These people are extremely leery of the man with the “Big Vision”.  They refer to him as a utopianist, which, apparently, is a bad sort of person, although they don't say why; and I get the feeling that they expect him to turn automatically into Hitler or Stalin on cue or disappear into nothingness as most of us, vision or not, seem to do.  I believe that the people who raise such objections consider themselves well-off and are afraid of what will happen if we are to see an improvement in the miserable lot of “the wretched of the earth”, although they are certain to deny such a serious accusation.  They wish to avoid doing anything to solve the problems of humanity.  (The problem is inequality; therefore, the solution is equality.  But, these famous writers do not wish to set things equal, which, in my opinion, is not only absurd, it is wicked and cruel.)

I refute Popper in Chapter 1, but dozens of writers incorporate similar viewpoints into their works.  Obviously, I can’t discuss every error that finds its way into print.  But, I think I have identified a new feature of our old nemesis, “the conventional wisdom” – or mass hysteria even, since we were so badly burned by Hitler and Stalin.  Clearly, the activities of Hitler and Stalin prove nothing about “Big Visions”.  Perhaps, what we already believe about the acquisition of raw power has been corroborated once again.  My “Big Vision” rejects the accumulation of power just as passionately as it rejects accumulation of wealth – even fame.  I will not become famous; I must avoid fame.  That's one of the reasons why I submit so little of my work for publication.  (Maybe another reason is the fear of rejection from which I may not suffer even.  I may only suspect myself of indulging in a childish fear of failure simply because I know that it is a common failing of better men than I.)

Let me hazard a guess.  These great men reject “Big Thinkers” because they suspect that big thinking (by someone else) might create an intellectual or political climate in which they must join the battle to end the misery and evil in the world or admit their own hypocrisy and cowardice.  Neither alternative fits in with their plans to live a comfortable self-satisfied life.  They are doing well because of their privileged positions in the intellectual elite and they don’t want to take any risks or be placed in a position where they will lose their self-respect if they don’t take risks.  Actually, when the students began to protest America’s criminal invasion of Viet Nam, every intellectual immediately became an active anti-war protester or a pro-establishment creep.  When a famous Courant Institute professor lied to the students shortly after Cambodia was bombed, a student knocked him flat.  This is not an outcome he anticipated when he elected to cooperate with the war criminals to protect his job.  Richard Courant, although he was an enemy of tyranny, refused to help the students during the student strike of 1970 because he was “too old”.  Perhaps he was.  Also, dealing with the Nazis must have taken a lot out of him.  A well-known professor emeritus with whom I have corresponded confessed, “I get a nice pension from ‘X’ University and I intend to keep it.”  [quoted loosely]

Let me ask you this.  You probably agree that the major problem in the world (population aside) is the great disparities in property and income.  Now tell me how you can eliminate inequality without establishing equality.  This is tautological!  Why won't Noam Chomsky say it?  Why won't Ralph Nader say it?  Why won't Kurt Vonnegut say it?  Why won't anyone who can get the ear of the public say it?  We expect commonplace, “party-line” objections:  “We have just seen the proof that communism doesn't work.”  Remarks like these can be refuted easily:  “Proof?  What proof?”  I shall continue to insist that equality of material wealth is essential to the continuation of the human race – in this book and wherever I am allowed to present my views.

[Note in proof (9-22-98).  Suppose the population of the earth consists of eight billion souls each of which, to make the exercise simple, requires precisely one potato per day to stay alive and nothing more.  If he does not get a potato on a given day, he dies.  Suppose further that the earth for thermodynamic reasons is capable of producing precisely eight billion potatoes per day.  No more and no less.  If a man contrives to consume ten potatoes today, he has virtually murdered nine people.  As we shall demonstrate in Chapter 2, this is essentially the situation on earth except the potato is a certain amount of emergy.  All true wealth is emergy.  A person who consumes 30 kW of emergy, for example, is a murderer.  Clearly the excess consumption in the United States causes starvation and other horrors in the Third World and elsewhere – even in the U.S.]

My Expectations

It is customary to ridicule the dreams of the idealist.  No doubt the ideas in this essay will receive their share of ridicule – if they receive any attention at all.  It is certainly true that the schemes of idealists have not fared well in a nonideal world.  When idealists band together to separate themselves from the nonideal world to actualize their vision, they soon discover that among themselves are found the very defects from which they have attempted to separate themselves.  Being an idealist doesn’t make one ideal!  So, how can the vision put forth in this essay be useful?

In the first place, the usefulness of the ideas presented in this essay had no bearing on the writing or not writing of the essay.  The essay was written because I felt the need to write it.  Creating the manuscript of the essay will please me.  Even the publication of the essay is secondary.  Thus, in this respect at least, I am practicing what I preach.  My motivation for producing this work has been for the most part – intrinsic.  Nevertheless, I think it might be useful to others.

In this essay I have pointed out certain intolerable aspects of modern society that, if unchanged, will lead to the destruction of the planet or the reduction of life for most people to a level not worth living.  Thus, anyone who thinks we can muddle along as we have been doing for centuries is the one who is indulging in idle dreams.  I remain – a skeptic.

Later, I shall discuss a generic world-bettering plan the first step of which is the general agreement of society upon an ideal world worth pursuing.  It may be true that society will never agree upon an ideal world.  I will discuss designing a path of constant improvement from our world to this ideal world in a later chapter.  I won’t discuss how to convince the entire world that my theory is correct because I don’t know how to reach the entire world.  For now, I would be satisfied to convince one other person to pursue the line of thought I have introduced, to make me explain the proof that the abandonment of competition for wealth and power is a necessary and sufficient condition for sustainable happiness, or to prove that my thesis is incorrect.  Obviously, it is insufficient to ignore this thesis merely because it does not correspond to one’s preconceived notions.  Often a correspondent answers these ideas with “Oh yes, I would like to live in a world like that, but no one else would.  I don’t believe it is possible.”  Does anyone else see the irony in this?  Sometimes I think that if that particular person believed it was possible, it would be.  When someone says, “Yes, of course society would be better off without competition for wealth, power, and fame, but it will never happen,” my answer is, “I am only asking you to agree that society would be better off without competition for wealth, power, and fame.”

I began by referring to any system based on competition for wealth, power, and fame as materialism.  I, then, wrote for awhile calling it competitionism; and, in addition, coined the term artificial economic contingency to make the idea clearer.  I now feel that materialism is the best term to use and corresponds most closely with ordinary parlance.  We say that acquisitive people are materialistic.  (Also, I have retained the useful expression artificial economic contingency.  All three terms are synonymous in this essay.)

Of course, we intend to treat material things with even more respect than ever now that we finally grasp the concept that the earth is truly finite.  Moreover, in my short essay “On Space Travel and Research”, I go a long way toward proving that exploitation of other heavenly bodies is the worst conceivable response to that finiteness.  Perhaps you can do nothing to eliminate materialism from society, but I believe that you are responsible to understand why it should be abandoned.  Understanding the solution to social problems is important.  I have never heard or read the solution offered in this essay except in Jack Nicholson’s character’s off-hand remark in Easy Rider (quoted in the epigraph).  Correspondents in debate on social issues behave as though they do not understand the solution.  Whenever I hear people talk about the need for more jobs, I know they don’t understand!  On the other hand, sometimes I think that many people believe these ideas are correct, but they are so afraid of the ruling class that they won’t get involved.

It may be true that, even if a large number of people were convinced of the validity of my thesis, powerful forces would prevent us from embarking upon a path toward that goal.  But, activists and humanists will continue to attempt to improve the intolerable conditions in society and alleviate the suffering they see all around them.  If they do this, they ought to have a vision of the future they are trying to attain.  If they do not have a vision of a reasonably ideal world, it is possible, even probable, that they will make conditions worse in the long run.  Many activist organizations replicate the evil in the world within their own organization on a smaller scale by competing among themselves for what they value, namely, status.  These organizations are likely to do more harm than good.  This is the typical indictment of “do-gooders”.  It is conceivable that, if I were in danger of living forever, I might live to regret writing this book.  In all probability, if Jesus were alive now, he would regret abandoning carpentry.

The possibility exists that progress directly toward an ideal world could take the world into an improved situation from which an ideal could never be attained.  This might be the view of Marxist socialists who expect to see social conditions become so intolerable that the average working man is willing to take up arms and rebel.  Thus, it is conceivable that things can only get better by getting worse.  This view is rejected in this essay on the basis of faith in an inherent harmony in nature including man.  I don’t believe that it will ever be possible to establish scientifically which is actually the case.

In order to reject completely the possibility that mankind can become sufficiently well-educated that nearly everyone can agree upon a rational society, one would have to prove the impossibility of that occurring.  It is insufficient to deem the idea absurd and move on.  May I suggest that the ideas in this essay, or better ideas, could be propagated from person to person and from people to their children and students in one-to-one conversations and in small study groups such as the one I have put together in Houston.  We are not trying to change the thinking of the entire world suddenly, but rather change the minds of a few people close to us one at a time.  Moreover, we do not agree among ourselves.  People who wish to see the human race survive and attain general happiness ought to debate these issues in a concerted way and, in addition, search for new ideas.

To summarize: first, I have written this essay to satisfy myself.  Perhaps I am a utopianist, but I claim that the people who reject these ideas are the real utopianists since the world is bound to become a very unpleasant place if these ideas, or better ideas, are not adopted.  I remain, rather, a skeptic, who predicts failure for competing ideas that enjoy currency today.  Next, the ideas expressed herein may serve as a guide to activists to help them reject tactics that lead to conditions no better than those they wish to replace; or, better yet, these ideas may help them aim higher.  Finally, it is not at all clear that an improved vision of the world cannot be propagated through society one person at a time until nearly all of society is ready to reject the old institutions intellectually and embark upon a path toward replacing them with rational institutions.

As we have seen in the Former Soviet Union, when no one believes in the existing social structure, change can occur amazingly fast.  Thus, we may hope that broad change might occur once more but this time in the right direction.  Thus, it would be useful if a plan for change were already in place by that time – a plan that could be rejected, accepted, or superseded by all of us without giving political power to the planners.  Finally, if these ideas won’t work, we better find some that will – soon.


I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to my wife, Ellen Lee, who made this book possible.  Also, the importance of the role played by my de facto editor and critic, Prof. Marian Hillar, cannot be underestimated.  He read every word of two or three versions of each and every chapter and suggested numerous changes most of which have been incorporated into the final version of the book.  I must emphasize the undeniable fact that many sections of the book appear despite his strenuous objections, therefore the final responsibility for errors of fact, logic, and judgment lies with me alone.

I struggled for many months with the availability (high-grade energy) balance over the earth and her atmosphere without success until Professor Dan Wilkins suggested that I join an Internet list server dedicated to physics.  By way of the list server I obtained the assistance of  Prof. Dave Bowman who was able to teach me enough irreversible thermophysics of radiation to understand his solution of the problem that had frustrated all my efforts for so many months – despite stacks of textbooks that I found difficult to understand without anyone to tell me which should be read first even.

The methods used to compute the vast rate at which availability passes under the influence of the earth  were devised by Dave.  I checked every formula and repeated all of the arithmetical computations as an educational activity and to prevent mistakes as far as has been possible.  I wish to thank Dan Wilkins and Dave Bowman, who is the de facto co-author of Appendix I, as well as the many physicists who managed to teach me more than I expected to learn so quickly at my advanced age.  I think this may have been the most accelerated learning experience of my life.  It is fitting, then, to acknowledge the valuable lessons learned from Dave Bowman, Leigh Palmer, John Mallinckrodt, Brian Whatcott, Jim Green, and others who were generous with their time, effort, and knowledge.    

Also, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Professor Edward Deci of the University of Rochester who has made available to me at his own expense preprints and reprints of numerous peer-reviewed research papers written by himself and others on the subject of human motivation.  This has saved me much time and effort and is greatly appreciated.  Also, it is with great sadness that I acknowledge the assistance and advice of John Condry who has recently passed on.  Professor Condry introduced me to Ed Deci and, indeed, to the whole idea of intrinsic motivation, which, as the reader will see, plays a crucial role in my philosophy.  The literature on intrinsic motivation deserves and receives its own bibliography at the end of Appendix III.

Houston, Texas

October 12, 1990

Revised June 28, 1991

Revised August 1, 1992

Revised May 27, 1993

Revised July 30, 1993

Revised September 30, 1994.

Revised August 6, 1995

Revised May 21, 1996

Revised January 18, 1997

Revised July 2, 1997

Revised September 5, 1997

Revised September 22, 1998

Revised July 5, 2004

Revised January 22, 2005


1.         Chomsky, Noam, World Orders Old and New, Columbia University Press, New York (1995).

2.         Deci, Edward L. and Richard M. Ryan, Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior, Plenum Press, New York (1985)

3.        The Chicago Manual of Style, The University of Chicago Press, Thirteenth Edition, Revised and Expanded, Chicago (1982).

4.        Peirce, Charles Sanders, Philosophical Writings of Peirce, Ed. Justus Buchler, Dover, New York (1955).

Chapter 1.  Toward a Rational Social Contract

But the social order is a sacred right which serves as a basis for all other rights.  And as it is not a natural right, it must be one founded on covenants. – Rousseau, The Social Contract

Governments cannot really divest themselves of religion, or even of dogma. ... Governments must proceed on dogmatic assumptions, whether they call them dogmas or not; and they must clearly be assumptions common enough to stamp those who reject them as eccentrics and lunatics.  And the greater and more heterogeneous the population the commoner the assumptions must be. ... I repeat, government is impossible without a religion: that is, without a body of common assumptions. – G. B. Shaw, “Preface to Androcles and the Lion

Table of Contents

On Government

The Social Contract


Our Current Social Contract

Community and a New Type of Social Contract Based on Rational Morals

Community Replaces the State

On Morals

Rational Morals Provide the Nucleus of a Set of Common Assumptions in a Rational Society


On Philosophy


On Existence

Avoiding Infinite Regression

Reasonableness and Aesthetics


Occurrence Implication and Occurrence Equivalence

Occurrence Equivalence as Evidence of Divinity

A Minimal Proper Religion as a Social Contract

Minimal Proper Religions

Building Upon a Minimal Proper Religion

A Rational Philosophical Basis for a Minimal Proper Religion

The Subject of The Varieties of Religious Experience Compared to a Proper Religion

How a Social Contract Based on Consensus Might Work

Definitions of Terms Employed in Fundamental Theorem

Sustainable Happiness for All of Humanity


Negotiable and Non-Negotiable Fame and Influence

Occurrence Equivalence of Wealth, Power Including Negotiable Influence, and Negotiable Fame as S*



The Fundamental Theorems and Premise

Utopianism and Ideals

Popper’s Objections Answered

Utopian Religions

Abstract Happiness vs. the Elimination of Misery

Is There a Utopian Capitalist Religion?

Final Remarks


Appendix A.  The Case for Rational Anarchism (Libertarianism) or Why We Hate  Government and Wish to Rule Ourselves

Appendix B.  The Definition of the Ruling Class

On Government

The Social Contract


Definition (Social Contract).  A social contract is a covenant between (1) governments and the governed, (2) between institutions and individuals, (3) between institutions, and (4) between individuals.  It amounts to an agreement with general applicability commonly understood to regulate the behavior of every member of society just as a legal contract regulates the behavior of the parties who have entered into it with respect to the specific applicability of the contract – except that a social contract has much wider applicability than a legal contract.

As discussed above, we wish to abandon the institution of government, which no one likes anyway.  This cannot be done without a period of delegislation during which laws must be replaced by rational morals gradually.  The system of morals that we choose will determine the social contract we end up with.  We expect that people who enter voluntarily into a social contract with their neighbors will behave at least as well as people who are constrained by laws normally not of their own choosing.  They could hardly behave worse.

In the absence of government, Item 1 in the definition of a social contract will be discarded.  This is the portion of a social contract that is supposed to be taken care of by a constitution – even though numerous exceptions are found in every case.  Certain portions of the agreement between the rulers and the ruled fall under the purview of tradition, brute force, etc.  The people make do as well as they can from their position of relative weakness.  They hope that the tyranny under which they live will not be inordinately cruel and that constitutional provisions will not be violated excessively.  To eliminate tyranny altogether it seems that government must be eliminated, in which case no constitution is needed.

Regardless of whether or not the contract that governs the behavior of institutions and individuals be written down or not, its provisions must be crystal clear and well-understood and accepted by everyone – or nearly everyone.  In a well-ordered society with no government, the social contract must be the basis of the behavior of all those who accept it.  They must internalize the morals embedded in the social contract in such a way that their behavior is, for all practical purposes, voluntary.  The members of the community are free people who do what they do because they want to.  In this chapter, I shall discuss the social contract I would like to have after I explain why I wish to reject the social contract that we actually do have.

Our Current Social Contract

Our current social contract, while centered upon the Constitution, is composed of many disjoint elements some of which are not recognized generally nor are they rational or just.  The result is social strife and alienation bordering on outright rebellion especially among youths.  The elements of what passes for a social contract nowadays require some discussion:

The Constitution Itself

The Constitution Is Unacceptable Because of Our Desperate Need for Autonomy (Freedom)

The Constitution creates numerous institutions, namely, the presidency, Congress, a judiciary, etc., whose function is to exercise power over individuals.  But, individual autonomy is a prerequisite for happiness in the sense of Deci and Ryan [1].  Thus, despite the so-called checks and balances and a sort of fictional responsibility of these institutions to serve the people, we have become victims of the most insidious tyranny imaginable, a tyranny of which many people are unaware.  Why should people rebel against tyranny if they have been convinced that they are free?  We wish to make clear in this essay the importance of rejecting presidents, members of legislatures, and judges.  If we wish to enjoy autonomy, necessary for happiness, we must establish a social contract that prevents the existence of all such leaders.  This entails sweeping reform.

The problem of determining how social reform on an extremely broad scale shall be effected is exacerbated by the necessity to achieve widespread social reform essentially without so-called leadership!  Normally, what is euphemistically called “leadership” is an impostor term, in the sense of Bentham [2], and should be called tyranny.  Tyranny will not resolve mankind’s most serious problem, its greatest challenge, and, perforce, its most dramatic opportunity for universal ennoblement, namely, the elimination of enormous differences in economic well-being and the creation of communities of people who share real wealth virtually equally with essentially no government or “leadership” whatever!  Each (undiminished) person must be his or her own leader.  This will be discussed in greater detail in later chapters especially Chapter 6.  [Having said this, no one should be surprised when I refuse to join with any people for any purpose  – even people who agree with me who have organized to implement my ideas.  Following William Morris, I reject all political parties, activist organizations however well intentioned, all and any organizations of every stamp.  Don’t you see that these are ideal breeding grounds for “natural leaders”.  If  the government is to be overthrown, it must be overthrown by individuals working alone and anonymously.]

Our Constitution Is Unacceptable Because of Its Inconsistencies Due to Fundamental Religious Content
Religion and Philosophy

Definition (Religion) [from Random House Dictionary [3] (RHD)].  1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances and often having a moral code for the conduct of human affairs. [italics mine], 2. a specific and institutionalized set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion. 3., 4., etc., not relevant.  Clearly, the “beliefs and practices” referred to in Definition 2 might have moral implications.

Definition (Philosophy) [from RHD [3]].  1. the rational investigation of the truths of being, knowledge, or conduct.  2. a system of philosophical doctrine: the philosophy of Spinoza.  3. the critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a particular branch of knowledge: the philosophy of science.  4. a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs: a philosophy of life.

According to the RHD, then, philosophy and religion have much in common as well as a number of differences depending, of course, on which sense of either word is intended.  We may regulate our affairs, then, according to philosophical principles if we accept Definition 4 of philosophy and reject the Moral Code Clause in Definition 1 of religion.  Unfortunately, we cannot prevent people from recognizing that the italicized portion of Definition 1 of religion and Definition 4 of philosophy are nearly equivalent.  We have fallen into a trap by trying to invoke a principle that can be construed to be religious in nature by anyone who wishes to so regard it.  Indeed, in our zeal to avoid the establishment of religion, we have committed the very sin we deplore.

Now, as far as I can tell, religionists – even the most unreasonable right-wing Christian fundamentalists – are not trying to incorporate their cosmological and hermeneutical beliefs or their rituals (other than prayer) into the law of the land.  Invariably what they are after is to have their moral code for the conduct of human affairs enacted into law.  Therefore, the moral aspect of religion is what should interest us.  While it is true that many people believe, with good enough justification, that a moral code alone does not make a religion, one cannot a priori rule out the possibility that many people, including, perhaps, judges and juries in courts of law, do aver that all moral judgments are religious in nature, therefore we must make allowances in advance for such a ruling.  Also, consider the point of view of G. B. Shaw quoted in the epigraph.

Improper and Proper Religions

My first inclination is to dismiss all religions as improper; but that will not do.  In the first place the theory of morals that I propound in this essay is, in a certain sense, a religion.  I claim it is a proper religion, that is, it is not an improper religion.  Improper religions are easy to identify.  I shall list a few of their characteristics, which should suffice to disqualify all of the religions that threaten the world currently.  A religion shall be said to be an improper religion if it has one or more of the following characteristics or if it is inconsistent:

1.        It claims to be absolutely true – for all time – never in need of revision.  Although most improper religions have undergone considerable revision, they are always in a state of reaction to enlightenment.  They lose one position after another to science, but they adjust and continue to assert absolute validity.  [Bertrand Russell]

2.        It claims to be the sole correct religion and nonbelievers are placed in an inferior position to believers.  If the claim is that nonbelievers are in some sense doomed, this constitutes fraud as well as child abuse.  [Note in proof (5-30-98).  It is generally agreed that free speech does not extend to yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre.  Then, a fortiori, yelling “Eternal damnation” should not be protected either.]

3.        It relies on circular reasoning, e.g., such and such doctrine (A) is written in the Holy Bible from which one may deduce that (B) the Holy Bible is the inerrant word of God, therefore the doctrine (A) is true.  That is, if A, which was assumed, then B and if B then A, which was to be shown.  Regrettably, to prove A, A was assumed to be true at the outset.  (I do not know where in the Bible we are told that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.  Nor, can I show an example of circular reasoning in connection with the Bible.  I do not need a case of circular reasoning to show that Christianity, as it is actually practiced, is improper!)  The point, though, is that any religion that is based in whole or in part upon reasoning of the type:  if  A then B, if B then C, ..., if Y then Z, and if Z then A, i.e., circular reasoning, is an improper religion. 

4.        It comes with an excessive amount of intellectual baggage that must be taken on faith.  It makes claims that cannot be substantiated by observation or experiment, which it justifies by unfalsifiable statements.  It claims to know what no one can know – in particular the nature of God.  Often it incorporates some sort of belief in magic.

5.        It attempts to increase the number of adherents by unethical means such as childbirth or outright lies – frequently preying on human weakness.

6.         It has a priesthood that claims to be invested with special knowledge sometimes        received directly from God and, therefore, not open to debate.

7.        Normally, it incorporates some form of irrational taboo morality.

8.        Typically, it will shun all debate with nonbelievers even though it will claim not to.

9.        Frequently, money is involved in one way or another.

10.      Usually, its code of ethics will accommodate evildoers if they subscribe to its  church.

Proper religions have none of these characteristics.  I believe a simple heuristic may be employed fairly safely; namely, if it has a church, it’s most likely improper.  Please remember that, if a religion be inconsistent or have even one of the above characteristics, it is improper by definition.  Certainly, I do not imagine that  I have some distinctive right to disqualify improper religions from consideration in a social contract without a general consensus of my neighbors, by which I might have to consider everyone in the world in some cases.

Separation of Church and State

Presumably, the Founding Fathers of the fledgling independent nation known as the United States of America envisioned a State in which every man is free to worship whatever hypothetical deity he wishes in the manner he wishes provided the mode of worship or the rites of his religion do not jeopardize the compelling interests of the State.  Probably, though, (it must be admitted) they did not intend to protect people who wished to reject all of religion including every Christian sect.

In May, 1989, in my essay “The Separation of the State from the Christian Church” [4] (renamed “The Separation of the State from the Christian Church and the Case Against Christianity” [5]), I tried to make a case for the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  I hoped to show that religionists may not incorporate their arbitrary moral judgments into the law of the land.  [In this essay, quotes from my earlier papers will be distinguished by wide margins.]  In 1989, I wrote as follows:

The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees, among other things, that “Congress shall make no law respecting [regarding, concerning, with respect to] an establishment of religion ...”  This, together with the expressed belief of the founding fathers, has provided the foundation of what has come to be known as The Doctrine of Separation of Church and State.  This doctrine has been interpreted to mean that the public affairs of the people of the United States shall not be imposed upon by the particular beliefs of any religion no matter how widespread its acceptance.  Even if the Doctrine were not supported by the Constitution, we would have to respect it because without separation of church and state there would be no possibility of peaceful coexistence of separate religions, cultures, or lifestyles within the United States.  The Doctrine means much more than toleration of various religions; it means that individuals must be spared any impingement on their lives by any religious beliefs whatsoever, if that is what they desire.  Adherence to religious belief has been shown to be entirely superfluous to the socialization (rendering fit for human companionship) of humanity, so there is no reason why people should be subjected to it against their will.

The point is that the position (stated above) that I took in my 1989 essay could be defeated by a clever debater who would argue that our laws already contain numerous moral judgments, which are never construed to be laws respecting an establishment of religion, therefore the Establishment Clause is either null and void or must be construed in a manner unfavorable to my 1989 argument.  And, finally, laws prohibiting abortion and mandating prayer in school are not, after all, unconstitutional, since we have a law, for example, against murder, which is obviously a moral decision, perhaps derived directly from the Sixth Commandment.

Separation of Church and State Fails

Regrettably, the principle of separation of church and state cannot be justified completely on the basis of the First Amendment.  This prevents the Constitution – in particular the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment – from protecting us from right-wing fundamentalists who wish to enslave us by solidifying the totalitarian theocratic nature of the State and by introducing into the law of the land the irrational restrictions placed upon our freedom by their improper religions.  The arguments that undermine the Constitution are three in number.  Generally, these arguments are not considered by champions of so-called separation of church and state, particularly Atheists and Secular Humanists.

Argument 1.  The Rule of Precedence

Suppose a religionist school board decided to teach celibacy in the public schools.  The religionist would argue that we already teach that killing other people is wrong, which is a moral judgment taken directly from the Bible; therefore, since celibacy is mandated by the Bible as well, it is valid to teach it in the public schools, according to the “rule of precedence”.  Teaching celibacy in the public schools is wrong because celibacy is a personal or taboo moral and we have argued that no consensus can be reached regarding personal morals, but the First Amendment is no help because of the precedent provided by “Thou shalt not kill”.  We need a new way to defend ourselves from the imposition of irrational or arbitrary morals upon us or upon our children by religious bigots.  Sexual inhibition is extremely harmful according to many thinkers, including Wilhelm Reich [6], Bertrand Russell [7], and myself [8].  Thus, we must continue to look for a social contract we can live with.

Argument 2.  The Religious Nature of the Bill of Rights

In addition to these inconsistencies, the Bill of Rights, itself, is inconsistent.  Although not precisely “made” by Congress in the same sense that Congress makes ordinary laws, the Bill of Rights was originated by Congress and the spirit of the Establishment Clause was broken simultaneously with its creation because of the numerous moral judgments in the Bill of Rights, e.g., no cruel or unusual punishment, etc.  If the Founding Fathers intended to disparage making laws respecting an establishment of religion, they should have recognized the inconsistency of a constitutional amendment respecting an establishment of religion.  This argument was suggested by the poet Emily Nghiem.

While those who claim that the founding of the United States was based on Christian values are not entirely wrong, it is not clear that the common set of Judeo-Christian values upon which our country was based is useful or desirable now.  What is clear is that the society based upon these values is coming apart at the seams and is on the brink of collapse.

What is worse, the Constitution fails to preclude the passing of laws based upon irrational morals; it leaves nearly every moral imperative untreated; and it is woefully vague with respect to the morals it does not neglect altogether.  The result is that, in the United States, at the present time, we have widespread disagreement concerning the question of which morals are valid and which are not.  It is fair to say that we are on the brink of another civil war.  The worst possible catastrophe on the horizon is not the possibility of civil war, but the possibility that the wrong side might win.

Nevertheless, although the Founding Fathers probably did not have freedom from religion in mind when the First Amendment was enacted, the wording is sufficiently clear that religionists who claim that it does not imply separation of church and state and that they may lobby to have anti-abortion legislation enacted are not entirely honest.  I continue to be appalled at the unfair use of media by televangelists to promulgate a religion that, if it were at all valid or beneficent, could be encouraged by honest means.

Recognizing the religious character of the Constitution, and perforce its inconsistency, has an interesting side effect; namely, it removes a certain weakness in the liberal position generally opposed to right-wing fundamentalists with which I have not been entirely comfortable.  I have noticed, in particular, that conservatives who espouse obsolete and pernicious doctrines frequently are able to score points at the expense of the more nearly correct liberals because liberals are not willing to take a position radical enough to make sense.  (Radical means “getting to the root of”.)  They are well-intentioned, but they still spout nonsense, which makes them easy targets for right-wing critics.  For example, laws prohibiting abortion might be attacked by citing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; however, the sovereignty of women over their own bodies is also a religious position; and, particularly, if it is accompanied by advocacy of drug prohibition, it is completely irrational.  Also, liberals tend to accept the work ethic, which has religious origins (in Genesis); but jobs are out of the question for a large segment of the population, which is entirely justified in its reliance on crime – given the circumstances under which work is available if, indeed, such circumstances even exist.

Argument 3.  Our Need To Espouse Religious Values

I consider a moral code sufficient but not necessary for a religion.  Thus, I can’t disparage religion or isolate religion from public policy since almost all public policy (except for minor procedural matters, e.g., dates of public assembly) has moral implications.  At least, I challenge the reader to suggest a public policy to which I am unable to assign moral implications.  Perhaps not all moral rules for human conduct should be considered religious in nature, but I consider them religious in nature, which I may do if I wish.

The solution to the problem of facing the tragedy that religion, at least the all-important moral aspect of religion, may not be separated from public policy is presented in this chapter.  Clearly, it is the rule-giving aspect of religion that gives rise to divisiveness nowadays.  Thus, we are forced to consider any moral system whatever – a religion.  Probably, a common core set of religious values is necessary to bind a group of people into a community.  In the absence of a constitution, I must show how to arrive at a new social contract upon which nearly everyone can agree and which can supplant the State, government as we have grown to know it and hate it, and, indeed, leadership as it normally manifests itself.  To achieve consensus through a common religious morality, I must find a way to exclude the dogma associated with the Judeo-Christian tradition and other religious traditions.  Upon such dogma we can never agree.

The probability of achieving a general consensus on irrational morals is practically nil inasmuch as one set of irrational morals is no more attractive than another; therefore, the probability that people of diverse cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds should choose the same set is close to zero.  A route to consensus is, indeed, what we seek; and it stands to reason that the fewer items that we require general – practically universal – agreement upon, the greater the chance of reaching consensus.

Other Reasons Why the Current Social Contract Is Irrational and Perforce Invalid

Every human being finds himself (or herself) at the beginning of his life in a strange world, presumably without having requested to be sent there.  It can be argued that each person has a right to find the world in perfect shape with an ideal social system in place, not having had the opportunity to select the world he would like or the system he would choose and not having been here to arrange matters for himself.  From the viewpoint of the previous generations, it doesn’t make sense to deny that the world owes the newcomer a living.  The world (society) owes the newcomer much more, in particular profuse apologies for the state of the world that the newcomer finds and nontrivial reparations for not fixing it before the newcomer’s arrival.  It is the business of this essay to prove that society is irrational, to describe what a rational society would be like, and to prove that such a society is feasible.  If that be true, every normal (undiminished) adult is to blame that society is still not rational.

Clearly, each newcomer will not have signed the Constitution, ratified the laws of the land, or agreed upon the established institutions, but he has a right (or it can be deduced that he has a right) to find them at least reasonable, which they are not.  This is what needs to be remedied.  Until it is remedied, dissidents may not be treated as criminals.  According to the logic just presented, all of the inmates of our jails are political prisoners.  No one knows what their lives might have been like in a reasonable world.

Indoctrination in the Schools

Our early and sometimes later schooling consisted of indoctrination that amounted virtually to promises that can never be kept.  This was done according to someone’s intentions.  We were taught conventional falsehood, which many of us still understand as sacred truth, e.g., the greatness of our nation, the guarantees associated with hard work and conformity, etc.  The way we were introduced to particular key words by our parents during the dark ages of our minds (before the age of reason) has clouded our subsequent thinking.  It can safely be said that practically no one sees the world as it actually is.

Government Propaganda and Gratuitous Private Propaganda

As O’Flaherty says, “If there was twenty ways of telling the truth and only one way of telling a lie, the Government would find it out.  It’s in the nature of governments to tell lies.”  [George Bernard Shaw, O’Flaherty, V. C.]  The government must tell lies because tyranny cannot be maintained without the consent of the victims, who will not give their consent unless they can be convinced that they are better off than they really are.  The corporate media know that they must corroborate the party line to satisfy their sponsors, some of whom own the country and the government as well – for all practical purposes.  The large corporations, which either own the country or are owned and/or controlled by those who do, know what to say.  This is adequately documented in this essay and more thoroughly in the book by Herman and Chomsky [9].  This party line perforce becomes part and parcel of the social contract as the parties to the contract have accepted it and have been promised that it is true, in return for which they sacrifice their lives or the time of their lives.  All of the conditions of a contract are met.


The glorification of wealth and excessive consumption has been inculcated by Hollywood, television, etc.  The goodness of the upper classes and their express right to their privileges has been promoted as well.  I do not claim that the opposite has not been presented for the consideration of the public, but the damage has been done.  This is easy to document and may be taken up as an exercise by the reader.  Hint:  Consider the movie Sabrina, recently remade, to examine both sides of the coin.

A De Facto Caste System

If we are truly equal and live in an equal opportunity egalitarian society, why do we make a distinction between exempt workers and non-exempt workers?  See Chapter 6 for additional discussion of the caste system in America, an aspect of our culture that is rarely mentioned in the President’s State of the Union address.

Brute Force

The element of brute force in our de facto social contract is exercised through cops and courts and brought home otherwise by the necessity to be employed or to desire to be employed.

Our National Religion

Our national religion is the Judeo-Christian tradition of teaching blind obedience to the false gods of money, power, and fame.  Clearly, this is an element in our social contract.

Superstition and Old Wives Tales

As an exercise, the reader may list a few examples of superstitions and old wives tales that qualify as elements of our social contract.

Community and a New Type of Social Contract Based on Rational Morals

Community Replaces the State

The exhaustion of our readily available supplies of high-grade energy will make large sovereign entities impossible to govern within the foreseeable future.  The conclusions of Chapter 2 should convince us that large sovereign states like the U.S. are doomed.  We need small lightly linked communities such that everything we need is within walking distance.  The exigencies of economics will require that these communities be nearly self-sufficient.  Again, see Chapter 2.

The members of these communities will be sufficiently few in number that an agreement upon a new social contract based on very few rational moral axioms and a small number of additional (rational) assumptions is not absolutely out of the question.  We must find something of this sort that we can agree upon.  We must have consensus to dispense with government and the concomitant strife arising from conflict between the rulers and the ruled.  We cannot have a constitutional democracy, but we can exclude irrational religious principles and base our community upon a religion, a minimal proper religion, that makes sense and is easy to follow.  We can get rid of tyranny if we replace laws by rational morals.  This new type of social contract, based on a minimal number of conditions accepted by nearly everyone, is the binding force within the community and the only hope for sustainable happiness.

Definition (Minimal Proper Religion (MPR)).  A minimal proper religion (MPR) is a proper religion that incorporates the minimal number of behavioral requirements necessary to ensure “sustainable happiness” for all of humanity.  An MPR places constraints upon those who agree to follow it, but only those constraints upon behavior and public policy that cannot be relaxed without creating unbearable misery for a significant portion of humanity.

On Morals

Most of the material presented below in wide-margin format has been taken from an earlier essay on drug policy [10].  A few passages differ from the original rendering.

Rational v. Taboo Morality

I choose to distinguish two categories of morals:  The first category consists of personal or arbitrary morals, the violation of which does not interfere with the freedom or well-being of any other person except, perhaps, in an irrational way.  Thus, we could call these morals irrational morals without stretching a point.  For example, the homosexual activities of a young man may distress his mother but only because of her irrational bias.  Her freedom may be limited because she is afraid to face her friends; but, again, this is due to her misunderstanding of the situation.  What I mean by [i] arbitrary morals [or [ii] irrational morals] is roughly congruent with what Bertrand Russell [7] calls [iii] taboo morality.  [Let us take these three terms [i, ii, and, iii] to be synonymous for our purposes.]  For the most part, arbitrary morals consist of proscriptions of certain activities that are disallowed by primitive cultures for non-rational reasons or to advance the unspoken agendas of the ruling or priestly classes, which might correspond with the best interests of the people from time to time but in an unsystematic way.  Examples from this category are the requirement to do no work on the Sabbath, the proscription of eating meat on Friday (no longer in fashion), the prohibition of certain sexual acts, and the use of or abstinence from the interesting drugs.

For example, doing no work one day of the week may be a good idea to permit individuals to [refocus] themselves spiritually and to reconsider what they are doing on the other six days.  Also, it might make the tribe more cohesive and facilitate social activities to make Sunday the day off for everyone, but we no longer live in sufficiently small tribes that the regimentation of requiring the day of rest to be the same for everyone can be justified.  Even the seven-day cycle is unsuitable for many people whose inclinations and needs differ from the norm.  [Soon, we may be living in eco-communities that will resemble tribes more than they resemble nations, but I hope we shall be able to tolerate great diversity within these “tribes”.]

[Note in proof (7-10-04).  Perhaps our mean solar days (or sidereal days), lunar months, and sidereal years should be put on the decimal system.  Days (either mean-solar or sidereal, whichever is best) could be divided into decidays (144 minutes), centidays (14.4 minutes), millidays (1.44 minutes), and microdays (0.0864 seconds corresponding to greater precision in the measurement of time).  (My watch shows hundredths of seconds!)  The mismatches between days, months, and years could be dealt with in a number of ways.  I believe the day is most important and we should count up to a thousand days before beginning over.  We might then write the day of the thousand-day cycle, followed by the month number until 33863 months or one million days have expired, after which we might re-initialize the month number.  The number of sidereal years that will have passed is about 2,738, after which time someone else can figure out what to do.  Dates might look like this 512,846:21,319:1408, the 846th day of the 512th thousand-day cycle, the 21,319th month, and the 1408th year of our era, the First Era.  Dates before the initiation of this system could be written 7-10-2004, for example.  This idea just occurred to me and I have given it about ten minute’s thought only.  I don’t think I am quite the right person to work out the details.  But, notice that, by including three decimal places, I can identify to the nearest minute Moonrise on the night of the Full Moon of the Autumnal Equinox.  For example, 512,846.743:21,319.500:1408.750 would represent Moonrise of the Harvest Moon if 0.743 were the time of Moonrise and the 512,846 were the number of the day and 21, 319 were the number of the month of the Autumnal Equinox in the 1408th year.

The second category consists of higher morals the violation of which does interfere with the freedom and well-being of others, which might include plants and animals, although harming plants and animals always impacts on the human race as well.  Examples from this category are “Thou shalt not kill”, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”, thou shalt not incinerate trash, especially in the middle of an urban neighborhood, thou shalt not impose thy religious beliefs on others, thou shalt not start forest fires wantonly.  These higher morals correspond to what Bertrand Russell calls rational morals, although they might be based on aesthetics as well as reason and utility.  We shall reject lower morals as a criterion for law.

Shockingly, since the social contract – upon which we wish to achieve nearly universal consensus – can be construed to be a religion according to the RHD, I shall be advocating a community religion.  But, most religions are harmful, as shown abundantly in my essays on religion.  My solution to this problem employs the concept of a minimal proper religion, which, in turn, depends upon our ability to distinguish between proper and improper religions as defined previously.

Taboo Morality Is Coincident with Hypocrisy

Now, an important point made by Russell in his essay “On Chinese Morals” [7] is that, in many cases, taboo morals, particularly sexual morals, are morals that “we preach but seldom practice”.  We set up requirements that no man of spirit can live by.  We are not supposed to lust after a beautiful, sexual, and otherwise attractive woman; and, as soon as we do, which we cannot seem to help, we are wracked by feelings of guilt.  Moreover, we hold our elected officials to higher sexual standards than we ourselves (I am speaking of men in particular now) could ever uphold were we faced with temptations that a young, handsome millionaire who reeks of power is subjected to nearly daily.  This leads to gross hypocrisy of the most egregious type, as it discourages talented people from becoming candidates for positions that will be exposed to moral scrutiny.  (I find it difficult to imagine that anyone could hold such a position for an appreciable length of time without suffering moral decay – as Lord Acton’s proverb would have it.)

Rational Morals Are Easy To Satisfy

Russell points out that the Chinese don’t bother with morals that no one can live by.  On the other hand, everyone is expected not to violate the morals they have adopted.  The Chinese take their morals very seriously!  Of course, Judeo-Christian morality is full of ridiculous morals and neglects some very important ones.  Since Judeo-Christian morality does not satisfy reasonableness, aesthetics, or utility, it should be rejected.  To put it bluntly, it’s wrong!  Instead, why not select rational morals that we can actually live by, thus avoiding all the hypocrisy, guilt, and stupidity – the stories of which fill our junk periodicals and even first-class newspapers!  Regrettably, many of our laws are based on the Jewish and Christian religions concerning which we shall elaborate in a moment.  That’s part of the problem.  Let people have sex with whomever and under whatever circumstances they wish and, for God’s sake, get high whenever they wish and, in particular, whenever it’s the appropriate thing to do.  Every drug in its time and a time for every drug.  We are human.  Let us act like human beings – and enjoy our natural atavistic animal natures too.  It is easy to be virtuous.  Unfortunately, we Westerners haven’t the foggiest idea of what virtue is.  Russell has had the plain common sense to transcend this difficulty; and, by standing on Russell’s shoulders, I have illuminated the subject further.

Morals Are Preferable to Laws

The sense in which I use the word culture here is distinct from fine art but rather refers to the everyday life in a community, race, nation, or similarly identifiable group of people.  One could make a pretty good case that this is the only morality that matters, since practically no one adheres to secular or ecclesiastical law if he finds it inconvenient.  I will argue that The Law is practically innocuous and that the reason people take only one newspaper from the box into which one drops a quarter or more to open the hatch is that not taking more than one paper is part of their culture.  Cultural values discourage suicide by driving one’s car at full speed into the left-hand lane of a two-lane country road.  It simply is not done!  I find it amusing, and slightly disturbing, that nearly everyone ignores the Big Time morals like “Thou shalt not steal”.  Nevertheless, if a particular mode of theft, e.g., newspaper theft, is not condoned by our culture, it is avoided nearly universally.  Could it be that we are not particularly imaginative or creative?  Clearly, laws are absolutely the last resort.  They are the worst possible solution to the problem of human behavior.

The vast litany of law ensures that ignorance of the law is part of the mind set of every single individual – even Supreme Court justices.  Does anyone else find it strange that the country is 200 years old and we don’t even know what the laws should be?  When they raised the drinking age in New York State to twenty-one, I commented by way of commiseration with my students, “Can you beat that?  Two-hundred years and we still haven’t figured out what the drinking age should be”.  I’m not going to look this up, but didn’t Moses write the laws of the Hebrews in a remarkably short time and were they ever changed?  For the last ten years, I have been thinking about a tiny system of moral axioms from which all correct behavior can be derived, in which case we can dispense with legislators – perhaps even with lawyers.  In this essay, a process called delegislation is proposed to replace thousands of laws by one or two simple rules until the glorious time comes when the replacement of all laws by rational morals has been achieved.

Absolute Morals Approachable But Unattainable

Also, from Reference 10:

We would like to have a system of absolute morals, morals that are independent of culture or point of view.  Of course, some religious people believe that we already have a system of absolute morals given, for example, by the Bible, but most of these people are not aware of the epistemological difficulties that would have to be overcome to establish such a system.  Actually, it is easy to show that the Bible is entirely inadequate as a handbook of morals.  It is inconsistent and is filled with moral advice that does not satisfy aesthetics, reasonableness, or utility.

Note.  I have shown this in some detail in the essay “Separation of the State from the Christian Church and the Case Against Christianity” [5], which can be found in Vol. II of my collected essays [8], which I have called Ancillary Essays on my home page.  I return to the quoted passage.

The Basis for Moral Axioms and Philosophical Assumptions

To avoid infinite recursion we need a priori principles according to which we can evaluate the basis of our system of morals.  Suppose, following William James [11], we choose reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility.  [Note.  Reasonableness and aesthetics might be the “left brained” and “right brained” aspects of the same thing.  This is to be taken metaphorically until it is shown that reasonableness and aesthetics actually reside in the left and right sides of the brain, respectively.  For now, we shall write “left-brained” and “right-brained” in quotation marks.]  Then we are confronted with showing that reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility are suitable metaphysical values.  Somewhere we must terminate the process and agree that something must be taken on faith.  Thus, in all things, even in science, faith plays a pivotal role.

Our system of morals should be derived from a complete, self-consistent, mutually independent set of first principles that can be explained to a six-year-old and upon which most educated people can agree.  It is unlikely, though, that mutual independence is possible or necessary.  At this writing I do not know if it is possible to derive all morality from a single principle like the Freedom Axiom proposed in this essay.  (We will show that the Environmental Axiom (A2) can be derived from the Freedom Axiom (A1), but the Truth Axiom seems to be logically independent of A1 and A2.)

If, in addition, we can prove that the principles upon which our system of morals is based are optimal in the sense that they maximize personal liberty, prosperity consistent with permanence, happiness, and spiritual growth, prevent inequality and injustice, and can never lead to undesirable consequences; and, if we can find a way to win over dissent by examples and counterexamples, i.e., by inductive reasoning (not coercion), we shall have done very well indeed.  A system of morals may fall short of optimality and still be good enough to gain universal acceptance within a nation whose members are finite in number.  The probability of our system achieving global acceptance might depend on its success wherever it is first applied.

We Are Not Yet in a Position To Live without Laws

It will be some time before the people of the United States reach a consensus on a new social contract.  In the meantime, I don’t see how we can dispense with laws immediately as much as I would like to do so.  We shall have to limp along with our botched Constitution.  Perhaps the most antagonistic members of society, namely, the absolutist religionists, can possess themselves with patience to a somewhat more creditable degree while we undergo what is bound to be a profound spiritual transformation.  Perhaps, then, they may begin to understand what their religions are all about.

Laws and Morals Should Be but Are Not Consistent

To continue the above quote from my own essay [10]:

Whether a self-consistent and complete system of morals can be constructed or not, a subset of a system of morals or a superstructure built upon it has been chosen to be the law of the land, or at least that part of the law that deals with human and institutional behavior, as opposed to political formalities, e.g., when Congress shall meet.  I submit that the law should be congruent with our system of morals and easily derivable from it.  We are far from that advanced state of affairs where legislators would be unnecessary inasmuch as any normal person could determine quickly whether a given proposition was a “law” (or not) by deriving it (or its contradiction) from fundamental axioms or first principles.

In the United States, laws are not congruent with community moral standards.  This amounts to a contradiction to the detriment of Law.  Rather than having been derived from first principles, laws have been enacted willy-nilly to consolidate the power of the ruling class and to appease the superstitions of the people.  (The ruling class is defined in the appendix of this chapter.)  The American legal system is in such shambles that we can hardly be considered a society governed by laws at all.  However, everyone knows that Law has very little effect on the actual behavior of people.  Law is more or less the last resort.  People are inclined to obey the laws they wish to obey and to disregard the rest.  Presumably, however, we shall have to put up with the institution of Law for a little while longer, and the best we can do is to bring it into line with rational morals insofar as it lies within our power to do so.  Moreover, we must do our best to make community moral standards more rational.

Until delegislation is complete such laws as we require should be derived from and be congruent with a system of morals upon which we can all agree.  Probably the Freedom Axiom of this essay was the prehistoric basis for all laws, i.e., the necessity to give each person his share or his space.  In any case, there is no possibility of a nation living in America in peace unless we can agree to embrace higher morals and to recognize that some morals are a matter of personal preference.  (Even if they were the personal preference of every person in the United States, they would still be personal morals.)  [I believe that the reason we have so many gray areas in our public discussions of morals is that we are talking about the wrong morals.  With the system described in Chapter 3 most (better yet, all) of the gray areas should disappear.]  [This ends the quoted passages from Reference 10.]

It is easy to show that morals and laws (other than procedural laws, e.g., on what day a public servant retires to private life) should be congruent.

Lemma:  In any rational social contract, laws (other than procedural laws) must be identical with morals.

Proof:  Suppose not.  Either The Law is evil (something illegal but not immoral) or incomplete (something immoral but not illegal) or both.  To elaborate:

Suppose we had a law prohibiting an act that harms no one and is not offensive to the good taste or finely honed reasonableness of a rational person, e.g., the law against adding butter in which marijuana has been sautéed to coffee.  Paraphrasing Bertrand Russell:  To appeal to The Law to invalidate an act that otherwise would be good is to impute evil to The Law.  Conversely, if The Law did not prohibit telemarketers from calling us on our own phones (for which we pay the basic bill including line charges) whenever they chose (which it does not), The Law is incomplete.  If The Law of the Land achieves anything at all worth achieving, it certainly does not achieve all that its champions would like to claim for it, namely, protecting citizens from evil.

Rational Morals Provide the Nucleus of a Set of Common Assumptions in a Rational Society

Due to the technological changes in communication and for other reasons, cultural changes occur amazingly fast these days and no one can predict what might happen if a different set of core religious values were presented to society.  I intend to present an alternative core set of religious values based not on myths and superstition but rather on firm philosophical principles that satisfy our three criteria, namely, reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility.  These criteria are innate, experiential, subjective, or intuitive.

Hopefully, we can agree upon the theoretical aspects of this single most difficult task ever attempted by the human race, namely, the adoption of a new social contract for a large number of loosely linked small communities that will replace the Former United States (FUS).  The North American experiment in which a large number of (large) sovereign states were united under a constitution is over.  The United States is dead.  (We should write FUS instead of U.S.)  I set myself the task of forging a new basis for community!

Improper religions will struggle to provide the social contract, but the social contract must come from proper religion only – not just proper religion but a minimal proper religion, so as to reduce the number of points of contention to a level for which an acceptable probability of consensus can be expected.  A minimal proper religion is our best hope for a rational social contract that will be safe from the imposition of irrational religious morals.

My agenda, then, for the first  five chapters of this book is to establish a philosophical basis for a social contract that, after a suitably long period of adjustment, can be adopted by the vast majority of the members of a community, which might be very tiny, or might encompass the entire human race.  This social contract, then, will replace the Constitution locally and provide a guide for human behavior adequate to ensure peace, harmony, and a prolonged period of human happiness.  (Procedural matters, such as the time of community meetings, might be decided by consensus on an ad hoc basis.)

Many ecological systems are very large, e.g., the Mississippi Basin; therefore, many communities will need to cooperate to manage such a system successfully.  This can hardly be considered “local”.  Nevertheless, the MPRs of the several communities must be sufficiently consistent to foster ecological cooperation even though they may differ in ways that do not affect the other communities in the ecological region.  The members of each community who interact to ensure that cooperative ecological management proceeds smoothly, without misunderstandings, are the type of public servants who should be selected randomly and retired by secret ballot – if necessary.


We have solved the problem of the failure of the doctrine of separation of church and state by distinguishing two types of religions – proper and improper.  Improper religions disqualify themselves from any rational social contract by their own irrationality.  We have solved the problem of achieving wide acceptance for a rational community religion by postulating a certain type of rational religion, a minimal proper religion (MPR), that protects a community of autonomous people from any restrictions upon their (personal and individual) autonomy.  (We intend that the members of the community be autonomous and self-governing at the individual level, not merely at the community level.)  Let us now consider the construction of a philosophy that will provide a suitable basis for an MPR whether it’s considered religious or secular philosophy.  (Recall the similarities in the definitions of religion and philosophy.)

On Philosophy

No man who shuts his eyes and opens his mouth when religion and morality are concerned can share the same Parnassian bench with those who make an original contribution to religion and morality, were it only a criticism. – George Bernard Shaw, The Irrational Knot


I am not a professional philosopher, nor am I particularly learned in the history of philosophical thought; therefore, whatever I do in this essay must be especially simple if I am to have a decent chance of getting it right.  I am not inclined to read the philosophers of “antiquity”, which shall be taken to include Hegel and all those who precede him.  Without going into specific examples – to save space, I believe they accept too many premises, such as the validity of rulers and slaves, that are not acceptable in the present era.  Also, their methods of obtaining proofs seem to be inferior to the methods of the best mathematicians, such as Poincaré, Hilbert, and Lax, who is still alive.  Regrettably, when I attend lectures on philosophy, I am disappointed that the speaker is interested in the philosophy of someone else, such as Leibnitz, Bentham, or Aristotle, rather than his or her own philosophy.  If a professor of philosophy discusses a new point, it is usually a point that is so narrow that the outcome of the discussion is irrelevant.  Presumably, professors of philosophy know what they are doing and why, but the point of their efforts eludes me – for which I make no apology.  I am aware of my debt to philosophers, though, and I shall begin by borrowing from William James.

[Note in proof 9-23-95.  Many months after this section was written I read Bertrand Russell’s wonderful book A History of Western Philosophy [12].  It convinced me that I haven’t missed much in neglecting the philosophers who preceded me other than John Dewey.  Also, I heard about Charles Sanders Peirce [13] at a meeting of The Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy.  And, of course, we have Russell himself.]

On Existence

The discussion in this section touches on existence itself.  We would like to define existence in terms of primitive concepts.  However, it is difficult to find a concept more primitive than existence.  Obviously the word “thing” follows from existence rather than precedes it.  Nevertheless, we shall use the word “thing” in deciding what exists.  Following the old semantic trick, we say that everything exists provided it is not said to be something that it is not.  By thing we do not limit ourselves to corporeal things.

Definition (Existence).  1. Existence is a name for all that exists.  2. Existence is a property of things that exist and everything exists unless it is said to be something that it is not.

[Note in proof (12-4-04).  Consider the statement, “Some things don’t exist.”  Is this a paradox that requires a sharpening of our definition of existence?  The statement seems to say, “Some things exist that don’t exist” or “There exists a non-empty class of objects that both do exist and do not exist,” which is paradoxical.  Thus, the thing is said to be something that it is not, therefore it does not exist.  But, it was said that it does not exist, therefore it is not said to be something it is not.  So, it exists.  This is amusing and, perhaps, a waste of time, but, otherwise, unimportant.  The correct sentence is, “Some things do not belong to the Universe or even the Ideals; they belong to our imaginations, our mythology, and/or our fiction.”  This sentence is easy to parse, whereas the sentence “Some things don’t exist” is bad syntax, but otherwise innocuous.]

Our conception of existence is illustrated by Fig. 1-1.  The thick rectangle is supposed to be the boundary of all that exists.  (Never mind the finiteness, boundedness, and two-dimensionality.)  We divide existence into five parts as follows:

1.         The Universe, U, in space and time (with a few extra compact dimensions thrown in to account for the fundamental forces according to Grand Unified Theories).  I do not know if this can be said to include all of time or not.  (Sometimes only the part of U of which we are aware is referred to as the real world.  On other occasions the term real world is taken to be synonymous with U.  Differences should be clear from context.  In my philosophy, The World, W, refers to all that exists, i.e., Fig. 1-1.  Thus W = U U M U I U R U E .  For the benefit of the uninitiated, I should say that the symbol in the equation that looks a little like a sans-serif U is the symbol for union; i.e., the objects represented by the letters U, M, I, R, and E are joined together and taken all together to be The World.)  The symbol W, then, refers to The World in the large sense as it actually is.

[Note in proof 4-13-96.  I believe I can describe a universe that includes all of time and is all of a piece.  Every future event in that universe is predetermined, however no part of that universe can be said to be conscious mind.  Therefore, events in mind are not predetermined.  They enjoy a separate existence, which cannot alter the future of the universe in any way.  Nevertheless, from the point of view of mind, the way in which it makes its decisions, i.e., its free will, makes all the difference in the world.  What we think determines who we are and our relation to the universe even though it has no effect on the universe as it really is.  This is good enough.  I am not claiming that what I have just written is the actual case.  It is only a renegade thought.]

2.         Mind, M, i.e., the sum total of all mental activity and mental latency of all creatures.  Mind might be a subset of the universe.  I don’t know.  Probably, it cannot be known.  I do not require a one-to-one relationship between mind and events in the universe such as the flow of electronic currents or the migration of ions in brains even though such a relationship might exist.  Mind may be a large connected set or a large number of disjoint sets.  The topology of mind is not understood.

3.         The realm of Ideals, I, which includes, among many other things, every geometry that could ever exist complete with every lemma, theorem, and corollary – including the correct geometry of the universe, the Grand Unified Theories, if they exist, in all their glory and for every possible world, relations in their universal sense, i.e., greater than, North of, and many other things – things that Russell calls universals.  The Ideals are eternal and immutable.

4.         The correct relations among things in U and M belong to the realm of the Relations, R, e.g., the distance from the tip of my nose to every other macroscopic, identifiable object in the Universe as I go on my nightly walk is a collection of relations.  Of course, incorrect relations exist only in Mind or on the printed page where they are mere artifacts of the Universe.  In fact, if one says that the distance from the tip of my nose to the edge of the Grand Canyon – now – is six feet, one speaks of something that does not exist – not the distance of the tip of my nose from the Grand Canyon – then – but the six-foot relation as an object in R.  That relation is said to be something that it is not, so it cannot be in R, which consists of correct relations only.  Notice that the correct relations are hardly ever known to Mind, first, because their infinitude dwarfs what can be known and, second, because we do not apprehend sense data with infinite precision.  The relations available to our minds are only approximations to the correct relations in R, which, nevertheless, exist – unless quantum mechanics somehow makes them impossible, in which case we would replace them with quantum surrogates.  This is much more than we need to know; so, necessarily, I have said more than I needed to say.  Please disregard anything that seems vague or otherwise incomprehensible.

5.         Everything Else, E, i.e., that in which U, M, I, and R are embedded, if it exists, whether it has dimensionality or not – something completely beyond our comprehension or imagination.

Note.  The Relations (not the universal relations, which abide in I, such as to the right of, greater than, etc.) evolve in time, but whether or not all Relations for all time exist depends upon whether the Universe, for example, in all of its proper dimensions including time-like dimensions exists; i.e., not only the present exists, but the past and the future exist on an equal footing with the so-called present.  This is an interesting question, which opens up inquiry into Everything Else (E), in particular, the possibility of something in which U, M, I, and R are embedded.  If that “space” has a time-like dimension, U et al. would appear from the viewpoint of an intelligence living in E, which, if you remember, we know nothing about, as a complete and finished object.

Clearly, this division of existence is valid logically.  It is – quite simply – a linguistic convenience, but it achieves a great deal philosophically in that it solves “the problem of God”, for example.  It provides a place for God to exist without resorting to a statement such as “God is all in all”, which would be an abuse of language.  It comes perilously close to being the “merest truism”; nevertheless, I believe we shall find it useful.  For example, we have solved the problem of metaphysical truth, which shall arise in Chapter 3, by reducing it to semantics.

At the same time we have proved half of a conjecture I would like to present for the reader’s consideration, namely, that it is impossible to prove either the existence or non-existence of God – under any reasonable definition of God.  Clearly, this proves that a non-existence proof is impossible.  But, how can we prove the impossibility of an existence proof?  Such a proof would be extremely useful.  In particular, it would permit us to follow Walt Whitman’s alleged advice, “Don’t argue about God.”

The category of the Relations was defined to deal with the slight (or profound?) difficulty in identifying the Ideals.  When first defined, these were of two types – regrettably.  Type I: the eternal and timeless Ideals such as the Idea of the color blue.  Type II: the constantly enlarging set of relations among things in U and M, e.g., as I go for my evening walk, the relativistic distances (intervals) between a point on my right thumb and the other objects in the Universe, the relation of every thought of one man to every thought of another.  One would like to have the eternal things in a different set from the relations in the evolving Universe; however, we are getting used to regarding time as not very different from the other dimensions regardless of its “arrow”.  Who knows but that some of the (compact) dimensions required to unify the forces may have arrows as well.  After much deliberation, I have called the Type II Ideals the Relations.  However, one wonders if all of Euclidean Geometry – complete and perfect – is a collection of relations and nothing more, in which case the categories are badly named.  Let the reader decide.

Avoiding Infinite Regression

At a well-known West Coast university, a series of weekly lectures in science was open to the general public.  A lecturer had just finished describing the manner in which the earth revolves about the sun.  “Nice theory,” quoth an elderly woman, “but the earth rests on the backs of four elephants who stand on the back of a giant turtle.”  With an appreciative grin the lecturer countered with the usual Socratic question as to what supported the turtle.  “Oh, I know all about that old argument, but it’s turtles all the way down.”  [Note in proof (7-20-2004).  This is not a true story, probably.]

William James [11] based his evaluations of religious sentiments on his personal judgments and experience of philosophical reasonableness and moral helpfulness.  Following James, I have avoided infinite regression, e.g., “turtles all the way down”, by basing my three moral axioms and my philosophical assumptions (or articles of faith if you prefer) upon my innate judgments of reasonableness and aesthetics and my acquired conception of utility, which might have originated, at least in part, from my experience of pleasure and pain.  The foundation of my philosophy differs somewhat from the criteria of James, but what I owe to James is the principle that one not only can but must rely on oneself to provide a foundation for a philosophical edifice.

[Note in proof (1-1-97).  When I say “rely on oneself” I refer to certain primitive judgments that are fundamentally subjective – although we may hope for a large class of human beings, perhaps all human beings, experiencing such things in a manner sufficiently similar to the manner in which we ourselves experience them.  Perhaps these subjective judgments are universal in nature and we and other people will agree on important matters of aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.]

My three moral axioms are, roughly speaking, (i) respect for the freedom of oneself and others, (ii) respect for the environment, including animals and plants, and (iii) respect for truth.  From these axioms and the basic assumptions, I derive additional morals and what are commonly known as rights, i.e., certain liberties permitted by the axioms and certain entitlements similarly derived.  I next define justice and finally arrive at a rational, beautiful, and practical social contract upon which we can gather a very general consensus that permits a community to function in peace and harmony essentially without government!  This social contract is what I have termed a minimal proper religion.

Presumably, we are born with a sense of what is reasonable.  If not, we acquire it at such an early age that it is not necessary, for this discussion, to determine how it arises.  Aesthetics, too, is assumed to be given a priori, but I shall not rely on that assumption here.  Then, (1) our experiences of the world, i.e., the universe, which we acquire through our physical senses, extended, perhaps, by instruments, and (2) the events that take place in our own minds, can be used to develop the ability to reason (without assuming that the real world exists; that is, we may be reasoning about things that have no independent existence).  But, once we have developed the ability to reason, perhaps by studying logic, sentential calculus, set theory, Boolean algebra, or the works of the masters, we may use it to interpret our experiences as evidence of an objective world; that is, we may deduce the existence of a real world using our developed reason.

[Note in proof (3-28-95).  I do not wish to argue the reality of the complementary measurement in quantum mechanics, e.g., the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) thought experiment [14].  Personally, I believe the indeterminate observable is just as real as the measured one; but, obviously, something is real – either the horizontal spin or the vertical spin.]

[Note in proof (9-24-96).  Underlying the phenomena we observe lies something that has an existence independent of ourselves as evidenced by the undeniable fact that the Aspect experiments (well-known to physicists [14]) will yield the same results no matter who performs them.]

Once we have established the independent existence of the world, we may rely upon the evidence of our senses and our consciousness to develop a sense of utility enhanced by our comprehension of pleasure and pain.  Our comprehension of pleasure and pain is based, in part, on our sense of aesthetics, which we assumed was given a priori, but which may be enhanced by experience and other factors.  We are now in possession of the three tools, namely, reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility, with which we will evaluate philosophical assumptions and moral axioms.  I hope that I am not an anomalous specimen of humanity, but that my primitive notions will be experienced by most, if not all, of humanity.

Once the moral axioms have been stated with a sufficient degree of rigor, a system of morals can be derived from them that can serve, in turn, as a basis for human rights and for the rights of other creatures.  Justice is based on morals and rights.  Thus, morals are based on aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility; rights and justice are based on morals; and our knowledge of the world, including our knowledge of the usefulness of things, is supposed to come from experience and reason.  What we choose to experience or apply our powers of reasoning to, and how we decide to take the next step in our reasoning may be dictated by our imaginations or other faculties, which might include intuition, a faculty that is presumed to come primarily from experience.  It is not necessary to suppose that the origins of intuition are well understood.  We do not necessarily deny the existence of divine inspiration.  If the conclusions based on the moral system derived from the fundamental assumptions and the moral axioms lead back to reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility, we will have developed a consistent philosophy.  I do not see how we can hope to do better.  If some future generation accepts it as a minimal proper religion suitable for a social contract upon which a cooperative society such as the one described in this essay can be based, the most improbable dream of a dreamer of impossible dreams will have come true.

I shall give a list of philosophical assumptions, which might as well be called articles of faith.  I hope that I do not assume too much.  This essay is supposed to be an example of the axiomatic methods of science applied to human society.  Normally, if an axiom is required to prove what we already believe is true, we simply go ahead and assume it.  For example, most of modern mathematics rests on the Axiom of Choice, which makes claims about what would happen in a process that takes place an infinite number of times, namely, the selection of one member from each of an uncountable number of nonempty sets [15].  Naturally, the axiom cannot be verified experimentally; moreover, it might be possible to derive an entirely different mathematics by assuming that the Axiom of Choice is false.  I cannot imagine what would be gained by devoting volumes to determining which is the case even if it is possible to do so.  [I believe that it is not.]

I hope that this development is adequate, but, if it turns out to be deficient, I will add whatever else I need to construct this system, which appears to me to be nearly complete according to my intellect and my intuition.  These ideas came to me in chronological order, i.e., in the only way in which anything comes to anyone, rather than in logical order, so I must search constantly for errors that may have arisen in the reordering process that occurs when one thinks and writes.  This is an important point, which, it seems to me, is frequently overlooked, namely, that we do not present arguments in the order in which they occur to us.  One of the ramifications of this may account for our unwillingness to abandon our most cherished notions.

Reasonableness and Aesthetics

Reasonableness is very much related to our sense of aesthetics.  Musicians say that a beautiful passage “makes sense” and mathematicians say a reasonable argument is “beautiful”.  Perhaps the part of our being that receives pleasure from things aesthetic is identical with or similar to the part of our being that finds satisfaction in things that make sense.  It is possible that, if they are not identical but rather two parts of ourselves, they are mirror images of one another, one on the right side of the brain, the other on the left.  (Since the right-brain / left-brain theory is unproved, hereafter I shall enclose the terms in quotes to indicate the provisional and figurative nature of the terminology.  I do not need to inquire into their mechanisms to identify them categorically or definitionally, but I would like to inquire, briefly, into the origins of our sense of beauty and our sense of reasonableness so that I can depend upon them as a guide for philosophical judgments.)

Are we born with a sense of aesthetics, which, for me, is the same as the sense of beauty?  If so, are we born with a sense of what is reasonable?  If we are not born with them, do we acquire them early in our lives in an infallible way upon which we can depend with as much certainty as if we were born with them?  In the introduction to The Critique of Pure Reason [16], Immanuel Kant claims the existence of a priori synthetic judgments, however the examples he gives do not seem to be valid – in my opinion.  The first example is mathematics, which as I have noted below, is essentially definitional and, therefore, analytic, as opposed to synthetic.  [Note in proof.  The definitions from which mathematics is derived by analysis are synthesized, therefore I am not sure to which category mathematics ought to belong.]  The second example is the judgment that every effect has a cause, which might be discredited by the quantum theory.  Thus, Kant ends up by trying to determine the properties of a class of objects which may not have any members.

But, if any form of knowledge could be both a priori and synthetic, it seems that it must be our sense of beauty.  As far as we know, the beauty of an object cannot be deduced from it by analysis (although probably some scientist or artist is trying to discover how to do it); moreover, it seems that it is not given by experience either.  Thus, if I do not misapprehend Kant’s intention, our sense of beauty must be an a priori synthetic judgment.  It remains only to determine that our sense of beauty, for example, is what Kant meant by a judgment or a faculty of judgment and I must assume that it is.  On the other hand, if Kant would exclude the sense of beauty and the sense of reasonableness from his category of a priori synthetic judgments, his category might be empty, which, of course, is of absolutely no importance.

In this essay, I do not appeal to the idea of a conscience.  If the conscience is, in whole or in part, the residuum of notions picked up in our earliest years, before we were able to apply our judgment, then, conceivably, a portion of it could be confused with aesthetics.  We might judge that something, e.g., sex, is not beautiful because we have retained an irrational notion that it is not beautiful from notions picked up early on that are in conflict with what we would decide had we been left alone.  We would like to distinguish conscience as a negative attribute in contradistinction to aesthetics and reasonableness, which we hold to be natural and desirable.  This is a mere semantic quibble and should not cause any difficulties.

Similar reasoning can be applied to our sense of reasonableness.  I am not referring to the science of logic or to the theory of sets.  In order to acquire these systems of thought one must already be in possession of a sense of reasonableness or one would not be able to turn the first page without throwing up one’s hands in disgust or despair.  We understand the fundamental premises of these systems of thought because we are given a sense of what is reasonable a priori.  Moreover, the reasonableness of something cannot be deduced from its other qualities without having in place the mechanisms of thought upon which analysis is based and these mechanisms must follow from our sense of what is reasonable.  Piaget [17] has given evidence of developed reasoning ability in very young children, who, presumably, are not in possession of a calculus of reasoning such as set theory.  I do not know the position of modern child psychology on when the rudiments of reason can first be observed in infants.

We begin to experience the real world (the objective universe or, at least, the part of it of which we are aware) through our senses before we are able to deduce its existence.  Also, we are aware of events occurring in our own minds whether we consider them a part of the real world or not.  We take advantage of these experiences, which might include our educations, to develop our innate reasonableness into an ability to reason.  We are able, then, to deduce the existence of an objective universe from the evidence of our senses.  Since I will not give the steps in this deductive process, I will assume the existence of the real world as an article of faith.

Note:  Despite the results of the Alain Aspect experiments to test Bell’s Inequality [14], I still insist that something objective and real lies underneath all of these phenomena because the experiments come out the same no matter who performs them.  This underlying reality may be much weirder than we have been able to imagine, however.


Our experience consists of our perceptions of events in the world through our physical senses and the events that occur in our own minds, which we interpret as joy, sadness, pain, love, anger, hate, compassion, nostalgia, etc.  We are endowed, too, with memory.  The faculties with which we are endowed permit us to develop our primitive sense of reasonableness into an ability to reason, which, in turn, permits us to deduce the reality of some sort of objective universe – regardless of our position in the Einstein-Bohr debate, if we, indeed, have such a position.  Our initial experiences and impressions of existence come far in advance of that deduction and, without reasoning, cannot be presumed not to be delusions.  Given an objective reality, which includes our own existence and the events that occur in our minds, we are in a position to judge the usefulness of objects and institutions that spawn events of a predictable nature.  Since we believe in objective reality as a collection of events and we believe in ourselves, we are not in doubt as to the meaning of experience.  Utility, then, is judged in terms of experience and how we perceive pleasure and pain, that is, in terms of our sensibilities.  We may exercise our sense of aesthetics, too, in evaluating usefulness.  I do not wish to explore the role played by experience in the development of our sense of aesthetics.  It may be similar to the role played by experience in the development of reason, but, since I do not claim that our sense of aesthetics has developed into anything new (such as artistic infallibility), I do not need to explore that subject further.

We now have a complete basis for judging values, philosophical assumptions, and moral systems, namely, (i) aesthetics, which is presumed to have been given a priori, (ii) reason, an outgrowth of our primitive sense of reasonableness, and (iii) utility, which is based on experience of the real world.  We can construct a basis, then, for deciding what else can be known and for evaluating new knowledge, but we should be aware that the basis rests on assumptions that may not be correct.

Occurrence Implication and Occurrence Equivalence

In mathematical logic, letters stand for simple statements.  For example, the letter A might stand for “It is snowing” or “All governments are bad” or “Smarty Jones is a dog with two heads” or “All horses have five legs”.  In the statement “It is snowing”, one wonders what or who “It” is.  The sentence could have been replaced by “We have snow” or “There is snow” or, simply, “Snowing”.  The symbols A B are read normally as “A implies B”; however, all of the following are equivalent: (i) A implies B, (ii) B if A, (iii) A only if B, (iv) not-B implies not-A, (v) B is a necessary condition for A, (vi) A is a sufficient condition for B, (vii) if A then B.  By the symbols A ↔ B we mean: (i) A implies B and B implies A, (ii) if A then B and if B then A, (iii) A if and only if B, (iv) A is a necessary and sufficient condition for B, all of which express the fact that (v) A and B are logically equivalent.

By analogy with the preceding, we may use symbols to stand for circumstances that obtain in society such as ‘Materialism’, ‘Tyranny’, ‘Environmental Destruction’, or ‘Dishonesty’.  As in the case of ‘Snowing’, ‘Materialism’ means ‘There is materialism’ or ‘We have materialism’, ‘Materialism is occurring’, etc.  Let us replace the questionable notion of cause and effect, as in A causes B, with the useful concept of occurrence implication by analogy with A implies B.  In this book, I represent occurrence implication with the symbols A B which mean that B occurs whenever A occurs.  If we have A, B is present too, or, at least, it soon will be.  We cannot have A without B, which is the same as not-(A & not-B).  We neglect time lags separating the occurrence of A from the occurrence of B as these, typically, are short in comparison with the time frames with which we shall be concerned.  Finally, in analogy with logical equivalence, we have occurrence equivalence, written A ↔ B, whenever A → B and B A.  Occurrence equivalence is an equivalence relation in the mathematical sense.

Occurrence Equivalence as Evidence of Divinity

Of any personal experience that would suggest to me the existence of a Divine Intelligence, I find the following the most compelling:  It seems to me that everything that is reasonable is beautiful and practical; everything that is beautiful is reasonable and practical; and everything that is practical is reasonable and beautiful.  This strikes me as truly wonderful.  I interpret it to mean that, despite the enormous amount of evil in the world, a just and perfect world is within the reach of mankind and our fellow species.  I am aware that we may have evolved in such a way that this occurrence equivalence works for us and that the amazing coincidence in which I rejoice is merely a natural result of the way in which we evolved with no need for divine intervention whatever.  Nevertheless, I like to think that we would judge reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility the same no matter how we evolved and no matter what we evolved into.  Contact with extraterrestrials might settle the question, but I can’t imagine what else would.  Do you ever get the feeling that you are out of your depth?

A Minimal Proper Religion as a Social Contract

Minimal Proper Religions

For the convenience of the reader, the definition of an MPR is repeated:

Definition (Minimal Proper Religion).  A minimal proper religion (MPR) is a proper religion that incorporates the minimal number of behavioral requirements necessary to ensure “sustainable happiness” for all of humanity.  An MPR places constraints upon those who agree to follow it, but only those constraints upon behavior and public policy that cannot be relaxed without creating unbearable misery for a significant portion of humanity.

The MPR proposed by me makes no statements about the nature of any god or gods.  It has no unnecessary intellectual baggage; and, although it is designed to gain nearly universal consensus, it prohibits unlimited procreation and any form of trade or commerce (in keeping with the freedom axiom).  Obviously, it will not be accepted by everyone immediately.  Nevertheless, it has a set of conditions none of which can be removed without destroying the possibility of sustainable human happiness; so, it is minimal.  Admittedly, this is counter-intuitive (not what most people would expect).

A minimal proper religion, either mine or someone else’s, has the potential to be the basis for a social contract among the people of a community, which might be as large as the United States, although it would be better if communities were smaller, more decentralized, and, indeed, quite local.  It is recognized, though, that some sort of contract among essentially all the people of the world is necessary eventually, in particular so that resources can be shared without introducing contingency.  Again I point out that I could avoid the term minimal proper religion and go directly to social contract, but I like to anticipate my critics.  It is important to prevent improper religions from trying to pass themselves off as legitimate candidates for social contracts because we shall be indoctrinating very young children with our social contract so that we won’t need a government.  Perhaps, no one has tried to indoctrinate children with rational philosophical tenets.  Naturally previous attempts to indoctrinate children with unreasonable philosophical or religious tenets have failed and we still have governments – all bad.

The important thing is to achieve a nearly universal consensus about how people living in a community will behave; and, for that difficult goal, one needs the fewest conditions possible.  The social contract must deal in a humane and enlightened manner with a few people who do not accept the social contract (based on a minimal proper religion) no matter how reasonable, beautiful, and practical it may be.  It will be assumed that something close to a universal consensus can be achieved.  This is like Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.  You don’t have to sell it.  People accept it when they understand it.  Eventually almost no one thinks it’s wrong whether they understand it or not.  Of course, it will have to be modified eventually because, although it’s the best thing we’ve got, IT IS WRONG.  (Not because it is disallowed by some reactionary principle but because it is not sufficiently radical.)

Building Upon a Minimal Proper Religion

We might think of the following as interior decoration for the soul.  [Sometimes I think of the soul as the history and future, i.e., the trajectory (if you like that word), of the mind.  We can count people by counting souls.  Please do not argue with me about the soul.]  In addition to the conditions in the social contract, people may place themselves under any number of behavioral requirements or conditions (as long as the conditions are consistent with the social contract) and may believe in a God, or a Life Force, or Élan Vital, or whatever they wish to call it.  In my linguistic categorization of the world-in-the-large-sense (all that exists), I solved the problem of God by recognizing that the Universe, the Ideals, the Relations, and Mind might be embedded in something, therefore I have provided a category called Everything Else.

I find, upon close introspection, that, whether I wish to or not, I do believe in a personal god, but that belief is not part of my MPR because it is not needed to achieve sustainable happiness for all, nor can it be accounted for by any rational process.  It is the philosophical system described in this essay, not the religion of my heart, that provides a basis for an MPR.  While an irrational belief in God may be a part of my heart’s own religion, it doesn’t belong in my philosophical system.  It is, in fact, a superstition!  The position of my MPR is that I don’t know, you don’t know, no one knows, and it can’t be known, whether or not there is a god and, if there is, what it’s like.  I call this position hard agnosticism.  I, like everyone else, can and will believe whatever I please – or everything, or nothing, or what is reasonably likely to be true.  An MPR says nothing about belief and very little about public policy – only the absolute minimum that must be said to protect the rights of others.

A Rational Philosophical Basis for a Minimal Proper Religion

Many able thinkers have attempted to give the Judeo-Christian tradition a philosophical basis, but this was done many years after the tradition was firmly established.  Predictably all such attempts have failed.  The Jewish and Christian religions arose more or less independently of rational or critical thought and it is extremely unlikely that they could be given a rational basis a posteriori.  And yet the aforementioned thinkers recognized the desirability of a rational philosophical basis in view of the ascendancy of science almost concurrently with the Christian era.

I agree that such a rational philosophical basis for religion is desirable.  Consider for a moment all of the people who place their faith in science every day with the sole exception of the Sabbath, upon which day they suspend disbelief in the irrational and superstitious aspects of their particular religion, attend church, and do violence to the consistency of their mental attitudes.  This is undesirable as it makes the mind much more susceptible to the holding of contradictory beliefs, which is a form of mental derangement and can have dire effects on the behavior of its victims.

The Subject of The Varieties of Religious Experience Compared to a Proper Religion

In the course of lectures upon which he based his famous book, The Varieties of Religious Experience [11], William James deliberately chose to concentrate upon a particular aspect of religious experience, namely, the personal aspect.  I am curious to determine if his avoidance of the ecclesiastical and formal aspects of religion, e.g., the commonplace ritual of going to church on Sunday, can be construed as a much earlier rejection of improper religions.  Thus, I am largely motivated by natural curiosity and self-interest to determine if William James anticipated some of my “original” ideas.  This has been an afterthought.  My system was developed completely before it occurred to me that James and I might share similar views.  While it should be a matter of complete indifference to the reader, I find that I cannot resist this brief digression.  It might even be a source of gratification to discover that not every thought that entered my head found its first earthly home there!

James defends his choice of personal over ecclesiastical (or formal) religion by noting that all formal religions began with someone’s personal religious experience.  He argues that personal religious experiences are more profound than the alternatives.  “Lutherans wouldn’t attend the church of their choice had not Luther experienced religion in a way that quite probably is to be denied his latter-day followers.”  I concur.  My personal religious interests are congruent with the pedagogical choices of James, which is not something I normally report, except that, in this case, I wonder to what extent his notion of personal religion corresponds with my notion of proper religion, even though I do not consider James’s opinion more important than yours or mine or in any way essential to my thesis.  The reader, therefore, may skip this section as it is strictly tangential.

I would like to dismiss improper religions completely.  Improper religions are not religions.  In his famous book, James makes no such claims and freely admits that institutions that satisfy other definitions of religion or, actually, aspects of religion, which might include “improper religions”, may properly be called religion.  Thus, according to James, improper religions might be proper.  (Of course James hadn’t seen television evangelists.)  As he says, “[I]t would indeed be foolish to set up an absolute definition of religion’s essence and then proceed to defend that definition against all comers, yet this need not prevent me from taking my own narrow view of what religion shall consist in for the purpose of these lectures, or, out of the many meanings of the word, from choosing the one meaning in which I wish to interest you particularly, and proclaiming arbitrarily that when I say ‘religion’ I mean that.”

And, further, “Worship and sacrifice, procedures for working on the disposition of the deity, theology and ceremony and ecclesiastical organization, are the essentials of religion and the institutional branch.  Were we to limit our view to it, we should have to define religion as an external art, the art of winning the favor of the gods.  In the more personal branch of religion it is on the contrary the inner dispositions of man himself which form the center of interest, his conscience, his deserts, his helplessness, his incompleteness.  And, although the favor of the God, as forfeited or gained, is still an essential feature of the story, and theology plays a vital part therein, yet the acts to which this sort of religion prompts are personal not ritual acts, the individual transacts the business alone, and the ecclesiastical organization, with its priests and sacraments and other go-betweens, sinks to an altogether secondary place.  The relation goes direct from heart to heart, from soul to soul, between man and his maker.”

I think it is fair to say that James has expressed a preference in this passage that night be congruent with my view.  I have not proposed an exact definition of the essence of religion.  Working backwards I gave a preliminary list of what proper religions are not!  I didn’t say that my list was exhaustive.  James may not wish to offend the purveyors of improper religions, as I term them; but, probably, his sympathies lie with me.

However, the minimal proper religion would not be received enthusiastically by James – the religionist.  He would find it too dispassionate and, frankly, too lukewarm, for a religious concept.  The sort of religion James had in mind would be considered madness by many people:  “There can be no doubt that as a matter of fact a religious life, exclusively pursued, does tend to make the person exceptional and eccentric.  I speak not of your ordinary religious believer, who follows the conventional observances of his country.  These experiences we can only find in individuals for whom religion exists not as a dull habit, but as an acute fever rather.  But such individuals are ‘geniuses’ in the religious line, and like many other geniuses who have brought forth fruits effective enough for commemoration in the pages of biography, such religious geniuses have often shown symptoms of nervous instability.”

As the reader may have noticed, such “nervous instability” is no longer tolerated in the United States, if it ever was.  One might just as well be a drug addict.  I must not conclude these remarks without discussing my personal religious feelings, including a sense of awe and wonder and a feeling that my every thought and deed is informed by something divine that completely fills my being in the unlikely event that I am fortunate enough to take the right drugs under the right circumstances.  This is a feeling that renders death itself a matter of no importance.  I wonder if anyone in America has what can reasonably be called a religious experience without drugs.  I tend to doubt it because our “advanced” capitalist industrial and technological society floods our minds to their utmost capacity with the thousands of mundane and materialistic considerations that fill our day.  Although, in a certain sense God is everywhere (or nowhere), one is not likely to experience the divine spark of the Holy Ghost in one’s bank, brokerage, or business.  The sacred drugs permit one to discard all of this obsession with “coping” with “life” for an interlude protracted to as much of the rest of our lives as possible, depending on our capacities.  During that blessèd interval, we can be what we were intended to be.  The reader had better think twice before he persecutes the next druggie he meets.  The druggie may be one of God’s own people – if I may indulge in a literary figure.

September 8, 1996

How a Social Contract Based on Consensus Might Work

Becoming a Party to a Valid Social Contract

When we discussed proper religions and minimal proper religion, we noted that a minimal proper religion could be the basis for a social contract.  When a child reaches the age of reason, he may elect to accept the social contract enjoying currency.  An alternative is to surrender his personal sovereignty to one or more of his guardians until some later time when he feels he is better prepared to take that step.

Rejecting a Social Contract

Also, he has the option to reject the social contract and retain his personal sovereignty just as a head of a foreign state living in our community might do.  Personal sovereignty is the sovereignty that remains when all other sovereignty is found to be invalid.  He would enjoy diplomatic immunity and other similar considerations until such time as he wishes to join the community into which he has been born.  He must not be treated as a criminal under any circumstances because he has not agreed upon the moral code by which the majority live.  If his behavior creates a very great nuisance, he may be treated as a prisoner of war with all of the privileges pertaining thereto.  Personal sovereignty persists under all conditions.  All contracts are voluntary.  That is guaranteed by the Freedom Axiom.

Definitions of Terms Employed in Fundamental Theorem

Sustainable Happiness for All of Humanity

Definition of Happiness

By happiness we do not mean a continuous state of bliss.  We agree that happiness requires a reasonable satisfaction of the usual tissue deficits.  One can be happy while one is a little hungry, but one cannot be expected to be happy in the technical sense while starving to death, or, as we shall make clear in a moment, while one’s child is starving to death.

Following Deci and Ryan [1], we say that happiness is a state of mind that often occurs when the following necessary conditions are met: (a) autonomy, (b) effectiveness, and (c) relatedness.  (We prefer this phenomenological definition because we cannot measure the state of a person’s mind.)

Autonomy means that the requirements of the Freedom Axiom, discussed in detail in Chapter 3, are satisfied.  We are free.  [See also the note following the definition of happiness on p. 79 in Chapter 3.]

Effectiveness refers to the accomplishment of something satisfying and possibly useful.  The usefulness may come from our interest in the task and may have nothing to do with scarcity economics.  Time passes so quickly that we are amazed when we realize how long we have been completely engaged and totally absorbed in our task.  We say we are “in the flow” or “in a zone”.  Our thirst for effectiveness ensures that mankind will not perish in a world where no one is required to do anything to live.  Everyone must do something to be happy!

Relatedness refers to our interactions with and feelings toward other sentient beings, in particular, human society.  The need for relatedness makes cooperation worthwhile and accounts for the unhappiness of a woman whose child is starving although she may not be.

Finally, happiness in this technical sense requires that the conditions discussed above exist in perpetuity.  Happiness requires safety.  We must be free of worry that the other requirements for happiness can be taken away (by the rise of a despotic “natural leader”, for example).  “Acts of God”, on the other hand, such as astronomical catastrophes, we accept with equanimity, free of negative emotion, and we die the good death of a person who has lived a happy life – without regrets or bitterness of any kind.  Actually, most of us don’t devote much of our concern to worries that the sun will burn out or that earth will be struck by a huge comet.  And, we should not be influenced by desperate scientists, about to lose lucrative defense contracts, to invest in a gigantic big-science, Star-Wars-type Asteroid Defense Project.  Nor, should we be tempted to avert the end of the human race by escape to outer space, as explained in my essay “On Space Travel and Research” [8].  The point is that wisdom, concomitant with happiness, transcends fear of calamity.

To summarize, the conditions for happiness are:

1.         Reasonable satisfaction of tissue deficits.

2a.       Autonomy or freedom from tyranny.

2b.       Effectiveness, the ability to interact with one’s environment in a satisfying and  positive manner.

2c.       Relatedness, good relations with fellow human beings and, perhaps, animals.

3.         Safety, assurance that the above four preconditions cannot be taken away, except, perhaps, by Mother Nature, e.g., astronomical events.

Hypothetical World W′

1.  Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is assumed to be the preferred form of human motivation.  This is the basis for the scientific theory under development by a number of scientists, notably Deci and Ryan [1].  [Note in proof (11-27-96).  I can now provide a long list of peer-reviewed scientific research papers that support the theory of intrinsic motivation.  This research makes intrinsic motivation much more than a philosophical assumption.  A dedicated bibliography of just the papers read by this author is given at the end of Appendix III.]

[Note in proof (7-20-2004) on Intrinsic Motivation.  For most of my life, I have been driven by extrinsic motivation, that is, by parents, teachers, and bosses.  Since 1989, I have had no such motivation.  I can testify that, without extrinsic motivation, I had a hard time moving.  This corroborates Deci and Ryans’ finding that extrinsic motivation poisons intrinsic motivation.  Nevertheless, I did get moving, at last, and I have completed a considerable volume of work, some of which can be found on this website.  Lately, I have been “working” sixteen hours a day, with the hours melting away like minutes, and the work itself is the sole motivation – as far as I can tell.  I believe I am “in a zone”.]

2.  Happiness in the Colloquial Sense

People who enjoy the preconditions for happiness, which in this theory were, for technical reasons, identified with happiness itself, will by-and-large allow that they are happy in the colloquial sense.  Thus, we retain a phenomenological view.

Essentially, in W′, the theory of Deci and Ryan is correct.  Happiness means what it should mean.

Hypothetical World W"

The world W″ is a hypothetical world that has all of the attributes of W′, except that in W″ three additional conditions are met:

1.  A Stable (Human) Population

The population will be stable at about ten billion human beings or, preferably, closer to the optimal population size, i.e., a sufficient number of people that succor from one’s fellows is available when needed, not so many people that the quality of individual lives is appreciably reduced, the opportunity for as many people as possible, consistent with the previous two conditions, to be able to enjoy the blessings of having been alive.  Probably, the optimum population size will be smaller than ten billion people.

2.  Adequate High-Grade Renewable (Sustainable) Energy

In W″, renewable energy technology adequate to provide the energy per capita equivalent to one kilowatt-hour per hour of 110-volt, 60-Hz AC will be available.  This is the standard for emergy calculations, therefore we have one emergy unit per hour per capita.  (Since this is based on power plant electricity, it represents more energy than 1 kWhr/hr.  For example, if half were coal and the rest electricity, the rate of energy consumption per capita would be 2 kW.)  Also in W″, the matching problem, providing lower grade energy to those uses for which it is adequate so as not to lose availability converting lower-grade energy to higher-grade energy that is not needed, has been solved.  This is discussed in slightly more detail in Chapter 2.

3.  Sufficiency of One Kilowatt Per Capita Renewable Emergy

We assume that every human being can live on 1 kWhr/hr – or simply an average rate of consumption of emergy units equivalent to 1 kW of 60-Hz, 110-volt AC electric power.  In addition, we must assume that a one kilowatt per capita emergy budget is sufficiently abundant to provide happiness as we have defined it.  Perhaps, no American can be happy on only one kilowatt emergy consumption, but we know of primitive peoples who consume much less and they are happy.  In any case, this per capita rate of emergy consumption is assumed adequate for a satisfactory life wherein happiness for everyone is possible if not guaranteed.

Sustainable Happiness

Definition (Sustainable happiness).  We say happiness is sustainable when it cannot end because of human social factors but only because of astronomical events.

Universal Sustainable Happiness

Definition (Universal sustainable happiness).  Universal sustainable happiness is sustainable happiness enjoyed by all of humanity and as many other species of plants and animals as possible.  It is a goal of this philosophy that can be approached only asymptotically.


Wealth will be discussed in the next chapter.  We now wish to discuss power.  The word power has a definite meaning in physics.  That sort of power is really material wealth whenever it is exercised.  In this essay, we are referring to power such as the power that a rich and influential person holds over a poor and “unimportant” person or the United States holds over Haiti.  We ought to choose a new word, but we shall use the same term that is used in physics in keeping with other authors who discuss political power.  One can say without fear of contradiction (by reasonable people) that the pursuit of wealth and power is the most highly regarded activity of Western man.  It amounts to his religion for all practical purposes, regardless of what he claims his religion is.

Influence in the sense that the United States influences the affairs of Panama is a form of power.  Influence in this sense is undesirable.  Joseph Stalin and Ronald Reagan wielded tremendous influence in the form of power as leadership; moreover, they did not lead primarily by examples that were imitated voluntarily.  The leadership of Joseph Stalin or Ronald Reagan was genuine power over other people and, therefore, undesirable, as no person should have power over another.  Unless I specify otherwise, leadership will be referred to in its undesirable sense in this essay.  I find it amusing to use a eulogistic term in a dyslogistic sense, i.e., attach a negative connotation to a word that is usually associated with something that most people imagine is desirable even though it may not be – ever.  The way the word leadership is used in ordinary discourse makes it an impostor term in the sense of Bentham [4].  I will devote an entire chapter to disposing of leadership, which I portray as the cause of the apparently unending cycles of the rise of leaders, their corruption, and their eventual displacement by reformers, who then become corrupt leaders.  “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Rather than the petty tyrant who rules our fireside, we should be concerned with the very rich people (and some who are not so rich) who rule our nation and the even-more-powerful multi-national corporations and who essentially hold power of life and death over us.  The definition of the ruling class is given in the appendix of this chapter.  (We have agreed to define terms as soon after they are used as is practicable.)  These are the leaders with whom we must contend to become free men and women.  When the ruling class is deposed, never to be replaced, we can deal with our mothers-in-law, shrewish wives, and incorrigible children appropriately.

Negotiable and Non-Negotiable Fame and Influence

Most of us have noticed that one can exchange wealth for power – perhaps by buying political influence through campaign contributions, perhaps by starting a company and hiring people who must then do one’s bidding.  Negotiable fame is in the same class with wealth and power.  It is a dangerous thing.  It can be exchanged for wealth and power including negotiable influence.

One can easily exchange wealth or power for fame – perhaps by appearing in one’s own ads on TV, as the owner of a well-known hamburger chain has done.  Also, most types of power can be exchanged for wealth, for example by selling influence, as former high-ranking elected and appointed officials do when they become lobbyists.  Most powerful elected officials leave office nowadays in a better position financially than before holding public office.  (I have heard that Nixon, at one time, did not want to reveal his net worth (as required by election rules) not because it was excessive but, on the contrary, because, in fact, it was next to nothing.  Apparently, he improved his fortunes considerably by virtue of having been president, even though he left office in disgrace.)

However, power sometimes consists only in influence over other people.  This influence may or may not be convertible to wealth.  If it cannot be converted to wealth, we shall denote it non-negotiable influence.  If it can be converted to wealth, it shall be referred to as negotiable influence.  Obviously, negotiable influence is a form of power that can be converted to wealth and, for that matter, fame.  Similarly, we have non-negotiable fame and negotiable fame.  Negotiable fame can be converted into wealth and power, including negotiable influence.  It remains only to give examples of negotiable fame, non-negotiable fame, negotiable influence, and non-negotiable influence.  Now, Michael Jordan possesses negotiable fame and Richard Nixon possesses negotiable influence.  The other two are harder to find.

Obviously, I hope to influence the reader of this essay, and, conceivably, my influence could be the predominant external influence in some reader’s life, but I shall not exert power over anyone nor shall I accept a position of personal predominance in public affairs voluntarily.  My influence must be in and by my words, as opposed to my personality or my authority; i.e., it must be non-negotiable influence.

How can one be sure it is genuinely non-negotiable?  That is a difficult question and the best answer I can come up with right now is “Because I say so”.  I promise not to negotiate that influence.  It may be a bit harder to come up with an example of influence wielded by a living person that, obviously and because of its very nature, cannot be converted into anything else, except, possibly, non-negotiable fame.  Except for the very minor and, for our purposes, insignificant power Albert Einstein had over his graduate and post-doctoral students, I would argue that his influence and fame were non-negotiable.

Occurrence Equivalence of Wealth, Power Including Negotiable Influence, and Negotiable Fame as S*

Thus we can form a commutative triangle among (i) negotiable fame, (ii) negotiable influence together with other types of power, and (iii) wealth.  That is, negotiable fame can be converted into wealth and power, including negotiable influence; negotiable influence and other types of power can be converted into negotiable fame and wealth,; and wealth can be converted into negotiable fame and power including negotiable influence.  The situation is as shown in Fig. 1-2.

Figure 1-2.  Negotiating Wealth, Power, and Fame

To maintain philosophical rigor we must acknowledge that some forms of fame and influence might be non-negotiable.  Then, excluding these (which might not exist), we can make our generalization about the equivalence of wealth, power, and fame in the sense discussed above; that is, they form a commutative triangle.  I need refer only to material wealth when I mean material wealth and anything that can be converted into material wealth.  Because of the above commutation equivalence, we might consider lumping all of these things together and giving them a name.  The name I have chosen in the past is importance; but, since I meant worldly importance as distinguished from true importance, it might be better to choose a different term.  Perhaps status is the best choice I can make.  Other choices include: rank, enviability, distinction, consequence, eminence, worldly success, materialistic success, standing, etc.  [Note in proof (1-28-06).  To avoid confusion with other concepts,  I have elected to use the symbol S* to stand for the equivalent concepts of wealth and power.  Probably, to encourage excellence and to accommodate our natural propensities to seek reproductive advantage, we must allow competition for fame, which becomes non-negotiable.] 

Note in proof (1-4-06).  We shall need a term for the esteem in which we hold people for whom we name our children.  Indeed, these people may very likely be the recipients of Tokens that cannot be used by their holders to have children of their own in accordance with the Token Principle of Chapter 3.  I have not used the term ‘prestige’ to mean anything else; however, we must be certain that we are talking about something that will not be exchanged for greater wealth or political power.  We agree that it can result in greater reproductive advantages – not only for the usual reasons but because of the Token Principle.  It may be fame; but, if it is, it must be non-negotiable fame.

We should note at once that if one of the three aspects of S* never occurs, then none of them can occur; whereas, if any of them is permitted to exist in a hypothetical society, then all of them will be present eventually.  We refer to this kind of relationship as occurrence equivalence; i.e., wealth, power (including negotiable influence), and negotiable fame are occurrence equivalent.  We shall find this concept useful in the sequel.



The noble Brutus

Hath told you Cæsar was ambitious

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

and grievously hath Cæsar answered it.


Definition (Ambition) RHD [3].  1.  an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power,  fame, wealth, [italics mine] etc.  2. and 3.  irrelevant.

I, for one, find it interesting that the Random House Dictionary (the very best English language  dictionary that I, personally, can lift without the use of a forklift truck) chose precisely the elements of what we have agreed to call S* to illustrate what I may now adopt as a dyslogistic term, namely, ambition.

Throughout my life, even as a young boy, whenever I have heard ambition praised or the lack of it denounced, I have experienced disgust.  Certainly I have no objection to a desire to achieve something worthwhile and I am only a little uncomfortable with distinction.  But, I find it amusing that this lifelong antipathy toward ambition has turned out to play a role in my philosophy (and religion).

Ambition, then, restricted to an earnest desire for S*, can be taken to be a major component of what we shall call materialism, competitionism, or, in phenomenological lingo, artificial economic contingency.


Definition (Materialism).  Materialism is defined to be any system having the following characteristics or the belief in, promotion of, or dedication to such a system:

1.        Competition for wealth, power and negotiable influence, or negotiable fame in any form.  We have designated these items collectively by the symbol S*.

2.        The use of S* as a reward for achievement or good behavior or as a measure of success.

3.        Any institutions that permit people to influence the amount of S* they themselves or anyone else (especially their own children) may accumulate, consume, or possess because of who they are or what they do or because of any aspect of their beings whatsoever.

4.        Differences in the amount or rate of accumulation of S* whether derived from competition directly or not, e.g., inheritance of wealth.  Small differences in the values of homes or their furnishings are not included in the definition.  (Normally, homes of similar value are not strictly comparable; i.e., it is impossible to say which possesses the greater real worth.  Techniques employed by real estate appraisers might be useful to determine whether or not the differences in value are sufficiently small to be exempted from this definition.)

5.        The existence of institutions by means of which wealth can be hoarded in the form of paper money, financial instruments, or ledger entries – usually in a computer.

6.         The acceptance of S* as a reward for anything one does, gives, or says.

7.        Contingency upon something extrinsic and artificial (as opposed to the amount of rainfall) affecting one’s ability to live abundantly.

Note (7-28-07).  We have agreed to call wealth, power and negotiable influence, and/or negotiable fame status as distinguished from importance, which is our term for non-negotiable influence and non-negotiable fame.

We find the following definitions in The Random House Dictionary [4]:

Definition (Contingence).  n. contact or tangency

Definition (Contingency).  n.  1. dependence on chance or on the fulfillment of a condition.  2. an uncertain event; chance possibility.  3. something incidental.

Definition (Contingent).  adj.  1. dependent for existence, occurrence, character, etc., on something not yet certain;  conditional ( often followed by on or upon).  2. happening by chance or without known cause, fortuitous, accidental.  3. Logic. (of a proposition) neither logically necessary nor logically impossible.

Definition (Artificial Economic Contingency (AEC)).  Artificial economic contingency is the same as materialism.  (The term artificial economic contingency will help some people get the idea faster.  It is simply amazing how many people do not grasp this concept quickly.)

Perhaps competition for wealth and money is the cause of competition for power; perhaps competition for power (“the will to power”) is the cause of competition for wealth; perhaps both are caused by a strange perverted desire to be loved.  In any case, it will be more difficult for people to seek power if they do not enjoy excess wealth and, presumably, the damage done by those who somehow do rise to greater influence will be less severe if they cannot convert that advantage to excess wealth.  Whatever the case, the phenomena do coincide.

Originally I employed the term materialism (M) but, as someone pointed out, we really need to respect material more – not less – and we ought to accept and exercise our responsibilities as custodians of the earth’s material wealth.  For a while I used the term competitionism (C) instead, and you may see that word occasionally in my writing.  Competitionism means the same as materialism, which is the word I prefer – mainly because materialism is the word that most people use to express something very close to this concept, namely, economic acquisitiveness and an obsession with worldly success.  The reader should be aware that this definition of materialism (or competitionism or artificial economic contingency (AEC)) applies to this essay only and other essays written by the author.  These terms may be used by others in the sense employed by the author, but he is not responsible for their use in other contexts.

The Fundamental Theorems and Premise

Theorem (Fundamental Theorem).  The abandonment of materialism is a necessary condition for universal sustainable happiness in W and a sufficient condition for universal sustainable happiness in W.

Fundamental Premise.  It is unreasonable to be happy when one is aware of people living now who are experiencing unbearable misery no matter how far away in space they may be.  It is unreasonable to be happy when one is aware of circumstances that will lead inevitably to unbearable misery for people who will live at some future time however remote.

Discussion of the Premise.  Notice that we said unreasonable rather than impossible.  Clearly, a human being would have to be diminished considerably to be happy in the presence of an extremely miserable person.  I do not refer to comic or false misery.  I refer to starvation, extreme pain, the horror of impending painful death, extreme mental anguish.  We can’t ignore the suffering of our fellow human beings including posterity.  Surely, we are affected by the unhappiness of those close to us first; but, since we are intelligent reasoning creatures, we cannot be happy while others are miserable even though they are far away in space or future time.

Moral distance in space is the physical distance beyond which a person aware of misery no longer feels the responsibility of a brother for a brother, a sentient being for his fellow sentient being.  The question is:  How far away does the misery have to be for a reasonable person to be happy?  Down the street?  Across town?  In the next county?  In a far-flung principality?  I claim that for reasonable people there is no moral distance sufficiently great.  If reasonable people are aware of suffering in India, they are unhappy.  Their awareness does not attenuate with physical distance like a radio signal.  (I shall be delighted, however, if the concern of most people for others should extend to the entire earth – merely, with no concern whatever for hypothetical beings on far-flung galaxies when we happen to witness an astronomical catastrophe that occurred millions or billions of years ago.  Also, I would appreciate the reciprocal tolerance of a few of the “unconcerned” if I should moderate my grief over the demise of a single-celled human zygote whose misfortune it was to run afoul of an unlooked for intrauterine device.)  By analogy with the relativistic interval, moral interval is moral distance in space and time.

Presumably, we should be distressed by the foreseeable misery of people who will live at some future time – long after we have passed.  Although I have written this book to please myself, the principal beneficiaries might be people I shall never know or see.  I am concerned about the people who will starve to death when the petroleum is gone.  Nevertheless, I, for one, am able to remain aloof from the suffering of past generations.  What’s done is done and can’t be undone.

I believe the way in which we respond to the Fundamental Premise divides us into distinct classes.  If I indulged in human taxonomy, these classes would be given the highest priority.  At this time, however, I see nothing to be gained by giving names to the different classes of persons created by these distinctions.  Nevertheless, I am willing to predict that moral distance in space and time (moral interval) will be (or has been) discovered to be an important indicator of “relatedness” in the theory of Deci and Ryan and, perforce, will take its place in W′, which we agreed was identical to the real world, W.

According to the Truth Axiom, described in Chapter 3, all moral persons satisfy their love and respect for truth, in part, by setting their fundamental philosophical goal as follows:  To see the world as it actually is.  Thus, we may not ignore the misery of unknown people even for the sake of our own happiness.  We know that people are starving to death right now and we know that we know it.

Clearly, the Fundamental Premise precludes happiness in the technical sense for this generation of moral persons.  Although we cannot be happy in the technical sense, we can enjoy temporary moments of great joy or any of the other sublime emotions while still being dissatisfied with the state of the world and all of the misery in it.  We might experience moments of artistic pleasure and intense gratification when we have been effective in completing a difficult project.  In particular, we might experience great joy and temporary satisfaction when we are able to alleviate the misery of others or when we achieve a political victory that will permanently reduce the misery in the world.  But, this cannot compare to the satisfaction and joy we would experience if we achieved a permanent victory over all man-made human misery.

If we add one more assumption to The Fundamental Theorem, namely, The Fundamental Premise, which deserves some discussion, particularly with respect to moral interval, we can deduce the following result:

Theorem (Strong Version of Fundamental Theorem).  Assuming the Fundamental Premise is true, the abandonment of materialism is a necessary condition for a reasonable person to be happy in W' and a sufficient condition for a reasonable person to be happy in W".

In Chapter 10 of this book these results will be proved as well as I can prove them.

Utopianism and Ideals

According to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language [3], the adjective utopian refers to something “founded upon or involving imaginary political or social perfection”.  Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary [18] employs the phrase “impractically ideal social and political schemes”.  In Webster, a utopian believes in the perfectibility of human nature or advocates utopian schemes.  According to Bentham [2], utopianism is a system of beliefs that attempts to construct an ideal political or social system based upon a program of social changes that is guaranteed to have the opposite effect of what is desired.  Thus, utopianism is a fallacy!

Utopian socialism, according to the Random House Dictionary of the English Dictionary [3], is “an economic system based on the premise that, if capital voluntarily surrendered its ownership of the means of production to the state or the workers, unemployment and poverty would be abolished”.  Is utopian socialism a fallacy?  I believe that it is fallacy the way it is stated here and elsewhere, but that it can be restated so that it is not a fallacy.  For example, if one rejects ownership of the means of production by the state and defines employment in a generalized sense, rather than as the condition of having a paying job, one can take the utopianism, in the sense of Bentham, out of socialism; but, then, I suppose, it would not be the socialism we have come to know.  It would have to satisfy a different premise, as we have seen.

[Note in proof (5-12-97).  Lately, I have heard the term socialism applied to a scheme sufficiently close to the measures advocated in this essay.  In this chaotic linguistic climate, I should avoid the word or, at least, not go out of my way to employ it.]

We have discussed the Realm of Ideals above.  Now we wish to use the word ideal in another sense.  [Note in proof (5-31-96):  To avoid any possible confusion, we could have adopted Russell’s term universals for the Realm of Ideals.]  The relevant meanings of the noun ideal in The Random House Dictionary are: (2) a standard of perfection or excellence, (4) an ultimate object or aim of endeavor, especially one of high or noble character, and (5) something that exists only in the imagination.  The relevant meanings of the adjective ideal are (6) conceived as constituting a standard of perfection or excellence from (2) above, (7) regarded as perfect of its kind, (8) existing only in the imagination, not real or practical; visionary, and (9) advantageous; excellent; best, and (10) based upon an ideal or ideals.

When I use this word, some readers might suppose that I am always referring to something existing only in the imagination as an archetype, something that is absolute and immutable.  When I am referring to a Platonic Ideal, it will be clear from context.  In many cases, I use the word ideal both as an adjective and as a noun to refer to something advantageous that can serve as a model until something better is discovered.  It is not my intention to distinguish among things that are attainable and things that exist only as a vision.  I use the word to describe both types of objects.  Perhaps the word model would have been a better choice, except that “model” does not always connote excellence.

For example, in this work I refer to an ideal political-economic-social system, by which I mean a basis upon which mankind can build.  Nothing could be more fundamental.  The discussion of ideals should be the point of departure for all discussion of social change.  I need to say what I am trying to accomplish, after which my readers can decide (i) whether or not they accept my vision of the future, (ii) whether or not they believe that my recommendations will accomplish the goals I seek (if not, my plan is merely utopian), and (iii) whether or not my other values are consistent with my ideal.  Thus, even futuristic ideals are not only useful, they are indispensable.

When I refer to an ideal society, I am not referring to something absolute and immutable.  Ideals are subject to updates and should always take into account the latest information.  The ideal society discussed in this work is, indeed, the standard to which I compare all other societies and visions of societies; it is the society I would like to see mankind attain even if it requires a long struggle; and it is closest to perfection of any society that I can imagine; but, it is also the furthest from perfection of any society that I could accept on a permanent basis; i.e., it is the best possible and the least acceptable, not just the least acceptable, but the worst society that is likely to prevent the human race from becoming extinct.  It is a necessary and sufficient society.  This is a hypothetical judgment, of course, as it is unlikely that I will have to endure any society whatever on a permanent basis, at least as far as this earthly life is concerned, and that is the one upon which I am trying to have an effect.  A utopian society, then, is a fallacy, but an ideal society is a useful concept that can serve as a guide for social change and even for discussion of social change.  It is a vision of a hypothetical future.

Popper’s Objections Answered

Utopian Religions

Popper’s definition of Utopianism in “Utopia and Violence” [19] is admittedly very much like my explanation of a political ideal.  Thus, we shall not quibble with his notion of Utopian religion because it is not so different from my minimal proper religion (MPR), which, if you remember, solved the problem of the religious nature of our Constitution.  Now, there is widespread agreement upon our Constitution or, at least, there once was.  Today the Constitution is in crisis, cf., abortion, capital punishment, drug prohibition, drug and weapons searches, gun laws, airport security devices showing up everywhere, roadblocks to intercept drunk drivers, etc.  If, at the founding of our nation, we had hit upon the concept of the MPR, we might not be able to avoid intolerance between various Utopian religions, but those who reject the social contract established by consensus would not be able to call upon logic in their defense.  My claim, then, is that the MPR is at least as good as the Constitution and I don’t hear Popper denouncing the Constitution.

Now, suppose the MPR is a Utopian religion.  Let’s catalogue its evils according to Popper and see how many of these my MPR is prone to.

1.        [T]here can be no tolerance between these different Utopian religions.

2.        [T]he Utopianist must win over, or else crush, his Utopian competitors.

3.        He has to be very thorough in eliminating and stamping out all heretical competing views.

4.        Again, the only way to avoid ••• changes of our aims [resulting from new conditions arising due to the passage of time] seems to be to use violence, which includes propaganda, the suppression of criticism, and the annihilation of all opposition.

5.        The Utopian engineers must become omniscient as well as omnipotent.

6.        [I]t does not bring happiness, but only the familiar misery of being condemned to live under a tyrannical government.

Now, anyone who knows my philosophy, knows that none of these things can happen when it has been adopted (in the form of a social contract) by a large consensus – even if there be many reservations and a relatively large body of dissent.  So, one of two things is the case: (i) my philosophy is not Utopian or (ii) it will never be implemented, in which case further discussion is of academic interest only and it might as well be incorporated in a work of fiction written for the entertainment of its readers.

Clearly, Popper is aiming at one and only one Utopian religion, namely, Marxism, as evidenced by his reference to “the point of view of an alleged aim of the development of history”.  His remarks are not valid in all generality.

Abstract Happiness vs. the Elimination of Misery

Now, Popper says, “Do not aim at establishing happiness by political means.  Rather aim at the elimination of concrete miseries”.  Let us first list the preconditions for happiness as defined phenomenologically following, in part, Deci and Ryan; then list the various miseries Popper wishes to correct.  Popper doesn’t bother to define happiness; so, probably, we aren’t talking about the same thing, which could cause confusion – but it wouldn’t be my fault.

Preconditions for Happiness as Defined by Me, Not Popper, Who Doesn’t Bother To Define

1.         Reasonable satisfaction of tissue deficits.

2a.       Autonomy or freedom from tyranny.

2b.       Effectiveness, the ability to interact with one’s environment in a satisfying and positive manner.

2c.       Relatedness, good relations with fellow human beings and, perhaps, animals.

3.         Safety, assurance that the above four preconditions cannot be taken away, except, perhaps, by Mother Nature, e.g., astronomical events.

Miseries that Popper Believes Should Be Addressed

1.         Violence, including war.

2.         Tyranny.

3.         Crime within the state.

4.         International crime, i.e., national aggression and the ill-treatment of minorities or perhaps majorities.

5.         Poverty.  He wants a minimum income.

6.         Epidemics and disease.  He wants universal health care.

7.         Illiteracy.

8.         Unemployment.

He could think of more if he wanted to.  But, notice that happiness is no more demanding than the elimination of his concrete miseries.  He is simply more disorganized.  There is nothing to distinguish the two programs in scope, steps necessary for implementation, and major necessary social changes.  Thus, the difference between abstract happiness and the elimination of concrete misery is an illusion.  In the case of unemployment his task is impossible, which is worse than Utopian.  He is way behind the curve.  It is easy to deduce that the changes recommended by me or changes just as radical as mine would have to be implemented to eliminate the miseries he is against.  He is more radical than I, but in the wrong way.  How in the world is he going to end poverty without some kind of communism!  I may be the Idealist, but he is the Utopian.  Popper gives no clue as to how his goals are to be accomplished.  Is he day dreaming?

Is There a Utopian Capitalist Religion?

Popper does not give a converse to his theorem, but one wonders whether, if all of the above difficulties ascribed to Utopian religions are present, is a Utopian religion present as well.  In America, for instance, all of the symptoms, including a tyrannical government, are clearly present as I have amply demonstrated elsewhere.  Why do we not suspect, then, a cabal of interested capitalists who wish to control the entire world under their perverse and evil Utopian (for them) religion, which, in my view, will result in nine-tenths or more of the human race dying off!

Final Remarks

I agree with some of “Utopia and Violence”, but it is not clear that the results of certain points of view must follow inevitably.  This is just as absurd as the historicity he denounces.  I disagree that “much has been accomplished in the last hundred years” from the point of view of social betterment.  I think it’s easy to prove that society is much worse off than it was in 1847.  Popper is unaware of the environmental and population problems it seems.  And, so was I in 1947.  I, too, reject the idea that the happiness of the current generation can be traded off for some future abstract happiness, however attractive.  Finally, he speaks of his belief in man as he is.  This belief is the basis for my philosophy.  “Man is good but corruptible.” – Wayburn

[Note in proof (5-31-96).  I have disposed of these accusations of utopianism in a different way in the latest version of the preface.  Regrettably, I cannot help suspecting that Popper was a toady of the rich and powerful, despite his remarkable achievements, none of which placed him in danger of incurring the wrath of the power elite, which he served faithfully.]

June 22, 1995

Revised July 2, 1997


1.         Deci, Edward L. and Richard M. Ryan, Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior, Plenum Press, New York (1985).

2.         Bentham, Jeremy, Bentham’s Handbook of Political Fallacies, Ed. Harold A. Larrabee, Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore (1952).

3.         The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Lawrence Urdang, Editor in Chief, Random House, New York (1968).

4.         Wayburn, Thomas L., “On the Separation of the State from the Christian Church”, Truth Seeker Supplement, 117, Nos. 2,4,6 (1990) Nos. 2,4,6 (1991).

5.         Wayburn, Thomas L., “The Separation of the State from the Christian Church and the Case Against Christianity,” in Humanists of Houston 1995 Yearbook, Marian Hillar and Frank Prahl, Eds., Humanists of Houston Chapter of the American Humanist Association, Houston (1995).

6.         Reich, Wilhelm, The Function of the Orgasm, Pocket Books, New York (1978).

7.         Russell, Bertrand, On Ethics, Sex, and Marriage, Ed. Al Seckel, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York (1987).

8.         Wayburn, Thomas L., The Collected Papers of Thomas Wayburn, Vol. II, American Policy Inst., Houston (Work in progress 1997).

9.         Herman, Edward S. and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, Pantheon, New York (1988).

10.       Wayburn, Thomas L., “No One Has a Right To Impose an Arbitrary System of Morals on Others,” in Drug Policy 1889-1990, A Reformer's Catalogue, Arnold S. Trebach and Kevin B. Zeese, Eds., The Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C. (1989).

11.       James, William, The Varieties of Religious Experience, The Modern Library, New York (1936).

12.       Russell, Bertrand, A History of Western Philosophy, Simon and Schuster, New York (1972).

13.       Peirce, Charles Sanders, Philosophical Writings of Peirce, Ed. Justus Buchler, Dover, New York (1955).

14.       Baggott, Jim, The Meaning of Quantum Theory, Oxford Science, New York (1992).

15.       Hungerford, Thomas W., Algebra, Springer-Verlag, New York (1974).

16.       Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Pure Reason, Norman Kemp Smith, Translator, St Martin’s Press, New York (1965).

17.       Piaget, Jean, The Origins of Intelligence in Children, Int'l. Universities Press, New York (1952).

18.       Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, Henry Bosley Woolf, Editor in Chief, G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield , Massachusetts (1977).

19.       Popper, Karl R., “Utopia and Violence”, in Conjectures and Refutations, Basic Books, New York (1965).

Appendix A.  The Case for Rational Anarchism (Libertarianism) or Why We Hate  Government and Wish to Rule Ourselves

The following, which needs to be revised, expanded, and, possibly, rendered in a separate essay, is an abstract of what needs to be said:

1.        Consideration of the rise of the ruling class from fierce war-like nomadic quasi-savages who initially raided and looted agricultural communities but eventually elected to move in on the husbandry by way of stealing the entire community as described in H. G. Wells’ Outline of History leads us to reject the ruling class as an inferior breed that degenerated in time due to soft living so that even prowess at arms eluded them.  Eventually people realized that they didn’t have to put up with this so-called nobility.  This scenario of submission followed by rebellion was the prototype of the endless cycles described next.

2.        Leadership (hierarchy) condemns us to endless cycles of corruption followed by revolution or reform.  The revolution or reformation always becomes corrupt if a “natural leader” [G. B. Shaw] is involved.

3.        Leaders invariably force religious beliefs (taboos) upon us as do our neighbors who have no concept of tolerance, which Anarchy will introduce.

4.        Deci and Ryan (intrinsic motivation scholars) show that autonomy is necessary for happiness, which forces Anarchy upon those who wish to be happy.

5.        People who make their own decisions are more highly evolved (truly noble, if you wish) than the governed.

6.        Communism is impossible without anarchy and we are just about at the point where if anyone consumes more than necessary someone will die.  (We must try to consume the least we can - avoiding cars, planes, spacecraft, etc.)

7.        Starting with “Who owns the skies?” we show that we are already communists.

8.       Under the present system, the government is ineffective in many respects, therefore we muddle along under a poorly understood irrational anarchy anyway.

Appendix B.  The Definition of the Ruling Class

Never in a million years did I expect to find myself giving a definition of the ruling class.  After all, a student at Brown University who could not understand the cause in which Amy Carter and Abbie Hoffman had become involved declared in a television soundbite that his raison d'être for attending Brown was to get into the ruling class and no one asked him what he meant.  But, Peter Denning, a columnist for the Scientific American, demanded proof that such a thing exists during the course of a straightforward debate on an entirely different matter.  I was shocked; but, if one person needed an explanation of what I meant by the ruling class, it makes sense to include it in the book since one never knows the extent of the naiveté of one’s readers.  After a moment’s reflection, I came up with the following:

Definition 1 (Class).  A class is a number of persons (or things) regarded as belonging together by reason of common attributes, characteristics, qualities, or traits; e.g., the class of front-wheel-drive automobiles with at least one broken headlight.

Note.  I could define the ruling class by virtue of its attributes, but that wouldn’t prove the class isn’t empty.  It’s better to enumerate the members by subclass, then the question as to whether or not the ruling class has any members has been answered.  Of course, one might still doubt whether the attributes of the subclasses give the ruling class the power to rule.  While it is true that no one has absolute power, it is necessary only that people exist who have a disproportionate share of (political) power in order for democracy to be subverted.  (Consider your share in the decision as to whose names will appear on the ballot.)

Definition 2 (Ruling Class).  The ruling class consists of:

1.        Everyone who can afford to give $50,000/year or more to political campaigns, PACs, or lobbies.  I chose the number 50,000 for definiteness.

2.         The officers of companies who are authorized to make such expenditures on behalf of their companies.

3.         Holders of high office, including judges, provided they have not traded away all of their autonomy for campaign contributions, gifts, or favors.

4.        Those who have great influence over (i) the holders of high office, (ii) lobbyists, and (iii) members of the other categories because they have acquired great intellectual prestige, e.g., Henry Kissinger, or because they belong to old, prestigious families that traditionally have wielded such influence, whether they have the financial means to assist campaigns or not (old wealth and feudal aristocracy).  Other wielders of influence include important members of the media and high priests in the cult of fame, e.g., Frank Sinatra, who, simply because they are famous, exert influence in matters concerning which they have no expertise.

5.        The leading lawyers and doctors, for reasons similar to those given under Subclass 4 and, in addition, because they are often in positions of power over other members of the ruling class.

6.        The highest officers in corporations, which sometimes wield greater power than sovereign states.  Our jobs influence our lives even more than the government does, hence those who rule the workplace have more power over us than does the government, at least until we go to war.

7.        The leaders of the military, the presidents of the “great” universities, church leaders, leaders of enterprises, other than government, that have a great influence on society, such as the American Medical Association (AMA), even the NAACP (maybe), perhaps even Sigma Xi, organized crime bosses, leaders of secret societies, such as the Masons or the Knights of Columbus, who might be able to dictate the policies of elected officials, members of conspiracies, such as the Trilateral Commission, if they exist.  G. B. Shaw discussed the problem of “natural leaders” in the preface to The Millionairess.

8.        Top-ranked bureaucrats.

9.        The most important lobbyists, e.g., Michael Deaver before he got busted.

These categories are not mutually exclusive and they probably are not exhaustive.  This may seem like a lot of people, but it probably doesn’t amount to more than 1% of the population.  Remember, too, that America is ruled by some people who are not even Americans.  The attribute that is shared by all of these people is a disproportionate share of political power and influence.  For all practical purposes, the U.S. is a plutocracy rather than a democracy.  We don’t need to quibble about a few four-star generals, admirals, or university superstars who aren’t rich (yet), do we?

Houston, Texas

February 12, 1990

Revised March 1, 1998

Revised July 5, 2004


Chapter 2.  Emergy and Economics

It is a fact that:

Real wealth is food, fuel, water, wood for houses, fiber for clothes, raw minerals, electricity, information.

A country is wealthy that has more of this real stuff used per person.

Money is only paid to people and is not proportional to real wealth.

Prices and costs are inverse to real wealth.

When resources are abundant, standard of living is high, but prices are low.

When resources are scarce, prices are high, more money goes to bring resources, a few people get rich, but the net contribution to prosperity is small.

Real wealth is mostly the work of nature and has to be evaluated with a scientific measure, EMERGY.

                                                                                             – Howard T. Odum

Table of Contents


Appendix on Thermodynamics

Main Text


Propaganda Is Not Educational

Why We Need this Chapter

What We Hope To Accomplish in this Chapter

Odum’s Theory


Material Wealth

Spiritual Wealth

Money and Other Forms of Surrogate or Paper Wealth

The Fall of the Paper Empire

Emergy (with an M)


Matching Problems


Determination of Feasibility of Nuclear Fission

Improving  Efficiency


Emergy Analysis of Economies

The Emergy Cycle

The Money Cycle

Business and Government

Does the Government Do Anything Useful?

Can the Government Solve Social Problems?

A Humanistic Economy

The Availability Supply

Energy Flow Diagram for Earth

Sustainable Energy: How Much Can We Expect?

Fossil Fuels

Large-Scale Alternatives


Our Energy Budget

Drawbacks and Advantages of a Large Energy Budget

A Little Arithmetic


Important Questions



Appendix on Thermodynamics

In Appendix I, I have tried to provide a brief review of – or introduction to – thermodynamics.  Readers will determine the usefulness of my efforts.  Many readers will wish to skip this appendix; and, if they are familiar with thermodynamics, they might not miss it.  I recommend that everyone read it first however.  Alternatively, one might read the words and skip the equations – employing the procedure suggested in the preface.  Even the expert might gain an insight or two (or find an error).  (However, no one should blame himself if he cannot profit from this attempt to explain thermodynamics in about thirty pages.  Undoubtedly, the fault lies with me.  In any case, one can render Appendix I completely harmless by simply ignoring it.)

My introduction to Appendix I discusses some suggestions by leading theoreticians concerning the appropriate names we should give to the various divisions of the subject.  This brief review doesn’t get beyond the basics of the simplest types of problems.  The next main section defines some important concepts, namely, the control volume, what is meant by the properties of a substance and the state of a systemProcesses, including cyclic processes, and what is meant by a pure substance and a simple compressible substance are discussed.  Next, a generic balance equation is presented, e.g., the increase in the population of the United States is the births minus the deaths plus the immigrants minus the emigrants (during the period of interest).  To define work in a slightly novel way, I have defined entropy using a definition of entropy developed by Prof. David Bowman, after which I present the energy balance that represents the First Law of Thermodynamics for the easier cases.  (Entropy is defined before energy!)  The Second Law is presented as an entropy balance, with the entropy created represented by a thermodynamic-lost-work term, the meaning of which is illustrated by an illuminating example.

The appendix ends by combining the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics to get definitions of the Gibbs availability function and the Helmholtz availabilty function.  These terms are not even in common use, which shows the low esteem in which the concepts are held – even by scientists who ought to know better.  I have removed the section in which availability analysis is used to compute the maximum quantity of reversible work that can be performed sustainably within the Earth’s control volume; but, I do present a simple availability analysis to determine the break-even efficiency for burning fossil fuels without emitting CO2.  I will present the availability analysis of the entire Earth in a separate paper later.

Main Text

I begin this brief introduction with my chronic complaint that practically every author is calling his propaganda educational whilst I am actually presenting material of an educational nature that is nearly guaranteed to be mistaken for propaganda.  (Of course some of it is propaganda, but not all of it is propaganda.)  With that off my chest, I begin establishing the need for emergy analysis.  Next, I present Odum’s theory of emergy and transformity.  When I discuss emergy analysis, I shall employ the rough definition of availability given above.  That definition will satisfy some lay people.  (Many readers will be satisfied with a qualitative definition and leave the thermodynamics, presented in Appendix I, to experts.  One might consult a friend who knows thermodynamics to determine how many mistakes I have made – if any – and whether the mistakes are fatal to my thesis or not.)

Using a departure from Odum’s computation of emergy, I outline my methodology for determining the feasibility of sustainable energy technologies in terms of a modified emergy efficiency that I find satisfactory except that the transformity doesn’t have always a unique value in this new setting.  In ecology, nature decides what shall be transformed into what and the pattern is basically immutable.  For industrial purposes, the matching problem, i.e., what primary energy resource shall be used for what purpose, is considerably complicated by scarcity and abundance and is by no means God given.  This explains why Odum finds transformity so useful in ecology whereas I find it troublesome (to keep track of) in determining the feasibility of sustainable primary energy technologies.  I indicate how one might go about determining the primary energy costs, including the indirect costs that are normally overlooked, that go into primary energy production facilities (when the transformities are unknown) using nuclear fission as an example.

In the next section, I use a system diagram approach to model the U.S. or world economy and to speculate on an improved humanistic economy.  We then look at energy flows on the earth to estimate how much sustainable energy (availability) we can hope for in the best possible case (short of cold fusion).  I speculate that renewable energy from biomass is likely to be the major provider of energy toward the end of the next century.  [The reader understands by now that, whenever I use the word energy loosely, I am nearly always referring to high-grade energy, availability, or emergy.]

We, then, look at how energy is likely to be distributed in a one-kilowatt-per-capita, neo-tribal, decentralized society that employs advanced technology in an appropriately humanized manner of which, perhaps, even the Unabomber might approve.  The Unabomber confessed that he had been unable to distinguish “good” technology from “bad” technology; therefore, he recommended eliminating all technology – and, just imagine, burning all of the technical literature.  I believe I have solved the problem of determining which technologies might be safely retained; and, needless to say, if my system were employed, we could dispense with book burning! 

Probably, we can retain (i) technologies that consume only moderate quantities of high-grade energy; (ii) that do not dehumanize anyone; (iii) that can be produced locally in plants small enough to fit in two-car garages, which, clearly, will not be needed for cars; and (iv) that can be understood by the average undiminished user, provided he expend a modicum of effort to understand the world he lives in – quite unlike you and me, who are content to utilize dozens of devices we couldn’t repair if our lives depended on it.  Shame on us.  With a little more time and effort I might be able to sharpen my characterization of sensible technology – guided by the Schumacherian dictum [2] to behave “as though people mattered”.

Next, we revisit the matching problem for a society in which we have a large menu of sustainable energy technologies to choose from.  Finally, we consider under what conditions sustainable energy is likely to be sufficient to permit sustainable happiness – at least absence of unbearable misery – for ten billion people.  I draw some conclusions of my own and, then, present a series of extremely important questions that I submit for the reader’s consideration and for further research.


Propaganda Is Not Educational

Definition (Education) [from Random House Dictionary (RHD) [3]].  1. the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge and of developing the powers of reasoning and judgment.  2 - 5.  (Irrelevant in the sense of which we are speaking).

Definition (Educational) [from RHD [3]].  1. pertaining to education.  2. tending or intended to educate, instruct, or inform: an educational TV show.

My claim is that the greater part of this chapter (together with Appendix I, which, in an earlier draft, was part of this chapter) qualifies as educational under any reasonable (dictionary) definition of the word because, first, what I tell you is factual (unless I make an error, which, of course, is always possible despite my best intentions) and is not propaganda or indoctrination; and, second, systems diagrams, emergy analysis, and balance equations, especially availability balances that account for lost work – but really all balance equations – are powerful tools for reasoning and making judgments.  (In this draft, balance equations are banished to Appendix I.)  All of the material given here and in Appendix I is easily checked, therefore the dangers of unintentional errors are minimized.

This is in contradistinction to many other discussions of the environment (whether pro or con), which are referred to as “educating the public” but amount to nothing better than propaganda.  Why must scholars, even successful scholars, abuse the word education so shamelessly?

The lack of understanding exhibited by politicians is appalling; but, it is simply incredible how poorly the subject of this chapter is understood by the “experts” who teach college students, write books, head institutes that collect public funds, express their views on TV, and speak in scientific symposia.  As of this writing, I have neither heard nor seen the situation stated at all correctly – present company excepted.  I’ve heard and read a lot of nonsense – mostly from people who are “soft” on markets, commerce, and capitalism.  I am prepared to refute the conventional wisdom in debate – anytime, any place, and against any odds despite a painful awareness of my own limitations.  The reader understands that I have no illusions about the extent of my own mastery of the subject, which I recognize as inadequate.  Perhaps, though, I can convince someone that I have made a modest start in the right direction.  This is a subject about which practically nothing useful has been said.  One should not expect my remarks to be the last word.

Quite distinct from the educational material presented in this chapter is my preference for the soft-energy position in the soft-energy / hard-energy debate, which may be viewed as a matter of personal taste.  The consequences of a hard-energy scenario, however, can be derived scientifically; and, I do not see how anyone acquainted with these results could prefer the hard-energy position, which, by the way, is part and parcel of the American Dream.

Why We Need this Chapter

We need this chapter to understand the Environmental Axiom, which is presented in the next chapter.  That’s why this is Chapter 2, but excellent reasons can be given for presenting this material even if it were not used elsewhere in the book:

Industrial civilization has been based on fossil fuels.  Currently, society is challenged by two opposing trends: (1) fossil fuel is running out and (2) developing nations (and poor people in rich nations) want to live the “American Dream”.  Americans have been bingeing on fossil fuel for 150 years – particularly on oil since World War II.  We have behaved like the heir who squanders in a day a large fortune built up over dozens of generations.  Even conservative analysts such as Wolf Häfele [4] predict severe oil shortages beginning around 2030.  The most “optimistic” estimates of total reserves – both discovered and undiscovered – would have us running out in about 400 years at the present rate of consumption assuming (1) no population growth and (2) continued disproportionately low use of oil in the third world.  This scenario is in severe conflict with the aspirations of many people.  Americans use 25% of the world’s energy budget while comprising only 5% of the world’s population.

Moreover, the American Dream is an environmental nightmare.  (This claim is justified somewhat near the end of this chapter when I discuss the unlikely plentiful energy scenario.  I should say more about the evils of a highly commercial, consumerist society supported by heavy industry, which, in the usual case, is hard on the environment and, in any case, requires costly measures to prevent serious environmental damage.  For now, I shall have to let the Unabomber speak for me despite certain discrepancies in our views.  Do not make the mistake of depriving yourself of reading his brilliant Manifesto [5] simply because you don’t approve of his marketing methods.  This is one of the best analyses of the harmfulness of heavy industrial technology I have seen.  Not reading the Unabomber Manifesto because the author had to kill people to get it published is like not reading Mein Kampf because you don’t approve of the Beer Hall Putsch.  Even if it’s wrong, you could save yourself a lot of grief by knowing what it says.  (Hitler outlined his plans fairly straightforwardly in Mein Kampf.  Why, then, were intellectuals surprised when he began killing Jews?  Answer:  They didn’t read Mein Kampf!)

Some people (usually not technologists) believe that shortages of fossil fuels will be relieved by technological breakthroughs.  It has been noted that these people are like smokers who won’t quit because by the time they get cancer a cure will be found!  It has taken nature millions of years to evolve the tree.  The likelihood of man developing technology superior to a tree is only slightly greater than the likelihood of developing an artificial human being.  Actually, the horrifying plentiful energy scenario (described below) with its excessive motion, alienation, and stress, if not pollution and the wiping out of nearly every species of plant and animal, is unlikely.  Nevertheless, reasonable quantities of renewable energy will be needed to support human life.  At the present time, as far as I know, despite my involvement with the mainstream scientific and technological sustainable energy communities, I have not heard of anyone who knows, or is trying to find out – even, if any renewable energy technology is feasible.

Normally, when technologists discuss the viability of alternative energy sources, they give us energy costs in cents per kilowatt-hour, for example.  But, money is an inappropriate measure to determine which sustainable energy technologies will be feasible.  As far as primary energy is concerned, we need the cost in kilowatt-hours per kilowatt-hour produced.  Prices are distorted by fossil-fuel subsidies.  According to Odum and Odum [6], we purchase the 1700 kilowatt-hours (kWhrs) in a barrel of oil with the money obtained by expending only one-sixth of 1700 kWhrs.  Money does not account for the work done by nature; moreover, it does not satisfy useful conservation laws.  We need an energy-based measure of value such as emergy – with an m.  The Odums claim that nuclear fission and, for that matter, photovoltaic cells are net consumers of energy; i.e., if nuclear fission were the only primary energy source and all of the energy costs of producing it – the direct costs and the indirect costs – had to come from nuclear fission and nowhere else (not fossil fuels), eventually the nuclear plant would grind to a halt because it had not produced enough energy to keep itself going.

We need a methodology that is independent of money for evaluating alternative sustainable energy technologies.  Money won’t work (i) because of the distortions in the prices of fossil fuels, (ii) because it can be created too easily by governments, for example, and (iii) because money-based economic theories do not account for the work done by nature.  In this essay, we use emergy analysis (1) to assign an immutable measure of value to manufactured articles, capital goods, and energy sources; (2) to understand the economic “facts of life” that reveal why almost all public policy is irrational; and (3) to determine good policy and provide arguments toward widespread acceptance of reasonable social goals.  The Odums and other practitioners of emergy analysis use emergy theory for many other useful applications, especially in the field of ecology [7,8,9,10].  I have applied (and modified) Odum’s methods in a different setting, which is not to say that the Odums have not anticipated my efforts in these areas as well.  They are true visionaries.

This, then, is an attempt to establish methodologies to put public policy on a firm scientific basis.  Unfortunately, this chapter, with or without Appendix I at the end of the book, is likely to be more demanding of the reader than other chapters in the book.  If you find the writing inaccessible, please refer the material to a scientifically inclined friend and try to get a judgment of its validity, after which – hopefully – you can accept (or reject) its conclusions.  Do not be too hasty to dismiss my remarks, though, if your scientific friend has a vested interest in the status quo, e.g., is an employee of a U.S. or multi-national corporation.  Be especially skeptical if your “friend” dismisses these concerns with a cursory glance at the material and what sounds like a Rush Limbaugh quote.

What We Hope To Accomplish in this Chapter

I hope to show that we consistently underestimate the social changes required to achieve sustainable happiness for all of humanity.  We shall consider three cases: (i) the case where our supply of high-grade energy keeps pace (approximately) with population, (ii) the case of scarcity, and (iii) the case of abundance.  I hope to use the results of this analysis to convince the reader that the Fundamental Theorem is probably true.

Fundamental Theorem.  The complete abandonment of competition for wealth, power (and negotiable influence), and negotiable fame is a necessary and sufficient condition for sustainable happiness for all of humanity – under certain conditions that will be stated later.  (Hopefully, these conditions can be satisfied, in which case the theorem can be stated without the proviso.)

I hope to prove this as well as social questions are ever proved, but we shall need the entire book to do so.  In this chapter, we shall see one reason for the necessity to abandon materialism and, hopefully, we will get some idea of the sufficiency – although much research needs to be done to determine if we can produce enough sustainable energy to support ten billion people in comfort.  (“One can never prove a theorem too many ways – especially when no one believes it.”)  The terms sustainable and happiness have definite technical meanings that are close to ordinary usage.  When the reader has heard the argument given here he or she might accept the idea that, in all probability, economic growth is inconsistent with sustainability.  We need economic shrinkage (probably).  Also, the reader should be convinced that using money as the basic unit of economic analysis leads to confusion and poor political decisions.  Using emergy leads to clarity and understanding.

An interesting new development has begun in the environmental debate.  Some overtly anti-environmental activists have entered the fray despite the unpopularity of overtly anti-environmental statements.  What does it mean?  (Normally, everyone pays lip service to the environment regardless of his true intentions.)  In my opinion, it means that some conservatives are beginning to understand the true picture; namely, if we really want to protect the environment, we will have to abandon the American economic system.  These anti-environmental zealots are willing to sacrifice nature, which is real, to an economic system, which is a failed abstraction!  These people are talking such madness that they may convince some people who have been neutral to join the environmental movement and to adopt the radical and scientifically sound position advocated in this essay – but at least they are not kidding themselves.  They understand that environmentalism means the end of the American way of life.

In the old days, conservatives used to say that, if wealth were divided equally, the average wealth would decline and all of us would be poor – at least by the standards of middle-class Americans.  The conservatives are correct.  What they do not take into account is that, if we do not divide the wealth equally, those who receive less than the average will live lives of misery or simply perish.  The point of this chapter is that, according to our best scientific guess, there is not enough to go around unless the big consumers reduce their consumption drastically.  The criterion of successful living is to consume as little as possible!  We must construct institutions, indeed a new form of community, that will make this possible.

Hopefully, when you have finished this chapter, you will have a strong grasp of the following notions, i.e., sufficiently strong that the first clever conservative you meet cannot talk you out of what you know:

1.         The so-called energy crisis is much worse than our leaders say.

2.         The end of the petroleum era is the most awesome deadline facing humanity.

3.         When petroleum is scarce, our diesel farm machinery will stop, which could mean starvation for billions – not millions.  Conceivably, nine billion people could die of starvation before the year 2100.

4.         When the average emergy per capita is no greater than the emergy consumption just sufficient to live without undue misery, sharing wealth equally becomes a moral imperative.  Every individual who consumes a modicum of emergy in excess of his fair share will be directly responsible for the deaths of the people who sink below minimum subsistence.  The number of people who die depends upon how the deficit incurred by that one person is apportioned among few or many.

Odum’s Theory


Material Wealth

Money is not equivalent to material wealth.  I can say this 2000 times and every time I say it it will be true.  Material wealth consists of the things we need to live, including art to enhance our spiritual lives, and a few luxuries to take the drudgery out of life.  It can be measured in units of emergy – with an m.  Examples of material wealth are (i) food, (ii) clothing, (iii) housing and other infrastructure, (iv) tools and other capital goods (things used to make other things), (v) medicine and drugs, (vii) stockpiles of high-grade energy, (viii) works of art, (ix) books, (x) computer programs, (xi) correct, useful, and non-trivial information, etc.

Spiritual Wealth

Naturally, the wealth of the intellect in its vast accumulations of knowledge and mental powers, the wealth of the psyche in its deep understanding and love, and other forms of spiritual wealth are not what we are referring to in our discussion of the evils of inequality of wealth.  Indeed, by eliminating differences in material wealth, we hope to make greater spiritual wealth, consistent with one’s capacity, available to everyone.  This is why it is so difficult to distinguish one’s final goals.  Every goal can be a means to something more and every intermediary stage is someone’s personal goal.  These intermediary stages can be taken to be the means to an end by someone else.  Thus, Popper’s thesis in “Utopia and Violence” [11] is untenable.  He imagines that one can distinguish means from ends, which is impossible.  (“Utopia and Violence” was discussed at the end of Chapter 1.)

Money and Other Forms of Surrogate or Paper Wealth

When I speak of surrogate or paper wealth nowadays, I may be talking about entries in computer files.  Sometimes there is no paper involved, but the dynamics are the same whether it be paper money, stock and bond certificates and other fiduciary instruments, or simply entries in a computer, e.g., John Doe owns 100 shares of General Motors.  Paper wealth is not considered wealth in this theory, despite the terminology.  However, as long as people have faith in it, it is a surrogate for real wealth, which means it can be converted into real wealth.

Paper wealth, which is normally negotiable, has brought down empires.  It can be accumulated without owning a treasure chest – let alone a storehouse for wheat, cotton, lumber, and drugs.  Large differences in paper wealth between citizens who own comparably sized homes can occur.  Paper wealth can create massive poverty and it can mask serious underlying difficulties in an economy that is not producing food, clothing, and shelter in adequate amounts.  The exact way in which catastrophes occur because of such vast accumulations might be extremely complex.  On the other hand, it may be no more difficult to comprehend than our own recent savings and loan debacle.  Permit me to describe an imaginary simplified scenario that indicates the type of thing that can happen.

The Fall of the Paper Empire

The claim is that an empire or nation can fall because of large accumulations of paper wealth in the hands of a few individuals – less than 1% of the population, say.  The best I can come up with is a thought experiment where this happens.  I leave it to the reader to decide whether or not the following scenario is plausible.  This point is not crucial to my thesis and I do not absolutely insist upon it.

Ground rules

This is supposed to be a hypothetical society the needs of which are few.  The people eat food produced domestically by about 1% of their population, but they do not require dwelling places or health care.  The fuel for their cars, trucks, trains, boats, and planes is processed practically automatically from imported crude oil.  Their communication is done using amazingly high-tech imported gadgets that practically run themselves.  Indeed, everything they need except food is produced abroad and they consume all of the food produced by the tiny minority engaged in that once-noble pursuit, who now eke out a bare existence on practically the lowest level of the social ladder.  After all, every adult who does not produce food is a college graduate, normally with a masters degree in something – usually some highly specialized aspect of commerce – The Art of the Deal or something even deeper!?

The accumulation of paper wealth (freely convertible to old man’s toys until the pyramid crashes) comes from business done in connection with foreign trade and the sale and distribution of foreign goods, including primary energy, e.g., petroleum, to domestic customers most of whom are employed in (i) negotiating deals, (ii) selling the goods at the wholesale, retail, and street level (mostly to each other), (iii) marketing, (iv) the government, (v) personal-salvationism; i.e., they are spiritual counselors, lawyers, consultants, presenters of seminars on (a) how to manage people, (b) how to comply with the new government regulations, (c) how to succeed in business without really trying, and (d) how to lose weight while eating as much as you want and never exercising, (vi) managing any of the above.  These are a sorry crew.  They produce not one single thing that anyone needs to live.  They call their society THE INFORMATION SOCIETY, but they might just as well call it the paper money society.  [To call what they know information is to call excrement food.]

To show you how simple (and therefore amenable to analysis) this hypothetical society is, I shall divide it into four sectors and four classes.  The sectors are (i) business, government, and academia, (ii) service, and (iii) agriculture.  Please forgive me for lumping business, government, and academia together; but, really, they are barely distinguishable from one another.  It’s easy to distinguish them from service, though, because the service sector pays minimum wage.  Agriculture depends on the market, however, so prices are high whenever crops fail, i.e., when there is nothing to sell.  If it weren’t for government subsidies, the members of the agriculture sector would make less than minimum wage!

I have saved the fourth sector for last.  It is, of course, the military.  It is difficult to live off the efforts of the citizens of other nations and their natural resources without a military sector.  They enforce business contracts negotiated by men and women who couldn’t pass basic training if their lives depended on it.  In other words, the army, navy, air force, and marines “persuade” the trading partners to accept paper currency in exchange for real wealth.  This is what petty hustlers and crooks call “a real sweet deal”.

The four classes, then, are (i) white collar criminals and tyrants, (ii) their lackeys, (iii) military personnel, who, with the exception of a handful of lunatics, would not work without pay (but will do anything for a price) and have no interest whatever in the agendas of those who pay them, and (iv) dropouts (usually heavy drug users, artists, and philosophers), the homeless, the hopelessly handicapped and deficient, the elderly, the terminally ill, and people who are kept around, mostly in jails, in case someone of consequence needs a spare part, etc.

What Goes Wrong

1.         The agriculture sector must suffer economically so that the rest can eat.  Moreover, they tend to be social pariahs and, by induction, so do their children.  They resent this and their children refuse to enter the field; moreover, they begin to sell their farms to housing and business developers.  Pretty soon some of the food has to be imported.

2.         Business and government begin to eliminate middle management and appropriate more and more unto fewer and fewer.

3.         The military can barely be paid (the interest on the national debt is staggering) and soon the nation is scarcely able to defend its “vital interests”.  Soldiers grumble and desertions start.  Also, contrastingly, people who are less willing and less able to fight want to become a part of the military because things are worse elsewhere.

4.         In emulation of business, many of the lower paid workers, usually in the service sector, and many of the disenfranchised resort to crime and violence where a few opportunities to become wealthy through drug sales, say, still exist.  Soon, enough of these disillusioned people become politicized and organized terrorism begins.  The military and police are practically powerless.  (The police are outgunned!)

5.         The small professional class (not mentioned separately above) is infiltrated by foreigners who nucleate, e.g., hire only people of the same nationality as themselves, and soon control entire areas of expertise.  These foreigners have been brought in by predatory businessmen to keep the wages of their lackeys low.  Eventually, the lackeys of the tyrants and businessmen are reduced to wage slavery.  Natives are no longer attracted to the professions and attempt to become businessmen themselves rather than lackeys.  This is a big drain on professional talent.  Some of the most gifted people begin to plan a revolution.

6.         The rest of the world is loath to accept devalued paper money and the supply of oil and manufactured goods begins to slow down.

7.         Agriculture no longer can feed everyone because it is entirely dependent on foreign oil and machinery.

8.         Rebellion begins in the military and spreads rapidly.  Some military remain loyal to business and the most powerful elected officials and bureaucrats, so civil war spreads throughout the land – mostly in the cities.

9.         Resentment of foreigners escalates essentially to pogroms.  The foreigners fight back, quickly organizing into “benevolent societies” and “tongs”.

10.       Alienation, anomie, and dissolution of all social order is complete.

11.       The Four Horsemen saddle up and ride.

Emergy (with an M)


Definition (Availability).  Availability (or available energy) is energy [enthalpy, H, or internal energy, U] corrected for entropy, S.  Rigorous definitions of the Gibbs availability function [H – ToS], the Helmholtz availability function [U - ToS], and entropy are given in Appendix I, Fundamentals of Thermodynamics, where the symbols and technical terms employed in this paragraph are explained.  [To is  the  temperature of the environment, usually taken to be the temperature of the coldest body of water or the atmosphere into which the waste heat of a heat engine can be discharged.  For Earth, 300 K will do.  The effect of entropy on the availability function of sunlight is to reduce it by the ratio of the temperature of Earth to the temperature of the Sun – a factor of  about 19/20.  Since the enthalpy of a proton is 4/3 times the energy, the Gibbs availability of sunlight is about 76/60 times the energy.]  The reader understands that by the word “energy”, as it is used in ordinary parlance, we mean availability.

Definition (Exergy) [1].  In an environment whose ambient temperature and pressure are known, such as the atmosphere or a large body of water, exergy, with an x, is an exact measure of the maximum reversible work that can be obtained from a fixed quantity of material, such as a fuel, the sole use of which is to supply available energy to a process under investigation.  We define the exergy per fixed quantity of material to be the difference between the Gibbs availability of the material and the Gibbs availabilty of the same quantity of the same material reduced to ambient temperature and pressure (generally lower) and, especially in the case of fuels, brought into chemical equilibrium with the surroundings by reacting chemically to obtain products from which no additional work can be extracted.  In this treatment, I shall neglect any additional work that might be extracted by allowing combustion products, for example, to diffuse from their high concentration in the combustion chamber to the concentration at which they are found in the atmosphere far from the site of the combustion.

Thus, the exergy of one kilogram-mole of octane at 500°C and 10 atmospheres is the difference between the Gibbs availability of 114 kilograms (one kilogram-mole) of octane (the fuel) at 500°C and 10 atmospheres minus the sum of the Gibbs availability of 352 kilograms of carbon dioxide and the Gibbs availability of 162 kilograms of water (the products of combustion) all at 300 K and one atmosphere.  This is the most degenerate state that this collection of atoms can attain in a world where temperatures lower than 300 K and pressures lower than one atmosphere cannot be found except by actually doing work, which would defeat our purpose, namely, to discover the maximum amount of reversible work that we can extract from the 114 kilograms of octane at elevated temperature and pressure.  We are assuming here that 400 kilograms of oxygen is obtained from the ambient air and that it does not contribute additional availability; i.e., its exergy is zero – just as its Gibbs availability, which is equal to the Gibbs free energy at atmospheric conditions, is zero.  As stated above, we are neglecting any possible work that might be extracted from the high concentration of carbon dioxide and water vapor just after combustion by allowing it to diffuse (through some sort of machine) to the average (low) concentration of carbon dioxide and water vapor normally found in the atmosphere.  (Presumably, we could invent some sort of device that would harness the differences in partial pressures using a semi-permeable membrane, say.)

Odum’s original definition of emergy.  Odum defined emergy, measured in emjoules, to be the Gibbs availability of the sunlight, measured in joules, required to produce, by an optimal process, (1) fuels; (2) other energy sources such as wind or fresh water in mountain lakes; (3) natural resources such as grass and trees, (4) manufactured objects, (5) human resources; (6) information; and (7) any other objects of economic interest that can be associated with an identifiable quantity of sunlight.  This is a sunlight-based emergy.  It leads to large numbers for the emergies of primary fuels that are known only approximately; therefore, we shall modify the definition slightly to give common industrial energy products emergies that are known precisely and that are close to 1.0 in magnitude.


Table 2-1.  Solar Transformities

(solar emjoules per joule) [7]





Wind kinetic energy


Unconsolidated organic matter


Geopotential energy in dispersed rain


Chemical energy in dispersed rain


Geopotential energy in rivers


Chemical energy in rivers


Mechanical energy in waves and tides


Consolidated fuels


Food, greens, grains, staples


Protein foods


Human services




The transformity of sunlight is, of course, unity.  The entry for wind kinetic energy says that 623 joules of sunlight are required to generate 1 joule of kinetic energy in wind.  (Wind has about 40 joules of thermal energy, which is not available to us, per joule of kinetic energy.)  Each joule of geopotential energy in dispersed rain requires 8,888 joules of sunlight according to Odum.  Presumably, some portion of this falls into mountain lakes, etc., which, in turn, feed mountain streams and rivers and may be used to produce hydroelectric power.  The entry for geopotential energy in rivers is 23,564.  (How it can be known to five significant figures I cannot say.)  The emergies of food, greens, grains, and staples must account for the rain they require, the sunlight they absorb in photosynthesis, any fossil fuel that is used in their cultivation and transportation, etc.  Each joule (of availability) such foods contain requires from 24,000 to 200,000 joules of sunlight – depending, I suppose, on whether they grow wild in the consumers backyard or are farmed by a giant agri-business and shipped half way around the world.  The reader realizes that a meal of greens from the green grocer, which might contain 21 million joules of Gibbs availability, has an emergy that might be as high as 4.2 trillion solar emjoules.  The case of human labor is interesting too.  I consume energy at the rate of about 0.1 kilowatts when I work.  That’s 100 joules per second.  If I work one hour using all of the knowledge I have acquired through some very expensive (no doubt overpriced) schooling, the emergy cost of that hour could be as high as 5 E9 solar emjoules per joule times  3600 seconds per hour  times 100 joules per second times 1 hour  =  1.8 E15 solar emjoules.  (That’s 1.8 million billion emjoules.)  So, these are some pretty expensive words you are reading!

Sunlight-based emergies have the disadvantage that they are large and known only very roughly.  Moreover, gross estimates are used to evaluate the fuels we use most frequently.  We don’t know how many joules of sunlight must be expended by the most efficient process to produce one joule of alcohol from biomass.  Undoubtedly, the optimal process has yet to be discovered.  These are deficiencies in emergy analysis.  They can be remedied somewhat as will be shown.  Howard Odum recognized that the value of manufactured goods can be quantified in terms of the energy consumed to produce them.  What we owe to the genius of Howard Odum is beyond our powers to compute (even in units of emjoules) – it is truly priceless.  That said, I must warn the reader that the use to which I put his gift is my responsibility alone.  If my implementation of his ideas, which, for the most part, corresponds to my personal taste and inclinations, turns out to be defective, the blame lies solely with myself and does not reflect upon the merit of his original conception and the great body of his vast and rapidly growing scientific legacy.

If we wish to do economics based upon emergy, we need to assign emergies to capital goods and other manufactured objects.  Let us see how to do this in a thought experiment involving an imaginary ideal process.  In this process, the only input is energy (availability); no raw materials are used or, put another way, the raw materials are not considered to have any value – maybe negative value – like toxic waste or raw sewage, but we won’t take credit for it.  The process produces one product.  We wish to compute the emergy of that product produced by an optimal process.


Figure 2-1a.  Energy balance for ideal process

Figure 2-1b.  Availability balance for ideal process

Figure 2-1c.  Emergy balance for ideal process


In Fig. 2-1a, we depict the energy balance for our process.  We don’t show the product coming out, which is assumed to carry negligible energy.  All of the energy entering is reduced to junk heat.  In Fig. 2‑1b, availability enters and nothing comes out, since junk heat has no availability (in this analysis) and neither does the product, which can’t even be burned.  The lost work term provides closure for the availability balance.  Finally, in Fig. 2-1c, the emergy balance is shown with the transformed availability entering, measured as emergy, and the product carrying an equal amount of emergy along with it into the economy – even though all of the availability was consumed as junk heat.

In the case of a similar process that produces the same unit product but is less than optimal, more emergy is required at the input, and the difference between the input and the output is lost.  Thus, as in the Combined First and Second Law (Appendix I, Eq. I-6), emergy can be destroyed.

In their earlier work [6], Howard and Elizabeth Odum measured emergy in fossil-fuel equivalents.  Emergies used to evaluate industrial economies might be computed more easily by taking the transformity of crude oil or even methane as unity.  If we are moving toward an electrical basis for energy analysis, it might be better to take one joule of single-phase, 60 cycle (Hz), 110-volt alternating current (AC) as the unit of emergy – or, perhaps even better, 3,600,000 joules ( = 1 kWhr).

Definition (Standard Electricity).  In this paper, single-phase, 60 Hz, 110-volt alternating current is taken to be standard electricity.

Definition (Emergy Unit).  My arbitrary – but well-defined – choice for one unit of emergy (1 MU) is 1.0 kilowatt-hours of standard electricity.  Although electrical current carries a small amount of entropy manifest in difference currents, for all practical purposes, that is, for engineering purposes, electricity is pure work.  The availability of electricity is equal to its energy; and, with this choice of emergy unit, the emergy of electrical current is numerically equal to its energy in kilowatt-hours.  The transformity of sunlight, wind, biomass, and other energy products will be less than – but close to – 1.0.

Definition (Transformity).  The transformity of a primary fuel is the number of kilowatt-hours of standard electricity one can obtain from 1 kWhr of the primary fuel by an efficient process, the tradition of reporting the availability of fuels in BTUs per pound or kilocalories per gram mole notwithstanding.  Any unit of energy can be converted to kilowatt-hours.  This is an electricity-based transformity, the units of which are emergy units per kilowatt-hour.

Definition (Emergy).  The embodied energy or emergy of a primary fuel is the Gibbs availability of the fuel in kilowatt-hours multiplied by the electricity-based transformity.  The emergy of anything else is the sum of all the emergy that went into producing it by an efficient process minus the emergies of any by-products formed.  The emergy of an activity is the average rate of expenditure of emergy times the time.  These definitions are easily extended to include the dependence of emergy on location and time.  The concept of nemergy or negative emergy can be introduced to aid in the discussion of environmental damage.

Definition (Emergy efficiency).  Emergy efficiency is emergy out divided by emergy in.  This efficiency is 1.0 for an optimal process because the emergy of the output is defined to be the emergy of the inputs.  For a less than optimal process, the emergy efficiency is the emergy of the inputs to an optimal process over the emergy of the inputs to the process under investigation.  Emergy efficiency lies between zero and one.

The transformity of any fuel can be determined by using it to generate standard electricity by an efficient process.  The most efficient process might be a fuel cell.  Therefore, the emergy of any fuel is the Gibbs availability of the fuel multiplied by the electricity-based transformity.

Balance Equations.  Sholto Maud suggested working out energy, availability, and emergy balance equations for simple extraction and conversion processes.  Writing balance equations for extraction and Type 1 conversion helped me to understand what must be included in the definition of emergy and what may not be included without encountering inconsistencies.  Many other people can improve their understandings by studying the balance equations discussed at http://www.dematerialism.net/Mark-II-Balance.html.

Extraction.  An example of extraction is the production of petroleum from the well to the refinery.  Extraction is discussed in http://www.dematerialism.net/Mark-II-EROI.html.

Type 1 Conversion.  The first type of conversion is the production of primary energy from energy supplied by Nature for which we do not compensate Nature.  This is a sustainable process provided the energy from Nature (natural energy) comes from a source that is continuously renewed by the Moon or by the Sun shining on the Earth.  The input to such a process includes other types of energy, material goods, transportation, labor, taxes, etc.  The output includes the principal product, by-products, waste heat, and pollution.  Normally, pollution is not considered; however, the concept of nemergy (negative emergy) should be employed to account for pollution of every type even, for example, the extent to which animals are deprived of habitat by the mere existence of the energy production facility.  Examples of Type 1 conversion are the production of electricity by windpower and solar power.  The emergy balance equation for a Type 1 process is illustrated in Figure 2-1d:

Figure 2-1d.  Emergy Balance for Type 1 Conversion


Let us define some symbols to be used in connection with Figure 2-2:

Table 2-2.  Symbols used in this discussion


Gibbs availability of fuel produced by process


electricity-based transformity of fuel produced


emergy of fuel produced by process = λR · ER


the algebraic sum of all of the emergy inputs (except for MN) minus the by-products


Gibbs availability of stream MI


ratio of EN per unit mass to ER per unit mass


Gibbs availability of energy from Nature = μ · (ER + EI)


the electricity-based transformity of the energy supplied by Nature


emergy of energy from Nature = λN · EN


Energy returned over energy invested (EROI) = ER/EI = MR/MI


the Gibbs availability of primary energy in Type 2 conversions


the transformity of the primary energy source in Type 2 conversions


the emergy of the primary energy supply in Type 2 conversions


Each of the input emergies, except the emergy supplied by Nature, is to be transformed into a product-equivalent emergy.  Then, the emergy invested, MI, is imagined to have been produced by the same process that produced the fuel.  In this way, it will be apparent immediately if the process consumes more emergy than it produces.  All indirect energy expenses should be included in the MI term, in which case EROI is a good measure of the effectiveness of the process.  (See http://www.dematerialism.net/Mark-II-EROI.html.)  [An example of an indirect cost is the pro-rata share of the commuting costs of the tax consultant (A) that should be charged to the worker (B) who maintains a windpower installation because the man (C) who serves B lunch had his taxes done by A.]

Then, since


In the first approach, the transformity of the product is determined by the generation of standard electricity with a well-known, efficient process and the transformity of the energy from Nature, whether it be from the tides, from biomass, from wind, from sunlight itself, or from some other natural source, is determined from the emergy balance.  Normally, this transformity is well established.  Therefore, two separate cases obtain:

Case 1.  If λN, the value we compute, is greater than λN*, the accepted value of the transformity of the natural energy, then we should report that our process is part of a more efficient route to standard electricity, and λN should be considered for a new value of the transformity of the energy supplied by Nature.

Case 2.  If λN is less than λN*, then our process is less efficient than the process that established the larger value and we must report an emergy efficiency, η, for our process because we could have generated more emergy with the same quantity of natural energy if we had used the standard process.  The reader should remember that the energy from Nature is “free”, but the area of the solar collector or the size of the windmill is not.

In the second approach, the well-established value of the transformity of the energy supplied by Nature is accepted and the transformity of the product is computed from it.  Call it λR'.  If λR' is less than λR, the true value, we should revert to Case 1 and recalculate the transformity of the natural energy.  If λR' is greater than λR, then the efficiency is λR over λR'.  This is in agreement with Equation 2 above.

Let us imagine the process in the configuration illustrated by Figure 2-1e.


Figure 2-1e.  Alternative Diagram for Type 1 Conversion

If the algebraic sum of the emergy inputs to a process minus the emergy supplied by Nature exceeds the emergy of the product, that is, if MI > MR, then the process is wasting energy resources.  This is the case for some alternative energy projects that seek venture capital, government subsidies, donations, or unwary buyers.  If they were not subsidized by fossil fuel, they would not work.

Type 2 Conversion.  The second type of conversion is the production of secondary energy from primary energy.  The production of hydrogen from methane or from electrolysis of water is an example of Type 2 conversion.  Figure 2-1f is the same as Figure 2-1d except that MP, the primary energy, is substituted for MN:


Figure 2-1f.  Emergy Balance for Type 2 Conversion

In the first approach, the transformity of the product is determined by the generation of standard electricity by a well-known, efficient process and the transformity of the primary energy is computed from the emergy balance equation just as we did in the case of a Type 1 conversion, mutatis mutandis:

Case 1.  If λP, the value we compute, is greater than λP*, the accepted value of the transformity of the primary energy, then we should report that our process is part of a more efficient route to standard electricity, and λP should be considered for a new value of the transformity of the primary energy.

Case 2.  If λP is less than λP*, then our process is less efficient than the process that established the larger value and we must report an emergy efficiency, η, for our process because we could have generated more emergy with the same quantity of primary energy if we had used the standard process.

In the second approach, the well-established value of the transformity of the primary energy is accepted and the transformity of the product is computed from it.  Call it λR'.  If λR' is less than λR, the true value, we should revert to Case 1 and recalculate the transformity of the natural energy.  If λR' is greater than λR, then the emergy efficiency is λR over λR'.  This is in agreement with Equation 3 above.  These results are worth deriving in a different way:

If a fuel the emergy of which is known is produced by the process under investigation and the sum of all of the emergy costs – both direct and indirect – that go into the process (computed with the true transformity λP*) minus the emergies of any useful by-products is greater than the algebraic sum of the emergy inputs for the process that determined the known emergy of the energy product, the process under investigation is sub-optimal and the emergy efficiency, η, is

and, the transformity of the product we would compute from

is higher than the true value λR.  The only justification for the process is that we cannot do without the product and there is no other way to get it, which is not the case when electricity is used to produce hot water (discussed below) since hot water can be produced with less emergy by burning fuel under normal circumstances.  Nevertheless, the process may be needed in extraordinary circumstances where the burning of fuel is prohibited, e. g., on a space satellite.

If the algebraic sum of the emergy inputs for the process under investigation is less than that of the older process, the transformity of the primary energy should be recalculated.  It may not be expedient to discontinue production by the older process immediately because of compelling reasons not to shut down the older facilities – not the least of which is the time delay before new facilities can be built.  The emergy efficiency of the older process is now less than 1.0.

Type 3 Conversion.  The third type of conversion is the manufacture of non-energy goods.  The manufacturing process has inputs of energy, material goods, transportation, labor, taxes, etc., and outputs that include a principal product, by-products, and waste heat.  This is best illustrated with a diagram such as Figure 2-1g.


Figure 2-1g.  Emergy Balance for Manufacturing Process


Table 2-3.  Symbols for Figure 4


emergy of direct energy supplies


emergy of inputs of material, transportation, labor, taxes, etc.


emergy of principal product


emergy of by-product


emergy of waste heat stream


The emergy, MW, of the waste heat stream is its availability times the number of kilowatts of standard electricity that can be generated efficiently by one kilowatt-hour of waste heat.  The emergy of the sum total of all direct energy inputs to the process is determined in the usual way.  The emergy of the sum total of all non-energy inputs must be available from past studies or must be determined during the analysis.  It may include contributions from pollution etc. in which case negative emergy in the output is added to the input.  Unlike the case of energy production, the transformities of the inputs cannot be influenced by the process.  The emergy of the principal product and the by-product must equal the emergy of the inputs minus the emergy of the waste heat.  In the case of a principal product as the sole output, the determination is trivial.  However, when one or more by-products are present, the emergies of the by-products and the principal project must be apportioned in a canonical manner that should be determined by the analyst on a case-by-case basis.

If the emergy of a by-product is known in some other way, it may be appropriate to use the known value.  In a case where the emergies must be distributed equitably, the relation between market price, either instantaneous or averaged over time, and energy or emergy may be useful.  See “The Relation of Energy to Money”.  Thus, the emergy is apportioned according to market value.  This is a singular intrusion of money into the physical realm of emergy analysis and may not be advisable.  In a non-market economy, some combination of energy, labor, capital expenditures, product mass or heat of fusion (even) might be of use.  In any case, the sum of the emergies of the products must close the emergy balance.  The consumer may find it expedient to compare the emergy of any given product with the emergy of a comparable product to minimize his impact upon the environment.

Note.  The EROI defined in this essay is sometimes denoted EROI-1 because it is one less than the usual EROI which equals (MR + MI)/MI.  The reader should realize that the terms Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 Conversion have no currency outside of this essay.

Matching Problems

At this late date, we still have no idea if even one sustainable primary energy technology exists other than firewood itself.  (We would prefer not to burn firewood directly, because of the smoke, even if it turns out that global warming (from carbon dioxide) is not a problem.)  In any case, when we analyze our first sustainable energy process, we have no right to imagine that a less expensive sustainable energy source exists that can be “matched” to that process.  We cannot make use of predictions concerning the distribution and usefulness of our form of primary energy (call it Eo) or any other.  In other words, we must do our determination of feasibility with only occasional reference to the matching problem that will be solved subsequently.

Thus, it is, in fact, Eo, itself, that must carry the burden of the direct and indirect costs with few exceptions.  If we have sustainable electricity, probably we would use electric cars, which are much more efficient consumers than gasoline or diesel cars, regardless of the emergy costs associated with building the cars and providing the electricity.  Workers commuting back and forth to work will consume about one-third the energy budget of a gasoline-powered car.  We do not use electric cars currently because, with 1997 technology, we would consume more fossil fuel making electricity for electric cars than gasoline cars consume on the road.  [A good case can be made that the reason we do not use electric cars in 1997 is that oil companies have conspired to prevent us from doing so, but it is not necessary to make so reckless an accusation to advance the thesis of this essay.  This book is about radical social change.  It is singularly lacking in sensational conspiracies.]  It takes about three kilowatt-hours of fossil fuel to produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity in a modern power plant even with cogeneration.  Thus, one-third (of the energy consumption of a comparable gasoline-powered car) is the break-even point for cars powered by electricity from power plants – not that we wish to use fossil fuel even when we can use less of it than the comparable budget for sustainable forms of energy.  [Probably, in an economy whose only primary energy is electricity, hydrogen from electrolysis of water would be the fuel of choice (or the precursor of the fuel of choice) for applications that cannot use electricity.]


Consider Process A, which produces a continuous stream of hot water at 500 K.  The inputs to Process A are cold water, whose Gibbs availability may be taken to be zero, and 1 kilowatt of 110-volt, 60-Hz AC.  Since electricity can be converted to work with an efficiency close to 1.0, we set the power term in the rate form of the energy balance equation to precisely 1 kilowatt.  It may be used to lift a weight or it may be converted to heat completely.  Let us divide Process A into two control volumes to facilitate analysis.  The first control volume, A1, consists of an ideal electric heater.  The energy balance equation, presented in Appendix I, is


It is easy to see from Eq. I-1 that, for A1, which is a steady-state system, Qout = Win, or, in terms of  rates,

Next, consider a control volume, A2, consisting of the space within Process A through which the water flows.  The inputs to Process A2 are cold water with zero availability and the heat from the electric heater, which for the water should be written Qin.  The output is hot water at 500 K.  To see that the availability of the hot water is the output of a Carnot engine the high temperature reservoir of which is the hot water and the low temperature reservoir of which is cold water at 300 K, we write the Availability Balance (Combined First and Second Laws) for Process A2.  The Availability Balance Equation is

or in rate form

where, for a steady-state process, the term to the left of the equal sign is zero; and, for a reversible process, the rate of lost work term is zero.  Moreover, the availability of the water entering is zero, the heat out is zero, and both work terms vanish to give

This shows that the Gibbs availability of the hot water is equal to the exergy.  (To find the exergy for fuels one must subtract the Gibbs availability of the combustion products from the Gibbs availability of the fuel.)  If, instead, we had transformed the availability of the hot water to standard electricity, we would not have been able to do it with anything like the efficiency of a Carnot engine.  Perhaps we would have been able to obtain 0.2 kilowatts, i.e., one half of the Carnot efficiency, which is rather optimistic. 

Suppose we wish to produce standard electricity (call it Eo) by means of photovoltaic cells.  One emergy unit then is one kilowatt-hour of Eo.  An emergy flow diagram for this thought experiment appears in Figure 2-2 below.  Since, ultimately, we must determine if this technology is feasible or not, we will assume that Eo is the only form of primary energy available.  Therefore, we will employ this form of energy for most of our production needs.  Moreover, we must assume that the suppliers of goods and services will employ our product as well.  Also, most suppliers have some known emergy costs associated with manufactured items – from paper clips to electron scanning microscopes.  Since the emergies are known, either because Eo has been used always or because it is easy to convert the emergies to what they would be if Eo were used, no further emergy analysis is required.  Let us denote these emergies Cn, where it is understood that Cn will take different values depending on where the symbol appears.  Some of the emergy inputs are not even labeled; i.e., they may include indirect costs that are rarely considered in the peer-reviewed literature.  For example, it is assumed that the pro-rata emergy expenses of all people involved in the project in any way whatever are included among these inputs including their living expenses.  For a detailed discussion of this point see “Energy in a Mark II Economy”.


Figure 2-2.  Illustration of complex primary energy process to demonstrate EROI calculation

Suppose, though, that, in some process that supplies one of our inputs, passive solar energy can be employed to provide hot water, E1.  The manufacturing facilities that produce the passive solar energy apparatus must be assumed to employ standard electricity; nevertheless, under this assumption, we might be able to produce hot water (E1) the availability of which is 1 kWhr by employing only 0.1 MU, say, of EoSince the transformity of hot water is 0.2 MU/kWhr, we have obtained two emergy units for the price of one.  Suppose, further, that 0.1 kWhrs of E1 is required for each MU of Eo produced.  The emergy cost of this input is only


All such emergy inputs will be summed.  If they exceed one, the process under investigation is infeasible (under present circumstances).

Determination of Feasibility of Nuclear Fission

To compute the total emergy input of nuclear fission, we must consider all phases of the operation from discovery of uranium to the disposal of the decommissioned plant and the storage of radioactive materials for thousands of years.  If the sums of the emergies of the inputs, calculated according to the author’s modifications, exceed the a priori assignment of one MU per kWhr of primary energy (electricity), the process is infeasible.  (On December 27, 2005, we still don’t know if it’s feasible, since no nation has used nuclear energy without a generous infusion of fossil fuel.)  Even in the case of feasibility, if the emergy costs overwhelm the emergy costs of sustainable routes to electricity, nuclear fission should be rejected, unless our energy consumption has exceeded Maximum Renewables.


Figure 2-3.  Rough proportional partition of economy into sectors

For the sake of simplicity, we divide the economy into four sectors, namely, energy, production (including agriculture), service, and business as shown in Fig. 2-3 and Fig. 2-4.  (Government is considered part of business; but, probably, we should separate transportation from other service categories because of the dramatically greater energy use in that sector.  The purpose of these pages is merely to suggest a methodology.)  In Fig. 2-3 we divide the sectors roughly proportionally to the share of the economy they represent, but in Fig. 2-4, to make further division of the sectors easier to see and draw, we divide the sectors into equal quarters.  To the ith sector one assigns an emergy relation for each hour worked: ei = ew,i + aieP,i , where e is the average total emergy expended per person-hour, ew is the emergy expended at the job, and a is the fraction of the personal emergy budget, ep , that must be charged to the job.  (In the case of some participants, a might be 1.0.)  This methodology is promising because employment figures are readily available and the average emergy expenditure per employee can be estimated closely enough.  One can dispense with the individual ew terms in favor of the total emergy budgets or the appropriate pro rata shares, of the participating enterprises.  (It is the sum of the aieP,i portions that is conspicuously absent from the standard Energy Returned over Energy Invested analysis in 2005.  Please see my study of a theoretical simplified economy in “Energy Flow in a Mark II Economy”.)

We then count the person-hours expended within the energy sector, Eo, both nuclear and non-nuclear that should be charged to nuclear.  For example, the work done to discover uranium, mine it, refine it, comply with regulations including getting the plant permitted are part of Eo .  (This is not the Eo of the Example (above).)  Also, the employees at a nuclear power plant drive back and forth to work and part of their personal emergy budgets, coming mostly from fossil fuels, would not have to be expended if they did not work on nuclear emergy.  But, the nuclear sector is serviced by equipment manufacturing and plant construction, which we place in the production sector.  Therefore we must count the hours expended in the production sector, P1, that must be charged to the energy sector.  The transportation of uranium ore, fuel rods, and production equipment belongs to the service sector, but the people who feed energy and production workers their lunches away from home, do their income taxes, etc. – all of those people spend emergy that must be charged to nuclear fission.  Thus, we must count hours in the service sector, S1, that must be charged to the energy sector and the production sector.  This service may include scientific research and engineering as well as window washing.  Finally, nothing gets done (in this crazy economy) without a huge amount of sales, bargaining, deal making, accounting, shuffling paper, counting beans, hiring and firing, scheming, forecasting, and telling other people what to do.  All of which costs emergy, especially the fossil-fuel emergy required to carry these people around in cars, trains, and planes.  So, we count the hours in the business sector, B1, that must be charged to the energy, production, and service sectors.

Figure 2-4.  Accounting for emergy costs of nuclear fission

But, P1, S1, and B1 must be serviced by additional person-hours, E2, from the energy sector, which hours, in turn, must be serviced by the production sector, P2.  For example, accountants need computers and copying machines, paper and ink and many other manufactured items.  Economists add this to the Gross Domestic Product, but it is really overhead and should be counted as a debit – not economic growth.  This second level of hours spent in the energy and production sectors entails additional work, S2, in the service sector and all three require additional hours, B2, spent in the business sector.  Secondary person-hours are followed by tertiary hours until no new hours can be identified.  (One must count the gasoline expended by the person who cleans the floors where the paper is printed to do the income tax of the person who delivers the sandwiches to the cafeteria where the man eats who services the copying machine of the person who does the taxes for the truck driver who carries the fuel to the garage where the truck is fueled that carries the steel to the construction site where the equipment is built to maintain the nuclear power plant.  The reader gets the idea.)

[Note in proof (2-5-97).  In accounting for emergy inputs to transportation, for example, we may take credit for the increased efficiency of electric vehicles over internal combustion vehicles, since we may assume that the emergy from the nuclear power plant is the only primary energy available.  Alternatively, we may use that emergy to produce hydrogen for fuel cells if that process reduces the proportion of emergy production that must be charged to overhead.]

This iterative accounting procedure must converge eventually because the total person-hours in the economy is finite over a finite length of time, which may not exceed the period of decay of the radioactive materials.  This difficult calculation can be carried out in principle; but, undoubtedly, excessive emergy costs will be encountered in many cases early in the process.

I cannot emphasize enough that this calculation should actually be done – at least roughly – for nuclear energy, photovoltaic energy, energy from biomass from both biological and other processes, such as pyrolysis of biomass.  The first two technologies produce electricity, my favorite choice for an absolute emergy standard; i.e., one kilowatt-hour of 110 volt, 60 Hz AC is one emergy unit (MU) even though electricity is not primary energy.  Only the assumed emergy of one MU per kWhr of pyrolysis products (or pyrolysis products that have been reacted with hydrogen to produce diesel fuel) is inconsistent with the practice of choosing electricity to be the universal standard to which all emergies should be referred.  Inevitably, some electricity must be employed in any biomass process; therefore, we must assign an emergy of 3 MU to one kilowatt-hour of availability from electricity, since we shall require (approximately) 3 kilowatt-hours of pyrolysis product to produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity, as estimated previously.  We have reverted to Odum’s original definition; and we have established a transformity of 3 for electricity.  We may not employ this emergy or transformity for electricity outside of this calculation without endangering our hope for a universal (electrical) standard for emergy.  Alternatively, we could begin this calculation by assigning an emergy of one-third MU for pyrolysis products.

If electricity were abundant, but the scarcity of diesel fuel (needed to run essential farm machinery that we could not afford to replace) had become a life-and-death crisis, we might be pressed into converting electricity into diesel fuel at a loss.  Suppose diesel fuel were produced by reacting pyrolysis products of biomass with hydrogen.  What is the transformity of diesel fuel in that case?  The analyst will want to consider carefully the assignment of emergies, exergies, and transformities in every application.

Improving  Efficiency

Suppose nuclear emergy proves infeasible under the circumstances described above.  Nothing stops us from recomputing the emergy input costs in a society that has already abandoned materialism.  Suddenly, the huge overhead of business and government is gone, e.g., licensing, regulation, inspection, (graft?), exorbitant executive salaries for people who contribute about as much as Dilbert’s manager (the pointy haired guy).  (“Dilbert” is a comic strip, written by Scott Adams, that ridicules non-technical managers who “manage” technical workers generally without a clue as to what they (the “techies”) are doing.  The reason this is funny is that it is true.)

If decentralization has occurred, the costs of workers commuting will have been eliminated.  If money has been eliminated, the costs of accounting, collecting taxes, paying wages, collecting bills – even grocery bills – will have been eliminated.  If delegislation has occurred, all legal costs will have disappeared.  Ninety percent of the population will have been freed from drudgery and, since economic contingency would have vanished, they could afford to do as they pleased, which might include building a primary energy provider.

Indeed, eliminating materialism can make the infeasible feasible.  And, if the infeasible is essential to our survival, I don’t see what there is to decide (politically).


The results of the calculations are not critical for my case unless a per capita energy supply of 1 kW, on an electricity basis (110 AC, 60 Hz), cannot be supplied.  High-energy scenarios are rejected for reasons other than their expected impossibility.  The very low energy prognosis must be countered with much more stringent birth-control policies – one child per couple, say.  Again, one can only hope that this could be achieved voluntarily if it were necessary.  People have got to be made aware of the urgency of the situation.  They must be convinced that they are personally responsible for the outcome – and might be held accountable for their behavior.  Dissenters should be encouraged to speak openly and should be defeated soundly in public debate wherever it occurs.  Pointing out the fallacies of policies that promote population growth is one way, perhaps the best way, to teach the lesson.  Please do not let anyone make a casual remark, even, that the earth is not really over-populated without making a strenuous objection, even if you are classified thereafter as a crashing bore.

Emergy Analysis of Economies

The Emergy Cycle

Figure 2-5.  Odum’s emergy diagram for economy

Regardless of the basis chosen and in spite of the difficulties, we can use emergy to analyze the U.S. or, indeed, the world economy.  This is represented in Fig. 2-5 as a system diagram.  In Fig. 2-5, the emergy from fossil fuel is represented by a thick arrow entering production from the left-hand border.  The emergy of manufactured objects is stored in a capital pool and, in part, is recycled to production.  If the portion recycled is sufficiently great that the means of production can be enlarged so that more emergy can be drawn from the environment and more products produced, we say that we are capitalizing; i.e., we have capitalism in the strict sense.  Capitalization can occur globally when the supply of emergy from the environment is essentially infinite, but what we are experiencing now is a gradual shrinkage in the net amount of emergy available from the environment; i.e., we must go out to sea to find oil or transport oil over long distances.  Also, we must pay more emergy to restore the environment in case we spill oil or strip mine coal, for example.  Pollution is represented by an arrow on the left-hand side of the drawing entering the system.  If we wished to represent pollution by an arrow leaving the diagram, we might coin the term nemergy, which would be defined to be negative emergy.  In addition, we have a very expensive government (lumped together with business in the center of the diagram) that consumes emergy that might have gone toward improving production.  The arrows going to junk heat represent depreciation, consumption, and excess emergy used by less-than-optimal processes.  In an emergy limited world (this world), capitalism cannot exist!  [Note in proof (10-22-06).  It has been proved in my short essay “On Capitalism” that capitalism requires an expanding economy.  Conservation measures may counteract the increase in energy budget one would expect in an expanding economy to some extent; however, the extent of conservation is bounded below and economic expansion is unbounded.]

The Money Cycle

Business and Government

Nevertheless, business people (the money people) do their best to keep the money cycle (shown in Fig. 2-5) turning counter to the emergy cycle as fast as possible.  The faster the money cycle turns the more money they acquire even though they produce less than no emergy.  Since the emergy cycle cannot be accelerated, we have what is known as inflation, i.e., less emergy per dollar.  Odum’s diagram is the first explanation of inflation that ever made sense to me.

In this type of economy, the people are regarded as belonging to production, business, government, etc. by virtue of their jobs.  The proportions are represented by the percentages on the drawing.  Clearly, an inordinate effort is consumed by business and government.  (What is the fraction of the population that belongs to the health-care sector?  Is health-care overhead?  Is it wealth?)  Eventually, people begin to lose jobs; the infrastructure begins to decay; and society reverts to barbarism.  This is a dog-eat-dog economy.

Let us agree that businesspeople and government employees, with the exception of astrophysicists, particle physicists, space researchers, etc. do not spend as much energy per hour on the job as do people in the production sector; i.e., ew,B in the formula ei = ew,i + aiep,i , where i replaced by B in the case of business (and government), is smaller than ew,P.  Normally, they operate low wattage computers and even the cost of air-conditioning and lighting their offices is insufficient to overwhelm the cost of forging steel, for example.  However, the part of their personal energy budgets that must be charged to the job might be greater as they often wear suits that must be dry cleaned and, if they receive high salaries, undoubtedly they consume too much high-grade energy in consumer goods and in the operation of their homes.  I know a businessman in Houston whose monthly electric bill is approximately $500.  The excess over 1 kW per person is enough to sustain two third-world people for each of the four members of his household, some of whom must starve to death no matter what else is done if he should maintain this expenditure.  In fact, we might make the case that, if he reduce his consumption to his fair share, more than twenty-four people in Bangladesh who consume 0.1 kW less than subsistence could be spared a horrible death (starvation) each month.  In a very real sense, he is responsible for their deaths, which might rise to a staggering debt of 8640 before he dies or is killed.  (I don’t suppose it is legal to kill him now to save so many people and to spare him a harsh judgment if God is watching and is at all vindictive, which I very much doubt.) 

Now many readers believe that the man (with the $500 electric bill) paid for the use of the electricity and is, therefore, entitled to use it.  Nothing could be further from the case.  To quote Tom Pinch in Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit, the “money is the least important part of the transaction”.  All Americans are responsible for the deaths that are caused by America’s imperialistic policies because all of us – even the poorest of our poor – benefit from them.  A moment’s reflection, or, in my case, comparison of my expenses when I am unemployed with my expenses when I have a job, should convince us that ep,i  is much smaller for unemployed people than it is for job holders.  E.g., I don’t need a car when I am unemployed.  Do you?

Perhaps I have mentioned already that this general culpability (“for all have sinned”) exonerates terrorists from the oft-made charge that they have injured innocent people.  No one is innocent – which indictment quite naturally includes the terrorist himself (lest anyone suppose that I approve of him.  I don’t judge him either – no more do I judge the “money creeps”.  “Judge not lest ye be judged”  Don’t worry; you will be judged whatever you do or don’t do.  People are really into judging one another, don’t you think?  “What do you care what other people think?”  Even if there were no God, we would have to imagine one who knows everything we think and do!  We had better please God – imaginary or not!

To continue the indictment of business, a large proportion of the population is employed by business or government, including those who serve business and government indirectly – perhaps as high as 90% or higher.  How many people do you know personally who produce something with their own hands that is needed to sustain life?  Don’t count the products consumed by business and government.  The paper consumed by government is an overhead on our standard of living.  My philosophy claims that this expenditure is more than what the human race can afford.  (This book is overhead; but, in my view, an essential overhead.)  The resources of the earth and the sun have been bequeathed to the human race in common.  They must be expended for the common good.  No one is entitled to a greater share than another.  Nearly everyone agrees that the government spends too much.  What I am claiming is that business spends too much and produces practically nothing of value.  This is a new idea for most readers.  I claim we must find a way to replace business and government.  They are cruel, ugly, base (as opposed to noble), immoral, which won’t impress many Americans; but, when the majority of “nobodies” like me realize that we flat-out cannot afford them, they, the majority, may begin to pay attention.

Many people depend on the jobs supplied by business and government.  The jobs and wages aspect of current economic practice virtually guarantees that these people will suffer from the increase in efficiency resulting from the elimination of wasteful business and government activities.  Why should these people not receive their fair share of the benefits to the economy achieved by eliminating wasteful business and government activities?  For example, when an army base closes, the victims might receive a fair share of the money saved – even under our ridiculous capitalist economy.  Why should the budget be balanced at the expense of a few and not all?

It is easy to see that the concept of a job is absurd and should be replaced.  Whenever I hear a politician call for more jobs, I know that he or she hasn’t got a clue as to how the economy works.  One day (DV), I will list the contradictions derived from the notion that people must have jobs to live.  For now, consider the conflict between cutting government spending and providing jobs for everyone.  Now, imagine what the idea of “free-trade” does for that situation.  The notion that we must have a global economy is used to get people (you?) to accept lower wages and be glad that they are employed at all.  Why should everyone be employed if a small percentage of us can produce locally everything we need – not what we are led to think we need but what we actually need!

Does the Government Do Anything Useful?

I have drawn a thin line with a question mark in Fig. 2-5 to indicate that, through the sponsorship of scientific research (not all scientific research is as mindless and wasteful as space research) the government could provide something useful to the economy.  It does not have to supply much useful information to have a large impact because the transformity of information can be very high.  If the government were to supply an equation of state that would govern the two liquid phases found in mixtures of oil and water, we should be very grateful.  Unfortunately, that has not been done.  If the government would compute the emergy input (using the author’s methodology) required to produce 1 kWhr of nuclear electricity, I would be delighted.  Apparently, this is not even thought of.  On the other hand, one can dial (as of June 18, 1993) a phone number (1-303-497-3235) in Colorado and obtain a very good approximation to the value of the solar flux for that day.  One also obtains a report and prediction of solar activity and the magnetic field for yesterday and today.  [Note (7-21-2004). That phone number still answers today, however the information imparted is different.  I did not hear the value of the solar constant stated explicitly.]  This must be enormously useful to someone, but I can’t imagine to whom.  I have discussed the National Science Foundation in my essay “On Honor in Science”.  My comments have not been favorable.

Can the Government Solve Social Problems?

The “liberal” approach to ameliorating the terrible misery inherent in the American system is to institute government programs to correct the worst defects of materialism.  (Admittedly the government is not monolithic, but it is centralized sufficiently that no one should expect it do anything truly helpful for the poor of our country after seeing it bomb the poor people of other countries, cf., Iraq, to protect the business interests of the wealthiest Americans.  The purpose of government is to serve business; but, when its own interests conflict with those of business, it takes care of itself first.)  Regrettably, I find that I must agree with conservatives in the observation that these programs almost never have the effect that is intended.  A variation of Odum’s diagram with some hypothetical figures as in Fig. 2-6 might help us understand why this might be the case.

Figure 2-6.  Emergy flows in a thought experiment

One imagines that the economy produces 100 emergy units (MU), whatever an emergy unit turns out to be (obviously 1% of the emergy produced).  Also, we suppose that the economy is being maintained by only 10% of its production rate, i.e., 10 MU, and that it operates with the amazing emergy efficiency of 50%, i.e., it is half as efficient as the optimal production system, which, of course, has not been invented yet.  In this model, we imagine the consumers drawing their livings directly from the pool of capital rather than from the enterprises to which they are attached by virtue of their jobs.  We further suppose that only 20% of production has to be recycled to maintain business, government, and production.  Let us suppose that this is a conservative number.  The 80 MUs corresponds to the fraction of each person’s emergy budget that cannot be charged to his work, namely, (1 -  ai ) ep,i .

Suppose, now, that, according to a proposal to eliminate poverty, government decides to collect an additional 6 MUs in taxes to pay for programs for the poor, which might even include job training, as in Fig. 2-7.  I believe that an overhead of only 1 MU for this program is a very conservative estimate and accounts for the fact that the total emergy available for distribution to the consumers is reduced by only 1 MU.  The careful reader will notice that I have not increased productivity to account for more educated workers.  This makes perfect sense as the worker will be converted from a fruit picker to a paper shuffler – in all likelihood.

Figure 2-7.  Emergy flows in a thought experiment

In Fig. 2-7, government absorbs an additional 6 MUs from the economy in order to pass 5 MUs of its increased input to needy people.  Therefore, since the total emergy input to the economy doesn’t change (perhaps because it is already at its upper limit) and production can’t increase its efficiency, 74 MUs, rather than 80 MUs, reaches the consumer in the normal manner, namely, as wages after taxes.  The government supplies another 5 MUs, but the net result in this conservative scenario is only a 1.25% drop in the average standard of living of the citizens.  Since the rich take theirs out first, the brunt of this minor hardship would fall on the poor who were supposed to benefit.  Even if the 5 MUs were aimed directly at the poor, the rich would get at the money by starting drug rehabilitation centers, correspondence schools, etc.  Of course, private “charities” would not do better.  Non-profit private charity has become profit oriented.  Witness the exorbitant salaries paid to United Way executives.

I cannot resist injecting a little first-hand anecdotal evidence.  An acquaintance of mine was fired (unfairly, according to him) from a major charity.  He fought fiercely to regain his position, going to court, etc.  I was puzzled and asked him why he should care about being employed in such a place.  Surely, with his Ivy League education and background (and prodigious intelligence), he could do much better.  He answered, “Are you kidding?  This job is extremely lucrative!”

A Humanistic Economy

In the humanistic economy diagrammed in Fig. 2-8, competition for wealth and power has been abandoned.  People receive their fair (equal) share of the national (or world) dividend regardless of the activities they pursue, therefore they are no longer regarded as belonging to their jobs and the overhead of business and government is saved.  The only wealth is true wealth (emergy), which cannot be hoarded.  The economy is intentionally permitted to reach steady state; production serves people who belong to themselves; and the only motivation is intrinsic motivation – as opposed to greed and fear.  Involvement replaces employment.

Figure 2-8.  Diagram for a humanistic economy

The Availability Supply

Energy Flow Diagram for Earth

Let us now turn our attention to the flow of energy within the earth’s system.  The energy flow diagram in Fig. 2-9 is a modified version of Fig. 6-1 in the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) 1981 study [4], therefore some of the numbers may not be the latest available, but that should not invalidate our rough calculations.  Some of the numbers on the drawing are given with greater precision than would be warranted by the accuracy of the energy balance; nevertheless, the arithmetic does not quite work out.  (Old joke:  “The melody is terrible, but the words aren’t good.”)  But that is of no importance to us.  We need just a rough idea of where the energy is going.  We know that these numbers do not represent availability because, if they did, the number representing radiation from the earth would be more or less, but not equal, to the figure given.  The only concession to availability analysis is the designation of some of the flows, e.g., agriculture, as high quality.  We would like to have an availability analysis, but we shall have to forego that luxury for now.

The solar constant is about 1353 W/m2.  That means that where the straight line joining the center of the sun to the center of the earth crosses the outermost layer of the earth’s atmosphere, 100 miles above sea level, say (since we wish to calculate an upper bound on the rate of energy transfer), the mean energy flux due to sunlight is about 1353 Joules per second per square meter.  The solar constant isn’t quite constant, but we shall use it for very rough calculations; so, we may safely ignore the variations.  The atmosphere is a very thin shell surrounding the earth and whatever we take to be the outermost layer has a radius less than 100 miles or 160,934 meters greater than the radius of the earth, which we shall take to be 6,378,000 meters.  Further, we shall assume that the sunlight strikes the earth in a plane wave.  Actually, the sun is more like a point source in the sky subtending just over a half of a degree, but the calculation of the total energy entering the earth’s system is simpler if we assume all of the photons are traveling in paths parallel to the aforementioned line connecting the centers of the two bodies, which gives a value for the total power from the sun entering the earth’s system that is slightly high.  (The earth’s system is all of the mass contained within a large (concentric) sphere just beyond the furthest reaches of the earth’s atmosphere and outside the smaller (concentric) sphere representing the depth beneath the earth’s surface that is, for all practical purposes, unreachable.)  The projected area of earth, then, is:


Therefore, the total energy striking earth is less than 1353 W/m2 · 134.3 E12 m2 =  181,710 TW, in excellent agreement with the 178,000 TW that Häfele [4] obtains.  We could have done a fancy calculation using integral calculus to account for the actual spherical nature of the wave fronts of the sun’s radiation, but it wouldn’t have affected our answer by more than a few percent; so, we would have felt foolish for wasting our time like that.  (Actually, I did do the fancy calculation and I did feel foolish; however, this was a counter-example to the well-known “principle” that no person whose age exceeds 40 can evaluate the integrals of integral calculus.)

Notice that the reflected sunlight is about 30% of the incident radiation.  Continued population increase and economic “development” could drive that figure higher.  Highways and rooftops reflect sunlight “better” than forests do.  Another 46.2% of the incident radiation maintains the temperature of the air and water.  The mechanical energy of the wind and waves amounts to about 370 TW.  This is a high-quality flow; but, for each joule of mechanical energy extracted from the ocean currents, the flow of about 10,000 joules of thermal energy is interrupted.  This would have an unpredictable effect upon the weather.  The ratio of thermal to mechanical energy is only about 30 or 40 in the case of wind and we should harvest some of that.  The 5 TW of run-off is where we get our hydroelectric power, but it’s not worth killing off all the salmon for a fraction of a terawatt additional power.  The ecological effects of damming rivers must be taken more seriously.  The giant Ashwan Dam project in Egypt was catastrophic, which could have been predicted in advance by the engineers and constructors who used it to line their pockets.

Figure 2-9.  Energy flows in the environment

Planetary and lunar motion and geothermal energy can play a small role under very restricted circumstances, but the big renewable contributor is photosynthesis and that amounts to only 100 TW.  The rate of energy capture by photosynthesis could grow if we let it; but, again, population growth and economic development will have the opposite effect as we cut down forests for housing and urban sprawl.  Thus, in Fig. 2-9 the only “high-quality” flows, other than the extraction of fossil fuels, are from wind, run-off (hydroelectric), heat convection (geothermal), and agriculture (biomass, including silviculture).  Is it realistic to expect to harvest even 10% of the energy captured by photosynthesis without extinguishing animal life?!  Please remember that the human race has been sustained by photosynthesis throughout its existence.  This is the fundamental way in which the sun’s ability to reduce the entropy of the earth sustains life.  A change from this fundamental fact of life is very unlikely on the face of it.  I have not proved that a fundamental change in the way in which life is supported is impossible.  After all, this essay assumes fundamental spiritual change is possible.

Sustainable Energy: How Much Can We Expect?

We would now like to use the concept of emergy to estimate the standard of living in an economy driven by sustainable energy – a world where fossil fuel has been exhausted or may not be used because of global environmental effects or where prudence and common decency dictate that fossil fuel be preserved for future generations and better uses.  The best estimates (hard technological limits) for sustainable energy were evaluated in a massive effort by the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis [4].  A few crucial results appear in Table 2-2.

By 2030, the population of the world is expected to exceed ten billion souls [13].  We have approximately 10 billion kilowatts, which must be distributed equally among 10 billion people to avoid widespread famine and misery, i.e., 1 kilowatt/capita.  Besides the obvious immorality of policies that tolerate widespread misery, Machiavellian pragmatism dictates that large numbers of miserable people will be a continuous danger to people who are well off – unless genocide is employed.  Moreover, we have assumed that reasonable people (homo sapiens) cannot be happy while others are miserable.

Unless we take economic development to mean economic shrinkage to manageable and humanistic pre-industrial levels, but with a post-industrial soft technological basis, the idea of sustainable economic development is absolutely idiotic.  Anyone who uses the term without qualifying it to refer to a level of interaction with nature that is no more violent than the economy of the North American Indians before the advent of Europeans is a fool or a liar.  I am afraid that takes in a large class of people, especially people in high places, in particular, every head of state of every nation whose policy is known to me.  Who am I too denigrate the high and mighty?  Who are they to wield power with so little knowledge and understanding?  I am willing to debate anyone anywhere on these issues.  The debate must be sufficiently protracted that I can make all my points and refute a torrent of rhetoric backed by tons of irrelevant statistics.  (In science, the idea is to extract the sharpest conclusions from the least data.  If the scientist can reach a conclusion by pure logic, so much the better.)

Fossil Fuels

The fossil fuel extraction shown on this 1975 chart (Fig. 2-9) is 7.5 TW.  Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), directed by Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize [14], predicts 4.8 TW oil production during 1994 [15].  Presumably, natural gas and coal use could bring the fossil fuel extraction up to a level comparable with 1975.  I don’t know if we are using more or less fossil fuel today compared to 1975.  We are probably extracting less per capita.  Also, we probably expend more energy per kWhr recovered since we have to go out to sea to drill for oil, or transport it from far away places, e.g., Alaska, or dig deeper mines, or satisfy more stringent environmental constraints imposed by people who won’t allow strip mines to be abandoned without repairing the surface of the earth.  If these things be true, and we certainly need more research to determine if they are true, then we have already begun the long “recession” that will take us back down to a level of energy consumption that can be sustained by nature.

Most experts believe we shall run out of petroleum by 2030, 2050, or 2093, i.e., soon.  Taking 10,000 billion barrels of oil as a generous upper bound on the total reserves both discovered and undiscovered (more than twice the highest estimate I have seen in the literature) and using the CERA estimate of 68.3 million barrels per day or 24.93 billion barrels per year, we would run out in approximately 400 years.  This assumes no American-style economic development anywhere in the world, no population growth, and no additional expenditures to reduce pollution.  Neither does it take into account conservation measures that might counterbalance some of the other effects.  We shall consider these effects below.  In any case, the petroleum will be gone in a remarkably short time when compared with all of human history.

We have large reserves of coal, but the coal that is easy to get is nearly gone.  People will no longer submit to having their neighborhoods strip-mined and deep-shaft mining might consume more energy than it produces – if it be done safely.  Besides all that, the enormous difficulties of converting coal into clean energy must be overcome.  Perhaps these difficulties are not entirely separate from the difficulties of consuming renewable biomass, but coal is not renewable.  Also, the emergy cost to deliver coal to the consumer on an appropriate scale may be greater than the emergy cost to deliver forest and farm waste, municipal solid waste, and other forms of renewable biomass.  Research must be done to see how competing technologies stack up on an emergy basis rather than on a dollar basis.  I hope the reader understands by now that energy costs in dollars per kWhr are meaningless.

Of course, we are going to burn non-renewable natural gas.  It is clean but does not avoid the greenhouse effect – if it exists.  Perhaps we must use it or lose it; I’m not sure.  But the important thing about natural gas is how small the reserves are.  The known reserves amount to our energy budget for only a very few years.  Even the most improbable upper bound on total available natural gas both discovered and undiscovered amounts to a very short period assuming today’s usage pattern.  Please do not let anyone convince you that natural gas is the answer.  Proponents of natural gas are either pitifully naive or else have a sinister hidden agenda.  Remember that the natural gas is the common heritage of the entire human race – including posterity.

We have additional sources of fossil fuel such as shale oil, but the difficulties of recovering them may prove insurmountable and, in any case, they are not renewable – regardless of the size of the reserves.  Let us now turn to alternatives to fossil fuels.

Large-Scale Alternatives

These remarks are going to be uncharacteristically brief.  I do not view any of these options favorably, but I have insufficient data to prove that one or the other is infeasible.  I must emphasize at least one more time the need for more research to determine how much emergy is required per unit of emergy produced by each technology.  I suggest that we choose 1 kWhr of 60 cycle 110 volt AC as the unit of emergy (MU).  This is easy to convert to fossil-fuel equivalents (FFE); namely, 3 FFE = 1 MU – approximately.

The most efficient manufacturing technology will produce 1 MU per MU input.  We have discussed why this will not be the case in the modification of Odum’s methods that seems to be necessary to determine the feasibility of sustainable primary energy production technologies.  If the emergy consumed over and above the emergy (1 MU = 1 kWhr) provided by the primary emergy source, i.e., if the emergy consumed by overhead exceed the (hypothetical) emergy produced by the most efficient primary energy technology we can find, the most efficient process would not be good enough and sustainable primary energy would be impossible!

A simple way to express whether or not an energy technology meets the criterion of the methodology for determining efficiency described above is as follows:  If this technology were the sole energy source, could society sustain itself or would it wind down to the complete absence of all economic activity?  Is the technology a net producer of energy of its own kind or a net consumer?  We know that firewood, coal, and petroleum have produced sustainable economies in the short run.  Around 1850, population growth and urbanization led to the first firewood crises.  Coal and the railways saved the day for urbanization and industrial civilization, i.e., civilization itself (in the sense of urbanization).  We are now in the age of petroleum, but that must end soon unless we permit the enormous disparities in wealth to persist with their concomitant control of population growth by famine, epidemic disease, and war.  In point of fact, we do not know if any other energy technology can sustain a large population.  I have not done nor has anyone else done the research to determine if a sustainable primary energy technology is possible.  Therefore, the rest of this chapter amounts to no more than my best scientific guesses based on the limited information I can afford to gather.

Although no technology could be found to sustain a large population, we know that firewood can sustain a smaller population – perhaps as large as two billion souls.  Even the pollution caused by burning wood might be tolerable, especially if we used the wisest and most considerate combustion technologies in a moral world informed by a humanistic minimal proper religion.

In this worst-case scenario, where we go back to a primitive sustainable technology such as firewood with the concomitant shrinkage in population to firewood-society limits, how this shrinkage in population would occur is unclear.  Several possibilities suggest themselves:

1.         Systematic birth control is the most humane route back to a sustainable population size, but it would be nearly as difficult to implement as anything suggested in this essay.

2.         Survival of the fittest in a fair competitionistic society.

3.         Make no changes in our behavior, which would probably lead to one of the following:

4.         Brutal wars of extermination.

5.         Intervention by nature, i.e., famine, epidemic disease, etc.

But, the survival of the most brutal seems most likely.  Undoubtedly, in that case, the extinction of the human race would be preferable as some things are worse than death.  This extinction might be facilitated by knowledgeable people (micro-biologists, perhaps) holding themselves to the highest moral standards.

Non-Renewable But Very Extensive

Nuclear Fission

We have discussed nuclear fission by way of explaining the methodology to be applied to each technology to determine feasibility.  Moreover, it is insufficient to store nuclear waste unmonitored.  The storage of nuclear waste should be an active process with on-going energy costs for thousands of years.  Also, it is unclear that people motivated by profit are morally capable of running a nuclear plant safely.  This will be documented in a special chapter listing the documented sins of business, government, and industry – all taken from the establishment (corporate) press, which is not likely to exaggerate the sins of its advertisers or their clients.


As far as hot fusion goes, we are waiting.  It will have to be justified according to the same methodology applied to other technologies.  It has one serious drawback to begin with; namely, no working fluid can be found for the power cycle that is not considerably colder than the plasma.  That means that heat must be transferred through a large finite temperature difference, which, according to thermodynamics (and discussed in Appendix I), results in a large lost-work term.  The term lost work is nearly self-explanatory.


Geothermal is not really renewable energy.  When the temperature of the core of the earth reaches the temperature of the surface, it will be gone.  And, for that matter, so might we, since the cycles of volcanism and continental shift are necessary to sustain life on earth [6].  Moreover, we do not know what the effect might be of tapping large reserves of geothermal energy near the surface of the earth as in Yellowstone Park.  The IIASA (International Institute of Applied System Analysis) estimates that we can capture at most 1 TWyr/yr from geothermal.  I suppose we should use geothermal lightly on a personal or local (non-commercial) basis in the few places where it can be done, but it certainly does not represent a solution to our problem.



One of the benefits of having a large pro-industrial / anti-environmental class in our country is that they save us the trouble of debunking the less workable sustainable energy schemes.  Dixie Lee Ray, the former governor of Washington, is a good example.  She wrote an anti-environmental book that is used in environmental classes at the University of Houston [17].  (I guess that makes the University of Houston officially anti-environmental, although it is innocent until proven guilty.)  In her book, she shows that wind power is not the answer and I believe she is right.  Most of the wind energy is above 200 meters.  Can you imagine the capital (emergy) costs that go into building a 200-meter-tall wind machine, which may be toppled in the next good windstorm!  That’s a real problem.  One wants the wind to blow hard but not too hard.  The wind may not be willing to cooperate.  Moreover, only a few places in the world are suitable places for large-scale capture of mechanical energy from wind.  However, windpower can be used locally on an individual (non-commercial) basis to do something – at least pump water or grind grain (that’s why we call them windmills) as in olden times.  IIASA allows 3 TWyr/yr for wind.  I think that’s wishful thinking.  Again, we need a complete economic analysis on the basis of emergy.

Tidal and Waves

We have already discussed the large thermal to mechanical energy ratio in waves.  Not many locations in the world are amenable to harnessing the tides.  IIASA allows only 0.045 TWyr/yr, which we may safely ignore in our long range planning.


Hydroelectric turns out to have more adverse ecological effects than we previously imagined.  Besides, the magnitude of the run-off is very small – only 5 TWyr/yr.  The IIASA allows 3 TWyr/yr from this technology.  They imagine that we can convert 60% of the run-off to electricity.  I can’t imagine how that can be true.  Nevertheless, where large hydroelectric plants are in place it might do even more harm ecologically to remove them.  The power station at Niagara Falls is likely to be running into the foreseeable future – barring the complete collapse of our economic system as in numerous apocalyptic novels and movies, e.g., Road Warriors starring Mel Gibson.

Ocean Thermal Electric Conversion

It is a well-known undergraduate thermodynamics problem to determine the Carnot efficiency of a heat engine operating between the (relatively) warm surface waters of the ocean and the (relatively) cold depths.  The efficiency is pitifully small.  Now as I understand it someone intends to place multi-million dollar floating power plants in the ocean subject to the corrosive effects of seawater and the destructive effects of the ocean itself to operate at this pitifully small Carnot efficiency, which, if you remember, can be approached but never attained.  I wonder what Lloyds of London thinks about this.  I do not, in general, admire scoffers, so I shall say no more about this idea, except that it must be subject to the same analysis as every other technology.

Lunar Power Station

Criswell and Waldron [18] suggest placing solar collectors on the moon and beaming energy to the earth as microwaves.  Only two transmitters are required and a lunar satellite or two to account for the short period of time when neither of the moon’s antipodes is in line of sight with the earth.  Hundreds of decentralized collectors are required and I like that idea very much, but I am terrified of whoever will control the transmitters.

Criswell claimed privately that he did an energy efficiency analysis, but none appears in his papers.  I am afraid this imaginative scheme would not stand up to the scrutiny required by the methodology recommended above.  People working in space will need frequent rest and rehabilitation.  (Space sickness is real.)  Imagine the cost of shuttling hundreds of workers back and forth from the moon to the earth – even with a permanent space station (which I believe is beyond our means as well).  But, I now wish to give one of my heretical arguments for rejecting this technology.

Space is the common property of all of humanity or of a population larger than humanity or of no one.  To invade space, especially with commerce (viewed metaphorically as a disease like cancer in this essay), would be improper even if every single human being signed off on it.  But that is quite impossible as I shall not sign off on it and when I am gone someone will take my place.  In effect I am saying that I share the custodianship of space and you may not invade a domain of which I am the steward.  Just stay out of my space; I don’t permit it.  What’s that you say?  The common will must prevail.  Only if it can be defended according to the principles of aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility, and the intrusion of commerce into space is guaranteed to be defeated on all three counts.  Someone said that the exploration was a joint international effort, therefore it was sanctioned by all of humanity.  My reply is that the leadership of the sovereign states of the world and of the United Nations does not represent all of humanity.  On the contrary, it is opposed to it.  Leadership represents essentially – itself.

The bottom line, though, is that we can’t afford the emergy to go into space.  A scientist who represents NASA at scientific meetings (twice while I was in attendance) was unable to tell me how many kWhrs are consumed on a typical space-shuttle mission.  That’s something he should know.  That’s the first thing I want to know.  You can bet the number of people who have to starve to death to pay for a shuttle mission is shocking and, as previously shown, it is proper to view it from that perspective.  (There may be a thousand problems that would have to be removed before one could say that space research was the cause of their deprivation; but, when all those problems were removed, space research would stand between themselves and life itself.)

Permit me to make one more observation with respect to who has the authority to permit the exploration of space.  Let us begin by asking who has the authority to permit the exploration of earth?  We all know the famous explorers, e.g., Columbus, were not truly explorers but rather invaders.  America had already been “discovered” by the people who lived there.  When I bought my five acres in Upstate New York, I did not buy the mineral rights.  Who retained the mineral rights and why?  But, what about the deed to the property that I did obtain?  A title search was made (at my expense) and the history of the transfer of ownership was traced back through several “owners”, but not very far back.  What would have been discovered if the title were searched back to Columbus?  On the wall of the local barbershop hung a map with huge areas of the county ceded to John Doe, say, by King George III.  Where did King George get the authority to cede parts of Upstate New York to anyone?  By the sword, that is, illegally and immorally by every rational law of God and man.  Now, if the title to every piece of land in the United States is in doubt, how can authority to explore outer space be valid?  Outer space is unoccupied, so you say.  I’m sorry, but that won’t wash.  Who has the authority to give one person the right to occupy it rather than another?  The answer is no one.  I have provided a short essay in Vol. II [12] of my collected essays elaborating my position on space research.


Odum and Odum [5] claim that photovoltaic solar energy is a dead loser.  I believe them, but I would like to see the data.  I think the methodology suggested here should be employed.  A cursory calculation seems to indicate that it might be feasible – at least locally on a non-commercial basis.  In any case, I think it is a viable means for transporting energy from biomass-rich regions to biomass-poor but sunny regions, such as deserts.  Even if more energy goes into the cell than comes out, this unusual mode of transferring resources may be superior to other methods of pipelining energy.

Solar Chemical Reactor

The work of Jim Richardson of the Department of Chemical Engineering of the University of Houston and co-workers [19] will be discussed here.  In solar chemical reactors sunlight converts reactants with lower Gibbs free energy (CO2 and CH4) to products with higher Gibbs free energy (2CO and 2H2).  These products are pumped to a chemical reactor where the reaction is reversed to release the energy to the consumer.  The original reactants are returned to the solar reactor to repeat the process.  Even if this technology cannot produce net energy taking into account the pumping costs and the construction and maintenance of the equipment, it certainly can be used to transport energy and, in some cases, it might be the best choice.


Table 2-4.  Sustainable Energy



Geothermal  (not renewable)


Solar  (passive)


Solar (photovoltaic)


Wind (very questionable)


Hydroelectric (ecological. danger)


Tidal and Waves


Ocean Thermal Electric Conversion.


Biomass (pyrolysis and fermentation)


Improbable Total


Conservative Total


Passive Solar

Passive solar for pre-heating bath water in tanks on the roofs of our homes, for example, definitely should be used.  It is not clear that the effect is large enough to include in Table 2-4.

Biomass: Fermentation and Pyrolysis

These are the technologies that seems to have the most promise – in my opinion, however they must be subjected to the same rigorous analysis as the others.  The reason I favor biomass technology is that the producers of biomass are alive, therefore they reproduce and maintain themselves “automatically”.  It must be admitted that the percent of incident radiation that is absorbed by living plants is very small; but, since plants take care of themselves and would essentially cover the earth if we let them, who cares?  (This business of planting trees as an environmental act is almost silly.  If we leave trees alone, they can plant themselves at a rate that puts to shame anything we can do.)

The area of the United States is about 9,363,397 sq km.  According to L.W. Atkins, a political conservative, the area of the forests amounts to 2,954,310 sq km, which gives 31.6% of the U.S. covered with forests.  That is a respectable figure and, perhaps, a source of hope.  I don’t know if the rest of the world is doing better or worse.  We have all heard about de-forestation in the Amazon Basin, which is considered catastrophic by most environmentalists.  Whenever we find a conflict between the economic benefits of cutting forests and environmental concerns, we shall have found a contradiction in our conventional economic theories.  I shall use these contradictions to discard the institution of The Job and other old-fashioned and obsolete economic notions.  After careful analysis the IIASA has come up with a figure of 6 TWyr/yr (maximum) from all forms of biomass.  This is insufficient to support a population of ten billion people.  We shall need to supplement this with other forms of renewable energy and, perhaps, improve upon that figure – somehow, perhaps, as I have suggested, by turning the earth into a garden.  (Place me squarely in the soft-energy camp.)

I do not favor large-scale energy farms of a single biomass crop because nature loves diversity and dislikes monocultures.  A single disease or parasite could wipe us out completely if we build commercial monoculture energy plantations.  I picture this technology used on a decentralized non-commercial basis where human labor does not enter the economic equation because the people who do the labor will consume the energy.  (I do not charge my usual hourly rate when I chop wood gathered from forest debris on my own lot.)  The sun supplies about 100 TW according to the IIASA chart – perhaps more (certainly more if we turn the earth into a garden and abandon industrial civilization as in my fondest dreams).

Two promising approaches to energy from biomass are (1) alcohol from biomass [19-22], and (2) pyrolysis of biomass [23-27], but no emergy analysis has been done as far as I know.  An advantage of alcohol from biomass by fermentation is that the reactors are living creatures that reproduce and maintain themselves.  This is the same advantage enjoyed by biomass as a whole.  The advantage of pyrolysis is that the reaction times are very short, perhaps a tenth of a second; therefore, the equipment should be smaller and cheaper.  I am hoping that either technology can be constructed in a small shed a safe distance from the consumer’s home and barn but definitely within walking distance of the biomass source and the end use.  The conversion of pyrolysis to diesel fuel [28] could save the world from mass (perhaps total) starvation because when the petroleum runs out we will be stuck with tons of agricultural machinery that runs on diesel fuel.

Much of municipal solid waste is amenable to pyrolysis and the interesting thing is this:  The compositions of the pyrolysis products are almost completely independent of what is pyrolized – whether it be agricultural wastes, whole trees, or garbage!  The fundamental design parameters are simply reaction time and temperature.  It should be mentioned, though, that some of the energy input to the pyrolysis process is consumed by the process.  Of course the fermentation bugs need energy to live and increase their population, but I don’t know how the efficiencies stack up.

The pyrolysis or fermentation of agricultural products and waste is another possibility.  About 100 TWyr/yr of solar energy is absorbed by photosynthesis, but only 2.5 TWyr/yr is harvested as agricultural and sylvicultural products and much of that is not available for energy.  Odum and Odum [5] claim that Florida agriculture is fossil-fuel subsidized by a factor of 3.5.  (I’ve heard of factors as high as 7.0.).  Clearly, this availability-intensive agriculture cannot persist.  Extracting energy from agricultural waste might reduce this ratio of kilocalories in the fossil fuels expended to kilocalories in the food we eat; but, clearly, new agricultural methods are needed.  (The calories we count when we diet are kilocalories, i.e., the energy required to raise one kilogram of water one degree Celsius.)

I have not mentioned biogas.  A burnable gas, absolutely suitable for cooking without fear of bacterial contamination, can be recovered from human and animal excrement.  Part of the food that we eat still contains useful energy when our bodies are through with it.  Biogas is used in India and it should be used everywhere.  It is easy to implement in rural areas and, with any luck, the deurbanization of America will be complete in a few decades, even though we might need much of our remaining petroleum to achieve it.

When deurbanization is complete, almost all of the world will again be – rural.  If we wish to play with words, we can refer to this as the end of civilization – since civitas is the Latin word for urban society.  And, if you ask me, good riddance.  I lived in New York City for twenty-five years; and, at one time, I would not have considered living elsewhere, mainly because of the art and music, especially, for me, jazz.  But, after living four years in the country (upstate New York, 100 miles from an interstate), it was much harder to move to Houston than it had been to move to the country.  In the society of the future, as I envision it, we will have as good art and music (and better) in the country than we ever had in the city (and I am not referring to what folks call country music, most of which is just commercial trash and bears no resemblance to any kind of music.).  That’s one of the reasons I am hoping we can afford the recent advances in communications technology and even more exciting advances over the horizon as discussed below.  From an emergy viewpoint, communication is cheap; transportation is dear.


Table 2-5 shows a conjectured expenditure of a 1-kilowatt (kW) energy budget without any attempt to solve the emergy matching problem, which, of course, will vary from region to region.  (We would not want to use biogas to generate electricity for electric stoves, since nearly everyone prefers to cook with gas.)  For the sake of argument, let us suppose that the matching problem, which will require a little thought and the continuous application of good judgment, is solved.  If we need 0.05kW for cooking, we will have 0.05kW of biogas; if we need 0.15kW for bathing and comfort heating, we will have 0.15kW geothermal or passive solar.  We actually eat slightly more than 0.1kW biomass, although some energy remains after we have eaten it; but, for this analysis, it is assumed that somehow we can restrict our use of liquid fuels and other energy costs for agriculture to another 0.1kW.  (Currently, we consume between 0.25kW and 0.6kW overhead on food.  Ten gallons of gasoline per week amounts to 2.0kW of availability, which neglects the emergy costs of producing gasoline.  This is high-emergy consumption.)


Table 2-5.  Per Capita Energy Budget 2030

Energy Use












Hot water



Comfort heating



Comfort cooling






Health care






Communications, etc.



Manufactured objects






Space travel/research







Our Energy Budget


Modern agriculture consumes an excessive amount of energy according to our latest data, but we might recover some of that by pyrolizing or fermenting agricultural waste.  In addition, we must decentralize and deurbanize.  Probably, every family should have a garden.  The giant agri-businesses should disappear.  From an emergy viewpoint, they are extremely inefficient.  The most absurd practice of which I am aware is the trucking of honeybees from location to location, using precious fossil fuel, to pollinate fruit trees.  Pardon me, but what’s wrong with local bees?  In Table 2-3, I am assuming no more than 0.2 kW to supply the average consumer with 0.1 edible kilowatts, i.e., 2072.5 kilocalories per day.

Comfort Heating and Cooling

I think we should try to afford comfort heating and cooling.  That seems to be a real advance provided by industrial civilization that we would be loath to give up in post-industrial society.  The Houston area would be virtually uninhabitable, at least for the elderly, in the summer months without air conditioning, although, if you ask me, they overdo it.  (During the summer of 1988, I ran an electric heater in my office in July.  Talk about thermodynamically inefficient!)  We can improve the efficiency of comfort heating considerably by the use of heat pipes and heat pumps to transfer heat back and forth to the moderately deep earth, which maintains a constant temperature during the entire year.  But, above all, we can build houses that are designed to last longer than thirty years and, in addition, have walls that do not transfer heat readily, in particular, because they are four feet thick.  Most of that bulk can be simply earth, which, presumably, is cheaply available.  The Mexican adobe houses come to mind.  My wife and I stayed in a house in El Chimayo, New Mexico, that was about 400 years old and had thick adobe walls that beat modern construction hands down in nearly every category, except, perhaps, profit to the builder.  Once again, let me emphasize that the cost of labor is not a big issue when the laborer and the consumer are one and the same person.  This is a big advantage of the decentralized post-industrial (nonmaterialistic) economy.


As stated above, I hope we can retain the best of our communications technology including computing.  [Note in proof (4-12-97).  My reservations about the usefulness of computers are beginning to occupy more and more of my lucubrations.  Also, see “Some Unintended Effects of Computers” [12], which contains a good reference to Clifford Truesdell’s argument that computers are ruining mathematics and science!]  I believe in a worldwide communications highway and the amazing technology we have come to expect centered around it.  I have a number of provisos though.  (1) It must not be used for commerce.  (2) It must not be used to keep tabs on people – even so-called undesirable people.  (Everyone is undesirable to someone.)  (3) It must stay within a reasonable emergy budget.  (4) It must be distributed equally to everyone, in which case it can be a force for democracy and virtually eliminate the need for the corporate media.  News stories could come from eyewitnesses in far-flung lands who have absolutely nothing to gain by spreading lies.  One just turns on one’s computer and begins telling the story to one’s favorite bulletin board, say.  (5) Increased communication does not lead to increased transportation even though we would like to meet face-to-face with the person on the other end of the line.  (I am concerned about interlocutors falling in love.  Perhaps, we could cut down on that by avoiding video telephony.  In the worst case, one may walk halfway across the world.  Personally, I would be willing to provide a sailboat for the short distances that cannot be walked for anyone who was willing to walk nearly all the way.)

Imagine a television that is truly interactive.  Anyone can begin broadcasting on one of millions of channels.  But, and this is a blessing, he shouldn’t expect his name to become a household word like Peter Jennings, say, because thousands of others – perhaps millions – are broadcasting at the same time.  One could watch a kids’ baseball game (not one of the disgusting Little League games with their excessive adult involvement) or a game played by experts whose names you don’t know because they are playing in one game out of millions of games; but they might be as good as the major-league players of today.  And why should they not be good; they are not concerned with the rat race; they have time to do the things that allow them to excel in transcendental disciplines such as art, music, sports, mathematics, and so on!  Can you imagine watching a world-class mathematician (one of millions, so you can’t remember her name) doing math at a computer blackboard (or a real old-fashioned blackboard) right in your own home?  She doesn’t care if you look over her shoulder and watch her make a mistake because you might enjoy watching her find her mistake and correct it or you might enjoy pointing out her mistake if her incoming port is open and she is willing to be interrupted.  Moreover, if she makes a mess, it doesn’t matter because there is simply no such thing as a reputation in the “modern” sense.  Use your imagination.  There’s no limit.  But, we must be able to afford it for everyone without any deprivation anywhere.

Waste Treatment

Nowadays, human waste is one of our most serious problems.  It is one of the chief symptoms of overpopulation, which, itself, is a symptom of materialism, (because, without materialism, no one would have anything to gain by indoctrinating as many of his own children as possible in his own particular religion, no one would need a large pool of unemployed workers to take up the slack in boom times and keep wages down, no one would need large numbers of children to support him in his old age (or imagine he did), etc.).  Nonetheless, for the present, disposing of human waste is a serious problem.  We recommend recycling everything that can be recycled without draining the energy supply and we recommend increasing the energy supply with as much of the residue as is possible.  Currently, economic feasibility is done in terms of money, which, as we have shown, is incorrect.  When the efficiency of energy from waste is analyzed from the emergy viewpoint we hope the results are favorable.  I am accustomed to saying that, in my (former?) profession (chemical engineering), we should consider garbage and sewage as our primary feedstocks and forsake petroleum – unless, of course, petroleum must be used to save even more petroleum in the future.  We should use garbage, sewage, and agricultural and silvicultural waste for primary feedstocks for energy and manufactured chemicals including pharmaceuticals.  I see no reason why this should not be completely feasible, but research and analysis is needed.

On the other hand, research in superconductivity strikes me as, at best, amusing and, at worst, frivolous.  Lost work at low temperatures (and the “high” temperatures in high-temperature superconductivity are still cryogenic, i.e., very low) is excessive.  Perfect heat insulators don’t exist, although, to be fair, maybe one will be found.  Anyway, I’m willing to bet a quarter that superconductivity will never benefit anyone other than the scientists who do the research and their associates.  (I think this is the case with most science and constitutes part of the argument I have given for distributing research resources equally to all scientists, provided their work be not wrong, not a repetition (except to verify), nor trivial.)  I hate to stand in opposition to an entire field of scientific research and I do so with great reluctance; however, I shall make exceptions in this case, in the case of all space research (except for space research on paper), and the superconducting super-collider (SSC), and ... oh, never mind.

[Note in proof (9-26-96).  A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the heat transfer loss to liquid nitrogen might be very much less than the i2R losses that would be saved by even moderately high-temperature superconductivity; therefore, I am no longer willing to write that area of research off quite so hastily.  In fact, I may have to eat my words.]


I do not believe we can afford mechanized transportation except to a very limited extent to effect economies of scale over moderate distances.  (I am not sure that every county should have a plant that produces fourteen-inch deep I-beams.)  For this application, I choose single-track railroads (or barges hauled by professional athletes).  (Since I am a rail buff, my friends will not be surprised that I choose rail, but they may be shocked to discover that I favor eliminating all but a tiny percentage of existing rail.)  As far as agricultural machinery is concerned (and the tractors that haul dead and blown down trees out of the forest) I think they should be designed so that the operator walks along next to them so that they will not be abused.  How about transportation for war?  I have an idea.  Let’s adopt dematerialism and eliminate all the causes of war – including improper religions (the ones that make claims of absoluteness and which are, by definition, intolerant of others).

Please do not imagine that I do not like cars.  I love cars: the old Auburn, the Duesenberg (It’s a Doozy!); the great Cadillacs, Jaguars, Ferraris, Bugattis.  The only Bugatti I have ever seen was where all the cars belong, namely, in a museum (The Museum of Modern Art in New York), except I would allow anyone, in turn, to take the car of his or her choice for a short spin over a short scenic track to experience the thrill as an aesthetic pleasure – not as a means of transportation.  Ditto planes.  The flying of planes must be restricted to small areas away from housing – so they don’t interrupt Mozart, for example, and they must land where they took off.

The use of helicopters, especially over cities, is ridiculous.  What if everyone did it?  That’s a moral criterion if there ever was one and I shall expand on it by deriving it formally from the three moral axioms.  (I confessed to my thesis adviser, Prof. Bob Seader, that I often worked on research at seminars.  Without so much as drawing a breath he remarked, “What if everyone did that?”  He made his point.)

What about travel and wanderlust?  Are you aware that with the exception of a couple of short boat trips over the Bering Straits, between Scotland and the Shetland Islands, etc. one can walk around the world.  At about twenty miles a day (very do-able for ordinary people) it would take about four years and you might actually see something.  Look at your globe.  There are very few places you can’t get to by wind or muscle power or both.  Perhaps no place.

But, people would have to live within walking distance of where their lives are conducted – for the most part.  What are the advantages of this?  They are considerable.

1.         No one really wants to move over the whole world disrupting family ties and other friendships usually creating conflicts between the needs and desires of people who are bonded in pairs (married, say).  One can maintain the same friendships one’s entire life.  I am reminded of the local fellows who congregated in the barbershop in Potsdam, New York.  They were hanging out with friends they had known their whole lives.  It might improve our behavior, too, if we knew we could not escape from people we had treated badly or made fools of ourselves in front of.  These folks sure as hell never forgot the guy who shot the sleeping bear at point blank range and then claimed it as a trophy despite the powder burns on the fur.  He will never live that down, although the local society accommodates him and knows that we all do things we are ashamed of later.  (He’ll never do that again, as Johnny Carson said after he was arrested for drunk driving.)  Near the opposite extreme, I have kept track of perhaps one person from grade school, five from high school, and twenty-five from college.  I have known most of my immediate associates less than six years.

2.         Transportation consumes inordinate amounts of emergy.

3.         All of life’s little chores are simplified by proximity.  Commuting to work takes an average of 400 hours a year for Americans.  That’s like ten extra weeks of vacation!  Don’t tell me sitting in traffic on Loop 610 gives you more freedom.

4.         Truly democratic societies can be established in eco-communities or sub-communities that are no wider than a day’s walk.  The enormous creates insurmountable obstacles to democracy and freedom.  I find myself in agreement with Aristotle in this rare instance.  He wrote that, if a village couldn’t be seen in its entirety from the top of a low hill, it was too big.

Wasted Energy

We defined emergy in terms of an optimal process.  Regrettably, an optimal process cannot be a reversible process, as reversible processes require infinitely large heat exchangers, for example, and must, therefore, consume an infinite amount of energy at some stage in their construction.  (See Appendix I or any good thermodynamics book for an explanation of the important thermodynamic concept of reversibility.)  Thus, the importance of looking at every phase of the manufacture of everything is emphasized.  Since our optimal process is not reversible, it must have some lost work associated with it.  This is not what we mean by “wasted energy”.  Perhaps this section should have been called availability conservation.  The closer to optimal each process becomes, the more availability we save.  Some conservationists hope to solve our environmental crisis and maintain “sustainable economic development” by conserving availability, i.e., building more efficient processes including automobiles that get better gas mileage.  I am not advocating that these things not be done as a temporary measure; but, by now, I hope, it is abundantly clear that the type of availability conservation normally considered by industrialists is absurdly inadequate.

Cogeneration, waste management, and other laudable efforts by industrialists can save at most 50% of our availability budget – and I am being generous to a fault in allowing such an exaggerated figure.  Fifteen percent is more like it.  This will not solve the problems of depletion of high-grade energy supplies, worldwide deprivation and famine, and horrifying global conflicts (wars).  Nevertheless, we must strive to make such processes as we deem worth having as close to optimal as possible.  Wasted availability is an evil to be rooted out with all of our skill and perseverance.  We have discussed which processes are “worth having”; we shall discuss it further; and we shall expect long and acrimonious debate as people struggle to avoid giving up their favorite frivolities and their insane and destructive ways of life.

Drawbacks and Advantages of a Large Energy Budget

It is not necessary to prove that every technology capable of supplying plentiful high-grade energy must fail.  It is clear that plentiful energy would not be a blessing in a materialistic world.  When I was first told of cold fusion, I hoped it would turn out to be a failure.  The first thing that popped into my head was traffic on the interstates multiplied a hundred-fold all over the globe.  Do we really want to turn the world into Loop 610?

On the other hand, in a cooperative world, (I have claimed) energy would be used wisely as there would be no incentive to use it selfishly and stupidly.  (You see; I, too, make use of incentive arguments that presume some knowledge of human nature.  I claim that the knowledge I profess has a better basis in fact than theories that deny intrinsic motivation.  After all, I am claiming only what everyone believes.  We have never given intrinsic motivation a chance, but we can see for ourselves – even feel for ourselves – the power of intrinsic motivation when it is allowed to function.)

For a change, I shall present only an outline of the drawbacks and advantages of a plentiful (high-grade) energy budget – even though I believe that, unless the population be reduced considerably, energy shall continue to be scarce.  Thus, I haven’t much hope for a large population; however, a small population might encounter serious obstacles too.  Perhaps a small population would have difficulty harvesting even a large supply of biomass and scarcity would persist.  As far as those large readily available fossil-fuel reserves are concerned, soon they shall be gone forever.

Outline of Likely Effects of a Plentiful Energy Budget under Contrasting Social Conditions

I.  Wrongful Use ( competition for wealth and power)

       A.  Health risk and discomfort

               1.  chemical and radiative pollution

               2.  space pollution (junk in outer space)

               3.  noise

               4.  light pollution (we can’t see the stars, which is all we wanted of them)

               5.  information pollution (lies, propaganda, drivel)

               6.  excessive motion leading to stress

               7.  crowding

               8.  disappearance of wilderness

               9.  extinctions of species

               10. population growth

               11. ugliness

               12. urbanization

                       a.  garbage

                       b.  sewage

               13. crime

               14. insanity

               15. etc.

       B.  Useless consumer products and deceptive marketing

       C.  More junkpiles and less space

       D.  Wasted effort

       E.  Unpleasant jobs



       H.  WAR

II.  Proper Uses (cooperation)

       A.  Population control

       B.  Pollution control

               1.  Purification of all waste streams

               2.  Separation and recycle of all junk

       C.  Decentralization (deurbanization)

       D.  Mass communication

       E.  Equality of wealth, power, and fame

       F. Abundant living without excessive work, perhaps none for people who hate work.  Of course, many people will work on personal projects interesting to themselves only, one of which might save the world in some easily imagined scenario.

       G.  Etc.

[Note in proof (1-26-97).  Even supposing that we have abandoned materialism, an excessively lavish emergy supply will only make it harder to abide by the spirit and the letter of the social contract derived from our minimal proper religion.  Overconsumption and population growth might be hard to resist. Nevertheless, in keeping with the view of humanity that, in Chapter 4 of this essay, is assumed to be a good enough approximation to the correct view, I shall continue to trust humanity to do the right thing.  Undoubtedly, this point is moot as emergy will always be scarce.  In case it turns out that I am wrong, I hope future generations forgive my lack of prescience, as I forgive past and present generations who can’t read the future or who can’t see the world as it actually is.  Remember, many of you have acted (or continue to act) unwisely; however, I will have acted prudently.  It is better to have planned for a calamity that doesn’t occur than not to have prepared for one that does!]

A Little Arithmetic

It is easy to see that fewer than 10% of the projected population of the earth in 2030 can spend high-grade energy at the current American rate, under the condition that the remaining 90+% subsist on 0.3kW.  Moreover, for each person within the subsistence class who exceeds his allowance someone must die!  If the current populations of the U.S., Europe and Japan survive and all else perish, the surviving population must still spend less than 90% of the current American energy budget.

Suppose the existing oil reserves extend to the generous upper bound of 10,000 billion barrels.  (The highest estimate I could find was 5,600 billion on Page 53 of Häfele’s book [4].)  Suppose, further, that the population of the earth stabilizes at ten billion people for the next one hundred billion years – until the sun burns out.  [Some experts suggest a shorter period.  Pick your own number.]  Given a long life span of 100 years, 100 million people are born in each of 100 billion years giving a grand total of 10 × 1018 people who are entitled by every natural and moral law to share the 10 × 1012 barrels of oil.  That gives one millionth of a barrel per person, i.e., essentially none.  (In this calculation we neglect new petroleum created constantly, but slowly, by nature.)

Suppose everyone alive in 2030 spent energy at the present American rate, assuming that only half of our energy comes from oil.  (This corresponds to the estimate given by Cambridge Energy Research Associates, as discussed above.)  This would require an increase of five times (to account for the “improvement” in the lives of non-Americans) and an increase of double (to account for the increase in the population) giving a factor of 10 without counting increased energy use to prevent air and water pollution.  Even with the generous estimate of 10,000 billion barrels of oil left, we would run out in fewer than 40 years, i.e., before 2070.  Of course, the environment would be destroyed before then – unless perhaps half of the energy were devoted to reducing pollution, in which case we would run out in twenty years, i.e., about 2050.


Fossil fuels should be used to eliminate the need for fossil fuels.


1.         Barring a highly improbable “technical” solution, energy budgets in the future will be much lower than they have been during the industrial era.  Probably, industrial civilization is ending.  Nevertheless, I believe that we shall be able to afford low-impact (on the environment), humanized, but extremely sophisticated, technology.

2.         Due to moral, aesthetic, and pragmatic considerations, wealth (measured in emergy) will be distributed equally among all people in the world.  A weak world federalism may be needed to redistribute natural resources appropriately.

3.         Political changes have to occur to prevent the rise of tyrants and totalitarian systems of government.

4.         To achieve these political changes, to minimize transportation costs, and to manage ecologies effectively, people will live in decentralized eco-communities.  The new societies might be referred to as low-impact, neo-tribal, firewood societies – not because firewood will be burned (although it might be) but because renewable biomass is likely to be the energy basis of human activity, just as it was before this bizarre, alienating, dehumanizing, but blessedly short, period in human history known as the industrial revolution.  (This is the soft-energy viewpoint.  Other viewpoints exist.)

5.         Because of likely barriers to deurbanization and other steps necessary to reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources, we should maintain a very large reserve supply of fossil fuel, especially petroleum in the ground.  We should not rely on more expensive fossil-fuel alternatives such as shale oil as they might be, in fact, inaccessible.

Important Questions

Clearly we need to answer many questions if we are to carry out the methods for determining the efficiency of various technologies to provide primary high-grade energy.  We need to answer additional questions to determine how much human labor might be needed and how much might be available in a cooperative world.  After all, we do not wish to embark upon a social experiment, however noble, whose result is the end of the human race – although our animal friends might be grateful if we did.

1.         What proportion of human effort is engaged in energy, production, business, and service?  What proportion of each sector serves each of the other sectors?  We might ask these questions for a finer division of society into more sectors.  For example, we have already suggested that we need to discover precisely who is in the health-care sector both directly and indirectly – counting fractions of a person wherever appropriate.

2.         What are the factors in the equation ei = ew,i + aiep,i , used to determine the efficiency of energy technologies?  (These were defined earlier in the chapter.)  Suppose that, in a plant that manufactures solar panels, the liquid fuels bill is L MU/hour, the gaseous fuels bill is G MU/hour, and the electric bill is E MU/hour, where the units are emergy units per hour.  (We don’t look at dollars and cents anymore, remember?)  Suppose, in addition, that workers from four economic sectors are employed in this enterprise; i.e., i = 1,2,3,4 .  Thus,

Similarly for gas and electricity.  Also, the ith sector employs Ni workers per shift.  Thus,


1.         How much effort (person hours) is required in the economic sectors required by a cooperative society?

2.         How much effort could be freed up by eliminating business?  Government? transportation?  professional sports!?

3.         How much is consumed by people who contribute useful things to our economy, i.e., food, clothing, shelter, health care, and the few simple luxuries that take the drudgery and misery out of life?

4.         How much is consumed by everyone else (the vast majority)?

5.         How much space can be allotted for dwelling, gardening, energy cultivation, etc. to each individual or family (or extended family) in an egalitarian, isoplutic (having equal wealth and income), cooperative society?

6.         How much emergy can we afford to build a dwelling that would last a thousand years?  forever?

7.         How will living space be apportioned?  Should all waterfront property be public?

8.         How much emergy can we afford for health care?  How much emergy should be budgeted for the last year of a person’s life or, shall we say, a dying person?  Currently, we spend something like 27% or 28% of our Medicaid budget for the last year of each beneficiary’s life.  Is that too much?  about right?  too little?

9.         How will health care be rationed?

10.       These questions can be the basis of future work by this author and others.  Everyone is welcome to participate.  I have no special territorial prerogatives connected with my past work.  Communication, discussion, and cooperation are encouraged.

November 23, 1996

Revised February 26, 1997

Revised July 2, 1997

Revised December 25, 2005

Revised September 14, 2006

Revised October 28, 2006



1.        Szargut, Jan, David R. Morris, Frank R. Steward, Exergy Analysis of Thermal, Chemical, and Metallurgical Processes, Hemisphere, New York (1988).

2.        Schumacher, E. F., Small Is Beautiful, Economics as if People Mattered, Perennial Library, Harper and Row, New York (1973).

3.        The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Lawrence Urdang, Editor in Chief, Random House, New York (1968).

4.        Häfele, Wolf, Editor, Energy in a Finite World, Ballinger, Cambridge, MA (1981).

5.        Anonymous, The Unabomber Manifesto, The Washington Post, September 19, 1995.

6.        Odum, Howard T, and Elizabeth C. Odum, Energy Basis for Man and Nature, McGraw-Hill, New York (1976).

7.        Odum, Howard T. and Jan E. Arding, Emergy Analysis of Shrimp Mariculture in Ecuador, Center for Wetlands, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, 1991.

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10.      Odum, Howard T. and Elizabeth C. Odum, “Energy Systems in Ecology” in Systems and Control Encyclopedia: Theory, Technology, Applications, Ed. M. G. Singh, Permagon Press, Oxford, London (1988).

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12.      Wayburn, Thomas L., The Collected Papers of Thomas Wayburn, Vol. II, American Policy Inst., Houston (Work in progress 1997).

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14.      Yergin, Daniel, The Prize, Simon and Schuster, New York (1991).

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19.       Diver, R. B., J. D. Fish, R. Levitan, M. Levy, E. Mirovitch, H. Rosin, S. A. Paritatyadar, and J. T. Richardson, “Solar Tests of an Integrated Sodium Reflux Heat Pipe Receiver-Reactor for Thermochemical Energy Transport”, Solar Energy, 48, p. 21 (1992).

20.       Jiminez, L., J. L. Bonilla, and J. L. Ferrer, “Exploitation of Agricultural Residues as a Possible Fuel Source”, Fuel, 70, No. 2 (1991).

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Chapter 3.  Toward Axiomatic Morality

Our system of morals should be derived from a complete, self-consistent, mutually independent set of first principles that can be explained to a six-year-old and upon which most educated people can agree.  If, in addition, those who dissent – even after we have employed our most compelling logical testimony – can be accommodated without coercion and without inconvenience to themselves or us, we shall have done very well indeed.  – Chapter 1,  above

Table of Contents



Toward the Elimination of Gray Areas from Morals and Ethics

The Author’s Personal Biases

The Importance of Being Right

Inequality of Wealth



Business and Jobs

The Freedom Axiom

Personal Sovereignty

The Purpose of a Human Life

The Statement of the Freedom Axiom

The Beauty, Reasonableness, and Practicality of the Freedom Axiom




The Corollaries of the Freedom Axiom

Corollary 1 Establishes Freedom to Dissent

Definition of Justice

Humane Treatment of Violators of Rational Morals that Tolerates Dissidents

Corollary 2 Prevents Inequality of Status

Definition of Status and Its Implications

Proof of Corollary 2

Management and Leadership

Formally Uneducable

Corollary 3 Establishes the Moral Necessity To Share Material Wealth

Drawbacks of Inequality of Material Wealth

Definition of Proper and Improper Games

Evils of Improper Games

Proof of Corollary 3

The Money Game as an Improper Game

Corollary 4:  What If Everyone Did It?

Corollary 5 Specifically Permits Abortions and Drug Use

Theorem 1 Establishes the Immorality of Material Compensation for Economic Deeds

Theorem 1 Disqualifies Employment as an Institution

The Rights of Children

The Rights of Members of Social Links

The Rights of Children as Individuals

Rights of Future Social Links

The Rights of Children as Animals

The Rights of Children as Sovereigns

Child Development

The Theorem Concerning the Treatment of Children

Environmental Axiom

Summary of Chapter 2

A Quasi-Steady-State Environment

The Environmental Axiom

The Basis for the Environmental Axiom in the Three Criteria

The Necessity to Control Population Growth

The Environmental Axiom as a Corollary of the Freedom Axiom

Truth Axiom

On Truth


Exterior or Factual Truth

Inner Truth

Additional Discussion for the Mathematically Inclined

Tarski’s Theory of True Statements

The Statement of the Truth Axiom

Justifying the Truth Axiom According to the Three Criteria




Immediate Corollaries of the Truth Axiom

The Truth Axiom in Education

Answer to the Puzzle about the “Little Town in Iowa”


Appendix:  Why Taking Drugs Per Se Imposes on No One



In Chapter 1, I noted that we are far from that advanced state of affairs where legislators would be unnecessary inasmuch as anyone with an inference engine (computer and appropriate computer program) could test automatically whether a given proposition was a “law” (or not) by deriving it (or its contradiction) from fundamental axioms or first principles.  Presumably, we could dispense with the inference engine if we could agree upon a basis.  I hope to convince the reader that reasonable morals and ethics are simple.  At least the simple morals proposed here are reasonable!  Perhaps simple morals are more likely to be rendered reasonably.  As complexity increases, so does the opportunity for mistakes in logic.  The American legal system is complex to the point of madness.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that I shall be able to derive rigorously, in the space of a few pages or even in a thousand pages, a complete, self-consistent system of morals based on three axioms that can be stated without ambiguity; so, this chapter must be taken to be a very rough sketch indicating only the direction such a derivation might take.  Hopefully, though, an open-minded reader might accept the plausibility of such a project and our mutual understandings of the intuitive meanings of some of the basic terms employed here might allow this discussion to serve as a common basis for developing an acceptable political, economic, and social philosophy based upon morals.

As discussed in Chapter 1, I call this philosophy a minimal proper religion (MPR).  (I have employed the word religion to accommodate people who insist that all moral judgments are religious in nature.  Whether my moral philosophy is a religion or not is unclear.)  It is supposed to be the basis of a rational social contract that has a decent chance to be embraced by an entire community (except for a few dissidents), in which case the members of the community are governed by moral consensus rather than by laws.  They can live in peace and harmony essentially without government.

[Note in proof (6-26-97).  I mean government in the conventional sense.  Of course, the entire community may meet from time to time on an ad hoc basis to decide by mutual consent matters that affect everyone, which might involve flipping a coin to resolve disputes and, occasionally, selecting by some random process an ordinary, undistinguished member of the community in whom special responsibilities are to be entrusted temporarily.  Under these circumstances, a common body of assumptions is even more essential than it would be in a modern coercive government.  Since, quite generally, the governed may not exercise freedom that is in conflict with governmental policies, all modern governments are totalitarian.  Perhaps readers who do not agree with this “extreme” view will wish to reconsider later – after further discussion (and, hopefully, a little personal reflection).]

The philosophy described in this chapter and the next should be recognized as something that has a much stronger claim upon the term social contract than anything that has been palmed off on the people previously under that banner.  In the United States, what influential people call “our social contract” is certainly not deserving of the name.

Also, although this document attempts to follow the procedures of pure mathematics, it is impossible to prove propositions completely rigorously as one would do in abstract algebra, for example.  The most we can hope to do is prove our claims as rigorously as social propositions are ever proved.

Of course, my moral sense did not arise from a set of axioms.  I know a priori what the morals to be derived should be.  The axioms stated below were abstracted from concrete examples (actually from my personal moral biases, discussed below) using what I have come to know as the inverse method.  (These biases are revealed in the next subsection, at least in part for the benefit of both my friends and my critics to make it easier to refute my thesis.)

Note.  Religious people might agree that Axiom 1, below, is a practical way of ensuring that people will behave as though they accepted the commandment “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” while Axioms 2 and 3 might be interpreted to exhort, “Love God with all thy heart and soul.”  In this context “God” is supposed to encompass Nature and Truth.

Although I have rejected the Christian Science definition of Truth as God, I do regard Truth as something we might worship – where “worship” is taken to be a high degree of respect congruent with appropriate behavior in one’s everyday life.  Suppose we behaved as though Truth were watching us and listening to our minds constantly and knew every deed, every pre-verbal thought or inclination whether voluntary or not, everything (as discussed in Chapter 1) in the universe (U), the ideals (I), the relations (R), and mind (M) pertaining to ourselves however remotely connected.  Suppose nothing mattered to us except how Truth might judge us now and until the end of time.  How would that affect our frivolous and wrong-headed inclinations each of which goes into the record of Truth along with everything else never to be forgotten or erased?  Hopefully we would know better than to beg favors from Truth, but we do not beg favors from God either, do we!

Toward the Elimination of Gray Areas from Morals and Ethics

Nowadays, we have a large contingent of scholars, intellectuals, academics, and quacks who are representing themselves as ethicists.  Ethics is portrayed as an unending series of deep and complex issues – each one requiring delicate weighing of facts and circumstances with the wisdom of Solomon.  The “experts” continually refer to so-called gray areas that no tried-and-true set of precepts can subsume.  To unravel these enigmas we require the expertise of specialists with years of experience at medical ethics, environmental ethics, business ethics, and so on.  How convenient for educated people with no talent or interests!  The “professional” ethicist is trying to build a castle of sand on a thoroughly eroded shoreline of cultural tradition that has been under water for at least ten thousand years and counting.

One cannot base a valid ethical system on tyranny, falsehood, and a complete misunderstanding of man and nature.  Religion, as we know it, i.e., improper religion, is the primary culprit.  When Moses, for example, went to the children of Israel and announced that he had spoken with God, Himself, and that he was prepared to pass God’s commandments from God to man, he was lying through his teeth; but, as is generally the case among Westerners (at least), he imagined that the end justified the means.  He thought that a just cause justified any means whatever.

I believe that it is possible to think deeply about ethical situations and see the bare bones of situations without the complexity.  I believe it is possible to assess every ethical situation in terms of three or fewer moral axioms without any gray areas arising.

Imagine what that could do for humanity.  It renders laws, legislators, judges, and police obsolete.  It makes rational anarchy possible.  My PhD thesis advisor, Prof. J. D. Seader informs me that many years ago a man claimed that, if we learned the right morals, we could dispense with government.  That man was none other than Joseph Smith.  Nor do I imagine that Smith was the first to recognize this simple fact of life, which renders government, which most of us don’t like anyway, unnecessary.  Of course, we shouldn’t expect to be satisfied with Joseph Smith’s system of morals.

The task I set before the reader, then, is to assess my ethical system and determine if it is consistent and exhaustive.  (I drop the goal of mutual exclusivity (independence) as not worth the trouble to strive for.  One can make an extremely compelling case without such niceties.)  I would appreciate feedback on this, because no one knows better than I that I could have made a mistake of commission or omission.  The challenge is to construct a thought experiment in which a situation arises that is not covered by the moral axioms proposed in this chapter or where so-called gray areas arise.  I am waiting.

The Author’s Personal Biases

Why should the readers of this essay care about how my ideas got started?  To be honest, I don’t think they should; they should judge my arguments according to the merit of the arguments without regard to who is making them or why.  But, some readers might wonder what in the world would make a person think like I do.  They might wish to dismiss my arguments as the ravings of the product of a disturbed childhood, thereby employing the well-known ad hominem fallacy.  I will not give them my life’s story (just yet); but, to aid my critics, I will reveal my earliest impressions concerning the issues under consideration.  These are prejudices and biases I picked up without the benefit of rational thought – really just feelings.  This essay is supposed to justify those feelings, but the reader might find it useful to be told how my ideas got started.  Many writers do not acknowledge that they are writing to promote beliefs that they had acquired without the bother of rigorous thought.  The thinking was done much later if it was done at all.  This is normal; nevertheless, I believe I give the reader who wishes to refute my conclusions an advantage if I reveal what my beliefs were before I began to think about them.  I wish to be refuted if I am wrong, which leads to my first bias.

The Importance of Being Right

Some people think it’s unimportant whether they are right or wrong in their personal beliefs if those beliefs don’t affect directly their ability to satisfy tissue deficits or ensure the safety of themselves and those they care about, which may be very few.  To me, being right is not just important, it’s the most important thing in life.  Hence this book.  (I’m tempted to say being right is the meaning of life; but that would be inconsistent with hard agnosticism; so, I won’t be falling into that trap.)

Nevertheless, writing this book has enabled me to clarify what I believe and has resulted in dozens of changes in my philosophy.  Whereas some people think that “whoever has the most toys at the end wins”, I think that whoever has the best philosophy “wins” – if, indeed, life is a sport – as an ubiquitous television commercial in May (the month of the National Basketball Association playoffs) of 1995 would have it.  (Television commercials have been telling lies about their products for years; now they have the temerity to spout bad philosophy.  How about this one:  “You don’t have a right to be thirsty because you have a right not to be thirsty.”  [quoted loosely from Gatorade commercial]  Wow!)

This need to be right might be irrational.  It probably doesn’t matter to anyone but me whether I am right or wrong; and, on my deathbed, it might not even matter to me!  My critics will say that I’m merely a conceited, self-important individual full of foolish pride.

Inequality of Wealth

I have never understood why people persist in wanting to enjoy greater wealth than others.  Even as a small child I was often ashamed of having more than some of my classmates.  I can understand how, in a moment of weakness, we can feel unjustifiably proud of having more wealth than others or even of having parents that do.  It’s happened to me.  But I still feel that it requires a defective mind to be able to sustain that attitude.

We do not approve of race, color, or gender, which are accidents of birth, as a basis for greater wealth.  Why should we approve of intelligence, talent, will power, tenacity, ability to withstand tedium, industriousness, or even “superior” character, which are also accidents of birth, as justification for greater wealth?  (We suppose character depends upon heredity and environment.  The environment into which one is born surely is the same accident as the accident that selected one’s parents – for all we know.)

Why should an intelligent person who is highly gifted insist on receiving even more gifts as a reward for having received the priceless gift of intelligence?  That’s just the way I feel.  But, when, in addition to the ugliness of vast differences of wealth, I perceive highly undesirable social consequences, I am inclined to believe that differences in wealth must be immoral.


I have never liked the idea of having a boss.  I can safely say that I have never had a boss whose authority seemed valid to me.  (I’m sorry, Henry, Howard, Alan, and Charlie.  I love you all, but that’s how I feel.)  I don’t know whether anyone deserves to be my boss or not, but I can’t believe that anyone else knows.  If a worker needs advice or direction, he should select an advisor.  It shouldn’t be necessary to beg for the type of assistance that good bosses sometimes give; I believe the old adage “beggars can’t be choosers” does not apply.  Presumably, people other than the worker have an interest to see the work carried out.  We ought to be accustomed to giving a little time to helping colleagues.  Our peers will tell us when we are screwing up.

All through school, we are judged (basically) on how we perform on canonical tests.  (It is true that what our teachers think of us influences our success slightly; but, in the face of written test scores, it is hard for teachers to discriminate blatantly.)  When we leave school, however, our success depends on what someone else thinks of us.  I can’t accept that.  When I was an assistant professor, I announced that I would not submit to peer review for tenure.  Isn’t it bad enough that someone can decide whether or not our papers are published and whether or not our proposals are funded!

I don’t like the institution of boss, manager, or leader – whatever it’s called.  It irritates me that George Bush has more political power than I do.


Lately, I have attended a number of meetings – political, technical, philosophical – at which I have not been invited to speak.  That bothers me.  Why should someone else be asked to speak and not me?  Are not my ideas as good as theirs?  Who would know?  Who reads the essays of an unknown?  One has to “work oneself up” to a position of influence.  That can’t be right.  In many cases, by the time the thinker has worked himself up to a position of influence, he has succumbed to the routine of his life and his ideas have become pedestrian and anemic.  Sometimes, the ideas of a person of influence have survived his ride up the prestige ladder; but, he has too much to lose to insist upon them in public discourse.  For example, in the case of Noam Chomsky, he has brilliant ideas; but, because he has a highly valued position to lose (full professor at MIT), he must confine his remarks to criticism of the status quo, and may not tell his audiences what he would choose as an alternative economic system – except I believe I heard him mention in passing (only) anarcho-syndicalism, which I take to be a reference to his own political position.  I have not read his books, which I recommend to the reader to corroborate my own ideas (but which I imagine I don’t need to read myself, as I am already a believer); so, I may be doing Professor Chomsky a disservice.  If so, I apologize.  [Note in proof (9-27-96).  Lately, I have read three books by Herman and Chomsky [1] and Chomsky [2,3].]  My point is that ideas should be judged on their own merits – not according to who holds them.  Thus, the system of discourse is badly flawed.  I resent that and intend to do whatever I can to fix it.  If I should ever become a person of influence, I hope I remember what I am saying now.  Unfortunately, I would most probably become like everyone else of influence, namely, a complete idiot.  I’m sorry, but that’s my prejudiced point of view.

Business and Jobs

I have never liked business and commerce.  My father was a businessman.  His work seemed boring and inconsequential.  I resent the business parasites who drive around in German cars with telephones.  (I don’t need the driver next to me getting a margin call in rush-hour traffic.)  Businesspeople make life difficult for me because they cause money to have more importance than it deserves.

Don’t tell me business creates jobs.  Let us consider the principal factors in a person’s engagement in an economic enterprise:  (i) the impact upon the environment, which might be quantified in terms of emergy consumed; (ii) the usefulness (to living creatures) of the items produced; (iii) the effort put forth and the time expended by the participant; and (iv) the reward received by the participant.  The first two items represent precisely what is crucial in sound economic thinking; the last two items have virtually zero impact upon the preservation of species, whereas they are the first things that people consider when they think of economic enterprises as jobs!  This illustrates the essential impracticality of the institution of employment as we know it.

Business doesn’t create anything; it only consumes.  Therefore, the concept of job must be flawed.  Imagine.  Selling the time of one’s life!  Where is the merit in creating jobs – an activity about which exploiters of the labor of others like to boast!  The most prominent effects of jobs on society are undesirable.  A job prevents someone from contributing to the common good without being exploited.  Jobs poison intrinsic motivation.  They destroy opportunity rather than create it.  Personally, I hate jobs!

The Freedom Axiom

Personal Sovereignty

Definition (Rights).  Rights are (i) freedoms that don’t violate accepted morals and (ii) entitlements that are guaranteed by accepted morals.

The personal sovereignty of adults is assumed and is not in question.  In the absence of better information, we must assume that every new arrival to this universe is the lord and sovereign of his or her own being, and our earliest memories seem to indicate that the new arrival shares that view.  One’s sovereignty over one’s own being is a right.  Determining who enjoys personal sovereignty is an important part of the Freedom Axiom.  We mention personal sovereignty here to motivate the next section, The Purpose of a Human Life, which could have been derived rather than assumed; but the derivation would have rested directly upon the Freedom Axiom, which itself is assumed but is shown to pass the tests of aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.

[Note (12-9-04).  With respect to the debate over abortion, which has subsumed genuine political issues in electoral politics, the moral issue is not the beginning of human life but rather the beginning of human rights.  Clearly, human rights begin with the severing of the biological connection to the mother and not before.]

One wonders whether personal sovereignty extends to animals and even, perhaps, to plants.  I refuse to discuss the sovereignty of plants here, mainly because I do not wish to appear crazier than I am, except to say that the idea is not absolutely out of the question.  The question of the sovereignty of animals remains open.  Personally, I regard animals as belonging to themselves, but I recognize that this would be a difficult point to sell to a cattle rancher.  I rarely ask the permission of pet owners to address their pets, as I regard dogs, cats, and horses as people.  Perhaps this is going too far.  I do not insist upon it.  After all, it is very difficult to protect rights that cannot be exercised.

Newborn babies, though, are entirely helpless and dependent on other people for survival and, therefore, are unable to protect their sovereignty.  Does that mean that their sovereignty is invalid?  If that were so, one could infer that the sovereignty of the weak is always at the mercy of the strong, but that would violate our derived sense of morals, as we shall make more definite in the sequel.  In the system of morals described here, we protect animals (other than human beings) under an environmental axiom without insisting upon their personal sovereignty, but we establish the personal sovereignty of human beings under the Freedom Axiom.  In particular, we insist upon the personal sovereignty of children and adults in order to determine how they are to be treated when they are in conflict with the rest of society and all other moral options have been exhausted.  (This is not quite the case for very young infants incapable of reason.  Their personal sovereignty is held in custody by their parent(s) or guardian(s) and they are protected from their parents and guardians by the moral axiom that prohibits cruelty to animals.  This makes more sense when the details are discussed below.)

The Declaration of Independence states that the right to liberty, which is intimately connected to personal sovereignty, is unalienable.  (The modern spelling in inalienable.)  This legal term means the right cannot be transferred to another person nor can it be repudiated.  The Ninth Amendment indirectly incorporates this right into the Constitution; so, under the Constitution, we are free whether we want to be or not!  However, I do not believe this inalienability extends to small children and I don’t believe that the Founding Fathers intended it to.  I assume that newborn children temporarily transfer their personal sovereignty to their parents or guardians automatically and, presumably, voluntarily with the first whimper for succor.  Older children may transfer personal sovereignty deliberately.  The asymmetry between adults and children typically creates moral complexities.  I believe we have unraveled these complexities in this chapter and the next two chapters.

Although the Founding Fathers are stuck with what they wrote, the Supreme Court notwithstanding, I am not.  Even though I do not accept the Constitution in any permanent sense, I am entitled to use it to point out the inconsistencies of people who do believe in the Constitution but violate it routinely.  Perhaps, the political philosophy expounded here requires a new constitution – without elected officials, for example.  On the other hand, perhaps no document whatever would serve us best.

Definition (Personal sovereignty).  Personal sovereignty is complete control over one’s own mind and one’s own body and its interior, defined so as to include the digestive tract, the interior of the head, etc., in analogy with the supreme and absolute power of a king or queen over his or her domain.  Personal sovereignty permits the individual who possesses it to enter into treaties and contracts with individuals, with society, and with social institutions or to refuse to do so and to continue to be treated with respect.

The Purpose of a Human Life

It is assumed in this essay that a human being is the sovereign of his (or her) own being, not a beast of burden the purpose of which is to serve another, presumably superior, human.  Whereas a human being may wish to serve others as a manifestation of his (or her) nobility or “to serve God” or some higher purpose in order to transcend himself – from the viewpoint of worldly affairs, he is basically his own person, an end in himself, not a means to an end.  Man has been searching for the meaning of life for a long time and many people believe they have found it, but no one can present incontrovertible evidence that would be acceptable within the philosophy discussed here to permit these findings to be applied to public affairs.  Perhaps man does serve some higher purpose, and I believe that he does, even if that higher purpose be no more than his own personal conception of the transcendent; nevertheless, no one may assume that a higher purpose exists and, more important, no one may attempt to impose his conception of the function of man upon other people or upon society.  The purpose of man and the meaning of life are private matters.

[Note.  I had something very definite in mind when I wrote “personal conception of the transcendent”.  Clearly, the sum total of a person’s thoughts, words, and deeds exists as a spiritual entity since it can be conceived of, stated in words, and communicated to another person – in principle.  This is something that exists.  If we could step outside of space-time into whatever space-time is embedded in, if such a thing exists, this entity might be observed as an object, a string of events.  This object whether spiritual or material can have meaning.  The meaning is transcendent and might be taken by a human being to be the purpose of his life.  Clearly, we are free to assign meaning to life in any way we choose or not at all.]

But, people who wish to give a person a purpose other than himself are typically interested in his function as a part of an economy, or as the defender of a nation, or in some other capacity that is not in his best interests.  It is this function that is rejected here.  This is a humanistic philosophy.  We hope to put an end to the exploitation of people as a means to an end.  Further, we hope to show that this exploitation is not only immoral but a recipe for doom in keeping with our other demonstrations that from evil comes nothing but more evil – certainly nothing sufficiently good to overbalance the evil.  (I am assuming that the “litmus test” of Matthew 7:17,18 can be applied to any institution – not just prophecy.  “[B]y their fruits ye shall know them.”)

The Statement of the Freedom Axiom

Definition (Freedom).  Freedom is the exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.  It is the power of determining one’s own actions or making one’s own decisions.  These are dictionary definitions; but, for political purposes, there must be a temporal component to the definition.  The exemption from external control, for instance, must be in perpetuity.  Political freedom must include freedom from fear that the freedom can ever be abridged.

[Note in proof (1-12-98).  Perhaps the word autonomy would have been a better choice for this essay.  Clearly autonomy is a necessary condition for freedom.  The dictionary assigns many more meanings to the word freedom than it does to the word autonomy even though the two words are synonymous!  I feel the word freedom is somewhat more compelling, though; and I am willing to take the trouble to disqualify freedoms that impose upon the freedom or autonomy of others.  The definition of happiness adopted from Deci and Ryan [5] employs the term autonomy (as a condition for happiness).]

Note.  As discussed by Deci and Ryan [5], freedom involves internal conditions as well as external conditions.  Normally, people who are involved in the competition for wealth and power are acting under psychological conditions that preclude freedom.  In the language of Deci and Ryan they are extrinsically motivated.  We are sorry that rich and powerful people are not truly free, despite the relative freedom that comes from their large compass of movement, but we are sorrier still that they prevent us from being as free as we should be, regardless of our internal psychological state.  The truth may make us free to some extent, but it cannot grant us access to the beach at Malibu except by an unacceptably circuitous route.  We may not be held by fetters of our own making, but we cannot view the most beautiful portion of Paradise River unless we are members of the Plutocrat Hills Golf Club.

Definition (Adult human being).  An adult human being is a mentally self-sufficient (human, not animal) person.  (At this point I don’t want to cut it any closer than that.)

Definition (Child).  A child is the offspring of a human being still dependent on and, normally, living in the abode of natural or surrogate parents.

Note.  We have omitted the case of (human) people who are neither children nor adults.

Definition (Human social link).  A human social link is an adult human being and any dependent children.

Axiom 1 (The Freedom Axiom).  The adult members of human social links are free to do anything they please provided they do not impose (in the present or in the future) upon the freedom of other human social links.  (Nearly everyone agrees that his (or her) freedom ends at my “nose”, however many people disagree as to what “impose” means.)  Further, the adult members of human social links possess personal sovereignty, which is nontransferable (inalienable), except when they permit their personal sovereignty to be placed in the custodianship of others under the exceptional circumstance that they have violated morals or rights to which they subscribe.  Adult members of human social links are the custodians (or co-custodians) of the personal sovereignty of children in their social links until the children reach the age of reason.  They may transfer the custodianship of that personal sovereignty to other adults from time to time provided the rights of the child be not abused.  After children reach the age of reason, they may elect to leave one or more of their human social links and reclaim their personal sovereignty or to remain in one or more of their human social links and to transfer voluntarily their personal sovereignty to the relevant adult(s) who continue(s) to hold it in custodianship or stewardship.  Up until the time the child reaches the age of reason it belongs to the same moral category as animals and is protected by Axiom 2, below.

Definition (imposing upon the freedom of another human social link).  If an action interferes with the freedom of another social link but it would not if the members of that link adjusted their mental outlooks appropriately without any other adjustment being made, no violation of Axiom 1 has occurred; i.e., this does not count as imposing upon the freedom of another human social link.  If their mental outlook is irrelevant, it counts as imposing upon the freedom of another social link.  The point is that we wish to disallow imaginary offenses.  For instance, if I can’t go to the Plutocrat Hills Country Club, I can adjust my mental outlook to disparage such a trip, but the fact remains that I must adjust my travel plans as well as my mental outlook.  On the other hand, a man’s homosexuality may distress his own mother, but that is because of her attitude toward homosexuality.  It does not impose upon her freedom.

Comment.  The previous definition explains why this code of morals forbids trade and unlimited reproductive rights, but does not forbid taking drugs and having whatever forms of sex one pleases (so long as an axiom be not violated).  An extremely compelling reason for accepting my interpretation of the Freedom Axiom as opposed to the interpretation of the Libertarian Party, say, is that my interpretation eliminates all, or, at worst, nearly all, of the problems that plague society, whereas the interpretation that tolerates commerce, for example, exacerbates social problems.  It is no use saying that, if we cannot engage in business, we are not free, because, if anyone engages in business, no one is free.  This will be proved by explicit examples in the sequel, even though the a priori reasoning given below is conclusive.  (“It is impossible to provide an excessive number of proofs of a proposition that no one believes.”)  Clearly, this is a crucial point in my thesis.  I must convince the reader that doing business imposes upon the freedom of those who cannot or will not do business – particularly those who do not wish to do business.  I will go further and show that it diminishes the freedom of the businessman himself.  In Appendix III at the end of the book, I will discuss further why business is immoral but taking drugs is not.  I shall attempt to overcome all reasonable objections to my viewpoint.

Rather than provide a philosophical basis for the Freedom Axiom, in the following section I shall defend the notion of equality of personal material wealth, power (including negotiable influence), and negotiable fame.  This will turn out to be equivalent to such aspects of the Freedom Axiom as are not readily accepted by nearly everyone, namely, the prohibition of impositions upon ourselves by others and upon others by ourselves, concerning which the conventional wisdom, indeed our entire culture, is curiously silent.

The Beauty, Reasonableness, and Practicality of the Freedom Axiom


In Chapter 1 we agreed that morals should be based upon aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.  Let us indicate in part how these values can be used to justify Axiom 1.  (It is important to attempt to justify the moral axioms by the most convincing arguments we can construct since the fate of the political system proposed in this essay might depend on the acceptance or rejection of the moral axioms.)  Clearly, we shall have established the Freedom Axiom if we can make a good case for equality; all the rest is obvious.

Many thinkers and writers, particularly American thinkers and writers, have espoused the equality of all “men”, and yet many of our institutions ensure that such “equality” as we do enjoy shall be meaningless.  Presumably equality appeals to us on aesthetic grounds, but we do not construct our institutions always with aesthetics in mind.  Axiom 1 espouses ultimate symmetry between adult men and women, while, unfortunately, retaining some unavoidable asymmetry between children and adults.  Our love of symmetry is an essential component of our sense of beauty.  Even when we avoid it, as when an object in a photograph is placed off-center, the variation calls attention to the underlying symmetry that is intentionally avoided!  We build cars with bilateral symmetry just as we ourselves are built, although the symmetry is never exact.  In mathematics, symmetry is the underlying concept at the heart of abstract group theory which is at the heart of abstract mathematics.  Mathematicians love symmetry for its beauty.


But, equality among human beings appeals to our sense of what is reasonable.  No matter how talented, intelligent, or gifted a person may be, he (or she) ought to recognize that he is no better than other people.  Normally our instinct warns us that people who think they are better or more deserving than others lack genuine respect for themselves, which might be evidence of something often referred to as the “inferiority complex”, whether such a thing exists or not.  Indeed, equality is more appealing to us than is disparity on the grounds of both aesthetics and reasonableness.  Furthermore, those of us who understand the fundamentals of mathematics know that the relations “less than” and “greater than” cannot be applied to a class of objects unless they possess certain properties that humans do not possess.  (The problem with applying the relations “greater than” or “less than” to human beings is not that they possess too few attributes but rather too many.)  Thus, we cannot establish a reasonable basis according to which one person deserves more freedom, wealth, power, or, really, anything else of value than another.  In absence of any such basis, the only relation that makes sense is equality.  As Shaw points out, no one person can point to the share of the national dividend that was produced by himself.  Moreover, no one can assess the potential contribution of a person who is given his fair share of the national dividend until that person’s life is over – and perhaps not even then.


But, Axiom 1 can be justified based on its utility and the impracticality of any other moral judgment.  The proof of this is the thrust of much of this book.  We wish to show that inequality among people is the cause of crime, war, and most other forms of social disorder.  Most of us recognize that this is so, but we cannot see our way clear to embracing the idea wholeheartedly.  This is mainly because we do not believe in the essential goodness of mankind or even the essential goodness of the universe in which we live.  This is shocking and certainly worth serious consideration.  Since I shall be devoting many pages to reasons why it is impractical to permit disparities in freedom, power, wealth, and even fame between individuals, I will not attempt to present much of an argument here except to note the following:  The time is rapidly approaching when one dissatisfied person who feels he or she has been treated unjustly by society can wreak havoc upon society, perhaps even discharge a nuclear device.  The rise in terrorism is a certain sign of this.  Soon, people who impose upon the freedom of other people by virtue of greater wealth and power will no longer be safe in their own beds.  Inequality will become very impractical indeed.

The Corollaries of the Freedom Axiom

Corollary 1 Establishes Freedom to Dissent

Corollary 1.  No one shall force or attempt to force another person to embrace or to be bound by any morals whatever including these morals.  Nor shall there be a penalty – direct or indirect, harsh or subtle – attached to the rejection of any moral system.  Clearly, I do not share Mr. Shaw’s readiness to label people “eccentric” even, let alone “lunatic”.

Proof.  Corollary 1 follows immediately from Axiom 1.

Definition of Justice

Definition (Justice).  Justice is the state of human society wherein one of two conditions prevails: (i) all relevant moral requirements have been met or (ii) in case there has been a breach of morals the following events have occurred: (a) the damage due to the breach of morals has been repaired and restitution has been made to the victim(s) and (b) the violator has been dealt with in an appropriate manner, which might not involve punishment or revenge.

Humane Treatment of Violators of Rational Morals that Tolerates Dissidents

Compensation of the victims of injustice is insufficient and, in some cases, impossible.  We shall be concerned here with the treatment of violators of valid morals and we must decide what is appropriate treatment for violators.  The cases of adults and children must be handled separately.  We will discuss the case of children who violate laws based on morals after the axioms and their corollaries have been stated.  Further, two subcases must be considered under each main case: (1) the case when the violator accepts the code of morals and (2) the case when the violator does not.  Let us consider the normal case first, where the violator is an adult who accepts the code of morals and, in fact, expects to be protected by it.

For those who accept the prevailing morality, but are given to transgressions of it, a humane form of rehabilitation can be found that does not compound the felony with cruelty or any further suffering by anyone.  I hope the reader understands that I am uncomfortable with a discussion that raises the specter of punishment.  Presumably, the culprit’s acceptance of the social contract permits us to dispense with punishment and to give the remorseful transgressor a chance to suggest the steps that will help him fulfill his sincere desire not to repeat his mistake.  Clearly, I am reluctant to punish those who act out of fear of greater poverty than anyone can reasonably be expected to bear.  This circumstance would not arise in hypothetical world , discussed in Chapter 1.

On the other hand, I have suggested (in an earlier essay) that so-called white-collar criminals be reduced to the lowest economic stratum in society, i.e., minimum wage, which has the interesting property that the punishment becomes (nearly) meaningless at the same time as the crime becomes (nearly) pointless, namely, when material wealth is divided equally, that is, when the minimum wage is the maximum wage – or, better yet, the concept of wages has been abandoned.  The reader should understand that I am not recommending jail for such criminals.  (Ivan Boesky is in jail at this writing, but he is still a very wealthy man.  This is stupid and unfair.)  I tend to be much less tolerant of crimes that appear to be motivated by greed, but I suspect lately that these earlier sentiments reveal petty vindictiveness on my part of which I ought to be ashamed.  Still, it’s not a bad suggestion.

Some crimes, such as murder, will probably require isolation of the criminal from the rest of society.  But, can capital punishment be justified even in cases of murder?  Apparently, capital punishment is inconsistent with the definition of justice and the suggestion that murderers be isolated from the rest of society.  If society revenges murder with murder, the possibility arises that a mistake be made in which an innocent person is executed for a crime he or she did not commit.  This would be a violation of morals for which no reparations could be made and it would require the violator to be isolated from society.  But, when capital punishment is employed unjustly, all of society is the violator.  Since society cannot be isolated from itself, we have run into a contradiction that could have come only from the assumption that capital punishment is valid.  (Obviously, all of society cannot be executed!)

This is the type of argument, referred to in the preface, that is conclusive but unsatisfying because of the disparity in scale between the reasoning and the conclusions.  Other reasons for objecting to capital punishment are given in the essay “On Crime and Punishment” in Vol. II of my collected papers [6].

[Note in proof (5-17-97).  The Houston Chronicle of May 14, 1997, reported the first instance in Harris County of the acquittal of a person accused of a capital offense.  Probability dictates that many innocent people have been put to death.  What are the odds that only the guilty are accused?  Is it reasonable to suppose that the police will have carried out an investigation sufficiently thorough to satisfy every conscientious juryman?  Is it not possible that our self-righteous, Bible-thumping, free-wheeling, gun-toting wild men of Texas prefer an execution to an acquittal?]

It might be objected that no reparations can be made to the victim of a capital crime.  Regrettably, this is true; but, the killer was not in the business of dispensing justice, a role the State has reserved for itself along with the associated responsibility, which it does not seem to take seriously, at least not here in Harris County in the State of Texas.  (I hope the reader does not disqualify me from this discussion because of the guilt I bear as a citizen of this unhappy place.)

While it is claimed that most individuals who accept the moral basis of society presented in this work can teach themselves to live within its bounds, a society of individuals all of whom belong to the same economic class would be able to afford to put up with a residue of totally worthless incorrigibles.  A society from which institutionalized evil has been eliminated would not be plagued by continuous class warfare and a class of individuals who will do anything to acquire greater material wealth.  Very few people would want to violate a just system of law.  Most of the crime we see in 1990 derives from inequalities of wealth and the unacceptable circumstance of having two sets of laws, one for the poor and one for the rich.  Why should anyone submit to this type of institutionalized injustice!  Criminals and active dissenters are the only people with integrity under these conditions.

But, as I said elsewhere, intolerable breaches of morals must be treated as acts of war rather than crimes unless the perpetrator embraces the morals in question voluntarily.  If a transgressor does not accept the moral basis of our social institutions, he or she must be treated as a prisoner of war rather than as a criminal, and as such is entitled to all of the rights and privileges of a prisoner of war, basically in accordance with the way officers would be treated under a liberalized Geneva Conference, i.e., they may not be forced to work, etc.  To make certain that the rights of dissidents are respected no matter how bizarre their deviation from the norm, people who do not accept the prevailing morality must be permitted to live as well as, or better than, anyone.  Extreme cases, in which isolation from normal society is essential, present special difficulties.

Islands in the oceans might provide suitable isolation from societies that are unacceptable to heteroclite individuals, provided their chances of survival without the aid and comfort of their fellow man, or all but those who share similar views, are as good there as anywhere else.  To protect our own innocence and to avoid errors of the opposite type, we should provide such criminals with palatial residences, abnormally abundant material wealth, and, perhaps for our own selfish reasons, plenty of servants.

These “servants”, or, really, guards, have accepted the community social contract and are expected to behave accordingly.  We can rely on them to keep us absolutely safe from extreme deviants, while, at the same time, absolutely prevent such people from suffering merely because they are different from us.  Apparently, every society has expected “them” to suffer for not being “us”.  This is an exceptionally cruel and unreasonable, but morally cheap, purchase of (worthless) self-righteousness for the majority culture.  No one ever achieved virtue, let alone nobility, by punishing others.  And doing it in the name of God won’t help.  Man needs to emerge from the dark ages.  It’s time to reject our atavistic natures – to be, at least, human, if not divine.

Thus, society must treat dissident criminals better than anyone else.  In particular, we must provide them with their legitimate needs – really, whatever they wish.  What was said above about captive heads of state goes.  The person with his own moral code is the moral equivalent of a Napoleon.  This is required by the necessity to respect the personal sovereignty of the individual according to the Freedom Axiom.  In a natural economy this will not amount to a serious drain on our scarce resources because dissident criminals will be extremely rare – if any exist.

Corollary 2 Prevents Inequality of Status

Corollary 2.  It is violation of the Freedom Axiom and therefore immoral for a person to attempt to gain ascendancy or to accept a position of ascendancy over another person other than his or her own child or the children of others who voluntarily transfer ascendancy over their children, thus political power must be shared equally by all adults.

Definition of Status and Its Implications

Discussion:  Let us interpret power (we should say “metapower”) as the ascendancy of one person over another.  Now, we have discussed how power can be converted to fame or money; fame can be converted to money or power; and money can be converted into power or fame.  The reader can verify this for himself by choosing examples from among the powerful, rich, and famous.  Wealth, power (including negotiable influence), and negotiable fame are occurrence equivalent.  By means of this equivalence, we have shown that whatever is true of power is also true of money and fame (within the social context under consideration).

Excess power abridges the freedom of someone, although perhaps not everyone, who does not enjoy that margin of power, otherwise it would not be power.  Therefore, since excess power is prohibited by the Freedom Axiom, so are excess money and excess fame.  One may object that this argument depends on the exact equivalence of fame, money, and power; therefore, we should consider the use of direct arguments for eschewing power, money, and fame, although it is fame, probably, that will be the last to disappear from our culture.  The harmful effects of our preferred treatment of those who enjoy fame, our so-called celebrities, are easy to discern.  Fame, money, and power in any combination contribute to what we call status, rank, or, foolishly, “success”.  There is no point in talking about self-esteem for the masses while some people are very much more important than others.  Normally, we are not dealing with people of extraordinary spiritual depth who are virtually immune to the influence of social ambiance – what happens on TV, for example.  The average American knows he is a person of no importance, essentially a “nobody”; and, if he forgets it, society is certain to remind him in a thousand ways.

Proof of Corollary 2

Proof of Corollary 2.  To be in a position of ascendancy over a person constitutes an abridgment of that person’s freedom inasmuch as social transactions cannot be negotiated without coercion or, what amounts to the same thing, the possibility of coercion.  This is a generalization of the free-market rule, which requires that all participants in free markets have equal power.  (My use of the free-market rule in this context is not inconsistent with my rejection of free-market economies.  The free-market rule is the justification for free markets.  Paradoxically, it never holds true in actual market systems.  This observation shows that there is an inherent inconsistency in the reasoning of free-market proponents.)  Clearly, a person with greater political power than another could use that excess power to abridge the freedom of the other in many ways, or it might be feared that he could do so, which amounts to the same thing.

Management and Leadership

The institutions of leadership and management are the tools by means of which the domination of some people by others is legitimized in Western society.  If we could not invalidate these institutions, we would be forced to abandon our thesis.  We can distinguish at least four functions of leadership or management: (i) the planning of enterprises, (ii) communication between members of the same enterprise and between different enterprises, (iii) the determination of what will be done by each of the participants, and (iv) the creation of distinctions among individuals (as in a caste system).  These four functions can be separated.  The first function poses no threat of domination of one person by another.  The selection of communicators could be accomplished by consensus or by some random or quasi-random process, but the removal of communicators could be accomplished by popular vote.  Communicators could serve for fixed terms of from one to eight years, say, after which they could return to their careers.  But no leader or manager may exercise power over another adult human being.  The function of gifted individuals is to advise not control.  The power over enterprises of production could be shared by the producers within that enterprise.  Any educated person might be eligible to be chosen by a random process for temporary roles as communicators and almost everyone would be educated.  The few exceptions might be termed formally uneducable.  The fourth function is an outrage against humanity and any rational hypothetical deity one can name.

Formally Uneducable

Definition (Formally uneducable).  By formally uneducable is meant the mentally handicapped, the incorrigible, and others the education of whom must be attended by unreasonable hardship, all of whom are to be distinguished scientifically.  (This is a very dangerous point and great care must be taken to avoid abuses.)  Of course, mentally incapacitated people are not mentally self-sufficient, so they are not properly classified as adults according to our definition.

Corollary 3 Establishes the Moral Necessity To Share Material Wealth

Corollary 3.  It is immoral not to share wealth (both property and income measured in emergy units) approximately equally among adult human beings.  Small differences in the wealth that surrounds us in our homes to account for special needs are not important.  I don’t care if you have a microscope and I don’t.  The vast accumulations of paper wealth and the correlative control of capital is the evil we wish to prevent.  Of course, vast inequities in personal consumption are to be discouraged too.

Drawbacks of Inequality of Material Wealth

If one person controls greater wealth than another person, he (or she) perforce enjoys greater political power since he is in a position to trade some of his excess wealth for favors or someone might presume that he is able to so do.  Thus, the freedom of the poorer man to choose his own political destiny is abridged without any other event taking place.  Wealth is power and power can be transformed into freedom; thus, freedom is relative and the man with relatively greater freedom enjoys this margin of freedom at the expense of the freedom of the man with less freedom.  Conceivably, this relative freedom is illusory and both the rich man and the poor man lose freedom.

Excess wealth might be a trap that restricts the movements of those who have it.  It might be responsible for obligatory social rituals that the rich man must act out faithfully whether he wishes to or not.  Also, whereas a rich man may know that he has accumulated X million dollars, he is well aware that X million is next to nothing in comparison to all that he might acquire.  Thus, he may be seriously committed to a game that he can never win, since no one can tell him how much he might acquire with greater dedication and perseverance and, thereby, determine what exactly constitutes “winning”.  Indeed, he knows that his pitiful fortune is despised by others more ruthless and persistent than himself.  This could lead to suicide, even, if the frustration of playing an essentially futile game dominates his other thoughts.  In any case, it is clear that the freedom of the poor man is abridged, therefore such differences in wealth are immoral.

It is not clear that a newborn baby should control the same wealth as a fifty-year-old.  This might encourage childbirth, which might exacerbate overpopulation.  The methods of sharing wealth suggested in this essay, both in the near term and far term, avoid this difficulty.

According to its definition, freedom requires absence of threats to itself.  People with more wealth constitute a threat to the freedom of people with less wealth.  Society supplies numerous examples that show that relatively greater wealth can be used by one person to abridge the freedom of another; for example, people with excess wealth might be able to purchase large portions of the earth’s surface and unfairly deny others access to it.  This is a violation of Axiom 1.  The mere existence of money forces people to perform tedious and dreary tasks, cf., filling out income tax forms, in which most people have no interest.  This is tyranny.  The above discussion provides reasoned arguments for Corollary 3, but we would like to have a brief and conclusive proof.

Definition of Proper and Improper Games

Definition (proper game).  A proper game is a fair competition that satisfies generalized game rules:  (i) the score is tied when the game begins, (ii) the rules are stated in advance and are known to all contestants, (iii) usually the teams have the same number of players participating at the same time – barring singular circumstances, e.g., penalties in ice hockey, (iv) all contestants begin at the same time or the order of play is determined by lot, (v) the winner is determined in an unambiguous fashion, usually by accumulating the most points, whatever points are called, or by crossing the finish line first, etc., not by the subjective opinions of judges who raise cards upon which is written the number of points scored, usually from one to ten, often from nine to ten, the score depending upon the subjective opinion of that judge – an opinion vulnerable to national chauvinism, point inflation, and stupidity, cf., some of the Olympic Games, the ones that, in my opinion, do not belong in the Olympics, e.g., synchronized swimming and gymnastics even, which is way out of hand, (vi) normally, the rules do not change during the playing of the game; but, if they do, the change or changes occur in a canonical manner that affects all players in the same way, (vii) the winner is not predetermined.  This list of game rules may not be complete, but it is sufficient to distinguish between a proper game like gin rummy and an improper game like the stock market – or life!  Life is not a sport!

[Note in proof (6-29-97).  For years advertising companies have been telling terrible lies about their products.  Now, Gatoradeä, the drink, does essentially what it is advertised to do.  It tastes bad, but it replenishes important minerals lost during athletic activities.  Nevertheless, as far as anyone can tell, the advertising company does not feel that it has done its job until it has concocted a big lie about something.  Since lying about the product is inconvenient, Gatorade’s ad agency lies about life.  That’s right.  They spout very bad philosophy.  It’s as though they cannot rest until they have done something wicked.  So, they explain (painstakingly) that “Life is a sport.”  This is much worse verbal garbage than the lies motor oil manufacturers tell about their motor oils.]

Definition (improper game).  An improper game is a competition that is not a proper game.

Note.  Some games are not competitive, despite the bad attitudes of some participants, e.g., music, mathematics, but these are not thought of as games by most players despite their insistence upon being called players.

Evils of Improper Games

If someone is forced to play an improper game, we have tyranny, a violation of the Freedom Axiom (Axiom 1), which is why I have introduced the concept of an improper game here.  If one of the stakeholders does not know the game is improper, we have falsity, a violation of the Truth Axiom (Axiom 3).  If all stakeholders agree, no violation occurs.

Proof of Corollary 3

Proof of Corollary 3.  For a moment let us suppose that the competition for wealth and power, i.e., the Money Game were a proper game.  If unequal distribution of wealth were permitted, people would compete for wealth and, if competition for wealth were congruent with their desires, they would be exercising freedom.  [Note in Proof (11-3-96).  Actually, the apparent advantage, relatively greater freedom, enjoyed by lovers of the Money Game may be illusory, as the Money Game creates certain constraints of its own.  Notice the misery, sometimes leading to suicide, among inveterate pursuers of wealth.]  Excess wealth could be used to acquire excess political power (or excess freedom!) as discussed above.  Therefore, a person whose natural talents and inclinations do not result in the acquisition of wealth under the terms of the competition would have the choice of either giving up political power, which would lead to an abridgment of his freedom later on, or entering the competition for wealth on the best terms he could get, which would result in giving up freedom immediately.  In either case, we have a contradiction of Axiom 1, which must have come from permitting unequal distribution of wealth.  This could be remedied by equal remuneration for all activity including mental activity, but no one’s mind can be shown to be inactive so long as life persists, so we are back to equal distribution of wealth.

The Money Game as an Improper Game

It is easy to see that the Money Game is not a proper game.  It is an improper game, since the rules are written down nowhere, not everyone begins with the same capital, conspiracies exist such that it is not at all clear with whom one is competing (friends become enemies, etc.), the rules are changing continuously and in a way unknown to most players, some players are willing to commit heinous crimes to gain a business advantage, nearly everyone cheats (and the term “nearly” is merely for effect), and so on.

Now, no one should be tempted to play an improper game, which would be a violation of the Truth Axiom and, normally, other moral axioms, let alone forced to play an improper game!  Further, part of our early indoctrination led us to expect that we would not have to play improper games.  But, consider the millions of people who devote their entire lives to an improper game.  What do we think of them?  Thus, the Money Game is disallowed by every reasonable moral standard.  So long as it continues to be the national religion (the world religion), mankind will be mired in a moral cesspool of his own making with no chance of ennoblement.  Is this to be its destiny?  Someone said, “Capitalism is the worst economic system, except for all the others.”  This is not funny.  It’s stupid.  (I shall now exercise my ingrained snobbery.)  Anyone who puts up with this state of affairs, anyone who is soft, even, on capitalism, is not a lady or gentleman!  (Apparently, the author is a Victorian conservative.)

Clearly, equality of wealth modulo the small differences alluded to can be achieved most readily and most efficiently by abandoning money and educating away greed.  Dematerialism aspires toward a world without money or other fiduciary instruments, such as stocks, bonds, etc.  Clearly, the wealth represented by the private property in a normal person’s home, even if it includes expensive computers or power tools, is not the sort of wealth whose excess constitutes the greatest danger to others.  It is paper wealth represented by money (numbers in ledgers), stocks, bonds, titles, deeds, mineral rights, etc. that permits the domination of some by others.

If the love of money causes evil, money itself must be closer to the root than the love of money since it logically precedes it.  Money is practically obsolete now.  (While we are accounting for purchases with our credit cards, we might just as well account for individual items separately instead of in terms of money, since money is not an invariant measure of value anyway, cf., inflation.)  But dematerialism is committed to gradual change; therefore, at our present level of inflation, for example, it might make sense to set everyone’s yearly income at his age in years times $1000.  Thus, a parent would receive an additional yearly stipend of $2000 for a two-year-old child.  A seventeen-year-old high-school student would receive $17,000 during that year.  An old man of 80, who, presumably, has a greater need for money, would receive $80,000 for his 80th year.

We don’t need a first step that’s this radical.  We need only begin by taking steps to prevent the accumulation of large fortunes.  This might be done by enforcing existing laws.  But, the important changes are the ones that take place in our minds.  It’s entirely possible that the next generation of children of the rich may reject wealth utterly, going further than previous generations of rich kids who have rejected wealth theoretically only.  Another possible intermediate step might be to make food, shelter, and health care free, but retain a price on clothing, household appliances and furnishings, etc.  I very much like the idea of making tools free to those who actually use them, but how this is to be determined without a lot of rigmarole or the invasion of personal privacy is unclear.  Perhaps, “lending libraries for tools” makes sense.

Hoarding should be discouraged by education.  In fact, isn’t it clear that this should be one of the fundamental ethical goals of education?  When housing is distributed fairly and money and fiduciary instruments no longer exist as repositories of hoarded wealth, the size of one’s home will provide a natural limit on the accumulation of wealth.  One can fill one’s home with power tools if one wishes, but that might severely limit sleeping space.  Fine jewelry, great works of art, and precious metals are another matter and might have to be handled separately; but, if no market in these objects exists, they might cease to represent wealth – except to the insane.  The place for fine jewelry and great works of art is museums.  The discussion of a gradual path to isopluty (equal wealth) is deferred until Chapter 12.

Corollary 4:  What If Everyone Did It?

Corollary 4.  If a violation of one of the other morals would result from a significant number of people performing an act that a significant number of people would be inclined to perform, then that act is immoral.

Example.  It is immoral to fly a helicopter over a city for purposes of transportation.  If everyone did it, although traffic would be lighter, the noise would be intolerable.  (The noise is intolerable when one or two do it.  This may not be the case when quiet helicopters are built, but other environmental drawbacks should be expected.)

Corollary 5 Specifically Permits Abortions and Drug Use

Corollary 5.  It is immoral to interfere with an adult who wants to have an abortion or an adult who wishes to take drugs.

Comment on Corollary 5.  Although Corollary 5 is self-evident to reasonable people, American society, currently, suffers from an “epidemic” of mass hysteria concerning drug use.  Therefore, I shall provide an appendix to this chapter that is taken from essays that appear also in Vol. I of my collected essays [7].  Currently, most of the essays on drugs from that volume can be found at http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/debate/opinion.htm on the Internet.  If the above web address is passé, try a search on “Thomas L.Wayburn”.

The reader understands that I have chosen abortion and drugs because they are each at the center of controversy so inflamed that partisans vote for policies that are not in their own interests to be on the “politically-correct” side of the debate (as they understand it), normally for reasons that have nothing to do with anything that concerns themselves personally.  Thus, these issues violate Adam Smith’s principal conjecture concerning human self-interest, although Smith himself was well aware of exceptions such as these.  One can imagine a rather long list of similar topics concerning which this philosophy would come to similar conclusions, and some of us will see relatively insignificant differences in perspective blossom into themes for mass hysteria [e.g., same-sex marriage (added 7-31-2004)].

Theorem 1 Establishes the Immorality of Material Compensation for Economic Deeds

Theorem 1.  It is immoral to accept material reward in return for what one does, gives, or says.


I.  Violation of the freedom of others

Accepting material rewards creates materialism, which violates the Freedom Axiom, since, if one person accepts material rewards, others must do so as well to avoid having their freedom abridged by someone who accumulates excess material wealth.  This might be avoided by keeping the material rewards the same for all gifts or deeds, but some people give or do nothing for which anyone wishes to compensate them, which leads to a contradiction.  (Such a person might be an artist such as Van Gogh who received virtually no compensation during his life but whose paintings now sell for millions – a little late from Van Gogh’s viewpoint.)

II.  Interference with one’s own freedom, which, if you remember, is inalienable

A. Compensation for extrinsically motivated activity tends to create a bias toward that activity, which diminishes freedom, in particular the opportunity to become intrinsically motivated.

B. Compensation for intrinsically motivated activity tends to undermine intrinsic motivation according to the theory of Deci and Ryan [5].

Theorem 1 Disqualifies Employment as an Institution

It is easy to see that Theorem 1 shows that employment, which, in most cases, is merely a form of prostitution or slavery, is immoral.  Actually, the Ninth Amendment makes employment unconstitutional, as the right to liberty is “unalienable”; i.e., it may not be transferred.  But, employment constitutes just such a transfer of liberty.  Clearly, the Founding Fathers could not have forgotten the Declaration of Independence when they wrote the Ninth Amendment:  The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.  This surprising result makes more sense when one puts it in historical perspective.  Probably, when they referred to “the people”, the Founding Fathers had in mind small land holders and self-employed craftsmen.

The Rights of Children

The Rights of Members of Social Links

As defined above, rights are (i) freedoms that don’t violate accepted morals and (ii) entitlements that are guaranteed by accepted morals.  Axiom 1 (The Freedom Axiom) protects the freedom of adults from incursions, but does not protect the freedom of children completely.  If we had stated the first part of Axiom 1 in terms of individual human beings, we would have given children too many rights.  Parents must be able to control their children.  Indeed, by stating Axiom 1 in terms of the adult members of human social links, we established the responsibility of the adult for the behavior of the child.  On the other hand, the child normally belongs to two social links, the social link of the mother and the social link of the father.  These are not the same.  Axiom 1 prevents one of these social links from abusing the other, but it does not prevent the child from being abused if both parents consent to the abuse.  Thus, child abuse by the father would be immoral according to the Freedom Axiom because it interferes with the mother’s social link, which contains the same child – normally.  Likewise, child abuse by the mother would be immoral.  The mother and the father serve as a system of checks and balances.  The unlikely event in which both the mother and the father conspire to abuse the child is not covered by Axiom 1.  We must address this difficulty.

The Rights of Children as Individuals

Children do not enjoy the same rights as adults.  Despite our philosophical love of symmetry, we must recognize at the outset that the relationship between adults and their children is not symmetric.  The child may view the adult as a foreign sovereignty and the adult may view the child as a sovereign animal who has the potential to become an adult human being.  The rights of children are based on morals that have been established by the antecedents of the children.  The morals do not necessarily apply to the child, but they regulate the behavior of the adults who are responsible for the child’s welfare, namely, the parent(s) or guardian(s).

The responsibility of parents for children can be derived from Axiom 2 and Axiom 1.  Axiom 2 requires the parents to treat the children with “every possible kindness” because as human beings children qualify as animals.  On the other hand, according to Axiom 1, one is responsible for how one’s own children affect other human social links.  This, in turn, will be affected profoundly by how children are treated.  In addition, Axiom 1 provides guarantees for future human social links to which one’s children will eventually belong, provided only that they survive and make normal progress toward independence.  Finally, Axiom 1 establishes the child’s personal sovereignty, which permits us to determine how children will be treated when they do refuse to surrender their sovereignty and are in conflict with their parents or guardians.  Thus, the treatment of children falls into the category of derived morals.

Rights of Future Social Links

Children are protected under Axiom 1 from any activities that would interfere now or in the future with the freedom of the human social link whose adult member the child will become.  This is the principle that permits us to derive an environmental theorem from The Freedom Axiom, if we choose not to make respect for the environment part of the second axiom (to preserve independence of the axioms).  It rules out many harmful acts.  It rules out interfering with the child’s education, which might affect the relative freedom of the future human social link.  It rules out environmental pollution, and it rules out the incurring of other social deficits, including financial responsibilities that will fall upon posterity.  Thus, modern society is very much in default with respect to these prohibitions.  According to Axiom 1, children have a right to find the world in decent shape with rational institutions in place.  The advanced state of decay of the world and the corruption in the institutions of human society represent a betrayal and a breach of faith with posterity.  The world (society) owes young people profuse apologies and nontrivial reparations.  I find it exceptionally irritating when I hear adults say to young people, “Remember, the world doesn’t owe you a living.”  I beg to differ.

The Rights of Children as Animals

The future of children is protected by Axiom 1, but not everyone will agree as to what best ensures the future relative freedom of growing children.  Axiom 2 (The Environmental Axiom) protects children from cruelty because Axiom 2 requires animals to be treated with “every possible kindness” and human beings are animals.  (Even people who do not believe human beings are animals are probably not willing to see children treated worse than animals.)  Clearly the possibilities for treating one’s own children with kindness exceed the possibilities for treating grizzly bears living in wildernesses with kindness (although we must treat the grizzly bear much better than we have treated him in the past).  The possibilities for kindness to children exceed even the kindness that we lavish on pets.  The morals that govern the treatment of animals, then, would apply a fortiori to the treatment of children and would immediately rule out cruelty, which is, after all, our first concern but would allow the adult to assume control over the child, which, hopefully, is in the child’s best interest.  The identification of children with animals is in no wise demeaning, especially as the recognition of the nobility of the animals is becoming more widespread, and, I imagine, not many parents would dispute the claim that the identification is realistic.  After all, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, does it not?  Since Axiom 2 is used, the children’s theorem, Theorem 2 below, is a derived theorem rather than a corollary of Axiom 1.  Logically it should follow the statement of all of the axioms, but this is of no importance.

The Rights of Children as Sovereigns

We have already assigned sovereignty to the child.  But, animals, too, are sovereign over their own beings, which certainly ought to play a role in how we treat them.  Personal sovereignty sounds like it might be a very high degree of attainment, but it is no higher than the status accorded to animals; and, in particular, it is insufficiently high to protect the freedom of individuals, in the here and now, from incursions under Axiom 1.  Thus, although it doesn’t sound like much, an adult social link has a status higher, according to its entitlements, than that of a sovereign lord.  Even before a child is aware of his (or her) sovereignty, though, that sovereignty must be protected by adults, including adults in the same social link.  I do not know from personal experience, but I dare say that many parents have felt as though they were raising a little king or queen based on the demands placed upon them.

The personal sovereignty of children determines how they may be treated by adults from their own social links when they are in conflict with them.  This conflict resembles war in many respects, and, if parents are at all in possession of their faculties, wars with children should be brief and normally should end with the adult(s) victorious.  The child may be treated no worse than one would treat a captured monarch after his defeat.  (It is an interesting feature of dematerialism that wars between children and their parents or guardians constitute the only category of wars the probability for which is not reduced essentially to zero.)

Child Development

The development of a child’s moral status can be divided into three stages, depending on the child: (i) the stage before the child is aware of his (or her) own sovereignty, (ii) the stage after awareness of sovereignty but before the age of reason, after which the child is able to make a judgment about the morals generally accepted in the society in which he finds himself, and (iii) the stage after the age of reason but before the achievement of independence from parent(s) when the child becomes or starts his own human social link.  The second and third stages can be divided into a number of morally significant periods depending on how the child exercises certain moral options.  During the second stage there may be some periods when the child is willing to surrender his (or her) sovereignty to one or both parents or guardians (if there are two) and other periods during which the child is unwilling to be ruled by a parent or guardian or, for that matter, any adult.  During the third stage the child may or may not accept the prevailing code of morals.  We assume that the child becomes aware of his own sovereignty before the age of reason.  In the unlikely event that this is not the case, it is easy to make the appropriate changes in this discussion.

The First Stage

It must be admitted that the newborn child is more like an animal than a human being.  The child is not aware of his (or her) sovereignty – only his desires.  I see no reason why the child’s every whim should not be gratified, in keeping with the dictum to treat animals with every possible kindness.  This ought not to “spoil” the child and is certainly in keeping with sovereignty.  Let the child rule then.  I think that this is essentially what all good parents do.  It is conceivable that any other type of treatment constitutes child abuse.  Certainly it places an obligation on prospective parents to be in a position to meet the child’s every desire.  In a nonmaterialistic world, this would not be a difficulty unless the parent feels that something else he is doing is more important that attending to the child’s needs, which, of course, would be immoral.

The Second Stage

But, a time comes when the child becomes aware of his (or her) sovereignty.  At that time the child has an option.  He may elect of his own free will to accept the sovereignty of his guardian and surrender his own.  Certainly, this may be done under reasonable circumstances; but, just as certainly, it may be retracted under others, when the child becomes an adult, for example, or if and when the rule of the adult becomes intolerable.  Certainly, no one may be forced to submit to an irrational or tyrannous sovereignty, therefore we must place moral conditions on those who have power over children.  They must exercise that power in a rational and moral fashion.  If they do not, the rebellion of the child is justified and we should expect even more pressing moral dilemmas resulting from having to raise a very difficult child.

Suppose, then, that a child, aware of his (or her) personal sovereignty, refuses to surrender it to his parents or guardians and creates irreconcilable conflicts within the family.  It seems to me that, under these conditions, we have a state of war.  Presumably, the adult will prevail, but he (or she) is morally bound, according to Axiom 2, to refrain from cruelty (in fact, to continue to exercise every possible kindness) and to treat his “prisoner” according to the usual convention for treating captured sovereign heads of state.  The conditions of the imprisonment are unconditional obedience to the parent or guardian, deviation from which is subject to reasonable punishments, which, of course, may not border on cruelty.  In particular, assuming no unredressable war crimes, the prisoner must be released when the war is over.

But, suppose the guardian is not victorious.  This, in my opinion, immediately classifies the parent as incompetent and becomes sufficient cause for a new guardian or guardians to be selected.  This should happen practically never and a class of professional child raisers is unlikely to arise – I fervently hope.  But, if this misfortune should befall us, one can only hope against all previous experience that they would not be quacks.  In a non-materialistic society no one would stand to gain much by quackery.  Financial advantages are out and the only possible reward for quackery must be eventual disgrace.

The Third Stage

Eventually, the child reaches what I have called the age of reason, at which time the child is able to make a judgment concerning the moral and philosophical basis of society.  The child may enter into a contract with society as represented by its own parents or guardians simply by freely accepting the morals that govern society with a reasonably complete understanding of their philosophical basis.  But, the morals and their philosophical basis must make sense.  No one can be expected to enter into a ruinous contract.  And yet, children are very nearly forced to accept the world as they find it, not having had the opportunity to select the world they would like or the system they would choose and not having been here to arrange matters for themselves.

As stated previously, each newcomer will not have signed the Constitution, ratified the laws of the land, or agreed to the established institutions, but he (or she) has a right (or it can be deduced that he has a right based on Axiom 1) to find them at least reasonable, which they are not.  Under these circumstances, we should expect children to be rebellious.  Moreover, the more intelligent the child and the deeper his (or her) moral sense, the fiercer the rebellion.  But under no circumstances may children be treated as delinquents, nor may dissidents be treated as criminals.  If children are capable of becoming independent or they can induce other adults to take responsibility for them, I see no reason why children should not be allowed to divorce their parents, particularly when the parents’ moral philosophy is unacceptable to the child.  (From time to time, I suppose, children will want to be taken back and parents will accept them back.)  They are merely people who have refused, on reasonable grounds, to enter into a contract with society.  According to the logic just presented, all of the inmates of our jails are political prisoners.  No one knows what their lives might have been like in a reasonable world.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to derive a system of morals that will be deemed reasonable by everyone, particularly children.  In fact, we ought to encourage children to question the moral and philosophical basis of society.  It is unreasonable to expect that a system derived in the twentieth century or any century will be the last word.  Therefore, the prohibitions against cruelty and the personal sovereignty of individuals continue to be operative even in the cases of the most rebellious children and adults.  We must protect dissent, even if we find it dreadfully inconvenient to do so.  Clearly, though, we should expect much less dissent from a system that, at least, is not insane.

The Theorem Concerning the Treatment of Children

The foregoing discussion can be summed up by and provides a plausibility argument for the following theorem:

Theorem 2 (The Treatment of Children).  The personal sovereignty of newborn children is held in custodianship or stewardship by their parents or guardians.  When they are old enough to be aware of their personal sovereignty and to articulate that awareness, they may surrender it on a voluntary and temporary basis to one or more parents or guardians provided they can be made to understand what the ramifications of that surrender will be.  Children must be treated with every possible kindness.  In particular, they are protected from cruelty.  When they are old enough to understand the moral basis of society, they may accept the moral basis or reject it.  They may not be held accountable to it unless they accept it.  Whenever a conflict, which might arise because of differences in philosophy, between a child and his (or her) parent(s) or guardian(s) is resolved by forcing the child to do the adult’s will, he must be treated with the respect due to a sovereign unless he has surrendered his sovereignty and not retracted it.

Note in proof (8-3-2004).  At this writing I have experienced the pleasures and annoyances of raising an adopted daughter from the age of two and a half to her present age of eight and a half.  I found everything I wrote above without the benefit of experience to be true in this particular case – insofar as it can be verified.

Environmental Axiom

Summary of Chapter 2

In Chapter 2 we showed why money is an unsatisfactory measure of value and proposed instead Howard Odum’s concept of emergy.  Emergy is a measure of energy that is adjusted to account for temperature and entropy as well as ability to do useful work.  Also, emergy must be normalized by setting one emergy unit equal to a unit of energy (or availability) from the primary energy source best suited to the purposes of the analyst.

The transformity of a primary fuel is the number of kilowatt-hours of standard electricity one can obtain from 1 kWhr of the primary fuel by an efficient process, the tradition of reporting the availability of fuels in BTUs per pound or kilocalories per gram mole notwithstanding.  Any unit of energy can be converted to kilowatt-hours.  This is an electricity-based transformity, the units of which are emergy units per kilowatt-hour.  The embodied energy or emergy of a primary fuel is the Gibbs availability of the fuel in kilowatt-hours multiplied by the electricity-based transformity.  The emergy of anything else is the sum of all the emergy that went into producing it by an efficient process minus the emergies of any by-products formed.  The emergy of an activity is the average rate of expenditure of emergy times the time.  These definitions are easily extended to include the dependence of emergy on location and time.  The concept of nemergy or negative emergy can be introduced to aid in the discussion of environmental damage.  [5-23-07]

Professor Odum, the father of emergy analysis, does outstanding work in ecology, where sunlight plays the primary role; therefore, he employs sunlight-based emergy in which one emjoule is equivalent to one joule of energy (or availability) from sunlight.  It takes about 40,000 joules of sunlight to produce one joule of petroleum.  Thus, a joule of petroleum is worth 40,000 emjoules.  If the sum of the direct and indirect emergy inputs required to produce a widget – by an efficient process – is 10,000,000 emjoules, the widget is thought of as carrying ten million emjoules of value with it as it proceeds through the economy.  Thus, emergy, as opposed to money, is the basic economic entity.  This is an incredibly powerful tool for economists.

I find electricity-based emergy convenient for industrial applications, therefore I take one kilowatt-hour of 110 volt, 60 Hz, A.C. electricity as one emergy unit (MU).  One kWhr of electricity represents much more emergy (measured in MUs) than one kWhr of warm water, which is not very useful as an energy source.

Emergy could, in fact, be scaled in such a way that a barrel of crude oil (rather than a joule of sunlight or a kWhr of electricity) equaled one emergy unit (the choice of scaling is really up to us).  This would serve to remind us of the most compelling item in any reasonable projection of world history into the future, namely, that we live in an oil-based economy that is running out of oil, particularly if the aspirations of the developing nations are not to be completely frustrated, which might have dire political consequences of its own.  Technologists have no idea if alternative fossil fuel energy strategies or sustainable energy strategies will have positive energy efficiencies – even if we take sunshine to be free.  (We pointed out that it is the sun’s ability to reduce the entropy on the earth that makes life possible.)

Now, even in the unlikely instance of plentiful energy, the results of continued high consumption are likely to be catastrophic due to the mind set of Western man, which is spreading throughout the globe and which thinks of man as the triumphant conqueror of Nature rather than Her partner.  We should expect even more industrial pollution, stress (some due to excessive noise and motion), and alienation.  More important, we should expect thousands of species of plants and animals to become extinct with the concomitant horror of greatly reduced bio-diversity.  Population will continue to grow and concentration of wealth and power, totalitarianism, and war is likely to be the normal state of affairs.

Also, we used system diagrams to understand the emergy cycle and the countercurrent money cycle in a materialistic economy and an improved emergy cycle in an economy without business, government, and money.  This last we termed a humanistic economy.  We could have employed the term natural economy once again.  Also, in the midst of this discussion, we did a thought experiment wherein the government tried to help the poor but ended up making things worse.  We are not fond of government.

A glance at Fig. 2-8 shows why we are not too optimistic about a large sustainable energy budget for ten billion people.  After all, throughout history our energy has come primarily from photosynthesis and in Fig. 2-8, we see that the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis [8] is counting on only 100 terawatts from photosynthesis.  Is it at all likely that we could harvest 10% of that net, i.e., after the cost of harvesting?  For this reason and others, we suggested that solid waste and sewage should be primary feedstocks for energy and other chemical processes.

At the end of Chapter 2, we drew a number of conclusions, which, taken cumulatively, show that we must make enormous changes in our lifestyle.  This is the point of view adopted by the author.  When anything less than the average emergy per capita will not support a lifestyle free of unbearable misery, we have no moral choice but to divide the emergy equally.  This is a simple practical and moral argument for sharing wealth.  I do not see how it can be refuted.  Proceeding from the conclusions of Chapter 2, we now construct a moral Environmental Axiom.

A Quasi-Steady-State Environment

Definition (Strong quasi-steady-state environment).  A strong quasi-steady-state environment (SQSS) is one whose storehouses of material and energy and whose flows of material and energy, at least those that influence the important periodic processes that support life on this planet and are of chief concern to ecologists, are constant in magnitude or undergoing only minor perturbations about an acceptable average value, accounting properly for their natural periods.

Definition (Weak quasi-steady-state environment).  A weak quasi-steady-state environment (WQSS) is a SQSS except for a slight diminution in the storehouses of readily available high-grade energy.  For as long as it takes to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, especially petroleum, we shall have to avail ourselves of at least some of the earth’s reservoirs of this precious inheritance.  Oil should be used to restructure society so that it no longer needs oil.  Small self-sufficient communities will have to be constructed and people will have to travel to places where they can stay put – except for walking.  This will require spending some fossil fuels – perhaps the rest of the world’s supply of petroleum, even.

The Environmental Axiom

Definition (Life Replacement Token).  Every person is born with one hypothetical (abstract) token that represents his or her own life and the possible replacement of his or her own life with the life of one unborn child.

Axiom 2 (The Environmental Axiom).  Each adult’s share of the population is s = t / P, where t is himself (or herself) and any dependent children that resulted from the expenditure of his token and any tokens that were given to him and P is the number of individuals in the population.

Over a suitable averaging period (one year, say), the share of the population corresponding to each adult shall not have consumed more emergy than s times the net recoverable emergy the sun has provided.  [During the WQSS period (which must be replaced by a SQSS before 2035, say) the emergy to be shared may include fossil fuel that is used to decentralize appropriately to eliminate the use of fossil fuel in the future.]

No one may impede the natural cycles of the earth without remedy within a lunar month, say.  The emergy required to superpose the new trajectory in phase space over a likely candidate for a proper (undisturbed) cycle is charged to his share.  (If you don’t know what phase space is, ask a scientist.)

Every kindness must be extended to plants, animals, pre-reason children, and diminished adults.  Only in case of pressing need may the happiness of an animal be disturbed and then multifold pre-compensation must be awarded beforehand and the moment of the sacrifice delayed as long as possible.  Pressing need is a technical term.

Definition (Pressing need).  A circumstance shall be deemed a pressing need if human life is immediately threatened and every effort has been made in the past to prevent this circumstance from arising.

Note.  This probably needs sharpening.  It could be subject to abuse.  Clearly, nothing prevents humanity from applying the remedy as soon as the crisis ends, provided that society discontinues the practice of contriving to create a continuous string of crises.

Example.  If an animal absolutely must be sacrificed for a meal or a medical experiment, that animal must be given an extraordinarily pleasant life up to the moment of the sacrifice, which shall be delayed as long as possible and carried out as humanely as possible.  Clearly, this interpretation is too loose from the point of view of many animal lovers.  Someday it might become obsolete as we learn to live in perfect harmony with animals.

The Basis for the Environmental Axiom in the Three Criteria

We can prove the validity of the aesthetic basis for Axiom 2 by simply noting the ugliness of its violation.  We live in a beautiful world populated by beautiful animals and plants.  Every species is beautiful in its way, cf., the graceful movements of the octopus, the winged flight of the most pestilential insect.  Nature is beautiful.  Our sense of aesthetics dictates that it be preserved.  We could appreciate the beauty of the common Norwegian house rat even, if we could induce him to select his environment more felicitously – from our viewpoint.  This could be done and we could end an ugly and cowardly war waged by an entire species (man) upon another entire species (the rat).

Practically nothing could be less reasonable than the destruction of our own environment or the elimination of even the least significant species.  The extinction of a species is irreversible.  It is unreasonable to commit acts that result in damage that cannot be undone, particularly, from the viewpoint of utility, if the results turned out to be unexpectedly harmful even to man.  I think it would have been appropriately characteristic of the idiocy of mankind if we had wiped out the entire population of mosquitoes with DDT only to discover that mosquitoes performed a vital ecological function without which we could not survive.  We might wipe out a plant whose sap contains the sole cure for cancer.  We had better not burn our ecological bridges behind us until we understand the environment completely; but, as we all know, that day will never come.

The utility of preserving the environment is easy to prove.  Unless we follow Axiom 2, or some moral construct very much like it, we ourselves are doomed as a species.  What could be more utilitarian than survival itself!

The Necessity to Control Population Growth

Currently each person’s share of the surface of the earth is about 42 acres.  That includes each person’s share of the oceans, rivers, lakes, polar regions, deserts, agricultural land, living space, industrial land, parks, land for public buildings, railroads, roads, canals, land for telephone and power lines, sewerage, trash dumps, junk yards, wilderness, rain forests, and the tops of mountains.  Only approximately 12.3 acres is land and some people feel that at least half of that should be reserved for wildlife.

It seems to me that in 1949 the human population of the earth was about 2 billion.  Thus, very roughly, the population has increased by 50% in 40 years.  (This is a conservative estimate.  I have heard that the population doubled between 1950 and 1987.)  A 50% increase in 40 years amounts to an increase each year by a factor of 1.0101882.  If the population should continue to increase at this rate, let us determine how long it would take before each person’s share of the entire surface of the earth were reduced to 0.01 acres.  An area of 0.01 acres is equivalent to a square plot 20.871 feet on a side.  Two-thirds would be ocean and, at most, one tenth of the rest would be suitable for land-based agriculture, i.e., a square plot less than 4 feet on a side.

The population would have to increase by a factor of 4201.8, i.e., to approximately 12.6 trillion people.  At a rate of increase of 1.01882% per year, as previously computed, this would take only 823.1 years, a length of time 100 years shorter than the time from the Norman Conquest to the present (1989).  Of course, “natural” events, namely, famine, war, and epidemic disease, would intervene long before such growth could take place.  Which do we prefer, to limit the population “naturally”, i.e., through human misery and suffering to be accompanied, no doubt, by even greater damage to the animal population, or artificially by birth control and family planning?  If we have pledged ourselves to achieve a society where hunger and war are unknown and disease is under control, we must limit the population by birth control and family planning.  It remains only to decide how childbirth is to be apportioned among the people alive now.

Probably there is an optimum human population density, which might vary from time to time because of the availability of energy, the state of technology, and other circumstances.  We would like to have the greatest number of people enjoy life subject to preventing the diminution in the quality of life due to crowding.  Clearly there is a lower bound to optimum population density corresponding to a scarcity of humans such that mutual aid and comfort is hampered, but undoubtedly the population density is too high at the present level.  We are running out of air and water and many species of animals are becoming extinct.

It could be argued that a large population is necessary to allow man to develop a technology with sufficient power to permit space colonization, which would then permit a greater number of humans without increasing the density, perhaps lowering it.  If suspended animation were perfected there would be no difficulty in very long trips other than the reliability of the equipment over long periods of time.  After all, who cares, when he goes to sleep, whether he sleeps eight hours or 2000 years provided the sleep is untroubled.  But the satisfaction of man’s natural appetite for conquest is insufficient justification for the colonization of space.  Man as he is now would be like an epidemic disease infecting the galaxies.  He needs to improve his behavior a great deal before he can justify exporting himself beyond spaceship earth.  In my essay “On Space Travel and Research” in Vol. II of my collected works [6], I outline a reasonable case against space travel, the high point of which is C. S. Lewis’s impassioned denunciation of space travel, which I used as an epigraph.

Theorem 3 (The Token Theorem).  Each person is born with one (abstract) token, which may be spent to replicate her- or himself or may be transferred voluntarily to another person to so do.  This state of affairs shall persist until such time as the human population of the earth shall be less than optimal, at which time the number of tokens shall be increased in a just, possibly random, manner.  Unused tokens, from childless people, are distributed fairly – possibly given to whomever the donor wishes, although some sort of lottery seems more fair.  This would not obtain until the population was at or below its optimum – although it’s a little difficult to tell how we would know when this was the case.  Clearly, we should consider the benefit of affording the gift of life for as many people as possible provided overpopulation does not create undue misery or depopulate the plant and animal kingdoms – or drive species to extinction before Nature does so in Her natural way.  [Note.  This is a derived law rather than a theorem.  It is easy to reformulate it as a theorem.]

Proof.  That the population must remain constant (or shrink) follows from the Environmental Axiom.  It remains only to show that the proportions of posterity must be shared equally by the progeny or the surrogate progeny of each individual.  Since our fundamental unit of human population is the human social link, the usurpation of more than one’s fair (equal) share of posterity should be interpreted as a violation of the Freedom Axiom.

Example.  A woman can have one child without the permission of anyone; but, to have a second child, she must arrange for someone else to spend his or her token.

Note:  I have omitted discussion of the numerous complications that arise because of asymmetry between children (born and unborn) and adults, but last February 5th at the Ramada Inn I said something wrong.  The corrected statement is that the mother may, indeed, make unilateral decisions about a fetus if it was conceived as a result of the expenditure of her token.

Second proof.  The Token Principle is an example of a concept for which I can construct a more compelling proof if I derive the Environmental Axiom from the Freedom Axiom.  (You may do this as an easy exercise.)  We have shown that population growth has an undesirable impact on the environment.  Undoubtedly, this has been going on for many generations since we have long since passed the optimal population size.  Let F be the Freedom Axiom; let E be the Environmental Axiom; let T be the Token Principle: and let P be population growth.  Logically, F E implies not Enot F.  Now, not TPnot Enot F, therefore a violation of the Token Principle is a violation of the Freedom Axiom.

The Environmental Axiom as a Corollary of the Freedom Axiom

The Environmental Axiom is not independent of the Freedom Axiom but rather a corollary derived from Axiom 1 as follows:  Deterioration of the environment by one human social link abridges the freedom of other social links to enjoy the earth and all of its glory and abundance.  In particular, it abridges the freedom of the human social links formed by dependent children and their (future) dependent children, i.e., posterity.  Suppose, for example that someone uses 20 gallons of gasoline per week in a large, powerful, expensive car.  Suppose, further, that our petroleum reserves are diminished by one barrel of crude oil as a result of this.  One hundred years from now, for example, a great-great-grandchild of the reader might very likely face hardships because of the lack of that barrel of oil.  Thus, the social link composed of the reader’s great-grandchild and great-great-grandchild has been imposed upon (impacted negatively and unfairly).  But, this means that the social link composed of the readers grandchild and great-grandchild has been imposed upon, thus the social link composed of the reader’s child and grandchild has been imposed upon, and the social link composed of the reader and his/her child has been imposed upon, which, of course, imposes upon the reader himself.  Similar arguments can be fashioned respecting every form of environmental damage including simple cruelty to animals, which might redound to a species endowed with even greater asperity toward mankind and, in turn, greater difficulty for your remote descendant to enjoy the great pleasure of cohabitation and friendship with members of other species than is enjoyed at present.  This is a violation of Axiom 1.  The independence of the three axioms is a question of mathematical and logical elegance only and cannot be achieved without excessive logical baggage probably.  An environmental axiom as a fundamental principle upon which all of society is to be based is more compelling to self-interested people than is an axiom requiring kindness to animals and plants only.

Truth Axiom

Tell the truth to those who have a right to know it.  –  Ernest Hemingway

On Truth


In this essay we must define truth in order to present the moral system upon which our political theory depends.  Unfortunately, the discussion in this section tends to get a little technical at times.  The reader, then, has the choice either to suffer through the minor inconveniences that reading such material normally entails or to accept his or her intuitive notion of what truth is in the sense of (i) congruence of statements with events and (ii) fidelity to a standard.  [Note in proof 9-20-95:  The latter sense of the word has been subsumed by the former by interpreting behavior as a series of statements and thoughts as events.]  This section is self-contained and, provided one is satisfied that we can differentiate between truth and falsehood, it can be skipped without undue damage to the rest of the thesis.  Although it may be difficult to say what we mean by a true statement, it is easy to recognize falsehood in practice.  “When we have cleared away all of the falsehood, what is left is true”.  We wish to include among falsehoods incomplete truths if the missing parts are crucial to the impression formed in the mind of the reader, listener, watcher, etc.  On the other hand, incomplete or approximate scientific theories should not be considered falsehood, provided they are not applied inappropriately or taken to be precisely correct in an absolute or final sense.  (Newton’s laws are not applied to photons and Darwinian evolution is not passed off as the last word.)


To define truth is a formidable task.  We shall not be able to supply a simple, unambiguous, coherent statement in this work, but we ought to be able to accomplish something that will point the way for further efforts toward establishing an unambiguous, coherent statement that will be satisfactory for social, political, and economic purposes regardless of the complications.  We might reasonably begin by looking in the dictionary to identify what we are interested in describing and ruling out what is irrelevant for our purposes.  To be useful to the reader, this section must be about what the author means by truth.

The Dictionary

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary [9] defines truth as follows: 1a: archaic: fidelity, constancy, 1b: sincerity in action, character, and utterance, 2a (i): the state of being the case, (ii): the body of real things, events, facts, (iii) often capitalized: a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality, 2b: a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true, 2c: the body of true statements and propositions, 3a: the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality, 3b: fidelity to an original or to a standard, 4: capitalized, Christian Science: God.

Definitions 1a (archaic: fidelity, constancy) and 1b (sincerity in action, character, and utterance) are not useful and, in fact, are rarely used in serious discussion.  Definition 2a (i) (the state of being the case) is closer to what we are looking for but is a little circular.  If we knew what the case was, we would be done.  We shall need to discuss Tarski’s [10] elaboration of this difficulty a little later.  Definition 2a, part ii, (the body of real things, events, facts) is the universe (or U, I, R, and M) if I am not mistaken.  When we wish to refer to the universe, we will call it the universe.  Part iii of 2a (a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality) is referred to dishonestly by religionists, again, as something that can be known, in fact, as something known to them and only to them.  Again, it’s not useful because it is unknowable.  We might think of it as an abstract ideal that may or may not exist.  Definition 2b (a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true) won’t serve our purposes; (i) it is circular, (ii) it is not independent of what people believe.  Definition 2c (the body of true statements and propositions) encompasses too much.  We cannot know nor will we ever need to know so much.  It is not clear even that such a thing exists.  If it did, consider what might be the cardinality of the set so defined.

At last, in definition 3a (the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality), we find what we are looking for.  This is close to the definition I have proposed previously:  Exterior or factual truth is the congruence of statements with events.  Of course, I shall have a bit of work to make precise what I mean by “statements”, “congruence”, and “events”.  Definition 3b (fidelity to an original or to a standard) is useful to carpenters.  We say that a perfect right angle is “true”.  We could make use of this definition of truth, namely, fidelity to a standard, in our definition of inner or personal truth.  Instead let us strive for unity at a slight cost in simplicity.  Inner or personal truth is the congruence of a person’s behavior with his or her moral standards.  We shall interpret our behavior as a sequence of statements about our own standards, which are events in our own minds.

Perhaps we ought to reject Mary Baker Eddy’s definition 4 (God) out of hand because it is arbitrary and troublesome.  (If God is Truth and God is Love, is Truth Love?  Throughout this essay I have pointed out that enormous social difficulties surround the use of the word “God”, principally because no one knows what anyone else means by it.  For example, the Christians claim that Jesus is God, yet, for all practical purposes, what they worship is money!)  I am aware, though, that I have suggested we might worship truth and that I have capitalized truth in my comparison of these moral axioms with the teachings of well-known religious teachers.  I believe, this is reasonable if one can show that the great religious teachers used the word in accordance with definition 3a (the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality) and that its use in accordance with definition 4 (Christian Science) resulted from the confusion of the followers of religious teachers.  For example, Jesus, no doubt, used the definition that we are trying to construct here, although he was not familiar with modern philosophy or mathematics.  Mary Baker Eddy seized upon his emphasis upon truth and elevated it to godhead.  It is fair to assume that we may attribute some aspect of the word truth as we use it here to any hypothetical deity worth discussing, but it is not clear that we ought to identify truth with an absolutely truthful being or a being who possesses all truth.  I fail to see what is gained by doing that.  One succeeds only to confuse metaphysics with morality.  Perhaps my own use of the word with a capital T should be taken with a grain of salt.  I am not certain that I wish to endorse the great religionists of antiquity.

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language [11] supplies essentially the same definitions as those discussed above with a few differences.  The Christian Science definition is omitted.  The reference to transcendence is tempered so that it might correspond to scientific reality rather than religious reality, that is, “ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience” is something that certainly exists, but normally we do not need to refer to it except to say that it is something we will never know.

Also, the Random House Dictionary mentions truisms (under truth, Def. 9) as obvious accepted facts or platitudes.  The definition of truism is a self-evident obvious truth; but, in the Webster’s Deluxe Unabridged Dictionary [12] (which is large but probably not worth its weight) we read: (truism), n, a statement the truth of which is obvious and well-known,; a platitude; a commonplace.  It is, of course, the merest truism to say that a party is of use only so far as it serves the nation. – Theodore Roosevelt.  This is an unfortunate example as it is not even true.  Barker [13] gives as an example of a logical truth something like “Jim isn’t married because he is a bachelor.”  This is what I would have called a truism, but it does not differ logically from the statement “Jim doesn’t believe in God because he is an atheist.”  I don’t think we need to bother about truisms as a category of true statements.  For our purposes no truth can be sufficiently obvious.  How shall we classify statements such as  (i) “A rose is a rose” and (ii) “It’s not over until it’s over”?  Interpreted correctly, i.e., as intended, these are logically true.

Categories of Truth

            I.  Exterior or factual truth

                        A.  Truisms

                        B.  Fictional truth

                        C.  Mathematical and logical truth

                        D.  Empirical truth: verifiability and induction

                                    1.  Under our noses

                                    2.  Scientific and historical truth

                                                a.  Probability, macrofacts, and microfacts

                                                b.  Must be said with a British accent.

                                                c.  Occam’s Razor

                                    3.  Truth about events in our own minds

                                    4.  Truth about events in other people’s minds

                        E.  Metaphysics

            II.  Inner or personal truth

Exterior or Factual Truth

We wish to expand upon the definition of exterior or factual truth as the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with events, facts, or reality.  Events, facts, and reality belong to the Universe, Mind, the Ideals, the Relations, and whatever else exists, E, as shown in Fig. 1-1 and discussed above.  Statements are special types of events or things, therefore they belong to U, M, I, R, and, for all we know, E.

External truth is a quality of language, which might include sign language, body language, mathematics, the language of sound symbols, which includes, but is not limited to, ordinary spoken language and music, the language of visual symbols both (relatively) stationary and moving, combinations of the above and other forms of language that might support statements that have truth values, perhaps pre-verbal statements that occur in our minds before they are translated into words or while they are being translated into words.  The words true and false apply only to statements, but not to all statements.  The statements must have the property of being either true or false, as one learns in a course in logic or Boolean algebra.  Further truth and falsehood applies to compound statements such as Newtonian mechanics, which is composed of many simple statements.  In Chapter 8, “Falsity”, I have classified statements in a number of useful ways.


Truisms are discussed above.  Following Barker [13] we have agreed to classify what most people call truisms as logically necessary statements.  We shall say why we feel our philosophical assumptions are self-evident.  Otherwise, we shall do our best to provide some evidence for them – even if we agree that they remain unproved.

Exclusion of Unfalsifiable Statements

We would like to demand that every true statement be verifiable.  In many important cases, this is impossible.  Instead we put things the other way around.  We demand that every empirical statement taken as true be falsifiable.  It must be possible to distinguish the state of affairs described by the statement from the state of affairs described by the negation of the statement.  In particular, scientific theories must be falsifiable in the sense of Popper [14].  Statements that proceed logically from a set of given propositions (that establish the game rules for the mathematics under discussion) do not have to be falsifiable even though they can be tested as is often done in mathematics to check mathematical proofs and look for exceptions as displayed brilliantly in the book Proofs and Refutations by Lakatos [15].  Thus, a certain falsifiability is still operative.  If, on the other hand, following Einstein [16], the conclusions of a mathematical deduction are supposed to apply literally to the universe, U, then the premises must be falsifiable.

As an example of a falsifiable empirical statement, one can say that Mary is wearing a red hat and it is easy to distinguish the case where Mary is wearing a green hat and the statement is false.  A perfect example of an unfalsifiable statement was given by the comedian Steve Wright.  He states, for our amusement, that someone broke into his apartment and replaced everything by an identical replica.  This is funny because it is obvious to the intelligent listener that there is no way he could know this.  The statement is unfalsifiable.

Another candidate for an unfalsifiable statement is the statement that the reason every electron has the same mass and charge is that there is only one electron traveling back and forth in time.  Perhaps a physicist can devise a test to distinguish this case from the accepted many-electron hypothesis.

Finally, the Axiom of Choice [17]; namely, that there exists a function that selects exactly one member from each set in every collection of non-empty sets, regardless of the cardinality, is formally unfalsifiable, and, therefore, has no formal truth value.  Consistency proofs do not alter this situation.  Unfalsifiability is closely related to undecidability, a well-known concept belonging to modern symbolic logic.  (In this case, unfalsifiability turns out to be an advantage because mathematics is essentially about statements that have no meaning and whose truth is of a logical nature.  I do not wish to pursue this line of thought further in this essay since I would like to finish the essay sometime during the twentieth century.)

Fictional Truth

Fictional truth is the prerogative of the omniscient author of a work of fiction; i.e., if Dickens tells us that Pip was sorry to see his benefactor die, we are obliged to believe him.  In its own way, fictional truth, oddly enough, is the type of truth upon which we may place our greatest confidence.  I think this may be a nontrivial observation.

Mathematical and Logical Truth

Despite some genuine difficulties with, for example, the Axiom of Choice, mathematical theorems, lemmas, etc. can be regarded as essentially true statements since everything contained in them follows from the definitions of the objects under consideration, e.g., the real numbers.  When philosophers are looking for examples of objects in the realm of Ideals, they frequently refer to mathematics, particularly geometry (although I know of no essential reason why geometry should be preferred to algebra, as they are two sides of the same coin).  Mathematics consists principally in investigating objects in the realm of Ideals.  Even when mathematics is applied to the real universe, it is done so in terms of assumptions about the real world that map the real world into the domain of Ideals.  The mathematical theory of hydrodynamics does not apply to water itself but, rather, to water as an Ideal.  The remarkable correspondence to the real universe is virtually miraculous.

Barker [13] makes a distinction between logical truths and empirical truths.  As noted above in the discussion of the dictionary, his example of a statement that is true logically is: “Jim isn’t married because he is a bachelor.”  Clearly, the logic is that a bachelor is defined to be a person (man?) who isn’t married; therefore, depending on one’s viewpoint, the set of bachelors is a subset or the entire set of people who are not married.  I believe I can make the distinction between logical truths and empirical truths more useful.  Suppose I have proved “if A then B”, where A and B are certain statements.  Suppose, too, that repeated experiments have shown B to be the case.  Then, the statement “B” is an example of a statement that is true empirically with a certain probability, but the statement “if A then B” is true logically with probability one, since it has been proved.  It is a much weaker statement, of course, because I have not proved that A is the case.

Empirical Truth:  Verification and Induction

We wish to distinguish between derived truths and observed truths and, under observed truths, whether the observation be part of an experiment or not.  In his essay “Truth and Falsehood” [18] Russell writes, “The whole process (of verifying a hypothesis) may be illustrated by looking up a familiar quotation, finding it in the expected words, and in the expected part of the book.  In this case, we can strengthen the verification by writing down beforehand the words which we expect to find.  I think all verification is ultimately of the above sort.”  In the case of the verification of historical truths, we rely to a great extent on induction.  If our expectations about what our research concerning this event should reveal are satisfied repeatedly, we come to have a greater expectation that they shall always be satisfied.  We are most likely to experience this type of satisfaction if we do not inquire too deeply into an event.  Scientific truth, too, depends on induction.

Many scientific truths, B, depend on long chains of reasoning and, if they are stated with all of their experimental evidence and underlying assumptions subsumed in a statement A and are couched in the form “if A then ...”, then they are true logically, provided, of course, that the logic is correct.  Nevertheless, the scientific theory is not useful (to make predictions) except in the form “B”.  (We are not satisfied with a mechanic who says, “If my theory is correct, your car will not explode (spontaneously).”)  The statement B, then, by itself (“Your car will not explode.”) is an empirical truth – not a logical truth – and must be verified.  Repeated experiments or observations (not necessarily on or of the same car, but on or of many similar cars) constitute “proof” by induction.  This procedure has made science possible and, it must be admitted, fairly successful, but it does not guarantee infallibility.  Consequently, scientific theories are overthrown regularly, although they often remain useful long after they are known to be not absolutely true, cf., Newtonian mechanics.  One supposes that no scientific theory will persist forever.  Perhaps, even science itself will pass.

Under Our Noses

Some statements, however, are easy to verify either because they are about events directly under our noses such as “the bowl is on the table”, “it is raining”, etc. or because they are reported in all of their essential aspects in a large number of places.  Examples of the latter would be the existence of a country named Iraq as discussed in the section on macrofacts.  Even in the case of mathematical truth, we like the proof to be, so to speak, under our noses.  For example, the Four-Color Theorem has been proved, but the proof involves looking at many cases.  We would welcome a short concise proof on a single sheet of paper that we could peruse in a short time with little chance of error.  For similar reasons, we believe that we can count three birds, but we are extremely skeptical about the ability of anyone to count a thousand birds accurately – or even a hundred birds in flight.

Scientific and Historical Truth

Exterior truths need to be further divided according to whether (i) the essential aspects of the event in question can be repeated in another event, as in the case of a scientific experiment that can be reproduced, or (ii) the essential aspects of the event can never be repeated, in which case they belong properly to what we call history.  Scientific and historical truths consist of the undiscovered or unknown as well as the known.  (Complete historical truth and complete scientific truth or, indeed, complete mathematical truth belong to the realm of the Ideals or the Relations.)  In “Truth and Falsehood” [18], Russell makes a good case that the verification of historical truths does not differ as much as one might imagine from the verification of scientific truths.  Both are very much like looking up a quotation in a book.

Probability, Macrofacts, and Microfacts

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  “We think we know everything.  What we actually know is almost nothing and most of that is false.”  What we know is an infinitesimal fraction of what can be known and most things cannot be known.  I would like to offer a conjecture for the consideration of the reader:  The cardinality of all that can be known is a lesser order of infinity than the cardinality of what cannot be known.

The only absolute truth (other than fictional truth) is mathematical or logical truth and that is so because mathematics is essentially self-definitional.  Most statements having truth value, i.e., being either true or false, are in the nature of conjectures.  Nevertheless, we may attach to them a probability of being true – at least roughly.  Some people believe that every statement should come with a tag that gives the probability of the statement being true according to the best lights of the statement’s author or communicator.  We do this very roughly when we precede our statements with words like presumably, plausibly, perhaps, certainly, undoubtedly, indisputably, etc.

Iraq is a country in the Middle East.  The ruler is a man called Saddam Hussein.  If I wish, I can find out if he is left-handed or right-handed.  These I term macrofacts.  They can be discovered by anyone and they may be believed without reservation.  If I am told what was said to Saddam by our ambassador, how Saddam came to power, what his intentions have been toward Saudi Arabia, I am inclined to discount what is said one-hundred percent.  These are microfacts.  They involve details that are difficult if not impossible to verify.

If you tell me that President Kennedy was killed by gunfire in 1963 while riding through the streets of Dallas in an open car and that a conspiracy is not out of the question, I believe you.  If you tell me that Lee Harvey Oswald met with Jack Ruby on such and such a date and such and such was discussed, I am very skeptical.  The first statement consists of macrofacts; the second statement consists of microfacts.

Must Be Said with a British Accent

On January 6, 1990, an all-day symposium on (or, more properly, a sales talk for) the Superconducting Super-Collider was given at Rice University.  An astrophysicist named Edward “Rocky” Kolb was discussing degrees of certainty starting with mathematical certainty and going down through well-established theory and working hypotheses down to “must be said with a British accent”.  I thought this was extremely funny because, in fact, the talking heads we hear on TV are believed more readily by the American public if they do have British accents.  Perhaps this is an example of American self-doubt if not self-loathing, but I use the term to represent the least credible statements with nonzero probability of being true.  (In a movie I saw lately on TV an Englishman attributed his success in business in Japan to his British accent.  He said that, provided one spoke with a sufficiently highbrow British accent, one was presumed to come from a “good family”.  Actually, he said, he came from an abysmal family.)  I tried without success to reach Professor Kolb to get his complete list, which was very cleverly constructed, but the point is well taken that there are some things that should not be believed at all.

Occam’s Razor

[L]et us never accept as a cause for what we do not comprehend, something else we comprehend even less. – Marquis De Sade, Juliette

In this world, we live our lives, make decisions, and form judgments in the face of uncertainty.  Outside of mathematics, we rarely know the truth with certainty.  Above we said that (perhaps) we ought to attach a probability to every statement we propound as truth.  Frequently, we are faced with the problem of the necessity to make decisions according to which of two contradictory statements is true and which is false.  If a statement and its opposite, each having a truth value, can be deduced from a set of unverifiable premises and we are faced with the necessity to make a choice between one statement and the other (a choice we would prefer to avoid), then the statement that can be deduced from the simplest set of premises is taken to be true.  This rule is known as Occam’s Razor.  Let us say that the statement based on the simplest assumptions is provisionally true.

I would like to have used the example of the statement that the earth turns on its axis and revolves around the sun as opposed to the statement that the heavens revolve around the earth, but both of these statements are equally true (unfalsifiable?).  If the heavens revolve around the earth, the planets must take epicycloidal trajectories and the motions of the so-called fixed stars become more complicated still.  Actually, if our methods for determining astronomical distances are correct, the stars must travel in excess of the speed of light, which, according to the theory of relativity, is impossible; however, in that theory, that (impossibility) is a premise and is not proved.  Thus, the Copernican statement is more convenient as a model.  I intend to use Occam’s Razor to favor scientific explanations over ecclesiastical explanations in the development of my philosophy.  This doesn’t mean that we have to believe either statement.

Let us employ Occam’s Razor to choose between the truth and falsehood of the fundamental Christian doctrines.  If Christianity be true, we must assume a virgin birth of a man who is both God and the son of God (as well as the son of Joseph, a descendent of kings), i.e., his own father.  This man rose from the dead and was correct when he said he would return to earth walking on the clouds after the stars had fallen from the sky during the lifetimes of people within sound of his voice despite the nearly indisputable fact that no one who was within the sound of his voice is now alive and these events have not occurred.  Moreover, we must assume that virgin births, avatars, resurrections, and miracles are true in the Christian context while they have been false when believed by the adherents of hundreds of other superstitious, barbaric, tribal religions, cf., The Golden Bough [19].

On the other hand, to conclude that Christianity is false, we need assume only that an itinerant preacher with moderately advanced ideas, when he began to be deified by his overzealous followers, lost his head, like so many others before and after him, and began to make extravagant claims for himself  (and, by the way, began to treat ordinary people with less than common courtesy).  Occam’s Razor disposes of Christianity rather brutally.  (My position on Christianity is in print [20,21,6] and I am reluctant to discuss it further.)

Truth about Events in Our Own Minds

As opposed to exterior truths in the sense of events outside ourselves, capable of independent verification by more than one person, we wish to distinguish truths about events in our own minds, which depend upon introspection, i.e., the correct observation of events that occur within our own minds.  These are exterior truths in the sense that our minds are not all of a piece and may observe themselves.  Unfortunately, we may not be able to convince others that we observed what we say we observed.  In fact, sometimes we lie to ourselves, but it is up to ourselves to recognize when this has been the case.  (We should not let others, particularly professional “psychologists”, decide about this for us based on some putative theory.)  To facilitate convincing myself at a later date, occasionally I insist that I say out loud what I think – perhaps even write it down and date it as I am doing here.  So, when you hear someone talking to himself, be not so quick to diagnose insanity (or what I prefer to call craziness to protest the medicalization of inappropriate behavior, i.e., the classification of “conflicts in living” as medical conditions requiring “treatment”).  [Attribution:  Thomas Szasz]

Deductions may be verified independently by anyone, therefore we shall be interested in empirical truth as it applies to the observation of events that occur in our own minds.  These events may occur as a result of an experiment, such as taking a drug, but normally science does not rely upon introspection to establish its results.  That’s too bad because millions of dollars are expended on psychological experiments to determine the truth of matters concerning which no reflective person requires evidence.  (Science is not the only road to knowledge.  Occasionally, it is invoked when other methods, e.g., introspection, would be preferable.)  Nevertheless, some events that occur in our minds can be verified independently under some circumstances.  But, even if they cannot be verified independently (by testing our behavior for accuracy and appropriateness, e.g., in an experiment), we ourselves know that they have occurred and to deny that they have occurred or to report them inaccurately is an exception to truth.  In many cases, we have formed statements, usually in the language that we speak, silently inside our heads and we know exactly what those statements have been.  They must satisfy all of the properties listed below, except verification by several independent observers, to qualify as truth.

Truth about Events in Other People’s Minds

Events in the minds of others are a subcategory of external truth.  By analogy with ourselves we may assume that statements are made in the minds of others.  Other people are true or false to their ideals as well.  We may be able to infer truth or falsehood by observing behavior.  According to Bertrand Russell [18], an event in the mind of another person may be inferred from behavior depending on the accuracy and appropriateness of the response to a given stimulus.  For example, if a tiger escapes from the zoo, the subject may flee in a direction opposite to the direction from which the tiger is coming.  One might infer that the subject sees the tiger and recognizes the danger.  Some of my readers may know the story of the hoax of the counting horse.  In a sense, the horse could observe statements in the minds of humans.  Occasionally, we feel safe in accepting another person’s account of statements that have occurred within himself.  We recognize that our position with respect to him is the mirror image of his position with respect to us and we may make some judgments by reflection.  The definition of inner truth is the same for him (or her) as it is for us.  It is difficult, however, for us to sit in judgment on the truth or falsehood of statements in other people’s minds.  We don’t even know if any particular statement exists.

The truth or falsehood of statements about what another person is thinking is one thing; whether another person’s behavior is congruent with his thoughts is another.  We would like to know whether Christian evangelists are evil or only stupid, but the question is very difficult to decide except in exceptional circumstances where, for example, we have their phones tapped or we have infiltrated their inner circles.  For all practical purposes, the difference is irrelevant, so we are content to leave the matter unknowable – even though we may entertain an opinion.  [Lately, I have agreed to take the philosophical position that these two cases shall not be distinguished.]

Metaphysical Truth

We solved the problem of metaphysical truth in Chapter 1 by reducing it to semantics.  The reader needn’t believe in the separate existence of Everything Else, but he will know what I mean when I use the term.  In particular, he will understand my particular combination of belief in God and hard agnosticism when I say that, if God exists outside the mind of man, He lives in the unknowable land of Everything Else – speaking metaphorically.

Discussion of External Truth

Let us attempt to provide a list of the attributes of both observed and derived external truths and then see to what extent these attributes apply to inner truth.  I no longer entertain much hope that these attributes will be complete, independent, and, consequently, minimal.  This is a subject that needs more thought.  For now, I can only venture a few steps in what I hope is the right direction.

Definition (External truth).  External truth shall be defined according to its properties.  Undoubtedly, the following list is incomplete.

Property 1.  External truth applies only to statements, including generalized statements in music, body language, mathematics, pictures (both moving and still), etc.; thus, it is a subcategory of language, which is assumed to be understood by induction (experience) and deduction.  All statements either have a truth value or they do not.  Truth applies only to statements that have a truth value, i.e., statements that are either true or false.  [Clearly, a large billboard with a picture of a camel smoking a cigaret makes a statement with a truth value.]

Property 2Scientific, empirical, factual true statements must have been verifiable independently by experiments or by the observations of several disinterested people.  A statement that is corroborated independently a large number of times without a contradiction arising, even though none of the corroborations by itself may be regarded as conclusive, may be accepted as true with a high probability according to the principle of induction.  A similar criterion may be applied to historical truth except that verifications are of a slightly different nature – although not as different as often supposed.

We use the predicate “must have been verifiable” in Property 2 to indicate that the circumstances under which events take place do not always admit of the desired number of independent observers.  We distinguish events that can be repeated, in all of their salient aspects, under controlled conditions, from events that have already occurred, which may not be repeated and in which we believe or do not believe.  Statements about an event witnessed by a sole observer resemble statements about events that occur within the mind of an individual even though the events are external and the statement satisfies all of the properties.  We do not rely on the truth of statements about events that have been witnessed by a single individual unless circumstances require such reliance.

Property 3.  An empirical statement must be falsifiable before a ruling can be made on its truth or falsehood; i.e., it must be possible, at least in principle, to devise an experiment that will fail if the empirical statement be false.  If the conclusion of logical deduction is claimed to apply to the universe, U, the premises must be falsifiable.  Property 4 applies to logical statements.

Property 4.  A statement is true if it can be deduced from one or more true statements employing the Rules of Inference of sentential calculus [22].  (If a false statement can be deduced from a test statement, then the test statement is false.)  If a false statement can be deduced from the negation of the test statement, then the test statement may be regarded as true.  (reductio ad absurdum)  Etc.  In mathematics, it is permissible to assume the truth of the premises to construct a theory for which the premises provide the setting, but have no concrete meaning outside the theory, e.g., a point or a line in geometry needn’t be an object that we know from experience.

(Property 5).  We would like to ask that the statement under consideration be written in a special restricted lower-order technical language such that the language in which we shall make our judgment of truth or falsehood is a higher-order metalanguage in the sense of Tarski [10].  Tarski [10] claims that he is unable to construct a method for identifying a true statement in ordinary colloquial language.  I don’t believe Tarski has proved that no such method can be constructed – ever (except for formalized languages of infinite order), but that none of the known techniques is adequate.  On the other hand, Tarski found an adequate method for statements written in a lower-order technical language like the specialized notation of Principia Mathematica [25], provided that a metalanguage be constructed for the definition, which can always be done; therefore, the usefulness of adding Property 5 is apparent.

In the interests of mathematical rigor, we would like to have our statement in a specialized technical language; but, that requirement is prohibitively restrictive for ordinary political statements, for example.  Where are we going to find a politician who understands Tarski [10]?  Or Whitehead and Russell [25]?  If the subject be sufficiently important, we should employ the technical notation of mathematical logic within a group of specialists, which may be growing; but, regrettably, we may not insist upon Property 5 in normal public discourse.  Nevertheless, let us strive to master the relevant techniques, teach them, and encourage others to learn them and teach them.  Just once, in the Supreme Court, I would like to see the proper language of formal mathematical logic applied to the discussion of the constitutionality of drug prohibition!  Can you imagine?  I would enjoy that even if it occurred in a work of fiction.

(Property 6).  We would like to exclude Occam’s Razor from our definition of truth, or refrain from employing it insofar as we are able; but, when all is said and done, we have diminished only slightly the basis for what we accept and do not accept by attaching Occam’s Razor.  What we object to is someone who spouts “truths” that have none of the above properties.  The relation of Occam’s Razor to the other properties of external truth is similar to the relation of Euclid’s axiom about parallel lines to Euclid’s other axioms.

Other Properties.  Perhaps, with a little effort, the reader can add to this list.  I haven’t tried for completeness.  In Tarski [10], Chapter VIII, Section 2, Pages 173-185, five axioms and twenty-one definitions are presented, many of which should enjoy our consideration in meeting the challenge of defining true statements.  (The indispensable general logical axioms may be found in Whitehead and Russell [25].)  Also, in [10], many mathematical statements distinguished by a name such as Convention T or a title such as theorem, definition, lemma, etc. appear in Chapter VIII, Section 3, Pages 186-209.  In fact, all of Chapter VIII is outstanding.  Only one task remains as of this writing, namely, to determine if it has been surpassed.

Inner Truth


This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

– William Shakespeare


In George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984, he introduced the term doublethink, by which he meant the ability of people to entertain simultaneously two (or more) mutually inconsistent beliefs, ideas, thoughts – all of which can be taken to be internal statements that we make to ourselves.  Whether or not this strange propensity comes from the bicameral nature of the brain is unimportant.  If a statement be recognized as a special sort of event, this is a violation of the congruence of statements with event, that is, a violation of truth.  In Chapter 8, on falsity, doublethink will be identified as one of the most pernicious types of falsity.  Indeed, materialism may be the wellspring of all social evils, but every evil act begins with the perpetrator lying to himself – probably.  Thus, Inner Truth is behind every other virtue, while everyone, it seems, lies to himself from time to time and falls short of complete inner honesty – or, as it is sometimes known, integrity.  (Perhaps, for this reason, the ideals espoused in this essay are approachable asymptotically only.)  The section on Inner Truth could end here except that I am concerned also with artistic integrity about which I would now like to include a few words written earlier.

May 15, 2005

We have all heard the line “Truth is beauty and beauty is truth”.  I believe that it has a useful meaning.  Later in this chapter, we establish the sense of aesthetics as an a priori judgment in the sense of Kant.  All we really mean is that we are born with an aesthetic sense or we acquire it so early in life that we might as well be born with it.  We do not deny that it can be cultivated (or decultivated) however.  Actually, this statement is much more than we need for this system of thought.  We need only believe that each person has a sense of aesthetics, more or less developed, and is aware of it.  When one’s behavior is congruent with one’s aesthetic sense insofar as it is consistent with the Freedom Axiom, this person is expressing a truth in the sense of “fidelity to a standard”.  However, for the sake of unity, we have agreed to consider the aesthetic sense as a series of events (perhaps a single event) occurring in a person’s mind and the corresponding behavior as a series of statements (or a single statement).  Thus, we may retain the original sense of truth as the congruence of statements with events.

The reference to the Freedom Axiom is to prevent the reader from falling into the error of supposing that we intend to denigrate people, animals, or plants not possessed of great personal beauty.  Probably, most components of such personal physical beauty are illusions resulting from extensive negative acculturation.  We are so indoctrinated by the media that we hardly know what we are looking at when we contemplate the beauty of other human beings.  Frequently we confuse glamour with beauty.

In an amusing experiment [attribution forgotten], a larger and larger number of pictures of women’s faces were “averaged” by a computer to produce composite photos.  These composite photos were then rated as to beauty by a group of subjects (men).  Amazingly, the greater the number of individual photographs that were averaged, in a definite way, to obtain the composite photo, the more beautiful was judged the composite.  The inescapable conclusion is that what men frequently mistake for beauty in women is averageness!  Unfortunately, I have lost the documentation for this experiment; but, like other scientific truths, it can be verified by another experiment.  [Note in proof 9-21-95:  Recently I heard that this theory had been falsified and therefore must be rejected.  Of course the falsifier might be wrong.]  In any case, we must be very careful of the effect of our assessment of the beauty of animals, plants and, especially, humans; however, in this development, we are concerned primarily with the beauty of other things.

The media concept of personal beauty has been carried to the extreme of great personal inconvenience to myself.  Whenever I view a movie or television drama, which, if it were produced later than about 1970, when money established itself as the official god of America or, perhaps, the entire world (nearly), I must rely on the superior visual perception of my wife to identify the characters.  “Is this the wife or the sister?”, I might ask.  Does anyone else have this problem?

Now, in architecture we recognize beautiful buildings and ugly buildings, but not every beautiful building looks like the Empire State Building or the Taj Mahal.  I think this is a good analogy.  When negative acculturation by the media to sell beer, say, disappears – because we have abandoned the profit motive, the class of beautiful men and women will include all sizes, shapes, and other characteristics.  Probably, inner beauty will shine through, which, to continue the architectural analogy, represents the conception of the creative artist responsible – even if it be “merely” a principle.

Clearly, I should extend the definition of inner truth to include all sorts of personal standards and thoughts, particularly those of a philosophical or religious nature.

Definition (Inner Truth).  Inner truth shall be taken to be not only the congruence of one’s inner statements with each other but fidelity of one’s behavior, as described and delimited above, to one’s aesthetic standards and to one’s personal moral standards and to other philosophical, political, and artistic commitments.  If our personal aesthetic, moral, and other standards, in fact everything we think, are taken to be events and our behavior is taken to be a statement or a collection of statements, we can recover the original definition that truth is the congruence of statements with events.

Comment (on precedence).  Fidelity to one’s aesthetic standards is not a moral – in this system – until it becomes truth as defined here.  Once truth is defined and the moral axiom concerning respect for truth is enunciated, then inner truth can be asked to bear the additional burden of fidelity to one’s moral standards.  This minor technical issue of precedence is of no importance and could be gotten around by adding more technical jargon, but it isn’t worth the trouble.

Additional Discussion for the Mathematically Inclined

Most readers may skip this section without undue cost.  They might just as well assume that they have a pretty good intuitive idea about what a true statement is and they can recognize a false statement in most cases, especially if it is pointed out to them.  The funny thing about truth is that we all do in fact have a pretty decent intuitive notion of what it is.  We all know what is meant by “It is raining” and can look out the window and see for ourselves if that is the case.  But, to define a true statement to the satisfaction of a twentieth century logician is likely to be an unrewarding task.  Consider the following:

Tarski’s Conjecture [1]:  The definition of a true statement cannot be constructed in the (formalized) language in which the sentence occurs.  In particular, it will never be possible to define a true sentence in ordinary colloquial language.

Proof:  None.

Plausibility argument:  All known methods for defining a true statement in the (formalized) language in which the sentence occurs have failed.  (Defining a true statement is logically equivalent to identifying a true statement.)

[Note.  It has been proved that it is impossible to construct a definition of a true statement in a formalized language of infinite order.]


Previously, we asserted that we consider Existence (the World, W, in the large sense) to be divided into (1) the Universe, U, with three space-like dimensions and one time-like dimension (and, perhaps, a few extra (compact) dimensions to account for the fundamental forces), (2) Mind, M, which may or may not intersect the universe to an undetermined extent, (3) the Ideals, I, which contains among other (incorporeal) things the complete and perfect Euclidean geometry replete with all of its theorems and proofs and with nothing missing or corrupted, (4) the Relations, R, (the relations among all things everywhere and, perhaps, for all time) and (5) Everything Else, EE, about which I have nothing to say except that it could be anything or nothing.  Also, I have no idea whether all of the past and future of the Universe exists or not.  This was illustrated in Fig. 1-1 and discussed briefly in Chapter 1.


Let us explore further the components of the statement, “Truth is the congruence of statements with events.”  What is an event?  In the universe of space and time, an event is a point set.  For example, a baseball is thrown from the pitcher’s mound to home plate at the Astrodome.  We are free to take the event to be the space and time occupied by the ball from the time the pitcher “comes set” until the catcher feels the ball strike his mitt.  We can take ancillary activities to be part of the event if we wish.  We can define the event to be all of the space within the convex hull of the Astrodome over the corresponding period of time.  This is a larger point set in four-dimensional Minkowski space.

Clearly, such an event generates an infinite number of relations that exist in R, our symbol for the Relations, a subset of Existence.  The Relations, unlike the Ideals, continue to be created in time.  The current distance from the end of my nose to the source of the Nile is a relation.  So are the similarities and differences between my philosophy of ethics and that of the Stoics.

[Note in proof (7-9-97).  Regarding “the congruence of statements with events”, events are composed of phenomena, which are presented to our senses as surrogates for the noumena or “things in themselves” of which we have no knowledge.  In the following discussion, we accept the phenomena as actual events.  Truth, then, applies to phenomena.]

We would like to define events outside the Universe or in the intersection or union of the Universe with Mind, the Ideals, the Relations, and Everything Else.  Therefore, we allow that events in the mind occupy space, although perhaps not measurable space, and they certainly occupy time.  (It will be unnecessary to justify, in this exposition, the notion that thoughts, for example, occupy some type of space in the mind.)

Events in the realm of the Ideals are incorporeal objects with an existence completely invariant with respect to time.  Thus, we use ‘event’ in a generalized sense in this space.  But, the difference between a point set in some sort of generalized (topological?) space and the Cartesian product of such a space with the time line is of little concern to the logician.  Therefore, Euclidean geometry can be taken to be an event just as the number one can be taken to be an event or the perfect curve ball to a left-handed batter can be taken to be an event even though it is only an Ideal.  (Please note that the ideal curve ball (a pitch in the game of baseball) does not occupy time even though its “real” counterparts do.  As stated above, its actual counterparts generate an infinite number of relations in R.)  We can discuss it, say true and false things about it, and, in fact, make discoveries about it.  We may refer to events outside the part of Existence known to ourselves, but we cannot say much about them.  Probably, though, they are not described in a book such as the Bible or in the cosmology of any religion.  These descriptions are myths and, in some cases, are beautiful myths that do no harm unless they are taken to be true!


What a Statement Is from the Existential Viewpoint

Statements, including generalized statements, e.g., Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and compound-complex statements, e.g., Newtonian mechanics, map mental images of events, i.e., point sets in space-time, as in special relativity, into minds capable of imagining similar events in the reader’s own conception of the proper setting for the events, normally the Universe, in any case, the World or some part of it, e.g., a subset of the Ideals, wherein lies (miraculously) all of differential geometry, or (merely) a particular incompressible viscous fluid.  (Although no such real fluid exists (in U), this particular fluid is an idealization (in I) that approximates the behavior of many real fluids well enough for most practical purposes.  Without such idealizations science would be severely handicapped.)

For the sake of simplicity, we are considering only written statements that will be read by someone other than the author at a later time.  (Other types of statements can be handled similarly with little difficulty.)  We need to look at such statements from three distinct viewpoints.  We may call the first viewpoint the existential viewpoint.  At the outset, we must agree that the typographical marks “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” on p. 7 of my copy of the King James Bible do not by themselves constitute the statement in quotes.  The statement is at least the equivalence class of all such typographical marks whether they be Times Roman or Helvetica, whether they be 8-point or 10-point, whether they be in one copy of the Bible or another.  These equivalence classes are the statements from the existential viewpoint.

What a Statement Is from the Functional Viewpoint

But, further, the truth of the statement may depend on whether or not the statement be lifted from this equivalence class of typographical marks to the point in time and space when and where the first member of the class was placed on the printed page for the first time by its author.  This process of lifting is a very important part of what I mean by a statement.  I wish to give a trivial example.  Suppose an author writes, “It is March 23, 1934.  I am in Detroit, a city in Michigan, and it is snowing.”  This statement most assuredly does not mean that today is March 23rd, 1934, and that the author is in Detroit and that it is snowing.  The statement is taken to be true or false at the time and place when and where it was written and that is the time and place when and where we take it to have meaning.  If the statement be true, independently of time and place, the lifting process will do no harm.  It would simply remind the reader when and where the statement was written if it were carried out even unnecessarily.

Sometimes a lifted statement must be re-embedded in time and space to have its proper meaning.  An example is the case of the sign that says, “You are here.”  What happens to the truth value of that statement when I walk away from the spot where I read it?  If I re-embed the statement, nothing.  If not, it becomes nonsense.  In this case, the statement is lifted from the equivalence class of all such typographical marks and re-embedded in the time and place when and where it is being read.

Thus, a statement must be looked at from the functional viewpoint, in which case it carries along with it its writer, its reader, and the event toward which the statement points.  The truth or falsehood of the statement may depend upon the positions in time and space of the statement (from the existential viewpoint), of the writer, of the reader, and of the event.  To generalize (from the written statement) slightly, a clock in a photograph of a clock is interpreted to tell the truth only at the time the photograph was ‘taken’ (neglecting time of exposure).  How many times have we seen a sign in the window of a closed restaurant that says “OPEN”!

The Purpose of a Statement

The purpose of a statement is to transfer a mapping of an event from one mind to another.  Clearly, if I wish to describe an event to you, I cannot produce a motion picture of the event that will play inside your head.  Even if I could, you would have witnessed only a facsimile of the event – not the event itself.  Even the witnessing of an event constitutes a mapping of one view of the event into one’s mind.  Normally, statements do much less.  They transfer a corrupted and incomplete facsimile of a viewpoint of the event from one mind into another mind or into the same mind at a later time.  We shall refer to this as a mapping of the event.  The truth or falsehood of the statement depends on how closely the event in the reader’s mind, say, projected into the reader’s perception of reality, which we agree is the same reality of which the writer has a conception, corresponds to the actual event in reality.  What is close enough under some circumstances is not close enough under others, therefore truth and falsehood depend on context.  We shall make this abundantly clear by examples – hopefully, in such a way that objections amount to mere quibbles.  Let us employ the diagram shown in Fig. 3-2 on the next page.

Analysis of  Statements Using a Model Inspired by Mathematical Categories and Functors

Figure 3.2 is supposed to be taken as a mathematical representation of what occurs when a true statement is understood and interpreted properly by a reader.  All of the processes represented by arrows labeled by numbers in circles are assumed to have taken place correctly.  Arrow 1 represents the intake of sensual data in which an image of part of reality is transferred to the mind of the writer, X.  The process begins with light striking the retina of the writer.  Eventually, an image is stored in X’s brain.  This data is processed in the mind of the perceiver, X.  For example, a part of his mind operates on the incoming signal and determines what part of it to process further.  Anyone who has taken peyote or one of a number of similar drugs knows to what extent Mr. Huxley was correct in naming his book The Doors of Perception [23].  What we choose to see and how we see it is determined to an amazing degree by ourselves.  Most of us could not tolerate unfiltered perception for long.

Every element in the image in the perceiver’s mind corresponds to an element of reality, but not every element of reality ends up mapped into the perceiver’s mind.  Hence we represent perception as a surjection f(ex(E)), a morphism whose domain is part of the writer’s perception of reality and whose range is all of the perception of the phenomenon in the writer’s mind.  The mathematical object ex(E) is the image in the brain of the writer, X, of the event, E, from X’s viewpoint.  The surjection f(ex(E)) maps an image in the brain onto mx(eX(E)), which is X’s mental image, mx, of the event, E, from his viewpoint.  This all occurs in the Category P, of minds, brains, and events.  Thus, mx(ex(E)) = f(ex(E)).

Figure 3-2.  Definition of a true statement from a pseudo-functorial viewpoint

 [Note.  Since we have mentioned peyote, the skeptical reader may argue that the perceiver might be hallucinating and Arrow 1 is not a true surjection.  Let us exclude that possibility in our discussion and finesse the question of whether or not hallucinations are “real”.  I have a genuine bias when it comes to the notion that psychiatrists have anything to treat.  I question the notion of mental illness and I abhor the medicalization of every deviation from “normal behavior”.]

Arrow 2 represents the imagination of the reader, Y.  He reads a statement, for example, and he projects the image that appears in his mind into (hence injection) Existence as he perceives it.  This all happens in the Category I, principally of imagination.  We conceive of imagination, then, as a mapping of an image in the mind into reality.  Although the reality where the mapping ends up is the reader’s conception of reality, it is a conception of the same reality perceived by the writer.  The injective morphism is g(cy(E)), where cx(E) is Y’s conception of the event, E, obtained by reading the statement.  It maps this conception of E into iy(E), the way in which Y, the reader, imagines the content of the statement about E in its appropriate setting, e.g., the Universe or the Ideals, for example.  If we may generalize our usage slightly, the statement is a functor, F, mapping perception into imagination.  Thus, g(cy(E)) = iy(E).

Since every element mapped by the reader into his conception of reality originates from a unique element in the reader’s mental image of the content of the statement, the (left) inverse map of Arrow 2, gL-1 is well-defined on the relevant part of the reader’s conception of reality.  The statement (essentially, but not precisely) maps the author’s perception into the (left) inverse of the reader’s imagination (Arrow 3).  (See equation below.)  It maps (Arrow 4) the image in the mind of the writer (a point set in his mental space) into a point set in the mental space of the reader, one dimension of which is time.  Also, the statement maps the event in reality perceived by the writer into the event in reality imagined by the reader (Arrow 5).  Arrows 3, 4, and 5 comprise the statement from the pseudo-functorial view.  Arrow 3:  F(f(ex(E)) = gL-1(iy(E)).  Arrow 4:  F(mx(ex(E))) = cy(E).  Arrow 5:  F(ex(E)) = iy(E).  We may represent the pseudo-functor F as a function of three variables:

The success of this process is determined by Arrow 6, P(iy(E)) → ex(E), which is not part of the functor.  If the mapping P, for pointer, points toward reality in the sense of Russell [18]; and, the correspondence, element-by-element, is close enough (which almost always depends on context and circumstances, especially usefulness to the reader), we say that the statement is true.  If Arrow 6 points away from reality and the reader is not at fault, we say the statement is false.  If the reader reads badly, the arrow may point away from reality even though the statement would have been true otherwise.  The problem, then, is to determine whose fault it has been when Arrow 6 points in the wrong direction.  That is why Arrow 6 cannot be said to be a proper part of the statement.  In many cases, particularly in modern advertising, the writer has deliberately set a trap for the reader to ensure that the arrow will point in the wrong direction.  Of course, the writer has had to make a judgment about how well the reader will read.  He aims his statement at the bad reader with the intention to deceive him.  This is falsity and the statement might just as well have been an outright lie from the functorial point of view.

Unfortunately, the notion of intent enters the disquisition.  We have already stated that the circumstances under which we can be certain of intent are rarely encountered.  The notions of accuracy and appropriateness of the response of a large number of subjects might aid in an inductive proof of malicious intent; however, it is safer philosophically to reject distinctions between wickedness and incompetence (stupidity), which, to the phenomenologist, are indistinguishable anyway.  (Phenomenologists consider information that does not come from the direct experience of phenomena less useful than experiential knowledge.  Scientists are phenomenologists.)  Obviously, we cannot experience the mental state of another person.  But, when we are experiencing intense pain or grief the unknown cause of which is the wickedness or stupidity of someone, the possibility that the agent of our misery is an idiot offers little consolation or none.  If we are given to blame, we are just as happy to blame the moron as the villain.

Drawbacks of this Approach

Regrettably, a little cloud casts its shadow over our mathematical landscape.  The expert at category theory will note immediately that our categories and our functor do not satisfy the conditions of that theory exactly.  See Hungerford [17].  The surjections and injections do not satisfy the associative condition because the events are distinct from the other objects in the pseudo-categories.  Our use of the term functor should be taken to be an approximate analogy borrowed for our purposes for lack of a better term.  Nevertheless, there must be dozens of decent formulations of models of communication among intelligent beings that employ functors and category theory more or less properly.  I shall present my latest efforts, for whatever they’re worth, in the next section.  [Tarski [10] uses the term functor, too, but in a manner quite distinct from its use in classical category theory – as far as I can tell.]

Second Approach

Let us consider an extremely simple scheme for determining in an impossible thought experiment when a statement is true.  This scheme will be diagrammed in Fig. 3-3, however the arrows will not be explained.  The objects in Category E are writers and readers who have witnessed (or not) a particular external event E.  Let the writer be X and the reader Y.  Let us assume that the writer, X, has witnessed the event and, to gratify ourselves, will write a statement about what he saw to be read subsequently by the reader, Y.  Now, here’s the thing:  In Category E, the morphisms, fi , i = 1,2,3,…, are the transformation of one person into another bijectively.  That is, anyone can become anyone else, by executing fk, say, as in the commonplace saying, “If I were you, ...”; and, whenever he wishes, he can transform back into himself by executing fk-1.  Naturally, while Y is X, he can see whatever X would have seen had not Y been mapped into him.

The functor P will map within individual minds visual images, say, of a particular external event E into conceptions of E.  The functor P is essentially what we mean by perception.  Let g[Cx(E)] be the simple associative surjective morphism that amounts to no more than X, the writer, providing Y, the reader, with a written account of the event E.

Then, the functor P maps, in addition, the extremely awkward morphism f-1(X) into the extremely convenient morphism g(Cx(E)).  The written statement g maps the percept Cx(E) = P(Vx(E)), which is the writer’s perception of his own visual image of the event E, into Cy(E) = g[P(Vx(E))], the reader’s conception of the statement g.

Figure 3-3.  Second approach to the definition of a true statement

To determine the success of the communication (or if the statement be at all true), we consider a surrogate for Cy(E), namely,


This is the conception Y would have had of the event E if he had been X when X acquired his visual image of E, which was then perceived by Y.  If  Cy*(E) is very close to Cy(E), it is difficult to see how a statement could do better.  Obviously, writing is easier and a lot more fun than having oneself changed into someone else – even if we were permitted to disregard the impossibility of doing so.  Then, if X’s perception be correct and X’s statement to Y be true, the condition of Y’s mind is close enough to what it would have been if Y had become X.  What we mean by “close enough” was discussed in connection with Arrow 6, above.  Between the virtually absolute truth, when Cy* = Cy(E), and absolute falsehood, diametrically opposed to the event E witnessed by X, we can expect every gradation of verity and falsity.  What is true enough for one person is a dirty lie for another – depending upon context, circumstances, and personal need.  Only in mathematics, logic, fiction (and occasionally elsewhere) do we have a clear choice between true and false.

The inverse of the functor P is the process of imagination that the reader Y employs to visualize the image the writer X is trying to convey.  In this model of written communication, the imagination of the reader is not part of the written statement, which seems fair enough, as it is not the writer’s fault if the communication fails due to the reader’s lack of imagination.

Third Approach

This approach involves four categories each of which is simpler than those previously presented.  The first Category W consists of various phenomena q, r, s, ... spawned by a distinguished event, E, say.  The surjective morphism f maps deeper (further removed from human perception) phenomena into more readily observable phenomena, which some people take to be the objects that are explained by the deeper (and less apparent) phenomena, for example, q could be the events associated with the collision of two neutrons under extremely high-impact energy, and r could be a photograph of a vapor trail in a cloud chamber that recorded a small portion of what occurred.  The surjection f is a partial explanation of q.

The functor P maps Category W into Category M, the objects of which are various mental states of the mind of the writer, X, an eye-witness (or very nearly) of the phenomena.  The functor P maps q onto P(q), X’s perception of the phenomenon q from his viewpoint.  Likewise, for r.  Finally, since g is an injection of P(r) into P(q), it is like an explanation of r in the manner according to which we usually explain the more perceivable events with “myths” about the underlying barely knowable phenomena P(f(q)) = gL-1(P(q)).  This is more like a description of how q occurred.  Since g is an injection, it is (left) invertible on its range.

The objects in Category R are conceptions of the meaning of the statement S in the mind of the reader, Y, or, at least, conceptions that arose because of reading the statement, if we wish to leave ‘meaning’ out of it.  The surjection h maps Cy(P(q)) onto Cy(P(r)), i.e., h(Cy(P(q))) = Cy(P(r)).  The functor S maps P(q) onto Cy(P(q)).  Also, S(P(r)) = Cy(P(r)).  Finally, S(gL-1(P(q))) = h(Cy(P(q))).  The functor S is the statement.  Whether or not it be true and understood depends upon the resemblance of q*, f*, and r*, described below, to q, f, and r, which can vary from (nearly) the identity to (nearly) the opposite, i.e., a perfect misrepresentation.

Figure 3-4.  Third approach to the definition of a true statement

The objects of the fourth category,  Category W*, are the phenomena perceived by X projected by Y’s imagination into his (Y’s) conception of the world, W*.  These are Iy(Cy(P(q))), etc., which have been simplified already.  Let us simplify further and call them simply q*, r*, etc.  The imagined projection of the morphism  f will be called f*.  It maps q* onto  r*.  The functor I, between R and W*, maps Cy(P(q)) onto q*; Cy(P(r))  onto r*, and h(Cy(P(q))) onto f*(q*).

Fourth Approach

Finally, we can simplify the third approach by simplifying the categories to categories each containing one object (only), such that the sole morphism is the identity.  Let Category W have one phenomenon, call it q.  Category M has only X’s perception P(q).  Category R has Y’s conception of what the statement S means, namely, Cy(P(q)).  The functors P , S (the statement), and I map q to P(q) to Cy(P(q)) to q*.  The statement S is successful if q* resembles q.

Examples of Failed Communications, Usually Purposely Deceptive

Herman Melville in his famous masterpiece The Confidence Man produces hundreds of statements that are intentionally designed so that Arrow 6 will point the wrong way.  The reader soon discovers that he himself, rather than a character in the book, is the “mark”.  (A mark is the victim of a confidence man’s schemes, i.e., the person swindled.)

In the unfortunate case where one watches TV (perhaps because he is an incurable baseball fan), it is advisable to take notes while watching and keep track of all of the falsity one encounters.  The other day I saw an ad in which the viewer is told (by implication) that he (or she) ought to patronize an auto parts company because it doesn’t put on sales and, after all, auto parts companies that do have sales probably won’t have the part you want on sale anyway.  This points away from the fact that the prices at the store being advertised are not lower than prices elsewhere.

You receive a postcard that says you have already won one of five prizes.  The image of the least valuable prize that pops into your head is worth many times the prize the swindler intends to “give” after you have paid shipping and handling, say, that costs far more than what the “prize” is worth.  The correspondence in its essential elements is not close enough to consider the swindler’s statement true – although a machine that can parse English sentences might deem the statement congruent with an accurate statement of the actual case.  That is, the swindler might escape jail because, in a dictionary sense, what he says is strictly true, but he has conspired to make Arrow 6 point in the wrong direction, namely, at something quite different from what the mark imagined.  In my essay on television in Vol. III of my collected essays [18a], I shall give a large number of examples of this form of falsity, including statements made by some of the most highly respected organizations in the world, i.e., respected by some.

In a lighter vein, the King in “The Lion and the Unicorn” in Through the Looking Glass [24] abuses truth in a humorous way.  He exclaims, “There’s nothing like eating hay when you’re faint.”  When Alice suggests that throwing water over oneself or taking (sniffing) sal volatile (smelling salts) would be better, he insists that he didn’t say there was nothing better than eating hay, only that there was nothing like eating hay.  The King, of course, is being silly; but, if he were serious, we should accuse him of intentionally deceiving us because, in colloquial speech, when we say “nothing like” we mean “nothing better”.  He knows this as well as we do and ought to understand that we will take “nothing like” to mean “nothing better”.

Here’s a trick that illustrates how we may confuse our listener.  (I stray from our specialization to the printed word.)  Sitting in the cafeteria of a famous university with a famous philosopher, looking across the East River, I ask, “Which of those three smokestacks are farthest apart?  Without hesitation, he answers, “The two on the left.”  (He may have said “right”, but that’s irrelevant.)  “What about the two on the ends?”, say I.  He has been had.  Naturally, he supposed I have asked him to make a judgment and, since the three smokestacks do not appear to be evenly spaced, he assumed I was asking him to make a judgment about their spacing.  That’s a fair assumption.  What is fair to assume does not correspond to the accurate parsing of the sentence.  As a joke this is fine.  It would be immoral to place a money bet on his answer – according to my moral system, which I claim is complete and the best one can do.  I await the reader’s criticism.

I can’t resist giving you one more example:  I shall tell two stories – one true, the other false.  Remember, these are normally given orally, so don’t “study” the versions.  Just read quickly out loud and make your choice.  Please decide which is which without looking at the text after the first reading and before I reveal the answer in the last paragraph of the main part of this chapter (not the appendix).  Here goes:

1.         There’s a little town in Iowa.  The main street is a continuation of the state highway.  At one end of the main street there’s a fire station.  Across the street from the fire station there’s a general store.  In front of the general store there’s a big wooden block.  On top of the big wooden block there’s a big wooden Indian.  Whenever the firebell rings the big wooden Indian jumps down off the big wooden block and chases the fire engine.

2.         There’s a little town in Iowa.  The main street is a continuation of the state highway.  At one end of the main street there’s a fire station.  Across the street from the fire station there’s a general store.  In front of the general store there’s a big wooden block.  On top of the big wooden block there’s a big wooden Indian.  Whenever the big wooden Indian hears the firebell he jumps down off the big wooden block and chases the fire engine.  Remember, don’t look at either version again until you decide.  I’m afraid it’s too easy.

Tarski’s Theory of True Statements

The White Knight’s story in Through the Looking Glass [24] may be useful to understand Tarski’s arguments.  (It helped me understand computers!)

“··· The name of the song is called ‘Haddock’s Eyes.’ ”

“Oh, that’s the name of the song is it?” Alice said, trying to feel interested.

“No, you don’t understand,” the Knight said, looking a little vexed.  “That’s what the name is called.  The name really is ‘The Aged Aged Man.’ ”

“Then I ought to have said, ‘That’s what the song is called’?” Alice corrected herself.

“No, you oughtn’t:  that’s another thing.  The song is called ‘Ways and Means’: but that’s only what it’s called, you know!”

“Well, what is the song, then?” said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.

“I was coming to that,” the Knight said.  “The song really is ‘A-sitting on a Gate’: and the tune’s my own invention.”

In computer programming one must distinguish carefully among the following objects: (i) a datum (a number, say), (ii) the address of the datum, (iii) the name of the datum, and (iv) the address of the name.  For example, X = 255; 255 is stored in location 1025 in RAM; 255 is called X, in our case because that is its name (no subtle knightly distinctions between names and what things are called for us); the name X is stored in its own location in RAM with its own address – 2049, say.  The name of the datum may appear in a number of places.  For that matter, so may the datum.  So, it’s no good saying that it is a truism that every object can be in only one place at a time.  (OK, you wish to quibble?  The symbols “2”, “5”, and “5” are only the components of my name for the representation of the datum.  This representation is the binary number 11111111, but the actual representation is a sequence of charged electronic devices, each capable of designating one bit.  The datum itself is an abstraction.  It is an equivalence class dwelling in the Realm of Ideals.  One can really appreciate the difficulty Tarski is concerned with in defining a true statement in colloquial language.  Look at the difficulty I’m having here.  It’s conceivable that we could make things worse by trying to be too accurate.  There is something to be said for leaving a statement alone when the reader gets the point.)  The point is that things have to be kept separate from their names.

In symbolic logic, statements are given names.  In every case, they can be given names that are the statements themselves in quotation marks; i.e., the name of the sentence It is snowing is “It is snowing”.  These are called quotation-mark names!  In the example below the same sentence is given three names: (i) c, (ii) “c is not a true sentence”, and (iii) the sentence set off by asterisks.  Obviously, it is important to distinguish a statement from a name of a statement.  In the case of (ii) above, the name of the sentence contains another name of the sentence.  Also, the name contains the sentence itself.

Tarski [10] has explored thoroughly the possibility of defining rigorously the concept of a true statement.  Tarski has successfully defined a true statement within the narrow bounds of a specialized logical language – such as the language of Russell and Whitehead [25].  On the other hand, he has more or less proved that a true statement cannot be defined within the context of ordinary colloquial language.  (What he actually showed was that all of the techniques that have been employed so far to define a true statement in ordinary colloquial language have been unsuccessful.  He didn’t show that no technique can ever be found.)  The machinery required to give the proof is beyond the scope of this discussion – and we really don’t need it.  Most of the counterexamples he chooses are quite pathological and of no genuine practical interest.  For example, suppose we name the sentence set off by triple asterisks just below as the sentence c, i.e., c is the name of the sentence set off by asterisks.

*** c is not a true sentence ***

We notice two facts:  (1) “c is not a true sentence” is identical with c, i.e., “c is not a true sentence” = c = the sentence set off by asterisks, and (2) “c is not a true sentence” is a true sentence if and only if c is not a true sentence.  (1) and (2) taken together give the contradiction that c is a true sentence if and only if c is not a true sentence.

According to Tarski, the difficulty arises because the sentence c contains the words “true sentence”.  (In my naiveté, I would guess that the paradox occurs because the sentence refers to itself by name.)  Perhaps this is analogous to Russell’s famous paradox [26] concerning the set of all ordinary sets.  Russell’s paradox can be avoided by defining classes first then defining sets in terms of classes – but more restrictively.  This has been done at the beginning of the book on algebra by Hungerford [17].  I do not believe it will present a serious difficulty for my theory.  I am encouraged in this belief by two observations:

1.         Basically, everyone knows intuitively what a true statement is.  I realize this is a dangerous assumption.

2.         But, in this essay, we shall rely mainly on macrofacts, which are easily verified, as opposed to microfacts – as discussed previously.

In point of fact, we are most often concerned with statements that are false.  Obviously, whatever technical difficulties lie in assigning truth to statements having truth value are shared by the problem of falsehood.  But, in the normal case, the difficulties do not arise.  Although it may be difficult to define rigorously a true statement, no such difficulties exist in the case of falsehood – at least in the case of the falsehoods in which we shall be interested.  “Falsehood is so unexacting, [it] needs so little help to make itself manifest!” [Proust]  This shall be expanded upon, mostly by example, in the chapter on falsity.  I realize that I may be skating on thin ice here.  With about two more years of study either (i) I would feel more confident thinking about mathematical logic or (ii) I would avoid it like the plague.  Many a vessel more seaworthy than mine has come to grief on the rocky shores of mathematical logic.

The Statement of the Truth Axiom

Axiom 3 (The Truth Axiom).  Every person shall promote the truth, the whole truth, and (in the class of statements that possess truth value) nothing but the truth.  Truth shall be exalted to the greatest extent possible – to such a great extent, in fact, that it must be withheld from those in authority, who are unworthy of it.  (We don’t expect a member of the French underground to tell the truth to the Gestapo!)

Justifying the Truth Axiom According to the Three Criteria


“Truth is beauty and beauty truth.”  We all love the truth because of its beauty.  This is what drives (or used to drive) scientists, probably more than curiosity.  In fact, it is probably safe to say that the aesthetic pleasure derived from watching the truth, new truth, unfold gradually is an important component of what we call scientific curiosity, which I have tried to make clear in my essay “On Honor in Science”.


Truth is at the heart of reasonableness.  Reasonableness is our first criterion for assessing truth.  If a statement fails the test of reasonableness, we will require some powerful logic to overwhelm our objections, and yet, for many readers, many of the ideas presented in this essay will strain the sense of what is reasonable.  I maintain that such readers aren’t looking at things the right way and, as soon as they shake off old untrue prejudices, they will see that these ideas are entirely reasonable.


Finally, truth meets the test of utility.  Imagine a world where no one could depend on the truth of any statement.  That should not be difficult to do.  We have very nearly achieved it.  When my doctor tells me I have such and such wrong with me and I require such and such treatment, I must believe that what he tells me is true or seek a second opinion.  The mere suggestion that I cannot believe my doctor or my dentist is horrifying.  I would like to believe my auto mechanic too, and, in fact, I do, but mainly because I know him and I know my car.  Truth is useful and falsehood is damned inconvenient, to say the least.

[Note in Proof (7-28-96).  When I wrote the earlier drafts of this chapter it did not occur to me that truth needed an elaborate defense.  I imagined that nearly all reasonable people saw that, at least among friends and colleagues (but not between ourselves and our enemies), truth needed no defense.  I knew that business, especially the sales and marketing aspect of business, embraced falsity, but I supposed that even they knew that what they were doing was immoral and harmful.  Lately, I have observed a disturbing trend and, perhaps, I am the last to notice it.  Social activists and other so-called world betterers are beginning to adopt the techniques of business, government, and politics to achieve what they still believe are desirable ends; i.e., they are employing deception, half-truths, hidden agendas, equivocation, double meanings, and specious reasoning to influence people whom they would someday like to consider friends and allies.  (It would be a different story if they were hoodwinking their sworn enemies, the enemies of society – hopefully.)  I believe this is wrong and harmful.  Clearly, it is a violation of the Truth Axiom and, therefore, a violation of the morals proposed by me.

Remember that we said that relatedness was a requirement for happiness.  Clearly, it is important to have a good relationship with people you wish to include in your expanded family of man – your friends and allies and those who will become your friends and allies if you can convince them that you are part of the solution to their problems or the problems of others that they wish to correct, e.g., starvation in the Third World.  How can you have a good relationship with people you lie to or upon whom you practice falsity to gain their confidence?  What will they take you for?  What should they take you for?  Just another phony who wishes to exploit them for his own personal gain.  Can you blame them?  Is it not essential to establish a relationship of complete trust with all such people and how can that be accomplished except through uncompromised truthfulness!  Please keep this in mind when I discuss the harm done by falsity in Chapter 8 and social change in Chapter 12.  Unexpectedly, this has turned out to be a pivotal point in advancing this theory.  Lately, I have been vilified for speaking the truth (within the drug policy community).  Moreover, my detractors are terrified that I will speak the truth in public.  They have said as much using precisely those terms!]

Immediate Corollaries of the Truth Axiom

I am tempted to take another crack at absolutist religionists here, who purvey a brand of nonsense that they try to pass off as truth whether it contains an element of truth or not, but I have devoted an entire essay to them in my collected papers [6], which was published also by some friends [21].  This essay, “On the Separation of the State from the Christian Church and the Case Against Christianity”, concentrates on the only religion I know well as I am a former believer.  Actually, my philosophy is derived from Christianity.  Naturally, I consider my philosophy a vast improvement (but not the last word).

Note.  We need to say a word about nosiness and the invasion of privacy, which should not be encouraged by virtue of their compatibility with the Truth Axiom.  A judgment about the importance of a piece of information or the suitability of its transfer has a truth value too.

Corollary 6.  To represent something as something that it is not is immoral except in the context of a proper game or in one’s dealings with authority.  (I do not mean to disparage the play-action pass, a deceptive maneuver that belongs to the popular American game football.)

Corollary 7.  One’s behavior must be congruent with one’s moral, political, religious, philosophical, and artistic values, in short, everything one thinks.

Example.  When a musician, for example, performs a given piece of music, in addition to the statements in the language of music that are rendered thereby, the musician is making a statement about his aesthetic judgment, presumably that he approves of this piece of music.  Now the musician knows whether he (or she) approves of this piece of music or not, but we don’t.  We interpret the playing of a piece of music of which the musician approves as truth and the playing of a piece of music of which the musician does not approve as falsehood, which can be remedied only partially by a plain announcement of disapproval both before and after the rendition.  This renders a lie true only in a limited sense.  Can you imagine Lawrence Welk’s entire band standing up before the first piece is played to announce that they don’t approve of the style in which they are about to play; but, if that’s what the audience wants, well, they’ve got to eat!  Actually, L.W.’s band was interviewed by one of the popular music magazines years ago and, according to the interview, they didn’t approve of Welk’s music.  (Shakespeare announced pointedly that he did not approve of what he was writing in the title to As You Like It.)

Example.  While there is no accounting for taste, it would be a violation of Corollary 7 deliberately to promulgate ugliness for some ulterior motive such as to gain the sympathy of persons whose taste is less developed than one’s own, as one might do to sell a product, particularly if that product were a work of “art” or a form of entertainment.  Also, in the selection of alternatives in the exposition of science, mathematics, and logic, this corollary should be observed.

Concrete Example.  The promotion of inferior popular music, music that the promoter or artist finds repulsive, is immoral.

Corollary 8.  Each person shall follow his or her innermost feelings and the dictates of his or her own heart.

Corollary 9 (The Fundamental Premise).  It is unreasonable to be happy when others are miserable or when the misery of posterity is inevitable.

Proof.  It is assumed that no reasonable person can be happy while in the presence of misery.  Happiness is meant in the technical sense, which implies satisfaction.  Even the momentary happiness that comes from seeing an improvement in the condition of the miserable person will not satisfy the technical definition of happiness given in Chapter 1.  If a reasonable person were satisfied with the state of affairs even though he knew (with certainty) that people were enduring misery at a far-distant place or were certain to endure misery in the future, he would be denying the truth of what he knew about the present or future condition of those people, which he could not do if they were in his presence.  This is at variance with complete respect for truth as required by Axiom 3 because it implies that events far away in space or (future) time do not occur.

Note.  It is not clear how knowledge of misery in the distant past would impact upon the happiness of every reasonable person.  At least, I have nothing to say on the subject.

Comment.  A reasonable person may temporarily disregard a fact of which he is aware if he is not constantly reminded of it; but, eventually, that small nagging inner voice will remind him of the unpleasant situation he has temporarily forgotten.  Temporary forgetfulness of misery is not happiness.

The Truth Axiom in Education

The relevant definition of education given in the Random House Dictionary [11] is as follows:  Education:  1. The act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge and of developing the powers of reasoning and judgment.  2. - 5. (irrelevant – for our purposes).  Let us agree that special interest groups are not interested in developing our powers of reasoning and judgment; therefore, if they are educating the public, they must be imparting information.  Clearly falsehood ought not to be classified as information under this definition, moreover half-truths might just as well be false.  Also, a statement that has an unknown truth value might be uttered as though it were true.  This, too, is a form of falsehood.  Information that qualifies as educational, then, consists of true statements.

But even if we speak only the truth our statements may not qualify as educational.  It is possible to speak the truth but not the whole truth and thereby deceive our listener.  Deception should not qualify as informational.  Let us agree to consider partial truth and falsehood as non-educational.  I think it will assist the reader if I give some examples of educational statements and non-educational statements.  All sorts of statements qualify as non-educational, however the non-educational statements in which we are interested constitute propaganda, indoctrination, and brainwashing (used in its ironic sense).

Marijuana is a harmful drug is a non-educational statement.  The educational statement is “Some people believe marijuana is harmful; others do not.”  Another non-educational statement is “Atheists are trying to drive God out of the public schools.”  This is silly because atheists don’t believe in God and theists don’t believe God can be driven here and there.  The educational statement is “Atheists are trying to prevent the word God being used in the public schools without qualification.”  “Global warming is occurring” is a non-educational statement.  An educational statement would be “Computer simulations show that, if the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were increasing, the average global temperature would increase – other things being equal.”

To reiterate the beginning of the introduction to Chapter 2, I claim that most of the contents of Chapter 2 qualify as educational under both aspects of Definition 1 because: (1) what I tell you is factual (unless I make an error, which, of course, is always possible despite my best intentions) and is not propaganda or indoctrination and (2) availability, emergy analysis, balance equations in general, and systems diagrams are powerful tools for reasoning and making judgments.  (The material given there is easily checked, therefore the danger of unintentional errors is minimized.)  This is in contradistinction to many other discussions of the environment (whether pro or con).  Actually, most of what most special interest groups are calling education is merely propaganda.  Even my attempt to sway the reader away from the hard energy philosophy toward the soft energy view should be considered propaganda rather than education.

Answer to the Puzzle about the “Little Town in Iowa”

Since the wooden Indian does not move until he hears the firebell and wooden Indians can’t hear and never do hear, the second story is true.  (The first story would have the wooden Indian moving “whenever the firebell rings”, which is impossible.)


1.         Herman, Edward S. and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, Pantheon, New York (1988).

2.         Chomsky, Noam, What Uncle Sam Really Wants, Odonian Press, Berkeley, CA (1992).

3.         Chomsky, Noam, World Orders Old and New, Columbia University Press, New York (1995).

4.         Bentham, Jeremy, Bentham’s Handbook of Political Fallacies, Ed., Harold A. Larrabee, Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore (1952).

5.         Deci, Edward L. and Richard M. Ryan, Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior, Plenum Press, New York (1985).

6.         Wayburn, Thomas L., The Collected Papers of Thomas Wayburn, Vol. II, American Policy Inst., Houston (Work in progress 1997).

7.         Wayburn, Thomas L., The Collected Papers of Thomas Wayburn, Vol. I: Drug Policy 1986-1996, American Policy Inst., Houston (1996).

8.         Häfele, Wolf, Editor, Energy in a Finite World, Ballinger, Cambridge, MA (1981).

9.         Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, Henry Bosley Woolf, Editor in Chief, G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield , Massachusetts (1977).

10.       Tarski, Alfred, “The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages”, in Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics, 2nd Ed., Ed., John Corcoran, Trans. J. H. Woodger, Hackett, Indianapolis (1983).

11.       The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Lawrence Urdang, Editor in Chief, Random House, New York (1968).

12.       Webster’s Deluxe Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd Ed., Simon and Schuster, New York (1983).

13.       Barker, Stephen Francis, Elements of Logic, McGraw-Hill, New York (1974).

14.       Popper, Karl R., Conjectures and Refutations, Harper, New York (1965).

15.       Lakatos, Imre, Proofs and Refutations, Cambridge University, New York (111976).

16.       Einstein, Albert, Sidelights on Relativity, Dover, New York (1983).

17.       Hungerford, Thomas W., Algebra, Springer-Verlag, New York (1974).

18.       Russell, Bertrand, “Truth and Falsehood” in The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, Eds. Robert E. Egner and Lester E. Denonn, Simon and Schuster, New York (1961).

19.       Wayburn, Thomas L., The Collected Papers of Thomas Wayburn, Vol. III, American Policy Inst., Houston (Work in progress 1997).

20.       Fraser, James George, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, 3rd Ed., St. Martin’s Press, New York (1963).

21.       Wayburn, Thomas L., “The Separation of the State from the Christian Church:  Parts 1, 2, and 3”, The Truth Seeker, 117, Nos. 2, 4, 6 (1990).

22.       Wayburn, Thomas L., “The Separation of the State from the Christian Church and the Case Against Christianity”, The Philosophy of Humanism and the Current Issues, Marian Hillar and Frank Prahl, Eds., Humanists of Houston, Houston (1995).

23.       Tarski, Alfred, Introduction to Logic and the Methodology of the Deductive Sciences, Oxford University Press, New York (1994).

24.       Huxley, Aldous, The Doors of Perception, Harper, New York (1954).

25.       Carroll, Lewis,  “Through the Looking Glass” in The Lewis Carroll Book, Ed. Richard Herrick, Tudor, New York (1931).

26.       Whitehead, Alfred North and Bertrand Russell, Principia Mathematica, Cambridge University Press (1912).

27.       Penrose, Roger, The Emperor’s New Mind, Oxford University Press, New York (1989).

Appendix:  Why Taking Drugs Per Se Imposes on No One

Pleasure, after all, is a safer guide than either right or duty.  For hard as it is to know what gives us pleasure, right and duty are often still harder to distinguish and, if we go wrong with them, will lead us into just as sorry a plight as a mistaken opinion concerning pleasure.  When men burn their fingers through following pleasure they find out their mistake and get to see where they have gone wrong more easily than when they have burnt them through following after a fancied duty, or a fancied idea concerning right virtue.  The devil, in fact, when he dresses himself in angel’s clothes, can only be detected by experts of exceptional skill, and as often does he adopt this disguise that it is hardly safe to be seen talking to an angel at all, and prudent people will follow after pleasure as a more homely but more respectable and on the whole more trustworthy guide. – Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

Pryer (a de jure clergyman and a de facto stock swindler):  ... [N]o practice is entirely vicious which has not been extinguished among the comeliest, most vigorous, and most cultivated races of mankind in spite of centuries of endeavor to extirpate it.  If a vice in spite of such efforts can still hold its own among the most polished nations, it must be founded on some immutable truth or fact in human nature, and must have some compensatory advantage which we cannot afford altogether to dispense with. – Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

Comment.  In the “Preface to The Millionairess”, G. B. Shaw claimed Butler was the greatest of the nineteenth century novelists.  Notice what a skillful architect of language he was – despite the occasional less-than-optimal choice of word, owing, no doubt, to hurried composition.  Indeed, Butler did not survive to see his masterpiece, The Way of All Flesh, in print.  The second quote, placed in the mouth of the scoundrel Pryer, may be supposed to be facetious; however, as Shakespeare gives that old rat Polonius “To thine own self be true, etc.”, why should not Butler place his own radical opinion in the mouth of whomever is speaking when the inspiration came?  I like this thought independently of its source.

Please see “The Case for Drug Legalization and Decontrol in the United States” and “We Must Prove Drugs Are Good and Laws Are Bad”.


Chapter 4.  Philosophical Assumptions or Articles of Faith

Table of Contents


Existence in General and the Universe in Particular

1.   We assume the existence of the real world.

2.   As a compromise, we agree not to decide upon the existence of events that cannot be replicated under any circumstances whatever by impartial observers.  People might believe that these events occurred and they might be referred to as supernatural.  It is not necessary to argue about that.  Instead, we will disallow the introduction of such events as evidence for or against social policies.

The Human Condition

3.   We assume that we ourselves exist as do the events in our own minds.

4.   We suppose that events occur in other people’s minds just as they do in our own minds.

5.   We assume that the ability to reason can be developed in the normal undiminished human being.

The Child’s Age of Reason

On Education

6.   Man is naturally capable of independent thought and action, unless something has been done to him, some sort of conditioning that weakens his (or her) natural self-confidence.

Independent Thought

Independent Action

7.   The doctrine of Original Sin is assumed to be a hoax.

8.  Human beings are good but corruptible.

9.   People are assumed to be good enough to satisfy the conditions of this theory without further evolution.

How Good Are We?

How Good Do We Need To Be?

What Is and What Is Not Required To Satisfy Premise C?

10. Living in harmony with Nature brings out the best in Human Nature.

11. Everywhere I look the intrinsic harmony of Nature is apparent.

12. We assume Socrates, or his modern surrogates, can spread truth from person to person on a one-to-one basis.

On Knowledge

13. The laws of physics are reasonably invariant for all practical purposes.

14. Faith in reasoning:  The fundamental laws of reasoning (logic) as expressed by set theory, sentential calculus, symbolic logic, etc. are reliable.

15. Macrofacts are reliable; microfacts are unreliable.

16. We assume that we may enlarge our knowledge of the world by the evidence of the senses (perhaps enhanced by scientific instruments) and logic.

How We Obtain Knowledge

The Role of Knowledge in Education

A Minimal Proper Religion

17. To avoid infinite regression, we assume that aesthetics, reasonableness (or reason), and utility are a valid guide for making philosophical judgments.  We recognize that judgments that satisfy these tests may not be infallible.

18. Never to be conceived creatures have no philosophical status or rights.  All other creatures are non-comparable.

19. Newcomers to this world have a right to expect to find a rational society governed by rational morals.

20. Human beings belong to themselves.  No one can assign an extrinsic purpose to another individual.

21. We agree that our laws, if we have any, should be congruent with rational morals.  If we do not have laws, our behavior should be governed by rational morals with which we have been indoctrinated as small (pre-reason) children.

22. We accept the three moral axioms including the definition of “imposing upon the freedom of another human social link”.

23. We assume our three moral axioms can be used in a reasonable fashion to define rights and, in turn, justice.

24. We assume that all rational morals can be derived from our three moral axioms without grey areas arising.  Such morals will be consistent and withstand the tests of aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.

25. We reject arbitrary, personal, or taboo morality as a basis for public policy.

26. Unverified events whether taking place exclusively in the Universe, our Minds, in the realm of the Ideals, or in the Relations or not are excluded from the discussion of public policy – just as they would be discarded as evidence in a legal hearing.

Social Change

27. We shall assume that a social system that retains residual institutionalized injustice is unacceptable as a basis for permanence.

28. I assume that at least one hypothetical feasible path of constant improvement connects this society with a cooperative (ideal) society.

Human Society in Historical Times

Problems and Solutions

One Step at a Time

When the End Does Not Justify the Means

A Generic Evolutionary World-Bettering Plan

The World W*

The World W″

1.   The Characteristics of W

2.   A Stable (Human) Population

3.   Adequate High-Grade Renewable (Sustainable) Energy

4.   Sufficiency of One Kilowatt Per Capita Emergy Budget



The arguments presented in this book are based on fundamental assumptions and facts.  In this chapter, I will attempt to state as many of the assumptions as I can think of; but, it is in the nature of the human condition that we are unaware of many things that we believe in implicitly.  It behooves us to search constantly for these “hidden” assumptions and examine them critically.  This collection of essays itself is an attack on unexamined assumptions.  It is entirely possible that, upon close reading of my own manuscripts, I might discover additional assumptions that should have been listed.  Over the last several years, since I wrote the initial draft of this chapter, I have added several assumptions that had been overlooked initially.

As stated previously, I shall try to rely only on facts agreed upon by nearly everyone and concerning which there can be little doubt.  We agreed to call these macrofacts.  In addition, we make use of a small amount of statistical data, such as U.S. high-grade energy consumption, which are known only approximately.  We will attempt to use generous upper and lower bounds in our calculations so that, even if the data are off considerably, the conclusions will be acceptable.

Ideally, I would like to produce a work that stands or falls on the truth or falsehood, consistency or inconsistency, completeness or incompleteness of the basic assumptions.  If I make a mistake in reasoning or rely upon an erroneous fact, that will not be the case.  But, in the ideal case where I use only macrofacts, if no flaw in the reasoning can be found, the skeptic will be left with only the fundamental assumptions to criticize.  It will not be possible to accept the fundamental assumptions, the data, and the reasoning and reject the conclusions without violating the general principles of logic, which are assumed to be correct.  One, then, could evaluate the fundamental assumptions on the basis of reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility and decide upon the validity of the case presented.

Unfortunately, not all of the assumptions upon which this case rests will be listed.  Many of them are hidden deep inside the author’s psyche.  At least he is not aware of them.  The reader is responsible to watch closely for hidden assumptions that may or may not destroy the validity of some or all of the arguments.  Also, in issues involving human beings, it is impossible to achieve the logical rigor that one can achieve, for example, in the theory of finite groups, a branch of abstract mathematics.  Not only are we not able to state with definiteness what we are talking about because we, as human beings, are not completely defined philosophically, but we are in the difficult position of being a part of the subject under observation.  Clearly, the very act of observing ourselves changes what it is that we are observing.  Nevertheless, these difficulties should not discourage us from applying rigorous logic to the subject at hand as far as we are able.

One often appeals to the intuition to guide the intellect.  This is proper and from time to time saves us from making serious mistakes due to erroneous reasoning.  Suppose, for example, that we wish to compute the speed of sound in helium.  Due to an error in the conversion of units, say, we compute a velocity in excess of the speed of light.  Intuitively, and from general principles, if we are acquainted with them, we know that something is wrong and we begin to look for our mistake.  We have done what we ought to do.  If, on the other hand, at the beginning of the twentieth century, we were looking for an explanation of the Michelson-Morley experiment and we determined that we could account for the observations only by rejecting the absolute nature of time, we would have been making a big mistake if we rejected our reasoning because it was in conflict with our intuition, which, before Einstein and Poincaré, told us that time is the same for everyone, everywhere, regardless of one’s motion.

The development of mathematics and science in the nineteenth and twentieth century has led to a large number of counter-intuitive results.  If people had been unwilling to adjust their intuitions to fit the discovered facts and were unwilling to travel down the trails blazed by unfettered reason, we would have remained in ignorance and error in a number of categories.

A similar drama is waiting to unfold in our views of mankind and society.  We must scrutinize society with as few preconceived notions as possible and we must be aware constantly of the assumptions we have retained and look for hidden ones.  Finally, we must follow wherever our reasoning leads us no matter how disappointed we might be to discover that everything we once held sacred is wrong.

Above all we must not be bound by the sacred and cherished beliefs of other people, particularly the belief that human nature is well-understood – independently of set and setting, i.e., the mental state of the subject (set) and the social circumstances that surround him (setting).  It simply will not do to discover a new “theory of relativity” and then reject it simply because we don’t think anyone else will accept it.  Instead, let us worry about what we ourselves can derive and understand beginning with a firm foundation.  With understanding comes the courage to communicate what we have learned to our children, our friends, anyone who will listen and, finally, the world.  We may imagine that the world will never change, that society will never reject its dearly held beliefs, but we must not ourselves persist in error when our hearts and minds have uncovered it.  Here is the list of philosophical assumptions or articles of faith:

Existence in General and the Universe in Particular

1.   We assume the existence of the real world.

The World (all that exists) was described in Chapter 1.  The Ideals, Relations, Mind, Everything Else, and even the Universe might be described differently by different members of a community all of whom accept a social contract based upon these assumptions.  The object known as the Universe must exist at least in the present, which depends upon the relative motion of the observer.  One usually associates knowledge with science and faith with religion.  Probably, though, science has less claim to knowledge than we suspect.  The eventual fall of one scientific theory after another is a fact of life.  Only in mathematics can we say that essentially everything we believe is true.  That is because we always begin by stating what it is that we are talking about.  In a very real sense, we have created the subject matter (except for the counting numbers – and maybe a few other mathematical objects).  In the physical sciences we are not at liberty to say, i.e., choose the properties of, what it is that we are talking about because we are talking about physical reality, which is a given.  If in science we can do without absolute knowledge, we cannot do without faith.  One does not embark upon a career in science without faith in an objective Universe.

Note.  I wish to distinguish three levels of objectivism.  Absolute objectivism would hold, contrary to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, that the spin of two electrons (whose combined spin is zero, as in the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment [1]) is an objective fact of the universe in every orientation of the experimental spatial coordinates with respect to the laboratory coordinates regardless of which spin, if any, is measured.  Hard objectivism would hold that only the spin that is measured has objective reality, but it is the same for every observer.  Soft objectivism would relax our grip on reality further and admit, strangely, that the result of the measurement depends on who makes it.  Soft objectivism will accommodate Schrödinger’s cat “collapsing the wave function” from his point of view, particularly if he is alive, and the cat remaining in a combination state of both dead and alive from the viewpoint of the human experimenter since the cat’s observation might not count as far as the human is concerned.  I think the cat’s consciousness collapses the wave function to any extent it does indeed collapse and no nonsense of a cat that is both dead and alive is necessary.  I would like to suggest a variation of the Aspect experiment, but I fear this is not the place to do it.  Anyone who is not familiar with this fascinating and confusing philosophy of science issue can simply put this paragraph out of mind, since, in this essay, we deal with macroscopic reality and the fine points of quantum theory are not really relevant.

To continue, scientists traditionally believe that the laws of nature are invariant in space and time.  We do not expect to find a region at the far reaches of the universe where the Second Law of Thermodynamics is reversed, although that is not absolutely out of the question.  Even stronger is our faith that the laws of physics do not vary between London and Paris.  Also, scientists take it as an article of faith that the laws of physics do not vary from year to year.  One would not undertake to unravel an obscure principle if, before one had published one’s results, the principle were likely to change.  However, there is no reason why the laws of physics might not have been different before the big bang if it turns out that, indeed, the big bang was not the absolute beginning of time.

Scientists are aware that their measurements alter the thing being measured.  This is the substance of the famed Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which asserts that one may not know both the position and the momentum of a particle.  However, I have not heard it suggested that scientists, particularly particle physicists, are actually changing the nature of matter by their investigations of particles.  I do not mean that they are changing the nature of matter in the trivial sense in that they are creating new particles from old, but that they may be changing the very laws that govern matter.  Perhaps, the fundamental laws of physics themselves are being deformed by the pressure of the physicist’s inquiry.  As far as I know, physicists conduct their affairs with complete and unquestioning faith, faith worthy of the most fanatical religious zealot, that this, the alteration of the fundamental laws of physics under the pressure of inquiry, is not occurring.

But, the faith in reality that is required to study the subject of this essay is not very demanding.  We need only have faith that a macroscopic, physical, objective universe exists independently of what people believe or hope for.  We are not concerned with the laws that govern affairs far from our Mother Earth, nor are we concerned with what happens at high energies and other extreme conditions.  We are concerned with the ordinary affairs of man.  We know that we cannot rely on an account of an event on the other side of the world observed by a person who has a personal agenda unknown to ourselves, but we can be reasonably assured that the nation where the event occurred actually exists and the head of state of that country is who everyone says he (or she) is.  We don’t know how that far-distant ruler thinks or very much at all about him, but we know his name, although we cannot pronounce it properly, we know when he took office with acceptable accuracy, and we can know the color of his eyes if we want to know.

I would like to make clear what we mean by saying that the universe exists and that we can know reasonably well certain things about what happens on this earth and that we can be confident that we are not being deceived so long as we don’t try to know too much.  I refer to this type of knowledge as broad macroscopic knowledge (macrofacts), but it isn’t worthwhile to try to give a philosophically rigorous definition of it.  (Macrofacts were defined loosely in Chapter 3 in the section on truth.)  We shall try to limit our assumptions about what goes on in the world to as few as possible and restrict ourselves to “facts” about which people are in very general agreement.  Therefore, we shall shun the results of statistical surveys as much as possible, because we do not trust them and because it is our policy to assume as little as possible.  But, we must assume the existence of an objective reality and the existence of objects and events, an existence that can be verified independently by as many observers as wish to verify it.  Since we have established a reasonably sound basis for the definition of external empirical truth, we will be able to withstand the criticisms of those skeptics who do not think we can define an objective truth because we will have defined it in terms of principles that no one on this planet can afford to live without.  This should silence the skeptics.

Of course, the knowledge to which we refer is knowledge of phenomena.  Phenomena are our impressions of objects whose intrinsic nature is hidden from us.  The genuine reality underlying phenomena was referred to as noumena by Immanuel Kant.  [Note in proof (7-2-97).  Kant may not have meant what I mean by noumena.  I mean Definitions 1 and 2 in the Random House Dictionary [2].]  Since we believe that phenomena are the manifestations of noumena that make an impression upon our senses aided, perhaps, by the most sensitive instruments with which we investigate the phenomena underlying the phenomena that constitute our everyday experiences.  We pour a glass of water, which seems like a continuous fluid.  If we look more closely, we perceive the atomic nature of water under which an even finer structure consisting of fundamental particles exists.  This is not water as it really is however.  Underneath the quarks, etc., is something stranger still and, eventually, unknowable.

[Note in proof (7-9-97).  If Mind – all of Mind – were a subset of the Universe, then, perhaps, we could attain knowledge of the noumena associated with our own consciousnesses merely by deep introspection!  This is just an idle thought.]

Nevertheless, we attempt to penetrate deeper and deeper into this apparent world of perceived phenomena, even though we are unlikely to discover the essential reality underlying water, namely, the noumena themselves.  We believe that the noumena exist because, under the same circumstances, water inevitably engenders the same phenomena in the experience of every observer.  Rarely, do we consider this viewpoint when we experience thirst.  If the thirst be sufficiently great, our thirst for philosophical understanding is all but slaked.  In any case, there is some kind of objective universe out there underneath all the phenomena because the Aspect experiment itself always comes out the same no matter who performs it – provided they perform it correctly.

2.   As a compromise, we agree not to decide upon the existence of events that cannot be replicated under any circumstances whatever by impartial observers.  People might believe that these events occurred and they might be referred to as supernatural.  It is not necessary to argue about that.  Instead, we will disallow the introduction of such events as evidence for or against social policies.

It seems to me that the conventional division of all phenomena into natural and supernatural is pointless.  What does it mean?  Does it mean that some events occur and some do not?  Recall that most imagined instances of the supernatural are related to poltergeists, ghosts, and goblins – purely fictitious creatures.  If that’s what we mean by t·h·e  s·u·p·e·r·n·a·t·u·r·a·l, we may dispose of the category immediately because it is empty.  Does it mean that some events obey discernible, discoverable laws and others don’t?  If that’s what it means, how do we draw the line between discoverable and nondiscoverable?  Most laws that govern natural phenomena are undiscovered, nor do we know that they can ever be discovered.  (In some cases, we know that they cannot be.)  Does that make these events supernatural?  On the other hand, we might discover laws that govern telekinesis, mental telepathy, communication with the dead, or spontaneous material manifestations, if such events actually occur, in which case they would have to be classified as natural.  So, in this case too, we see that the division between natural and supernatural is artificial.

We speak of all that exists in terms of five distinct, but not necessarily disjoint, “worlds”, namely, the Universe, U, Mind, M, the Ideals, I, the Relation, R, and Everything Else, E.  We didn’t claim to know anything about Everything Else.  On the contrary, we claimed that nothing can be known, except, perhaps, in a negative sense.  Let us suppose that the universe in space and time, whether finite or not, bounded or not, is embedded in a larger space of unknown dimensionality or beyond dimensionality.  Then, so-called supernatural events could be interpreted as the projection of extra-universal phenomena, the laws governing which may not be discoverable, upon our universe, just as the footsteps of a giant human may be interpreted by an ant as evidence of the existence of a larger world that he cannot see, provided only that he has the wit to so interpret.  Just because we could not explore the space in which the universe would be embedded would not justify considering it supernatural – or unnatural, which amounts to the same thing.  The designation supernatural tends to place the part of existence that we cannot explore in an inferior position with respect to the rest of existence, but this is open to debate and I do not insist upon it.  All of existence might be considered Nature.  In any case, the use of the term “supernatural” seems to increase confusion rather than dispel it.  As elucidated further below, some events originating in the part of existence distinct from the Universe, the Ideals, the Relations, and Mind may be called supernatural by some people if they wish, but we shall not permit those putative events to be introduced into discourse on public policy – unless, of course, some means can be found to subject them to ordinary scientific scrutiny.

Natural events occurring in the Universe are divided readily into those that can be reproduced over and over again, such as the dropping of a weight from the Leaning Tower of Pisa (which may not have been the experiment performed by Galileo), and events which occur only once, such as George Washington crossing the Delaware.  Whereas reasonable procedures exist by means of which we can ascertain with a high probability that George Washington did indeed cross the Delaware under the circumstances related in history books, no scientific proof can be put forth.  One can distinguish, too, between events that occurred only once but that can be replicated readily in their essential details under different circumstances, such as Washington tossing a coin across the Potomac, and events that cannot be replicated by anyone in any of their essential details under any circumstances, such as Jesus ascending into heaven.  To bolster our faith in the famous legend let a few men of approximately George Washington’s size and build toss a coin across the Potomac.

Suppose, as a compromise, we agree not to decide upon the existence of events that cannot be replicated under any circumstances by impartial observers.  People might believe that these events occurred and they might be referred to as supernatural.  It is not necessary to argue about that.  Instead, we will disallow the introduction of such events as evidence for or against social policies.  This, then, is an assumption upon which this work is based:  Any knowledge based on events that cannot be replicated or observed by impartial observers are to be excluded from discussion of public policy.  Now, if we have excluded natural events from debate on public policy when they cannot be replicated in any of their pertinent aspects and they cannot be verified otherwise, our inclination to consider events that are supposed to be supernatural vanishes.

As far as events are concerned that occur in the part of existence, E, outside of the universe, U, mind, M, the realm of Ideals, I, and the relations, R, we believe that nothing can be known about them unless they interact with U, M, I, or R.  Such interactions are considered natural if they can be investigated by scientific methods or introspection.  We agree that some people may believe in occurrences resulting from interactions of E with I, R, M, and U that can be perceived only by select minds, e.g., “the elect of God”, or may not be investigated by the methods of science for some other reason, and these people may call these occurrences supernatural if they wish, but we shall not allow them to be introduced as evidence in the determination of public policy.

This prohibits the introduction into public policy of the miracles ascribed to certain religious figures and the religions or religious beliefs based upon them.  This is the compromise that I once believed was guaranteed by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.  Although we now understand the difficulties inherent in the Bill of Rights, we recognize that people who wish to introduce irrational and personal religious agendas into public policy, even by legal means, are enemies of freedom and enemies of the human race.  [Note in proof (9-28-96):  We might continue to insist upon separation of Church and State despite our reservations about the Constitution.]

The Human Condition

3.   We assume that we ourselves exist as do the events in our own minds.

I have nothing to say to justify my assumption that I, or any of us, exist.  If we don’t, then my thesis is merely academic – whatever that would mean.  I do not like Descartes’ reasoning.  I am at least as unsure about whether I think as I am about whether I exist.  Nevertheless, I have something to say about what we, all of us, think.

The rejection of the supernatural does not mean that we reject the spiritual nature of man.  The events that occur in the mind of man can be verified by introspection and, insofar as a significant number of people attest to their occurrence within themselves, we do not deny their existence.  They are best interpreted spiritually because, although each of us is certain of the occurrence of thoughts, feelings, ideas, perceptions, and insights, we do not know how to draw a one-to-one correspondence between psychical events and the physical events that occur in the brain, such as the flow of electrical currents and the migration of ions, nor do we know that we will ever be able to do so.  Nevertheless, we ourselves are witnesses to psychic events in our own minds even though we cannot prove their existence to anyone else.  One may be reasonably certain, though, that, when someone is speaking, processes are at work in that person’s mind with which we are familiar because of our own experience with speaking.  We may assume that people do not differ so markedly as to invalidate that presupposition.

The assumption needed for this work is that each person is capable of observing psychical events that occur in his own mind and these events have an objective reality despite the impossibility of independent verification.  They may not, however, be introduced into public policy except insofar as they are capable of being actualized.  Thus, one may say to himself with certainty, “I did not know the gun was loaded,” but this knowledge may not be introduced into the testimony at a public hearing.  On the other hand, if a reliable witness heard the subject say, “This gun isn’t loaded” before the hypothesis was tested and his assertion had the ring of sincerity to it, we might be more disposed to believe that the state of the subject’s mind was as reported.  Personally, though, if I want to be certain that I thought a particular thought, I say it out loud.  Is this a superstition?  (See the discussion of inner truth in Chapter 3.)

4.   We suppose that events occur in other people’s minds just as they do in our own minds.

Each person is capable of observing the events in his or her own mind; however, normally, they may not be introduced as evidence in debate on public policy.  This was discussed above.

5.   We assume that the ability to reason can be developed in the normal undiminished human being.

The Child’s Age of Reason

The ancient Greeks, if I am not mistaken, took the age of reason to be seven-years-old.  Most modern human beings can reason well enough when it comes to determining what is wrong with their automobiles.  (I hope I don’t give them too much credit.)  But, something has gone awry in their ability to reason about political, philosophical, religious, and moral questions.  I believe this can be traced to Madison Avenue, television, the schools, the churches (including televangelists), and advanced principles of modern psychology, which have been applied for commercial profit and learned well by political power brokers.  Recall the amazing success of the Republican presidential campaign with the extremely brief Willy Horton ad used against Dukakis in 1988.  It pushed the so-called “hot buttons” in many peoples minds.  This is something that politicians didn’t know how to do in 1888.  But, what we want to know now is how human beings become so diminished.

On Education

My Personal Viewpoint

Fortunately, my higher education was in engineering and mathematics where the only matter of opinion is whether the subject is worth learning.  When we study the design of an ethylene oxide plant, we ought to discuss whether or not it is wise to build such a plant.  Of course, most professors do not raise such questions.  Normally, the professor leaves the student with the impression that it is OK to build such a monstrosity; and my experience with practicing chemical engineers is that almost all of them are unwilling to consider the opposing earth-as-a-garden viewpoint.  This leads them into some interesting conflicting logic, which they tolerate quite well with their well-developed ability to doublethink.  I could tell some stories here, but let me say only that when I suggested that we ought to phase out big industry in a talk at the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, most of the audience went ballistic – although without loss of decorum.  Surprisingly, a nontrivial number expressed agreement and even the president of the Chapter, a vice-president of a major industrial and chemical construction company, defended me; but, then again, he and I are friends.

Before college and in the divisions of universities that shouldn’t exist, e.g., business and marketing (since they teach lies and how to lie), I perceive two major difficulties in the curriculum:  (1) students are taught horrendous lies, e.g., America is the greatest nation on earth with the ideal political and economic system, and (2) students are inculcated with the delusion that the sole purpose of an education is to get good grades so they can make more money, which sounds like something written on the back of a book of matches.  This latter promulgates the notion that it is the student’s duty to prepare himself to be a cog in the giant industrial-business-governmental machine.

In addition, the schools are troubled by an extremely inefficient top-down hierarchical administration that provides endless impediments to the sincere teacher.  As for the universities, they seem to be run for the benefit of a handful of top dogs who benefit the most from the university’s existence.  The increases in tuition outstrip inflation every year.  Where does the money go?

I have much more to say about education, including my prescription for a good education, in various essays in Vol. II and Vol. III of my collected papers [3].  What really burns me though is the shoddy education I received in music, my first true love (my love of chemistry was a childish infatuation with explosions).  Every grade school graduate should be able to recognize intervals, chords, and scales, and be able to sight sing reasonably difficult compositions.  Perhaps, then, we wouldn’t have to put up with the horrendous unmusical popular pabulum that permeates our airwaves and, outrage of outrages, our telephones when we are put on hold, which happens nearly every time we call business or government.

Character Education, Anti-Drug Propaganda, and Religion

Character Education

The Houston Independent School District  (HISD) is considering putting into place a professionally designed Character Education Program.  Look at some of the things they will teach and decide for yourself if this enhances the student’s ability to reason.  Before you can teach character, you really have to know what it is, and I don’t know anyone at HISD who does know anything about good character – almost certainly not anyone who would be teaching it.  Certainly, not anyone who works for a public or private school or university.  Most “successful” teachers are good politicians, which might not be compatible with a good grasp of ethics and the attributes of good character.  What follows is a discussion of some of the major topics covered in a course in “character education” that the HISD is considering for adoption (if they haven’t already adopted it):


“Write the pledge [of allegiance] on a chart and verify that the students understand the meaning of all the words in the pledge.”  How about the word indivisible and the word God?  Does anyone know the meaning of the word God?  Does this mean that people with good character are anti-secessionist?  Further they ask the students to discuss loyalty pledges.  Shades of McCarthyism.


“Have the students brainstorm all the phrases they have heard that contain the word ‘justice’.  You can help them by providing some examples such as ‘justice of the peace’, ‘Supreme Court Justice’, ‘...with liberty and justice for all’, etc.  The students can infer the definition of justice from these phrases.”  I very much doubt.

Justice in the real world is discussed.  What can they possibly say?  “...but we will focus our attention on solving injustice in a positive manner.”  Undoubtedly, this means within the establishment.  Fat chance.

Teacher (from character-education manual):  Everyone has a right to seek justice in the courts.

Teacher (from manual):  Observe the city government in action.

Wise-ass student:  Do they mean in public or in the smoke-filled rooms?

Teacher (from manual):  Invite a judge or an attorney to visit the classroom and discuss the justice system.

[The scene changes]

Attorney:  Well, kids, there’s this favor bank.  Joe does something for me and I get his client off light.

Judge:  We get a little on the side in bribes.  For example, I’m owned by the Gambini family.  They don’t get no rumble from me.  Like the man said, “Be fair, but, if you can’t be fair, be arbitrary.”

Teacher (from manual):  Invite a police officer to come and speak to the students on this subject.

Cop:  Well, kids, I’m only the bag man, so I can’t speak with authority.


“You can use this opportunity to discuss commitments that politicians make to their constituents and why and how the politicians are held accountable to these commitments.  You can invite a politician to speak to the class or collect newspaper articles illustrating how politicians are meeting specific commitments.”  Yep, nothin’ beats a politician for good character, I don’t think.  I think I read somewhere in my copy of the character-education manual that both (notice, not all) political parties want what’s best for the American people; they just have different ideas about how to achieve it.


This is mostly an attack on drugs and I discuss that below and in Vol. I of my collected papers [3].  But, at least this gives the students a chance to notice that the teachers are liars themselves; so, naturally they are quite competent to inculcate good character.  Ha.  Another bad habit, though, that is disparaged is staying up late at night, regardless of the well-known fact that nearly all good intellectual work gets done in the middle of the night.  They preach day-people chauvinism and bigotry against night people.

The Scapegoating of Drugs and Mass Hysteria

As if the lies concerning ethics, private enterprise, and government, including its history, weren’t bad enough, the children have their minds made up for them concerning the desirability or undesirability of taking drugs.  As in every other case, there is a time and place for drugs and “Just say no” encourages decisions without contemplation and reinforces stupidity.  The efficacy of drugs is an open question and educators may not determine which side of an open question is correct.


Finally, we have the intrusion of religion, especially prayer, into the schools.  This encourages unreasonableness to a marked degree whatever positive effects can be achieved by the childish imagination and the self-hypnotic effects of prayer.  It is unconstitutional and it is immoral.  Moreover, it is blasphemy!  The people who encourage this idiocy are irreligious themselves regardless of how they spend their Sundays.  If they actually believed in a god who watched their every deed, they could not behave as they do; therefore, I must conclude that they are atheists whatever they call themselves.  Again, the rest of this is covered in my essays on religion in my collected papers [3].

John Gatto’s Seven-Lesson School Teacher

I wish to list the seven lessons in Gatto’s excellent paper [4].  It is worth taking the trouble to look up this reference.  Now, Gatto’s case is certainly not one of sour grapes because he won the award for the outstanding school teacher in New York State, regardless of the meaninglessness of the award.  I, for one, never noticed his seven points while I was in school; so, I was a victim, which accounts for some of the brainwashing performed upon myself, which, by the way, has taken decades to overcome, if, indeed, I have overcome it yet.

Lesson 1 (Confusion).  Everything is taught out of context – disconnected facts rather than meaning.

Lesson 2 (Class position).  Students are numbered in more ways than ever before.

Lesson 3 (Indifference).  When the bell rings, we drop whatever it is we were learning as if it had no more importance than a discussion on the “Larry King Show” when a commercial break is due.

Lesson 4 (Emotional dependency).  “By stars and red checks, smiles and frowns, honors and disgraces, I teach you to surrender your will to the chain of command.”  Students are hostages to good behavior.

Lesson 5 (Intellectual dependency).  “Successful children do the thinking I appoint them with a minimum of resistance and a decent show of enthusiasm. ... Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity. ... Good people wait for an expert to tell them what to do. ... [O]ur entire economy depends on this lesson being learned.”

Lesson 6 (Provisional self-esteem).  “I teach that your self-respect should depend upon expert opinion. ... People must be told what they are worth.”

Lesson 7 (You can’t hide).  There is no private time.  Schedules are designed to prevent fraternization.  Homework extends constant surveillance into the home even.  “The meaning of constant surveillance and denial of privacy is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate.”


Television is poison.  (That’s a metaphor.)  Every detail of every mainstream program is designed to paralyze our natural reasonableness – especially the news.  The casual characterization of our guys as the good guys and as heroes and our opponents as the bad guys and thugs is only one example of many.  The clothes worn by and the cars driven by the characters in television shows are blatant consumerism.  In a very real sense, nearly everything on television, including public television, is advertising and propaganda.  No one has to tell TV executives what to do; they understand what they have to do whether they approve of it or not.  I will write an essay on television for Vol. III of my collected papers [3].

6.   Man is naturally capable of independent thought and action, unless something has been done to him, some sort of conditioning that weakens his (or her) natural self-confidence.

Independent Thought

Piaget [5] has shown evidence of reasoning ability in very young children.  Most of the other points to support this position, which, if you remember is an assumption and need not be proved, were made in the previous section.  Of course, I hope that my explanation for my faith in the assumption will influence the reader’s viewpoint even in the case where he formerly believed otherwise.

Independent Action

Although we are interested in independent action, it is necessary to say a word about the antithesis of independent action, namely, extrinsic motivation.  The motivation to write this book, learn to play the drums, and build my model railroad has been intrinsic.  But, all these things are being accomplished in spite of the enormous difficulty I experience to this day doing something that no one requires me to do.

In school and at work, I have done whatever I did do to please a teacher or a boss.  Yes, I wished to please.  Now, that I am “free”, no one is telling me to do these things, and, for that matter, no one gives a damn if I do them or not, unless they wish I would not do them.  Once I get started on one of these tasks inertia takes over, but I have gone for weeks without being able to lift a hand.  This makes me mad, because I know I wasn’t like this as a small child.  My experiences in school and at work have damaged my natural intrinsic motivational nature strictly in accordance with the theories of Deci and Ryan [6,7] and Condry [8].

One should not suppose that I have only limited evidence for the assumptions associated with the hypothetical world W´, described in Premise 9, below, wherein the theories of Deci and Ryan are correct – or, rather, good enough for our purposes.  At the end of Appendix III, where I make my final case for the principal scientific hypotheses adopted by the intrinsic motivational school of behavioral psychology, I provide a non-exhaustive bibliography dedicated to the rather extensive (peer-reviewed) scientific literature that supports these hypotheses.  Until then, I shall cite only the papers [6,7,8] referenced above.  These are the papers I had read when I began this essay.

7.   The doctrine of Original Sin is assumed to be a hoax.

The doctrine of Original Sin, which is based on the book of Genesis in the Bible, presupposes a perfect man who, through some sort of happenstance or other (the Bible is very specific about just what this was, but we needn’t assume so much), has committed a first sinful or foolish act, which afterward was passed on to his progeny (presumably) genetically.  This is asking quite a bit of genetics for we all know that losing one leg before one has children does not result in one-legged offspring.  Holders of this doctrine believe that man would retain residual evil impulses even in an environment free of corrupting influences.  This reminds us of the theories that postulate some mechanism whereby heredity triumphs over environment, although these theories do not necessarily rule out environmental influence absolutely.

It cannot be denied that parents can transmit their sins to children through their influence and proximity without the agency of heredity, but the effect is likely to die out after three of four generations (as the Old Testament scholars may have believed).  In any case, sin could not be transmitted in this manner to children who were isolated from society, including their parents, or, rather, the corrupting influences of society.  Admittedly, this manner of preventing the transmission of sin would be difficult to implement.  That is why I suggest transforming all of society gradually, but simultaneously instead.  This can be accomplished by altering our institutions.

The biblical basis of original sin is discussed in my essay “On the Work Ethic” in Vol. II of my collected papers [3].  The question of whether Original Sin exists or not boils down to whether man is born evil or whether man becomes evil due to the society in which he finds himself, of which religion itself is a component.  The concept of Original Sin supposes that people are born in sin, whereas sin, which, after all, is nothing but foolishness, probably arises because of the social system into which people are born.  The social system might have arisen accidentally.  When the first cave man considered taking more than his fair share or trying to dominate his tribe, he might have decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea, since an even stronger man was bound to come along later whose victim he would become.  On the other hand, maybe the lust for wealth and the will to power come directly from our animal nature, although not every animal species exhibits greed and pecking orders.  Perhaps, sin originated from man’s first demand for compensation for a good deed; i.e., sin originated in what is commonly called Trade rather than from man’s first attempt to distinguish good from evil.  [According to this hypothesis, sin originated precisely from materialism in the technical sense of the term employed in this essay as our model of society.  One could not expect more from a model.  It explains every social evil beginning with the original social evil.  This is more than we have a right to hope for.]

Certainly man is corruptible and we should remove the corrupting influences from society, one of which might be the work ethic itself.  I believe that man, like the animals, is born innocent, but perhaps with an atavistic animal nature.  (Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.)  Hopefully, a child born into a decent environment will become self-socialized (fit for the companionship of other human beings without special training or coercion) when he reaches the age of reason (develops the ability to reason, about seven years of age or earlier).  I can’t prove this.  It would be difficult to do experiments to verify or falsify this conjecture because human beings may not be treated like lab animals (even lab animals should not be treated like lab animals), but the large number of wonderful children who appear to be without sin seems to indicate that the environment, and not original sin, is what shapes our characters. 

Despite the difficulties, I have not completely abandoned the possibility of furnishing scientific proof for this thesis, which is at the core of my entire philosophy and, currently, must be taken on faith, just as the doctrine of original sin is taken on faith.  (I never said that I would eliminate faith.)  In any case, it is not at all clear that it is possible for the origin of sin, whatever it might have been, to be transmitted genetically.  Rather than the doubtful hypothesis of Original Sin, this theory depends upon the elementary premise that human beings are good but corruptible.

Note in proof (1-1-06).  Many contemporary readers who have been under the influence of Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) and Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate) will recognize, in this section and the next two, the influence of the ‘liberal’ idea that, when a child is born, his mind is a blank slate.  This is a valid criticism.  However, in searching the peer-reviewed literature in evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, I have been unable to find evidence of an adaptation (an innate mechanism) that prevents normal undiminished people from living a satisfactory life in accordance with the three moral axioms discussed in Chapter 3.  There is nothing inherent in their natures that would prevent them from being happy and free under such conditions – more happy and more free than they would have been in a materialistic society.  Certainly, human beings, especially males, are born with an innate propensity to dominate other people to enhance their reproductive advantages; however, they are not born with a necessity to manifest that propensity in any of the ways prohibited by the three axiomatic moral principles.  Nothing in the Social Contract suggested by Dematerialism prevents the realization of every reproductive advantage inherent in manifest excellence, including the acquisition of Tokens donated by persons unwilling or unable to spend their Tokens by reproducing themselves according to the Token Principle of Chapter 3.

8.  Human beings are good but corruptible.

Note in proof (1-2-06).  Apparently, it is necessary to say what I mean by the word ‘good’.  In a general way, of course, I mean ‘that with which I approve’.  In the context of this essay, I mean ‘that which satisfies the criteria of reasonableness, utility, and beauty’.  We do not claim that a lion is bad because he exhibits dominance traits.  We expect wild animals to behave like wild animals.  A young puppy is not bad if he growls at a boy.  Dogs will be dogs and boys will be boys.  However, we do consider it a bad thing if, after a normal course of dog training, a dog still growls at all boys.  Even the dog knows what we mean by “Bad dog”.  If we approve of the dog’s behavior, we say “Good dog”.  I didn’t expect to have to justify the terms ‘good’ and ‘even’; but, I do not intend to leave the use of these useful words to hypocrites any more than I intend to leave the terms ‘morals’ and ‘ethics’ to prudes and liars.

9.   People are assumed to be good enough to satisfy the conditions of this theory without further evolution.

How Good Are We?


Adam Smith, in Wealth of Nations [9], said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”  Whether or not Original Sin exists or not, many people, practically whole nations in fact, believe that man is driven primarily by self-interest.  If this be true, then man will have to change or suffer the consequences of this intolerable defect, i.e., extinction (or, possibly, life as a slave to a totalitarian state, as discussed in a later chapter).  I do not believe that it is true, however.  It seems much more likely that selfishness comes from fear and fear comes from ignorance.

Although I do not believe that we are motivated primarily by self-interest, nothing in this theory asks or expects man to behave contrary to his best interests, which are assumed to include living in a beautiful community as well as living in a beautiful house.  It’s a question of mental orientation, isn’t it, whether one dwells upon the self or upon external and more interesting things, which generally leads to a much more satisfactory life.  Truly, virtue, in its true sense, as espoused in this essay, is its own reward.  Why, for example, would anyone want to live among neighbors who, if they thought about him at all, ought to despise him and for whom his particular death would be a blessing!  Why would anyone want to live in a nation despised by most of the rest of the world such that airplane flights require extensive precautions and the threat of terrorism grows daily?

Desire for Approval

As pointed out by Jon Wisman [10], Adam Smith wrote another book that is not so well-known as Wealth of Nations, namely, The Theory of Moral Sentiments [11], in which he argues that, “Nature, when she formed man for society, endowed him with an original desire to please, and an original aversion to offend his brethren.”  Smith says, “Humanity does not desire to be great, but to be beloved,” and “… it is chiefly from (the) regard to the sentiments of mankind that we pursue riches and avoid poverty.”  What’s the point of becoming a multi-billionaire if there’s no one to admire you for it?  What man really wants is approval according to this theory.  I believe this is true; but, again, I believe it arises from a negative emotion, namely, insecurity or fear.  Everyone knows how much more potent a person becomes when he or she doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks.  Thus, we must look further to discover a valid reason for doing what we do.

The World W′ According to Deci and Ryan

We will need to prove that our world, W, is actually W′, the world in which the theory of Deci and Ryan [6] is correct (or sufficiently correct for our purposes).  This will be needed later when we prove our Fundamental Theorem, but it constitutes one of our philosophical assumptions, so it belongs here.  The assumption about intrinsic motivation can be developed into a genuine scientific theory, but we allow (for now) that it is simply an article of faith – faith in the goodness of man that, presumably, we share with many intelligent people – despite the cynics, whose intelligence we respect and who are not necessarily under suspicion of ill will.  The following are conditions that obtain in W′:

0.  Many Unstated Assumptions.  Undoubtedly, we have omitted to write down many of our deep-seated unstated assumptions, therefore the reader should be on his guard for such addition logical requirements.  We said that we were fallible.  Of course, many unstated assumptions are entirely self-evident and “go without saying”.

1.  Intrinsic Motivation.  The thrust of the Deci and Ryan theory is the choice of intrinsic motivation as the most satisfactory mechanism to keep us ticking, as discussed above.  It is recognized, though, that many of us have been raised under such severe forms of extrinsic motivation (“Daddy won’t love you if you don’t get good grades”) that we have difficulty doing anything that we are not forced to do by our atavistic, but irrational, fears.  They are irrational because they no longer apply or, rather, they need not apply to us – except that we live in an irrational society and in a wicked world.  We live in the Dark Ages if we are not still cave men.

2.  Preconditions for Happiness.  People who enjoy the preconditions for happiness, stated in Chapter 1, which in this theory were for technical reasons identified with happiness itself, will allow by and large that they are happy in the colloquial sense.  Thus, we retain a phenomenological view.

I have always taken it as an article of faith, amply borne out by observation, that what man really wants is satisfaction, which he obtains from doing things for the sake of the things themselves.  Everyone has experienced at least once the magical quality of time passing when one is truly engrossed in one’s task.  Researchers in behavioral and human psychology call this intrinsic motivation; i.e., the task is performed in the absence of any outside influence that the experimenter can detect.  In recent experiments performed by [the late] John Condry [8], Deci and Ryan [6,7], and others, significant improvements in performance coupled with more creativity and a greater desire to return to the task on a subsequent occasion have been observed in children and adults in the absence of extrinsic motivation in the form of money and other rewards.  Moreover, given a choice as to whether to perform certain tasks with or without a reward, subjects preferred to work without a reward, presumably to avoid competition.  These results and the results of future experiments may allow me to remove this assumption from my list of articles of faith because it will have been proved scientifically at least as well as such things are ever proved.

The implications are indeed profound.  Reactionaries will no longer be able to point to self-interest as the “most efficient” way to motivate society economically, and the rest of this theory should find ready acceptance among reasonable people.  The work of Deci and Ryan [6] essentially proves W = W'.  We will return to this proposition in Chapter 10.  Also, in Appendix III, at the end of the book, where likely objections are attacked in a concentrated way in keeping with their worthiness of consideration, immediately following the general references I have dedicated a special reference section exclusively to the literature of the intrinsic motivation school of motivational psychology.

It is probably worth noting that I haven’t said anything about altruism.  I have not said that people must act counter to self-interest.  It is just that earlier psychologists and economists have not understood just what is in the best interests of by far the majority of people.  Obviously, if becoming rich does not lead to satisfaction and fulfillment, it is not in anyone’s self-interest to become rich.  Nearly everyone has experienced some materialistic desire accompanied by the firm belief that, “if I could only have a boat, say, of such and such description, then I would be happy,” only to grow accustomed soon to having the longed for object and not being happy.  That sort of thing is a fact of life known to most of us.  Getting a PhD, making Full Professor, getting that hard-won promotion, etc. all turn out to be empty, don’t they?  This author believes that Deci and Ryan, for example, are getting very close – close enough – to the main idea about happiness.


The opposite of intrinsic motivation is extrinsic motivation, with which we are all painfully familiar.  “Daddy won’t love you if you don’t get good grades.”  “If you’re late one more time, you’re through.”  “If you don’t learn this, you’ll be killed, soldier.”  Or whatever it was in your family or place of work.  Another form of extrinsic motivation studied in the research described above is control or the appearance of control.  If the results of this research are correct, we should expect that the presence of management or even leadership is deleterious.  In this work it is assumed that, although man enjoys the companionship of his fellow creatures, he is naturally capable of independent thought and action, unless something has been done to him, some sort of conditioning, that weakens his (or her) natural self-confidence.  While it is true that many people are looking for something or someone they can depend on or look up to, generally this can be traced to a negative emotion resulting from an undesirable environmental circumstance.  I have often wondered why criminals are afforded such an honored place in the folk literature of humanity.  I believe it is because they are the only truly independent people in a society where nearly everyone is under the control of someone else.  Even the absolute monarch is a slave to his cabinet ministers, if not to his wife or his valet.

As William Morris said, “No one is good enough to be someone else’s master.”  The notion of the professional manager is probably a myth.  When we visit our doctor, we are the client, and we expect the doctor’s interests to coincide with our own, or at least we used to until physicians began to succumb to the lure of untold riches.  Presumably, the worker should be the client of the manager.  But, the manager reports to another manager higher than himself whose interests may not coincide with those of the worker.  The function of the manager, then, may be to get more work out of the worker, regardless of the effect on his happiness or health.  Either the manager does profess a system of thought that enables him (or her) to manipulate the worker in the interest of himself or other managers or the discipline of management is empty and exists only as a symbol of membership in an elite class.  In any case, the primary talent required of a manager, or of any leader for that matter, is the ability to become a manager, that is, to climb the ladder.  The primary preoccupation of managers and leaders is to retain their privileged positions or to climb even higher, none of which is in the interests of the worker or of society in general.  It makes sense, then, for workers to replace managers by representatives of themselves, whenever such a representative is useful.  What is the meaning of a democracy in which 90%, say, of all of our meaningful activities are subject to authority over which we have no influence!

Innocence and Corruptibility

In contradistinction to Original Sin is another premise upon which this essay is based, namely, that man is essentially good – but corruptible.  Rather than wealth and power, what people really want is satisfaction, which comes only from spiritual growth and creative endeavor.  Human nature is inherently good and generous.  The evil deeds done by humans come from the defects in society.  Natural people have no desire to be exalted, because of accidents of birth for example.  When people are educated properly they will become socialized naturally.  Even if man be not perfectible, he can contrive to establish institutions that prevent corruption and abolish institutions that promote it.  He has the power to construct a society that takes advantage of his goodness, but is proof against whatever undesirable traits he may retain.  We shall discuss some possibilities for desirable alternative institutions in subsequent chapters, especially in Chapter 11.

Evidence of Man’s Goodness

The most interesting evidence that I can provide for man’s (and woman’s) natural goodness is his (and her) badness – strangely enough.  It is an observable fact of life that, almost without exception (and the exceptions may be only failures to observe well enough), the worse a human being is treated – the more savage the environment from which he comes – the worse is his behavior.  The application of this idea to child abuse is familiar to all of us.  The first question we ask when we hear about child abuse is: Was the abuser abused?  Indeed, evil begets evil, a principle that will be taken as an article of faith below.

Now, if it were possible to quantify man’s goodness or badness, and, if we could place a numerical value on his environment as well, we could make a plot of behavior as a function of environment.  Certainly, we shall have no observations near the origin of coordinates, which, in our impossible thought experiment, is presumed to represent perfect behavior in an ideal environment.  But, if a smooth curve could be drawn through the observations we have made and that curve passed through the origin of coordinates, we would have shown that, in an ideal environment, man’s behavior is acceptable, i.e., perfect.  Unfortunately, we cannot carry out this task for every reason, however, we may imagine that, if it were carried out, in some suitable metric space, the results would be as I have described them.  Perhaps there would be strange and inexplicable instances of conduct; but, I take it as an article of faith that human conduct would be at least sufficiently good that all of the problems of society known to most of us, discussed in the essay “Social Problems and Solutions” in Vol. II of my collected papers [3], and catalogued in Appendix II, would virtually disappear, i.e., they would no longer be global social problems that need concern all of society.  A few residual problems that might exist in a cooperative society will be discussed at the end of Chapter 9, “The Occurrence Equivalence of the Violations of the Moral Axioms with Materialism and with Each Other”.

A second reason why I believe in the principle of man’s intrinsic goodness is that I can describe in detail the mechanism by which undesirable behavior arises as a result of the social condition I wish to remove.  This is an important consideration and it is sufficient to raise my article of faith to the stature of scientific hypothesis.  Unfortunately, from one view, but most fortunately from another, human beings may not be treated like lab animals (even lab animals should not be treated like lab animals), thus it is difficult to perform experiments upon human beings that withstand scientific scrutiny.  I do not believe that it should be necessary to do such experiments to justify changing society to correspond to the ideas presented in this essay inasmuch as the aesthetic and theoretical desirability of these ideas is so compelling that any reasonable person should want to carry out these changes with or without rigorous scientific proof that the results will be as intended.  Nevertheless, we expect to present many reasons why we need to make these changes and why the effects will be felicitous.  Skeptics will present myriad reasons for not making changes, but most of these will be the standard fallacies that normally are presented under these circumstances, as discussed in detail by Bentham [12], who made a useful study of the excuses politicians make when they wish to avoid implementing a needed reform.

Human Perfectibility and Creative Evolution

Suppose that we have agreed to make changes in society that depend, for their success, upon a certain amount of goodness in man, which we shall make explicit in the next few assumptions, and upon removing temptations from man by carefully designing the social institutions we shall retain and abandoning the rest – gradually, as I hope I have made abundantly clear.  We might wonder if it is possible for man to evolve into something even better than he is now and whether man, himself, might influence that evolution to hasten it, for example.  This is an important question, but I shall not address it here because I believe that man can improve his circumstances a great deal, even guarantee himself a sort of permanence, depending only upon astronomical events rather than upon his own affairs, without becoming any better than he already is.  However, it seems reasonable to suppose that the possibility of evolving into something more than human is greatly improved by the survival of humanity for a very long time, to say the very least, and by optimizing the circumstances under which it survives, to say a great deal more.

Needs and Desires

Happiness was defined in Chapter 1.  We recall that happiness requires (1) reasonable satisfaction of tissue deficits, (2a) autonomy, (2b) effectiveness, (2c) relatedness (which, hopefully but tenuously, underlies the Fundamental Premise that it is unreasonable to be happy while others are miserable or inevitably will be miserable), and (3) safety, i.e., the assurance that (1) and (2) will continue in perpetuity.  We might as well state that mankind wants to be happy, needs to be happy, and has a right to be happy in this technical sense.  As we said before, man may enjoy the sublime emotions, such as joyfulness, nostalgia, etc., without being happy.  It may be reasonable to experience joy from time to time even though most of the world is miserable, especially whenever a permanent improvement in the condition of the rest of mankind has been achieved, but that is not the same as the joy and satisfaction we should feel if misery were abolished.

We assume that man should live in a stable society free of war, famine, and epidemic disease.  We assume the desirability of happiness, abundant leisure, and prosperity, consistent with a permanent, strong quasi-steady-state world.  When we say “permanent”, we neglect possible astronomical catastrophes.  We modify “steady-state” by “quasi” to indicate that we are neglecting minor variations in periodic cycles and a few unopposed trends in climate, continental movement, etc.  (Hopefully, we will find a way to balance our high-grade available energy budget so that we can have a strong quasi-steady-state world, as defined in Chapter 3.)  The principles of freedom, justice, equality, and other human rights follow from the three moral axioms, which are based, in turn, on aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.

We assume, then, that we have a reasonably accurate notion of the desires and needs of humanity (A).  This outlook toward needs and desires was discussed informally in the short essay “What We Want and What We Get” in Vol. II of my collected papers [3]; but, my somewhat heterodox viewpoint toward what many may view, quite legitimately, as important central religious tenets is everywhere apparent in this essay, e.g., my attitude toward sex, must be defended, approved, and adopted (α to ω).  In Chapter 11, I shall describe some new institutions that might make an ideal society possible.  {Establishing new institutions (Γ) is concrete action.}  To achieve all of these needs and desires, we shall require such concrete action to eliminate all of the problems listed in Appendix II (Δ), which follows automatically from (Γ) and which leads automatically to the realization of the needs and desires of humanity recognized in (A).  Of course, we need to solve the problem of behaving as well as we need to behave to solve these problems.  {That is, we shall need to form a consensus and resolve upon concerted community action (B) that rejects individual ambition, reward, fame, and glory.}

I hope the reader is not getting dizzy from going around in circles.  (Why should he?  The path A →  B →  ΓΔ  can be regarded as straight enough in the peculiar geometry of the space in which social change occurs, can it not?  However, whatever happens that permits people to experience the spiritual awakening required for α to ω is of very great concern.  I understand that I am supposing that people should think as I do rather than the way they have thought in the past, which might seem like the height of arrogance on my part, especially if stated that bluntly; however, underneath that view is a deep humility that the careful reader will not completely disregard.

How Good Do We Need To Be?

Some Fundamental Economic Premises

Let us denote abstractly as Premise A the premise of capitalism and its predecessors that man should compete for material wealth and that material wealth can be used as a reward for achievement, or as a reward for good behavior, or as a way of measuring success in life.  Premise A presupposes that man will not do good works without a material incentive.  Premise A is a feature of what I have chosen to call materialism, but, to illustrate that we need not prejudice our thinking by employing terms that have common and multiple meanings, let me carry forward the discussion a little further using this abstract terminology even though it may present a slight impediment to our memories.  Let us denote as Premise B the premise of Marxism that people will voluntarily produce material wealth for the common good to the best of their abilities, provided only that they are supplied with a sufficient portion from the common pool of wealth to supply their needs and to satisfy their desires.  Finally, let us denote as Premise C the premise that man will produce adequate material wealth for himself and others, and that he will behave in a socially acceptable manner that renders him fit for human companionship, without any reward whatever, but, rather, because of his natural love of accomplishment and the satisfaction he derives from the pursuit of worthwhile goals.  Let us append to Premise C the Fundamental Premise of Chapter 1.  Further, let us assume that every undiminished person, i.e., not feeble-minded, is capable of becoming reasonable.  Premise A is in conflict with Premise B and Premise C.  Premise C places even more demands upon the goodness of man than does Premise B.  In this essay, we shall determine if the conflict between Premise A and Premise C can be resolved by defining a new set of values that transcends our old way of looking at society.  The question we want to address here is: How good does man have to be to satisfy Premise C, which is the natural successor to Premise B, the premise of Marx?  We shall try to determine that Premise C is “good enough” whereas Premise B is not.  [The introduction of these abstract terms might be most useful in scientific surveys of young people (or any group of people) who have picked up from their parents (or from society in general) prejudicial viewpoints toward economic systems with descriptive names.]

The Importance of Goodness

Whether the ultimate destiny of man, here or in a hypothetical hereafter, is influenced by a deity or not, goodness, i.e., good behavior, behavior consistent with the moral system described in Chapter 3, is desirable from the viewpoints of reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility.  I have already stated that I believe reasonableness enjoys an intimate relationship with aesthetics, which might even be the ultimate intimacy, namely, being the same thing.  But, goodness appeals most directly to aesthetics and utility.  We love to contemplate goodness whenever and wherever we perceive it, and we find it useful besides.  Evil is ugly and inconvenient.  Thus, we don’t need a god in order to want to be good and to want to surround ourselves with other people who want to be good.  Our survival as a species depends, not only on our being good, but being much better than we have been in the past.  Of course, I am referring to our behavior; I have already said that I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with us.  We just seem to have gotten onto the wrong path somewhere.

Satisfying Premise B without Being Good Enough

Premise A is predicated upon self-interest, which is clearly deficient from the point of view of goodness, as all of us know intuitively, whatever we profess.  But, Premise B leaves something to be desired too, namely, that we expect to get something back in return for what we do.  We expect everyone to pull his (or her) weight to the best of his ability and we are disappointed, to say the least, if they do not.  “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”  However, people are very different one from the other.  It is not our business to judge what is correct for our fellow man (although the reader may feel that I am indulging in that business to a marked degree).  Some people can contribute; others cannot.  Premise B is still deficient from the point of view of goodness.  Jesus advised us not to be concerned about what we get.  “Your Father in Heaven knows what things ye have need of.”  Why is it that people believe in God, but they don’t believe in Goodness? – I keep asking.

What Is and What Is Not Required To Satisfy Premise C?

In one way, Premise C is more demanding.  It requires that we give without worrying about whether or not we will receive.  On the other hand, it confers more freedom.  “From each according to his inclinations; to each according to his need.”  But does it require perfection?  I think not.  Suppose, for a moment, that I am given to rash impulse buying on my credit card.  Soon I have developed a bad credit picture.  Must I be good enough to curb this destructive appetite by force of will alone?  Certainly not.  In a moment of lucidity I may destroy the credit card and call the issuer to cancel my account.  I have removed the danger by contriving to alter my personal social institutions.  (Never mind, for now, that I can’t rent a car.  I’ll get around that another way.)  This shows that one can do in cold blood what one may not be able to do under the pressure of an emotional situation.  (The reason that we are horrified by a “cold-blooded killer” is that we all know that we expect to do the right thing when we are not emotionally exercised.)  This is all that is required to alter our institutions to remove corrupting influences from society.

Suppose two companies, by coincidence, are manufacturing physically identical, but chemically different, unmarked bars of soap in an economy that has already recognized that packaging soap contributes unacceptably to the volume of waste.  Manufacturer Y, whose bar uses less expensive ingredients, can easily introduce his soap into the consumer pipeline as an impostor for that of manufacturer X.  Must he have enough integrity to change the shape of his bars or otherwise mark them to avoid letting Y-soap be sold as X-soap, presumably, at a higher price?  Of course not.  Under Premise C everything is free, so manufacturer Y has nothing to lose by changing the shape of his bars.  It’s the right thing to do and the changes he must make to his manufacturing process are free too.  For that matter, he may decide to improve the quality of his soap and the formula used by X is a matter of public record.  He may, in fact, decide that he can provide greater variety to the public by making a slightly different product.  The necessity to sacrifice an advantage to himself isn’t even in the picture.

Suppose a man’s neighbor’s wife throws herself at him.  Must he renounce personal pleasure to avoid causing his neighbor distress in the event that the neighbor should find out what has happened?  He does not have to be good enough to renounce pleasure under these circumstances to satisfy Premise C.  How then can a society be built on an economic premise that is no better than this?  In the first place, the situation is not likely to arise in a society where nothing can be gained by deliberately creating an image of sexual attractiveness in order to sell vanity products.  In a society where sexual repression is not part of the moral code, the need for special events to satisfy sexual appetites is less likely to arise.  Sexuality is normalized.  Sexual taboos exacerbate sexual frustration, which, in turn, leads to undesirable behavior, just as the prohibition of drug taking leads to excesses in the use of drugs.  There is less reason why the man should want his neighbor’s wife, nor do the circumstances exist to make the husband of her neighbor more attractive to the woman.  Sex is no longer an arena for competition.  The economic conditions have been abolished that could lead to marital disorder due to the business activities of any of the principals.  And, finally, it is possible that marriage as we know it may no longer be considered rational once the superstitions that are used to reinforce the work ethic have been removed.

A representative of a small community is asked to make arrangements with the operators of a water conservation project that provides water for the community.  He is forced to make some concessions that may not be favorable to all of the members of the community.  Does he have to be good enough not to disguise the true circumstances under which the concessions were made in order to enhance his likelihood of being re-elected to the post of representative?  No, because he will not serve again as representative in any case.  The new representative will be chosen randomly.  He has only to be honest under circumstances that will have no effect on his well-being, except that he will most certainly gain more respect by being honest than by prevaricating.

It is easy to give examples like these, but to complete the case I would have to provide an exhaustive list.  These few examples should illustrate how one might carry this out.  The important point is that man does not have to ask God to deliver him from temptation; he can deliver himself from temptation.  He is good enough to satisfy the requirements of this system of morals without further evolution.

10. Living in harmony with Nature brings out the best in Human Nature.

Many scientists believe that our love of natural beauty has evolved because of the ecological importance of leaving Nature undisturbed; however, the two major monotheistic religions come from a part of the world that is hard to live in.  Perhaps it’s hard to appreciate its natural beauty too.  This could account for their choices of religions that do not encourage respect for the environment nearly so much as the religions they replaced, namely, pantheism and paganism.  After all, if there is a god living in every stream and every tree, it might be harder to despoil it for one’s own purpose than if there were one abstract god who, regardless of what is taught, is always thought of as being somewhere else.  One could surmise, then, that environmental destruction is more an artifact of one’s tribal religion than an innate characteristic of human nature.  If, in fact, monotheism is the only religion that permits man to ignore the local gods of Nature, then it is no wonder that Capitalism became an artifact of monotheism, as no other political economy could leave Nature less undisturbed.

July 28, 2007

11. Everywhere I look the intrinsic harmony of Nature is apparent.

It is apparent that the author believes in the intrinsic harmony of Nature.  This appears to be a religious tenet.

12. We assume Socrates, or his modern surrogates, can spread truth from person to person on a one-to-one basis.

Every person in the world is separated from truth by at most “six degrees”.  This is the six-degrees-of-separation idea that claims every person in the world is separated from every other person by only five people, numbered two through six, the original subject knows Person 2, who knows Person 3, etc.  I can relate myself to the most outlandish people imaginable by fewer degrees than that.  Take the bat boy for the Boston Red Socks, a baseball team.  I know a girl who dated Ted William, who must have met at least one of the current active Red Socks, who knows the bat boy.  I could work the same trick for someone famous – Yasser Arafat, say.

Unfortunately, spreading wisdom like Socrates, walking about engaging in discourse, suffers from the same difficulty as do “pyramid clubs”.  Eventually, no new people can be found as we keep running into the same people.  Our case has the merit, though, that ideas can spread like wildfire as they do not run into cash-flow problems – as do televangelists and Ponzi schemers.  I will have more to say about spreading these ideas in Chapter 12, the last chapter in the book.

On Knowledge

13. The laws of physics are reasonably invariant for all practical purposes.

As discussed above, the fundamental laws of physics are not changing under the pressure of inquiry.  Nor, do they vary between Detroit and Cleveland – nor between Christmas and New Years Eve.

14. Faith in reasoning:  The fundamental laws of reasoning (logic) as expressed by set theory, sentential calculus, symbolic logic, etc. are reliable.

15. Macrofacts are reliable; microfacts are unreliable.

Iraq is a country in the Middle East.  The ruler is a man called Saddam Hussein.  If I wish, I can find out if he is left-handed or right-handed.  These I term macrofacts.  They can be discovered by anyone and they may be believed without reservation.  If I am told what was said to Saddam by our ambassador, how Saddam came to power, what his intentions have been toward Saudi Arabia, I am inclined to discount what is said one-hundred percent.  These are microfacts.  They involve details that are difficult if not impossible to verify.

I am reminded of a rather longish passage in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez:

Tormented by the certainty that he was his wife’s brother, Aureliano ran out of the parish house to search through the moldy and moth-eaten archives for some clue to his parentage.  The oldest baptismal certificate that he found was that of Amaranta Buendia, baptized in adolescence by Father Nicanor Reyna during the time he was trying to prove the existence of God by means of tricks with chocolate.  He began to have the feeling that he was one of the seventeen Aurelianos, whose birth certificates he tracked down as he went through four volumes, but the baptism dates were too far back for his age.  Seeing him lost in the labyrinths of kinship, trembling with uncertainty, the arthritic priest, who was watching him from his hammock, asked him compassionately what his name was.

“Aureliano Buendia,” he said.

“Then don’t wear yourself out searching,” the priest exclaimed with final conviction.  “Many years ago there used to be a street with that name and in those days people had the custom of naming their children after streets.”

Aureliano trembled with rage.

“So, he said, “You don’t believe it either.”

“Believe what?”

“That Colonel Aureliano Buendia fought thirty-two civil wars and lost them all,” Aureliano answered.  “That the army hemmed in and machine-gunned three thousand workers and that their bodies were carried off to be thrown into the sea on a train with two hundred cars.”

The priest measured him with a pitying look.

“Oh, my son,” he signed.  “It’s enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.”

The priest has no faith whatever in microfacts and in only the most essential macrofacts.  He is an agnostic of the strictest sort.  He might accept the existence of a country called Iraq but without commitment and only in a case of absolute necessity.  He holds himself to higher standards than I – even.  I am gullible compared to the priest; nevertheless, my conservatism with respect to our knowledge of the past ought to satisfy the most skeptical among us.  I have retained as articles of faith statements about events that are believed by nearly everyone without reservation.  Certainly, I am entitled to state as proven a great deal more than I have staked a claim to – in particular, the theories on human motivation are entitled to a more dignified position than I have claimed for them.  The world W′ is more than hypothetical.

16. We assume that we may enlarge our knowledge of the world by the evidence of the senses (perhaps enhanced by scientific instruments) and logic.

How We Obtain Knowledge

We have agreed upon the existence of some sort of objective reality.  Also, we agree that we ourselves exist, as do the events that take place in our minds.  Thus, we may rely upon the experiences we have of the world through the evidence of the senses.  Also, we may extend and amplify our senses by employing various scientific instruments.  We understand that radio waves received by giant receptors are part of our experience.  Most of us learn through reasoning and judgment applied to observations, which should be generalized to include sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, and cognizance of psychical events in our own minds.  From time to time, scientists and others perform what are known as experiments.  Experiments involve observations, but they also involve various contrivances that determine what is observed.  Some experiments are useful, others are not.

Clearly, faculties other than reason are employed to help us determine what to observe.  For that matter, it is not absolutely clear what it is that makes us decide to take the next step in a line of reasoning.  Thus, we do not wish to deny the existence of faculties other than our powers of reasoning, our judgment, and our physical senses.  (Most scientists employ methodologies that are far from the neat little “scientific methods” taught to school children.  Many people would be amazed at how chaotic the process of “doing” science really is.)  It is not my intention to discuss the nature of intuition here.  Many people believe intuition comes only from experience.  The point that I wish to make here is that, in the determination of public policy, only reason and the evidence of the senses may be applied directly even if divine inspiration played a role in constructing the line of reasoning we employ.  We may not enter as evidence, in a debate over public policy, divine revelation, conversations with a deity, or any irrational process.  These things may or may not exist (irrational processes certainly exist) and may or may not aid observation and reasoning, but they may not replace them.

Nor do we require the introduction of “supernatural” faculties to enhance our ability to make judgments about the nature of the world, modulo uncertainty, or to make decisions as to the conduct of our own lives.  Applying only the evidence of our senses and our reasoning, we can defend a comprehension of objective truth that is substantial enough that people can embrace it without fear of diminishing themselves as human beings, that is, without fear of becoming less human.  We can reap the benefits of knowledge and understanding and we do not have to believe anything that would trouble a reasonable mind – except for a few points in quantum theory that won’t affect this thesis.  I have attempted to define what I mean by external truth in the last chapter.

When I say “modulo uncertainty”, I am saying something that has a definite technical meaning in terms of the thinking of Heisenberg and Gödel.  I am recognizing that some things are naturally unknowable.  In modulo arithmetic, we neglect certain differences between numbers.  We say two equals four modulo two and that eight o’clock is eight o’clock every day whether it be AM or PM when we use an old-fashioned clock that tells time modulo twelve.  (If it is 10am and we wish to know what time it will be in six hours, we add 6 to 10 to get 16.  Then we neglect multiples of 12, in this case 12 itself, to get 4PM; i.e., 10 + 6 -12 = 4.)  What I mean by modulo uncertainty is that two interpretations of an event that differ only with respect to the unknowable or the undecidable are logically equivalent; i.e., we neglect the unknowable or undecidable.  We believe, for example, that we cannot ascertain both the position and momentum of an electron nor will it ever be possible to deduce that the laws of arithmetic are consistent; nevertheless, we must assume that the things we need to know for the purposes of this discussion can be known.

This work is based on faith in our ability to understand reality, as well as it can be understood, employing observation, including observation of the events that occur in our own minds, and reasoning alone, without the aid of the supernatural or special mystical revelation, rejecting completely the direct applicability of personal divine revelation to public affairs, whether or not intuition or divine inspiration plays a role in what we choose to observe or how we reason.  It should not be construed, however, that the exact procedure according to which reasoning, intuition, experiment, and observation interact during the scientific creative process is well understood.  We are reminded by Lakatos [13] and Popper [14] that we learn from our mistakes; we employ the method of proofs and refutations (or – more simply stated – trial and error).

As a corollary of the position that experimentation and observation, i.e., the evidence of the senses, and reason are adequate to understand the facts of reality, we must assume that modern man is in a better position to assess reality than were the ancients.  While it is possible, even certain, that facts formally known have been irretrievably lost, we should not make use of unsupported statements and predictions found in books written by authors who belong to the pre-scientific eras.  Unless someone can demonstrate the mechanism by which a biblical prophet was able to understand the nature of conflict in the Middle East in 1990, we would be foolish indeed to base our national policy upon it, as some members of the clergy imply we should do.  We simply have to assume that we are in a better position now to assess events in the world than was ancient man, claims to divine guidance notwithstanding.

The Role of Knowledge in Education

In education we should be concerned primarily with (i) learning how to think, (ii) the languages, including music and mathematics, and, lastly and least importantly, (iii) some knowledge of true facts – excluding biased propaganda inserted into curricula to ensure a supply of well-behaved, docile workers – true facts such as the location of Singapore, how sulfuric acid is made, the latest theories in physics and their logical predecessors and their history, as well as similar points of interest.  All of this must constitute a body of true statements, which were defined in Chapter 3.  There is no place for falsity in education.  It is one thing to explain all sides of an open question and quite another to present one of them as though it were true.  Of course, acquaintance with a reasonable portion of the world’s great works of art and literature might be subsumed under (ii), but this is something that we will arrange to do on our own, seeking the guidance of true artists when we get to know them.

A Minimal Proper Religion

17. To avoid infinite regression, we assume that aesthetics, reasonableness (or reason), and utility are a valid guide for making philosophical judgments.  We recognize that judgments that satisfy these tests may not be infallible.

This was established in Chapter 1 in the section “Building a Philosophy and Establishing a Social Contract”.

18. Never to be conceived creatures have no philosophical status or rights.  All other creatures are non-comparable.

Let us consider for a moment the philosophical meaning or status of a never to be conceived living creature as opposed to a being yet to be conceived, e.g., posterity.  Upon reflection, we agree that, even taking into account the quantum theory, a never to be conceived human being is a meaningless concept in the context of the pro-choice/pro-life debate.  He lives in a so-called parallel universe.  The understanding of the universe in which we actually live is proving to be an insurmountable task.  We have no basis for making the first judgment in a parallel universe as everything there might be different.  To say that, “If Einstein’s parents had not met, the theory of relativity would have been discovered by someone else” may have meaning to me; but, “If Einstein’s parents had not met, the universe would have no planetary systems that could support life” is just as meaningful philosophically.  The point is: Einstein’s parents did meet.  The statement, “If Einstein’s father had conceived a child of Marie Curie, we would have a Grand Unified Field Theory” is meaningless too.  The never conceived child of Einstein’s father and Pierre Curie’s wife has no status philosophically.

Fig. 4-1.  Closeness in potentiality of five identifiable objects.

I would like to show that, if one is concerned about the potentiality of a human zygote, one must be nearly as concerned about the combination event of a sperm about to collide with an egg, shown in the small box in Fig. 4-1.  This event may evolve into a zygote or, with a much greater probability, it may evolve into a reflected sperm and an unpenetrated egg (a “miss”), which is philosophically equivalent to a never to be conceived human being.  Thus, the formation of a zygote is an event that is close to an imminent collision between a sperm and an egg in space-time, but the two events may not be close in terms of potentiality.  Nevertheless, what is taken to be close in terms of potentiality is arbitrary and the two events in question may be close enough in the judgment of a reasonable person that he makes no moral judgment.  (As in the well-known joke, the million-dollar prostitute and the five-dollar prostitute differ only in degree not in principle.)  Once we have established that the potentiality of an imminent collision is close to the potentiality of a zygote, we may dismiss our concern over the potentiality of the zygote because the potentiality of the imminent collision is even closer to the potentiality of a “miss”, which has no human potential at all.  (If A is close to C and B is close to C, then A is close to B.  (Careful analysts will notice that this applies only in a realm under consideration where distance is defined, which may not be the case in the realm of human potentiality; therefore, the remark retains metaphorical content only.))  An imminent collision is also close in potentiality to all of the unejaculated sperm and unovulated eggs until the end of time.  The situation is represented in Fig. 4-1.  It would be madness to be concerned about their potential humanity because the number of potential humans lost would be an astronomical number that would dwarf in magnitude the sum total of all other events in the history of humanity.

Let us estimate the number of lost potential human beings to date.  Suppose we assume that half the people who have ever lived are alive now.  Further assume, conservatively, that each human has only twenty years of potential procreativity.  Finally suppose that each female has 1 egg per month ´ 12 months per year ´ 20 years = 240 eggs and each male is capable of ejaculating 367.5 million sperm, which is about average, five days a week for twenty years, i.e., 5 ´ 52 ´ 20 ´ 3.675E108 = 1.911E1012 sperm.  Since every sperm may have combined with any one of the eggs depending upon accidents of birth etc., we have 5.0E109 males ´ 1.911E1012 sperm per male ´ 5E109 females ´ 240 eggs per female = 1.15E1034 potential humans per generation.  Suppose my result is too high by a factor of a ten thousand.  We must still contemplate ten to the thirtieth power potential humans who could have been born but were not born.  That’s a million million million million million.  We don’t mean that they all could have been born, but that any one of them could have been born.  (We haven’t even taken into account all the possible ways in which the genetic material of the gametes may combine, each combination representing a different potential human being.)  The only concern we need to have concerning these potential human beings is that some people may try to arrange for more of them to be born to satisfy the yearnings of childless couples, for love or money; and, of course, to satisfy the insatiable curiosity and greed of biological researchers.  The proverb states:  “Anything that can be done will be done.”  Clearly, the human race can prevent some things from being done in unacceptable ways.  Dissatisfied individuals are beginning to flex their muscles.  Mock trials, to provide circuses for the people, are not a factor in this equation, which is about little people fighting powerful interests any way they can.  I do not threaten; I predict, only, that we shall see much more of this and on a much greater scale.

I regret that I must leave up to human judgment the closeness in potential to becoming a human being of (1) an imminent collision (between a sperm and an egg) and of (2) being a zygote.  I suppose that this is at the cutting edge of the debate.  Some will say that the potentiality of the zygote is, in fact, certainty, i.e., that a zygote is a human being.  I find it far-fetched to imagine that a human being is a one-celled creature or that a one-celled creature is a human being.  If we could agree that it is not, it would be easy to argue that an extremely undeveloped fetus is not a human being either.  I believe that in order to have a soul one must have memories, hopes, dreams, and reflections; and in order to be considered a human being one must have a soul.  Thus, in my philosophy, zygotes and very young fetuses are not human beings even though they are human zygotes and fetuses.  (To avoid the difficulty with the word being I could refer to a human person instead, as I recognize animals as people, but, of course, not human – fortunately.)

The religionists, on the other hand, believe that the soul has supernatural origins and can be implanted in the fetus without the fetus having had experiences.  But, the imposition of religious beliefs upon the general public is precisely what is prohibited in the first clause of the First Amendment.  The second clause protects the free exercise of religion, which guarantees that no one may be required to have an abortion, but it also guarantees us the right to take the drugs of our choice.  In my opinion, the reason that the nation is so screwed up is that people making important decisions have not taken enough drugs.  Imagine that!  (“Turn on; tune in; and drop out!”)

August 13, 1992

19. Newcomers to this world have a right to expect to find a rational society governed by rational morals.

This was stated in Chapter 1 in the section on the social contract.

20. Human beings belong to themselves.  No one can assign an extrinsic purpose to another individual.

This was established in Chapter 3.

21. We agree that our laws, if we have any, should be congruent with rational morals.  If we do not have laws, our behavior should be governed by rational morals with which we have been indoctrinated as small (pre-reason) children.

This is proved in some of my older essays.  Also, it was argued in Chapter 1.

22. We accept the three moral axioms including the definition of “imposing upon the freedom of another human social link”.

The prohibition of business and commerce (and the concomitant introduction of wealth-sharing) is the only aspect of my moral axioms upon which I expect widespread disagreement.  Even the reasoning about one child per person (the Token Theorem) will be widely accepted soon enough that the population will stabilize at ten billion by 2050 – I hope.

Definition (“imposing upon the freedom of another human social link”).  If an action interferes with the freedom of another social link, but it would not if the members of that link adjusted their mental outlooks appropriately without any other adjustment being made, no violation of Axiom 1 has occurred; i.e., this is not a case of “imposing upon the freedom of another human social link”.  Only if the victim’s outlook is irrelevant, is the perpetrator guilty of “imposing upon the freedom of another social link”.  The point is that we disallow imaginary offenses.

Comment.  The previous definition explains why this code of morals forbids trade and so-called reproductive rights, but does not forbid taking drugs and having whatever forms of sex one pleases (so long as an axiom be not violated).  An extremely compelling reason for accepting my interpretation of the Freedom Axiom as opposed to the interpretation of the Libertarian Party, say, is that my interpretation eliminates all, or at worst nearly all, of the problems that plague society, whereas the interpretation that tolerates commerce, for example, exacerbates them.  It is no use claiming that the prohibition of business is tyranny, because, if anyone engages in business, no one is free.  This will be proved by explicit examples in the sequel, even though the a priori reasoning given in Chapter 3 is conclusive.  (“It is impossible to provide an excessive number of proofs of a proposition that no one believes.”)

23. We assume our three moral axioms can be used in a reasonable fashion to define rights and, in turn, justice.

This is obvious and, for that matter, we have done it.  It could be dropped as an assumption.

Definition (Rights)Rights are (i) freedoms that don’t violate accepted morals and (ii) entitlements that are guaranteed by accepted morals.

Definition (Justice).  Justice is the state of human society wherein one of two conditions prevails: (i) all relevant moral requirements have been met or (ii) in case there has been a breach of morals the following events have occurred: (a) the damage due to the breach of morals has been repaired and restitution has been made to the victim(s) and (b) the violator has been dealt with in an appropriate manner, which might not involve punishment or revenge.

24. We assume that all rational morals can be derived from our three moral axioms without grey areas arising.  Such morals will be consistent and withstand the tests of aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility.

In this essay we assume that a rational code of morals can be derived from the three basic moral axioms presented in Chapter 3 and that that code of morals can be the basis of, if not identical with, the laws that govern society, which laws, as discussed above might be derived automatically by an inference engine, perhaps as the need arises, i.e., to determine if a proposed action is legal or not.  This would eliminate the need for lawyers, legislators, and, for all practical purposes, judges.  (It is difficult to see, though, how we could dispense with individual good judgment any time soon, nor do I see any reason why we should want to.  It is more likely that we could dispense with the inference engine.  One of the functions of an education is to facilitate the congruence of individual judgments with the dictates of reason.)  In a modern world with humanized, low-energy technology, people can make their wishes known on any question of public procedure directly, by means of a computer and a modem (or even a touch-tone phone, which might as well be a computer); they do not need representatives to vote for them.  [Lately (1991), Rob Lewis [15] has posed an objection to this idea, but I don’t think his objection would be insurmountable in a cooperative society.]

25. We reject arbitrary, personal, or taboo morality as a basis for public policy.

We have said enough about this already.  What is more to the point, many other authors have said even more.  Bertrand Russell solved the problem of sexual prudery decades ago.  My essays on drugs in Vol. 1 of Ref. 2 and occasional comments on sex should help.  At this writing I do not know if there will be an essay on sex in Vol. II or III of my collected papers [3].  Obviously, my moral system does not consider sex immoral unless the Freedom Axiom or the Truth Axiom be violated.  I hesitate to give an example of how far I will go in my sexual permissiveness, as I can offend nearly every twentieth-century person with my wildly inventive liberal imagination.

26. Unverified events whether taking place exclusively in the Universe, our Minds, in the realm of the Ideals, or in the Relations or not are excluded from the discussion of public policy – just as they would be discarded as evidence in a legal hearing.

Any knowledge based on events that cannot be replicated or observed by impartial observers under any circumstances whatever are to be excluded from discussion of public policy.  This prohibits the introduction into public policy of the miracles ascribed to certain religious figures and the religions or religious beliefs based upon them.

Social Change

27. We shall assume that a social system that retains residual institutionalized injustice is unacceptable as a basis for permanence.

A social system that retains residual institutionalized injustice must be rejected as an ideal.  If we can show that injustice, at least institutionalized injustice, can be eliminated, then we must not rest until the goal of eliminating institutionalized injustice is achieved.  It is unacceptable to say, “The world is unfair,” as though it always will be.  One of the primary goals of mankind should be to ensure justice for everyone, everywhere, including plants and animals, therefore it was necessary to define justice as the state of human society wherein one of two conditions prevails: (1) all relevant moral requirements have been met or (2) in case there has been a breach of morals, the following events have occurred: (a) the damage due to the breach of morals has been repaired and restitution has been made to the victim(s) and (b) the violator has been dealt with suitably.  Injustice is deviation from justice.

Condition 2b of the definition of justice raises the question of punishment and revenge.  Undoubtedly, revenge is the least attractive feature of the concept of justice.  We would prefer not to see the issue arise.  Usually, it represents a foolish attempt to make a “right” out of two “wrongs”.  In Chapter 3, we discussed at length the meaning of “dealt with suitably” under each of the following circumstances: (i) the transgressor accepts our moral code and (ii) he (or she) does not.

28. I assume that at least one hypothetical feasible path of constant improvement connects this society with a cooperative (ideal) society.

This is an extremely important assumption and I make it in the first person.  Further, I assume that our present world, W, is already the same as the world  in which the theories of Deci and Ryan hold or theories close enough for our purposes obtain.  Further, as soon as the overwhelming majority of people accept these assumptions or equivalent ones, this world will have evolved into W, which is the name we give to such a world.  Later on we shall attempt to prove that this world can evolve into W if and only if we abandon materialism, therefore the reader should scrutinize these assumptions carefully and, in addition, look for hidden assumptions.

Human Society in Historical Times

At this point in the essay I wish to make an important observation, which, if it is in doubt, will have to be considered an assumption.  If it is not self-evident, it is a crucial assumption as I shall base about half of my political philosophy upon it.  To wit: the history of human society can be characterized by two major tendencies.  (The first tendency is the seemingly endless cycles of corruption and revolution, i.e., government becoming sufficiently corrupt that revolution, usually under the guidance and perhaps genius of a charismatic leader, is the only reasonable course.  “Every revolution is hopeless until the night before it occurs.”  The tyranny, however entrenched, is overthrown and a new and more just regime takes power.  Regrettably, power corrupts and yesterday’s charismatic and heroic leader becomes the new tyrant who quite generally needs to be overthrown himself (or occasionally herself) after a not very long period of relative grace.  This is an unsatisfactory way of carrying on for all the obvious reasons.

Fig. 4-2.  The Spiral of History.

The second major tendency is the overthrow of one conservative doctrine after another.  This may, in fact, represent overall long-term improvement or it may not.  The overthrow of the conservative doctrine that heavier than air devices will not fly has not been particularly felicitous from my view although I am certain that the majority will disagree with me even after reading Chapter 2.

The combination of these two tendencies ensures that history does not repeat itself as indicated in Figure 4-2.

Problems and Solutions

Every problem that is stated in such a way that it makes sense can be resolved satisfactorily in one of several ways: (i) by proving that no solution exists, (ii) by finding a unique solution, (iii) by showing that multiple solutions exist, determining how many, whether it be a finite or infinite number, and exhibiting some or all of the solutions.  A less satisfactory resolution is to show that we will never know whether a solution exists or not.  A solution might exist, but the probability of finding it might be zero.  All the levels of uncertainty above and beyond that level of uncertainty represent increasingly less desirable resolutions of the problem.

Schumacher [16] engages in a lengthy discussion concerning what he calls convergent and divergent problems.  Divergent problems are presumed to have no clear-cut solution; they are in what we call the “grey area”.  Divergent problems arise because of trade-offs one is forced to make between irreconcilable opposing principles, such as the principle of law and order and the principle of freedom.  I believe in divergent solutions, but I do not believe in divergent problems.  I believe these conflicts arise because one is employing the wrong principles or one is employing the right principles but the principles have not been stated sufficiently sharply.  I believe that, outside of mathematical constructions, one can always find a higher principle with which one can adjudicate unambiguously between opposing lower principles.  Principles conflict because we are not employing the right principles.  True divergent problems, in the sense of Schumacher, turn out to arise from trying to do things that should not be done.  This requires a tremendous leap of faith, equivalent to belief in God even.  No proof of this is forthcoming.  The best we can do is give as many examples as possible to show how the principle works in practice.  In Chapter 3, I stated that my system of three moral axioms eliminates grey areas.  However, the reader is invited to construct a thought experiment (hypothetical circumstance) that is not covered by my moral system.  Then, as an exercise, he may show that he is mistaken.  Although it is no substitute for a proof, I will send a box of fruit to anyone who can stump me.  Remember, I am permitted to reject the circumstance if it could not arise in a society with no artificial economic contingency.  I offer a similar challenge with respect to “divergent problems” mutatis mutandis.

We know that one cannot trisect an arbitrary angle, in plane geometry, with the aid of a ruler and compass only.  We cannot nor will we ever.  Of course, we can trisect a 270° angle, but that is not arbitrary.  In one sense, the impossibility derives from the fact that there is no integer that when multiplied by three equals two raised to an integer power; i.e., there is no integer N (....-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,....) such that 3N equals two squared, or two cubed, etc.  In another sense, the impossibility is of the same nature as the impossibility of being dealt five aces from a standard 52-card deck.  We cannot solve nor will we ever be able to solve arbitrary quintic polynomial equations and polynomial equations of higher degree by simple rational processes such as we use to find the roots of quadratic equations, that is, by adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and taking roots.  (Of course we can solve x5 - 1 = 0, which is not an arbitrary quintic polynomial.)  We have proofs of the two impossibilities mentioned.

However, no proof has ever been supplied for the impossibility of performing a given physical feat, let alone solving a social problem.  Even travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, which is supposed to be a fundamental constant of the universe, depends on the correctness of this extremely crucial (assumed, not proven) premise of the special theory of relativity.  Although the special theory of relativity is almost certain to be overthrown eventually, this particular premise may, in fact, be true in spite of everything.  In this work, we have faith that the problems of humanity have solutions, not necessarily unique.  If someone believes that no solutions exist, he (or she) should try to supply a proof.

One Step at a Time

I believe that at least one feasible path of constant improvement exists connecting this society with a cooperative society.  The nonexistence of that path requires a proof.  Such nonexistence proofs are very difficult to find, however.  If we construct such a feasible path, even in a valid thought experiment, we will have proved its existence within the space of all possible worlds in space-time.

This path of constant improvement can be traversed by a long series of small steps.  The end, normally, does not justify the means, therefore each step should be an improvement.  Thus, we should not permit leaders to guide us on this path.  Strong leadership would be a step backward and any leader may become dangerously strong if we rely upon him or her.  We must rely upon ourselves – sharing responsibility equally and isocratically according to the methods outlined in this thesis.  A generic world-bettering plan described in the text is assumed to be possible under this restriction.  There are no “divergent” problems (in the sense of Schumacher).  (This is a huge assumption and I make it in the first-person singular.)  More than any other assumption, this assumption requires a leap of faith – in humanity.  Thus, this philosophy, like every humanistic philosophy, is essentially – a religion – a minimal proper religion.  We shall require a Grand Social Experiment to see if it might be true; but, if the first such experiment fails, we shall have to try again.  Any other course is unacceptable to me and to some of my fellow humanists.

When the End Does Not Justify the Means

[A] corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. – Matthew 7:17

It is an article of faith in this system that the end does not justify the means if the means be evil.  Jeremy Bentham [12] takes the idea that the end justifies the means to be a fallacy of confusion that appeals to judgment (ad judicium), i.e., to bad judgment, except under the following conditions, all of which must be satisfied: (i) the end be good, (ii) the means be either purely good, or, if evil, having less evil in them on a balance than there is of real good in the end, and (iii) the means have more of good in them, or less of evil, as the case may be, than any others which might have been used to attain the end – to quote Bentham loosely.  I have some difficulty in accepting (ii) and (iii).  I do not see how the evil in the means can be compared to the good in the ends nor how the evil in one set of measure can be compared to the evil in another in the general case.  The deeds of men are not a partially ordered set in the mathematical sense and, therefore, the relations “less than”, “greater than”, and “equal to” do not make sense when applied to them.  Under very special circumstances, for example, when the end is to save the lives of n men and the means is to sacrifice the lives of m men, where m is less than n, the conditions apply for the very reason that they do not apply in the general case, namely, that human beings do not belong to partially ordered sets either, so it is not possible to assert that the lesser number of men can be superior or worth more than the greater number.  In the absence of any way to evaluate the worth of the men, one must assume that it is better for fewer to die than for more to die, all other things being equal.

I take it as an article of faith, and, I suppose it must be considered an article of religious faith, that good does not proceed from evil, that the spiritual nature of man is such that the results of evil acts are generally even more evil.  I cannot prove this.  It is merely an empirical law to which I cannot recall seeing an exception.  Let’s look at an example.  While it is true that prohibition permitted the ruling class to become more integrated racially, I do not perceive this as a good upon close inspection, as the existence of the ruling class is itself an evil, despite the fact that no race has a better right to belong to it than another.  Thus, each apparently worthwhile end that justifies evil means turns out, on close inspection, to be corrupt.  That is what I believe.

A Generic Evolutionary World-Bettering Plan

Given that it has been decided that our social-political-economic system is to evolve into a system that will provide a permanent basis upon which we can build, it is necessary only to characterize the nature of our world-bettering plan.  The four tasks that must be accomplished to initiate any evolutionary world-bettering plan are: (i) characterizing the tentative “ideal” or target world, which is provisional and subject to updates, (ii) proving by thought experiments, computer simulations, sociological experiments, and by construction that there exists a feasible path of gradual and continuous improvement (actually, upon close inspection, a large number of jumps, most of which would be characterized as quantum leaps in the vernacular) connecting this world with the ideal world, (iii) convincing people that the results of (i) and (ii) are correct, and (iv) embarking upon the path.  Without an ideal to which we can refer we would never know what the next social change should be since we would never know if we were getting closer to the ideal or not, the views of Popper refuted in Chapter 1 notwithstanding.  I favor social evolution through thousands of small, but significant, changes, of which all are in the right direction.  [Actually, some of the changes I recommend, e.g., canceling all foreign debt, would not be characterized as small by most people; but, in terms of the complete history of humanity, they would have to be considered small.]  As discussed above, I do not believe that the end justifies the means.  Also, the process must be adaptive, i.e., sensitive to new information.  The evolution of this badly flawed world into an “ideal” world, then, is the means by which the problems of mankind are to be solved.  In this work, it is assumed that this is possible.

The World W*

The (hypothetical) world where all of the preceding assumptions are accepted or believed to be true, whichever is appropriate, by nearly all of the people or, if possible, have been proved to be true is known as W*.  In W*, assumptions touching upon the actual state of affairs in the universe have been tested and found to have a high probability of being true.  In Chapter 5, we shall attempt to prove that this world W, assumed to be the same as W′, can evolve into W* if and only if we abandon materialism.  I hope that the reader of this book will conclude that this statement is true and act accordingly.  I hope to change first your minds then your lives.  W is a world that involves assumptions about human nature, assumptions that are capable of being proved or falsified.  W* is a world that depends somewhat upon what is true, but it depends to a much greater extent upon what people believe – about what people believe is permitted as well as what people believe is so, in short, what people are willing to agree upon.

The World W″

The world W″ is a hypothetical world that resembles W′ , except that in W″ three additional conditions are met.  We have no idea if these conditions will be satisfied ever, let alone by 2030 or 2050 when we shall desperately need them to be satisfied.  Otherwise we are looking at unspeakable misery in the near future.  To determine if these conditions can be met and, then, to meet them should be the primary preoccupation of the present generation.  The vast differences in the nature of the assumptions or evidence that lead to the worlds W, W*, and W″ should be obvious to the reader.  The characteristics of W″, then, are:

1.   The Characteristics of W

2.   A Stable (Human) Population

The population will be stable at about ten billion human beings or, preferably, closer to the optimum population size, i.e., a sufficient number of people that succor from one’s fellows is available when needed, not so many people that the quality of individual lives is appreciably reduced, the opportunity for as many people as possible, consistent with the previous two conditions, to be able to enjoy the blessings of having been alive.

3.   Adequate High-Grade Renewable (Sustainable) Energy

In W″, renewable energy technology adequate to provide the energy per capita equivalent to one kilowatt-hour per hour of 110-volt 60 Hz AC will be available.  This is the standard for emergy calculations, therefore we have one emergy unit per hour per capita.

4.   Sufficiency of One Kilowatt Per Capita Emergy Budget

We assume that every human being can live on 1 kWhr/hr – or simply an average rate of consumption of emergy units equivalent to 1 kW of 110 AC, 60-Hz electricity.  (Since this is based on power plant electricity, it represents more energy than 1 kWhr/hr.  For example, if half were coal and the rest electricity, the rate of energy consumption would be about 2 kW.)  This per capita rate of emergy consumption is assumed to be adequate for a satisfactory life wherein happiness for everyone is possible if not guaranteed.  The matching problem, providing lower grade energy to those uses for which it is adequate (optimal) so as not to lose availability converting lower-grade energy to higher-grade energy that is not needed, has been solved.  This was discussed in slightly more detail in Chapter 2.

We have no idea if these conditions can be met in time.  I must insist that to determine if these conditions can be met should be the highest priority for technological research.  Every other topic is of much less importance – unless I am badly mistaken.  It is my intention to belabor this point wherever I can and to continue to ask that this research be done even if I have to do it myself for which I would need about ten million dollars – a mere pittance.  (I estimate the manpower requirement at about 200 man-years.  I believe I could manage 100 undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs, who must be completely committed and incapable of making the slightest uncorrected error.)  The adequacy of one kilowatt per capita of emergy has been assumed.  I can’t believe that primitive people are that much more intelligent than are we – such that they can be happy on much less than one kilowatt and we cannot be happy on one kilowatt.  I agree that I am leaving our desire to live forever out of the equation!

September 28, 1990

Revised August 13, 1992

Revised July 21, 1993

Revised completely September 24, 1995

Revised completely December 11, 1996

Revised July 3, 1997

Revised January 1, 2006


1.         Baggott, Jim, The Meaning of Quantum Theory, Oxford Science Publication, New York (1992).

2.         The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Lawrence Urdang, Editor in Chief, Random House, New York (1968).

3.         Wayburn, Thomas L., The Collected Papers of Thomas Wayburn, Vol. I, American Policy Inst., Houston (1996), and The Collected Papers of Thomas Wayburn, Vol. II and III, American Policy Inst., Houston (Work in progress 1997).

4.         Gatto, John Taylor, “The 7-Lesson Schoolteacher”, The Truth Seeker, 118, No.4 (1991).

5.         Piaget, Jean, The Origins of Intelligence in Children, Int’l. Universities Press, New York (1952).

6.         Deci, Edward L. and Richard M. Ryan, Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior, Plenum Press, New York (1985).

7.         Deci, Edward L. and Richard M. Ryan, “A Motivational Approach to Self: Integration in Personality,” Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 1990, Dept. of Psychology, University of Rochester (1991).

8.         Condry, John, “Enhancing Motivation: A Social Developmental Perspective”, in Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Vol. 5: Enhancing Motivation, Eds. Martin L. Maehr and Douglas A. Kleiber,  JAI Press, Greenwich, Connecticut (1987).

9.         Smith, Adam, The Wealth of Nations, The Modern Library, New York (1937).

10.       Wisman, Jon, “Pour une Economie Appropriee: Une Conception de l’Homme Appropre,” The Human Economy Newsletter, 11, No.1 (1990).

11.       Smith, Adam, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Garland, New York (1971).

12.       Bentham, Jeremy, Bentham’s Handbook of Political Fallacies, Ed. Harold A. Larrabee, Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore (1952).

13.       Lakatos, Imre, Proofs and Refutations, Cambridge University Press, New York (1976).

14.       Popper, Karl, Conjectures and Refutations, Harper, New York (1965).

15.       Lewis, Rob, "Pursuing Democracy", SA: An Opinionated Journal of Opinionated Essays, 1, No.1, (1991).

16.       Schumacher, E. F., Small Is Beautiful, Economics as if People Mattered, Perennial Library, Harper and Row, New York (1973).

Chapter 5.  Materialism

To walk in money through the night crowd, protected by money, lulled by money, dulled by money, the crowd itself a money, the breath money, no least single object anywhere that is not money, money, money everywhere and still not enough, and then no money, or a little money or less money or more money, but money, always money, and if you have money or you don’t have money it is the money that counts and money makes money, but what makes money make money? – Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn

Table of Contents

Models of Society

Unified Theories

Toward a Unified Model of Society

Psychoanalytic Models

Mechanistic Models

Religious Models

Models Based on Sex

Models Based on Race

Models Based on Gender

Models Based on Sexual Orientation

Other Models

Economic Models

Ignorance and Falsehood

Artificial Economic Contingency and Materialism as a Model of Society

Two Lists of Unacceptable Aspects of Materialism Particularly Capitalism

My List

The List Compiled from Chapter 1 of The Communist Manifesto [1]


Models of Society

Unified Theories

We would like to understand the behavior of the universe and the behavior of man in terms of unified principles.  In physics, the quest for a Grand Unified Theory that explains the fundamental forces in terms of a more or less simple, but unified, underlying geometry is an example of this search for unity.  In metaphysics, generations of thinkers have tried to identify a single metaforce that accounts for all of man’s proclivities.  (If in physics we refer to forces and powers, which are, after all, technical terms, in metaphysics we should, by analogy, refer to metaforces and metapowers.)  In this paper, I would like to construct a model of society that is as unified and as simple as it can be but, in keeping with Einstein’s stricture, not simpler.

Toward a Unified Model of Society

In the previous chapter we postulated that the history of man in society can be constructed by taking the (vector) sum of two prevailing tendencies, namely, (i) the seemingly endless cycles of reform and corruption, associated, in this theory, with man’s insistence upon being led by powerful charismatic heroes as leaders and (ii) the overthrow of one conservative doctrine after another, not always with felicitous outcomes, e.g., the overthrow of the doctrine that earth is the center of the universe is at least partly responsible for the immoral, ill-advised, and patently absurd agenda to send human beings into space and to colonize extraterrestrial territories.  This is discussed in an essay “On Space Travel and Research”.  As diagrammed in Chapter 4, the (abstract) vector sum of these two tendencies is a spiral – like the spiral in a spiral notebook with time running from the bottom to the top of the spiral notebook parallel to the edge.  See Figure 4.2.  We now seek a model of society as it is presently constituted.

In keeping with our love of unity, we would like to find a single principle upon which a model of society can be based.  It does not seem to make much difference whether that principle be negative or positive.  It is often said, on the one hand, that money makes the world go ’round, while, on the other hand, money is the root of all evil.  (“They” say “the love of money”, but “they” might just as well say “money itself”.)  Thus money is the motivation for both the good and the evil in the world according to this reasoning.  If the prime mover be sex, the same observation holds.  Sex causes a great deal of mischief, but we would not want to live in a world without it.  In the following paragraphs, I shall touch upon a number of theories that are supposed to account for the behavior of humanity, but I shall end up assigning all of the evil to a single source of all human immorality, where immorality is taken to be that which we cannot tolerate aesthetically or pragmatically.  I claim that, unless this “cause” of social disorder be removed, society will not achieve the goals advocated by my theory, namely, freedom, equality, justice, happiness, and permanence.  (I place the word cause in quotation marks to signify that causality itself is in doubt, but the coincidence of systemic social defects and undesirable social consequences is not.)

Psychoanalytic Models

We might begin by noting that a number of models of society are based on psychoanalytic theories due to, for example, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Wilhelm Reich.  These theories usually suggest that something has happened to us at a very young age that has shaped our lives ever since.  Presumably, the catastrophic events occurred before we were able to make reasoned judgments about the information we were absorbing.  Many readers are better qualified to comment on these theories than am I, since I have abandoned them years ago after some first-hand experience with the proponents of the more prominent ones.  Behind each theory is the idea that, if some inner disturbance within the individual were removed, all conflicts (or most important conflicts) in living would vanish.  This may indeed be true if the inner disturbance could be removed simultaneously from every participant in social action.  The defect in any theory that concentrates on the improvement of the individual is that the improved individual will be living in an unimproved social system.  In effect I shall be asking that at some time in the future essentially every member of society be disabused of certain irrational and untenable notions, but I fail to see why this is a medical problem and, even if it is viewed simply as a psychological problem, how the relief of only those who can afford the treatment will allow everyone to live in a satisfactory world.  Nor do I see the practitioners of these methods advocating that those who enjoy power abandon it.  On the contrary, most psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are working as hard as they can to become members of the powerful and privileged class.

Mechanistic Models

It might be argued that human beings are essentially machines that are driven by their own DNA to do whatever is necessary to replicate that DNA to the greatest extent possible.  Thus the DNA forces us to be competitive and the competition causes all of our difficulties as well as our survival.  This is an attractive theory in that it does not invoke magic.  However, it neglects completely the spiritual nature of man, which clearly exists, but, in this theory, is supposed to be a simple extension of a mechanism.  According to this theory, we would not be able to save the world, because our DNA is incapable of absorbing the necessary conditions for survival.  DNA is, after all, only a molecule – not a mind.  I think that the “desire” of the DNA to replicate itself can be a useful model to explain some aspects of human behavior; but, since it leaves us without hope, I am forced to abandon the theory before I examine its ramifications in depth.  I must suppose that human beings possess minds that are capable of analyzing the tendencies of the DNA and either accepting or rejecting them.

Religious Models

The (improper) religious models of society will be discussed in some detail later on, but they can be rejected here because they do not provide a rational basis for society upon which all rational persons can agree.  In fact, the most distinctive characteristic of (improper) religious views in general has been the wide disparity of belief, which, from time to time, results in copious bloodshed and the most disorderly and undesirable human behavior described by historians.  If this behavior were necessitated by a divine intelligence, we would be in no better shape than if society were governed by unthinking molecules.  [A critic might object that all of the DNA molecules working together engender thought, but that remains to be shown.]  Models based on our failure to obey religious taboos must be rejected as irrational, and organized religions rarely preach seriously against the violation of rational morals.  This essay, preaches rational morality.

Most particularly, in this essay, we must reject the notion of original sin, which requires man to earn his living “by the sweat of his brow” as a punishment for the misbehavior of some original ancestor whose misdeed has been carried along by our DNA.  (The notion that habitual misbehavior is learned by children from their parents should probably be dismissed because no religious prophet of whom we know advocates the separation of children from their parents at birth as an expedient to breaking the chain of our supposed sinful nature.  Of course, it must be admitted that, if children were separated from their parents, it is not easy to see how they would learn to speak without associating with some adult or other who, presumably, is not without sin.  Nevertheless, I am sure the reader can imagine a number of methods for accomplishing this, perhaps by the use of computers, and, who knows, someday such methods might be tried.)  Even if the notion that bad behavior is learned from our parents be allowed, we must reject the work ethic, which is derived from the concept of original sin, because of its many drawbacks (other than having no scientific basis), namely, its responsibility for human suffering and its high impact on our environment.  This is discussed in detail in my essay “On the Work Ethic”.

Models Based on Sex

Models of society based on sex fit into the above models, but a paragraph devoted to sex alone is in order.  Perhaps man is dominated by the desire to have sex with desirable women.  Perhaps he attempts to acquire power (or wealth, power, and fame) for this purpose alone.  I believe I have heard of powerful corporate executives excusing marital infidelity on the basis that without it all of the power they have accumulated would have been wasted.  After all, even ordinary men can have sex with their wives!  On the other hand, people who are deprived of sex often exhibit deplorable behavior.  Perhaps the sublimation of sex can result in a great artist or an insane tyrant.  The effects seem to be unpredictable.  In at least one psychoanalytic theory, cf., Reich, they are almost always bad.  Perhaps, the evil in the world can be explained by the obsession of religions with sexual prudery.

Almost no one (in our culture) is capable of observing the sexual restrictions imposed upon him by the religion into which he was born.  This can result in terrible guilt and moral confusion.  Perhaps, sexual prudery perverts our normal sexual function so that it transforms itself into a horrid “will to power”, like Dr. Jekyll transformed himself into Mr. Hyde, which, in turn, leads to social disorder and human misery.  Alternatively, we could take the desire of men to dominate each other as the fundamental flaw, which leads to political and religious systems that repress human sexuality to retain power.  In either case, the animal aspect of our nature atavistically overpowers our humanity; but, in the first instance, it harms us because we attempt to repress it; and, in the second, because we do not.  In this essay, we assume that we can overcome our so-called will to power.

Models Based on Race

It is possible to analyze society in terms of race.  The white race dominates the world.  Perhaps not all of humanity is so deeply flawed as is the white race.  If only the world were dominated by Africans or Asians, so the theory might go, the world would be well-ordered and society would be harmonious.  I am certain, if one looks hard enough, one can find an advocate of the policy of eliminating the white race.  My experience of race, though, is to note the similarities under similar circumstances, although I do recognize differences in the races.  Indeed, I believe society is too much oriented toward the psyche of the white man and is dominated too much by European culture.  Nevertheless, what creates the humor in the movie Putney Swope is the reasonableness of the notion that, if African-Americans were placed in positions of power held by the richest members of the white race, they would behave nearly as badly.

Models Based on Gender

In the above discussion I emphasized man and the white man at that.  Many people, who, I suppose, must be classified as feminists, believe that it is the domination of society by the male gender that is the heart of our problem.  Men are aggressive, start wars, lust for power, especially power over women (as many women as possible, it could be argued), and, in general, do all the nasty things of which I have been critical.  I agree.  But, it is not at all clear to me that women are exempt from bad behavior and for the same reasons.  Women seem to be all too willing to indulge in the fight for wealth and power, nor is it clear that they do it all for love.  It may or may not be possible to reject the desire for love as the fundamental driving force in society simply because women do not do the same things for love as do men.

On the other hand, this difference does tend to give some credibility to feminist theories.  In general, I am suspicious, though, of a theory that is based on asymmetry rather than symmetry, but that is by no means sufficient grounds to reject feminist theories.  As I understand the situation, feminist theories do not reject the domination of one person by another, only the domination of women by men.  Some feminist theories apparently go so far as to advocate the domination of men by women.  I find it difficult to believe that the world would be very much improved by reflecting it across the line between genders, but I shall keep an open mind.

Models Based on Sexual Orientation

Clearly, it is possible to develop a theory similar to feminism based on an attack of heterosexuality.  The charge that without heterosexuality there can be no posterity would be easily answered by such theorists.  I am certain that I would find difficulties with such a theory if I should ever hear one propounded; but, again, I would be forced to keep an open mind.

Other Models

I have heard it explained that, rather than all of Western civilization, it is the drug of  choice of Western civilization, namely, alcohol, that is the problem.  Perhaps, if we all smoked marijuana or ate hashish, society would be based upon cooperation rather than competition.  Theories based on duty, or the neglect of duty, have been propounded too.  I hesitate to mention theories based on primitive myths or the positions of heavenly bodies.  The theory propounded here does not absolutely exclude all of these other models, but concentrates, instead, on artificial economic contingency, which leads to competition for status, and the moral bankruptcy of the institutions of money and – what is eulogistically termed – leadership.  Thus, we should consider economic models of society.

Economic Models

The Adam Smith economic model asserts, essentially, that every member of society is engaged in making economic or market decisions that favor his or her own welfare and that the combined effect of this is to encourage those activities to be carried out that most favor the common good.  This theory suffers from two major defects.  The first is that it does not assign any value to the work done by nature in providing the economy with natural resources, particularly sources of high-grade energy such as petroleum.  The result of this defect is that natural resources including energy reserves are exhausted as quickly as they can be.  The second defect is comprehensive, namely, that this theory permits the perpetuation of every evil enumerated in this essay.

Marxist theory [1] recognizes the existence of class warfare and has predicted correctly the mass migration from the countryside to overcrowded cities where armies of employed and unemployed workers accumulate, often under deplorable conditions of poverty.  The remedy it proposes suffers from the necessity of the creation of a massive bureaucracy that tends to be self-perpetuating rather than self-abdicating.  Also, Marxism requires the ascendancy of the working class to a position of power; but, in reality, only privileged members of the working class may hold power; and, as soon as they do, they no longer belong to the working class.  It is not at all clear what is meant by “the dictatorship of the proletariat” or why it should be any more helpful than other modern institutions.

The emergy theory of H. T. Odum [2] was propounded in Chapter 2 “Emergy, and Economics”.  Professor Odum has used his theory primarily to study ecological systems and he does not reject the marketplace utterly.  I have employed his theory to show that we need an economic system that encourages as little consumption as possible rather than the reverse.

Ignorance and Falsehood

Whatever the cause of our moral retardation, we are unable to overcome it because we are mired in superstition, which prevents us from extricating ourselves from our moral predicament by the force of our minds, i.e., by reasoning.  Whether it be a faith in the supernatural, in religion with its taboos on sex, and, by extension, on drugs (because we see drugs as essentially sexual), or a faith in free-enterprise or Marxism or psychology, we somehow find a way to repress our imaginations and prevent ourselves from thinking unfettered thoughts and, perhaps, catching a glimpse of ourselves as we really are.  We continue in error because we think that the fundamental philosophical questions have been answered for all time.  We cut off our opportunities to save ourselves because we think that we have already been saved, by religion, by science, or by politics.

We imagine that we need only make a slight adjustment in our social systems and everything will be all right.  Some think science is the answer; others religion; still other imagine that The State can solve our problems.  All of our institutions have come up short, but we would rather wallow in our ignorance than admit that everything we believe about ourselves is wrong.  Without giving up what we have learned about nature, we must recognize our self-ignorance and open the door to a new round of inquiry.  The door is locked tight with the key guarded jealously by everyone who has the power to do so.  If this state of affairs persists, the human race is doomed.

Artificial Economic Contingency and Materialism as a Model of Society

In Chapter 1, materialism (M) was defined to be the belief, or any system based on the belief, that people should compete for material wealth or power or fame and that material wealth or power or fame may be used as a reward for achievement or good behavior or as a measure of success.  Any system or belief that permits people to influence the amount of material wealth they themselves may consume or possess privately or power that they may wield because of who they are or what they do or because of any aspect of their beings – any social, political, or other circumstance that can result in a relation between (i) what people think, say, or do; or who they are, or who their parents are and (ii) their wealth or power – is classified as materialism even if competition is not involved.

Ultimately, competition is involved – at least indirectly, because people who are deprived of the necessities of life must compete for them and those who equate wealth with status must compete in the money game.  In fact, as long as materialism exists everyone will have to compete in the money game – at least from time to time.  If those who inherit wealth wish to keep it, they must contend with the predators who wish to make certain that they don’t.  For many years, I used the term competitionism in preference to materialism.  Indeed, competition for wealth and power is at the center of materialism.

Fame is a little different.  Anyone can become famous by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, eating all of his children, or discovering a Unified Field Theorem.  But, if that fame is converted to wealth or power over others, we have materialism; otherwise not.

The term artificial economic contingency (AEC) is used to express the dependence of people’s economic well-being on factors other than the weather or so-called acts of God.  We agreed that, since AEC and M and C are synonymous terms, we may use whichever term we please.  Elsewhere, we have used the initial M to stand for all three.  (Occasionally, I have used the initial C to stand for competitionism, materialism, or artificial economic contingency.)  In this essay, I shall attempt to show that materialism is a necessary and sufficient condition for nearly all of the evils in the world today, certainly the principal evils.

When materialism is absent, wealth is approximately equal except for minor differences that no one cares about and power is precisely equal; viz., everyone has power over himself or herself and his or her dependent children and absolutely no power over anyone else.  (Power over dependent children is a special case that was considered in detail in Chapter 3.)  People share wealth and power without regard to who creates wealth and no one has anything material to gain or fear from circumstances within or beyond his control.  Differences in wealth and power simply are not in the picture and nobody expects otherwise.  To put it scientifically, wealth, power, and – perhaps after a long time – fame, taken together as status, are absolutely uncorrelated with human behavior and circumstances.  People cooperate, share, and value one another equally.  This is an extremely natural state of affairs and it is only an absurd accident that has disturbed it.  It is only because of indoctrination and our lack of imagination that we think our material well-being must (or should) be related to our activities.  I coined the term artificial economic contingency to emphasize the noble inclination to share wealth that I hoped to find in “Natural Man”.

To attain a permanent, sustainable, essentially steady-state social environment, we must discard the institutions that foster competition for wealth and the use of wealth in the ways mentioned above.  (We must discourage ambition in the sense of “earnest desire” for status.)  In addition, we must reject the ancillary institutions upon which the failure of society depends.  This suggestion may appear shocking, but rigorous logic leads to it ineluctably.  If we reject the dictates of reason because they do not appeal to our intuitions, we must suffer the consequences, which might very well include the extinction of the human race.

It appears, then, that, among all human institutions, the institution that has played the single most important role in perpetuating evil is the institution of competition for material wealth, which led to the use of wealth, represented primarily as money, as a reward for good behavior or achievement and, in turn, as a means of keeping score in a game – an improper game, the rules of which are unwritten (and unknown to the majority of contestants), in which the contestants do not enjoy the same opportunities to score points, do not start at the same time, and for which different rules apply to different contestants.

One can assign the blame for society’s ills to sexual repression if one chooses to do so; one can claim that, if the drug of choice in the Western world were marijuana rather than alcohol, Western society would not be so barbaric; but, I hope to show that it is simpler to regard sexual and pharmacological repression as results of competition for wealth and power rather than as causes.  One can identify other prime candidates for the most harmful of all the institutions of society, such as absolutist religion, government, rites of passage, irrational sexual customs, the family itself; but, it is easy to derive the major defects in society from competition for wealth.  Additional models of society were discussed above.

In the remaining chapters, I shall attempt to link the problems of society to materialism (or artificial economic contingency).  I must convince the reader that every (serious) social problem can be assigned to the violation of one or more of the three rational moral axioms stated formally in Chapter 3; moreover, if materialism were abandoned, these moral principles would not be violated except in trivial ways that we may safely ignore.  Thus, if materialism were abandoned, our serious social problems would disappear. 

Two Lists of Unacceptable Aspects of Materialism Particularly Capitalism

During the latter part of 1987, I began to wonder why so many Americans believed in the ultimate goodness of capitalism despite the many social problems that could be traced to it easily.  I composed for my own purposes a list of twenty-nine difficulties with capitalism that seemed to disqualify it for the position of Economic System of Choice.  Early in 1989 I purchased a copy of The Communist Manifesto [1] and read it for the first time in many years.  I wondered why Marx and Engels had not discussed the difficulties with capitalism that I had noted, and for over a year I entertained the mistaken idea that my list was more complete than theirs.  Lately, I re-read Chapter 1 of the Manifesto, but this time I made a list of the defects of capitalism that they had pointed out specifically.  To my great amazement, Marx and Engels had discussed forty-one separate defects of capitalism, beginning with the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, which I listed last as the culmination of all of the other defects of capitalism, but Marx and Engels had discussed capitalism in such a unified historical context that the number of defects appears to be much smaller than it actually is.  In a sense every defect seems to stem from one single defect, namely, the capitalist mode of appropriating wealth, as discussed by Engels [3].

As of this writing it is fashionable to discredit Marxism because of the economic difficulties of Eastern European Marxist regimes and the profound economic changes going on in Eastern Europe.  Certainly the implementation of Marxist ideas has been badly flawed nor is it likely that the pure Marxist philosophy is without difficulties, but none of this invalidates in any way the criticisms of capitalism discussed in Chapter 1 of the Manifesto.  Regrettably most of the dissatisfaction with Marxism comes from people who imagine that they will become wealthy under capitalism.  Some of them will, but always at the expense of those who don’t.  It is not at all clear that “all boats will rise”.

If we disregard what we learned in Chapter 2 and pretend, for a moment, that the consumption of material wealth is desirable and that money is a useful measure of its value, we can do a little thought experiment in which we estimate the material benefits to average people of rejecting experiments in Marxism (whether sincere or not) in favor of American-style market economies.  If each Polish citizen, say, could sell the probabilistic expected value of the wealth that he might be able to appropriate due to the labor of others, he would be wise to part with it for about $2000 per year of income over and above the probabilistic expected salary he might obtain as a wage slave, i.e., a normal worker in a normal American-style, profit-seeking company in which he had no stock.

 Approximately 50 million people will be competing for the chance to be one of about 100,000 millionaires, people whose lifetime earnings of capital created by others might amount to $30,000,000, say, or $1,000,000 per year.  If we wish to convince Eastern Europeans to adopt the economic system with which we wish to replace capitalism, it would be helpful to show that dispensing with the capitalistic mode of appropriation has an expected value of at least $2000 per year per person in addition to all the other benefits that will accrue due to eliminating the defects of capitalism.

We are not trying to increase the material wealth of human beings but rather the quality of their lives, which cannot be measured in monetary terms.  Nevertheless, it is likely that alternative systems can do better than capitalism even in terms of material wealth, mainly because of the inefficiencies incurred by business in dividing up the pie, which is, after all, a zero-sum game.  (A zero-sum game is a collection of transactions wherein the gain by one participant is exactly offset by the losses of one or more other participants.)

I claim that materialism (M) can be disqualified on the basis of its defects just as Marx and Engels disqualified capitalism.  The term materialism subsumes the term capitalism, which is only one of many forms that materialism could take.  However, American-style capitalism is the only form of materialism that we know.  What is amazing is that capitalism is accepted by anyone, since it has been discredited completely for nearly 150 years!  In my opinion, the acceptance of capitalism has been made possible by the abuse of psychology.  A rather complete list of typical social problems and their relations to materialism (M) is given in Appendix II.

The following is the list that I compiled toward the end of 1987 with some commentary added in 1990 and more commentary added in 1991.  I find it interesting to compare this list with the list compiled from the Communist Manifesto, but the reader may not.  Probably, Marx and Engels had not had the importance of environmental conditions thrust upon them as have we.  The urgency of reform is greater now than it had been during their time.  Let us consider carefully each of Marx and Engels’ observations and look for inconsistencies and other defects.

My List

The original of this list – handwritten quickly on foolscap perhaps in less than fifteen minutes back in 1987 – was the birth of this theory.  The list hasn’t changed much over the years.  Originally the list was conceived as a list of the drawbacks of capitalism.  My contribution has been to recognize that capitalism is merely an example of a more fundamental evil, namely, artificial economic contingency or materialism, depending on how you want to think of it.  I have generalized this aspect of the theory of Marx.  I believe I have discovered precisely the boundary between a happy society and a miserable society.  I have found necessary and sufficient conditions for sustainable happiness – in the technical sense, of course.

1)         Materialism (M) causes endless cycles of boom and bust against which no one can make dependable plans.  M is the cause of the wasted talent of people who begin studying a discipline when its practitioners are in short supply and who find the market glutted when they graduate.  Like Items 20, 21, and 33 in the list from The Communist Manifesto (TCM).

2)         People work too hard and neglect family and aspects of life other than their careers.  The world has become a work camp.  Many forms of work impact on the environment undesirably.  Business isn’t even good for businessmen.  Witness the incidence of cancer, heart disease, ulcers, and divorce among them.

3)         Many people live under unreasonable expectations.  Anyone can become rich, but not everyone can become rich.

4)          Too much work is wasted dividing up the pie, i.e., trying to get a bigger share for oneself or one’s employer.  The work of many other people is wasted as well, namely, the people who carry such people to work, fly them from place to place, build and maintain their communication systems, write their decision-making software, educate them, serve them their lunches, make their hotel beds, etc., etc.

5)        The waste of many talented people whose lives are consumed in schemes for avoiding taxes, cutting a slicker deal, getting around the law, etc. is caused by M.

6)        Commerce is destroying the best in our culture, for example, through TV, most of which is designed to serve commerce.  An essay on how TV is destroying our values and has diminished the ability of children to learn is nearly superfluous.

7)         In the rush to accumulate wealth, which our system has changed from a choice to a necessity, people must neglect many important aspects of our culture.  Allan Bloom states that no university in America is capable of imparting an acceptable liberal education.  In fact, there is no one left to teach it.

8)         Materialism influences people’s behavior, what they study, read, what they do for a living, how they treat other people, their choices of spouses, and other things that should be influenced only by the heart and one’s natural inclinations.  People try to buy love.

9)        Not all forms of endeavor result in the same gain in material wealth.  There are dramatic inequities.  Investment bankers earn much more than mathematicians, which is ridiculous.  This is better than Item 24 of TCM.

10)      Materialism causes crime.  Middle-class and rich people cannot go into certain parts of the city.  Even the downtown business districts are unsafe at night and on weekends.  Does that sound like a social system that is working!  Religion, as we know it, won’t help.

11)      Materialism causes poverty.  People are forced to accept charity.  Poverty impacts negatively even on the wealthy who must breathe fumes from poorly maintained cars, turn their homes into fortresses, etc.  Eventually, if the poor become sufficiently dissatisfied, they may riot, this time destroying the homes and property of the rich, or they may achieve a revolution during which many of the wealthy may be killed and after which some may be brought to trial.  This subsumes TCM Item 35.

12)      Gradients in wealth subvert democracy as some can buy influence in the legislatures and the courts.  It is possible that the president of the U.S. could be influenced by the wealthy.  Actually I think it’s much worse than that.

13)      People cheat to get ahead.  Farmers and processors of food tamper with the food supply and treat animals inhumanely to increase their profits.  Industrialists pollute.  The corporate ladder is an institution that disgusts nearly everyone who knows anything about it.  It is the subject of obscene jokes.

14)      Lesser men (and women) gain ascendancy over greater.  The unenlightened rule the enlightened.  This covers TCM Item 40.

15)      Materialism teaches people to follow their base animal instincts.  People survive not by intelligence but by low animal cunning.

16)      Materialism leads to conflict with other political and economic systems.  It must end in war or revolution because it creates natural enemies.  This is like TCM Item 41.

17)      Nearly everyone worries about money.  The majority of marital disputes are about money.

18)      People who are rich are accorded status and prestige they do not deserve.  They harbor illusions about themselves.  M is really as bad for the rich as it is for the poor.  The unhappy rich kid is a proverb.

19)      It is difficult to relieve incompetent people of responsibility as their families, who may be innocent, will suffer.  People are even kicked upstairs.

20)      The distribution of wealth is never fair.  No reasonable system is in place.  It is impossible to devise an absolutely fair system other than equal division with an adjustment for special needs.

21)      Ultimately we will have to abandon our quasi-laissez-faire approach to regulating the economy.  One of the drawbacks of M is that we will not have acquired any experience in genuine economic planning.

22)      People are forced to move about from place to place because of job changes, to get work, because rents are allowed to rise, because neighborhoods are destroyed.  Frequent relocations have many undesirable effects.

23)      Consumerism flourishes.  Because of the need for markets, people are encouraged to purchase useless or marginally useful gismos that complicate their lives; stockpiles of available energy and material are depleted; the junk heap grows.

24)      Nations seeking new markets adopt imperialistic foreign policies that lead to terrorism and war.  Actually, foreign trade has become war.

25)      Capitalism requires economic growth, which impacts undesirably on the environment and the quality of life.  This is like the important Item 9 in TCM.

26)      Materialism leads to problems with taking care of the elderly and people who cannot cope, problems with the apportionment of costly medical procedures.

[Note in proof (1-2-98). Recently, Prof. Lester Thurow commented that, when it comes to health care, everyone is a communist.  No parent wants to hear that his child will receive inferior medical care because he is insufficiently rich.]

27)      People inducing other people to make purchases should worry that their subjects cannot afford to pay for the purchases.

28)      Entrepreneurs are forced to take serious risks that sometimes imperil their families.  Gambling is supposed to be a vice.  Why should gambling on business ventures be encouraged or even tolerated?

29)      Materialism leads to a complicated system of laws both civil and criminal and endless legislation and litigation.  Ignorance of the law is not only an excuse, it is the unavoidable condition of every single person.

30)      Materialism compromises the trustworthiness of nuclear power plants, which, when operating normally, produce no pollution, provided we can solve the problem of disposing of nuclear waste.  (The problem of nuclear waste does not arise in fusion plants, but not all of the technical problems associated with such plants have been solved.)  Unfortunately, even people who support capitalism do not trust the operators of nuclear power plants under the profit motive.  Nuclear power will not be safe until the only motivations for producing it, above and beyond public service, are scientific and technological prestige, which, of course, would be severely compromised by accidents.  [Note (2-5-92).  Nuclear power is probably hopeless anyway.]

31)      Materialism leads to socialized industry, which, in turn, leads to managers who are not practitioners.  This leads to uninformed decisions and inferior product quality.

32)      It is difficult to get rid of useless or harmful jobs because jobs are equivalent to livelihoods.  We find it difficult to close an army base that is no longer needed.  We would like to provide free medical care for everyone, but that would displace workers in the health-insurance sector.  The concept of The Job leads to many absurd contradictions.

33)      Artists, scientists, and scholars must have freedom to create.  We all suffer when their sponsors exercise control over what they do.  Truth suffers.  And yet, under any materialistic system, capitalism or socialism (in America we have both), artists, scientists, and scholars must live by handouts from someone.  We have no guarantee that that someone will not abuse his influence, in fact, unless we are very naive, we expect him (or her) to abuse that sort of relationship.  The current crisis at the National Endowment for the Arts represents precisely the type of tampering that we find unacceptable.

Science is one of the most important activities of man, actually one the most successful as well.  It is transcendent in that, like art, the ordinary activities of man are justified by it.  We don’t paint pictures so that we can grow corn; we grow corn so that we can paint pictures.  The same is true of true science.  Thus, any political or social system that is harmful to science (or art) cannot be accepted as a permanent solution to mankind’s needs.  Both socialism and capitalism and systems like the American system that are a mixture of both are harmful to science.  In fact, any materialistic system whatever is harmful to science.  Socialism, because bureaucrats have power over what science is done; capitalism, because the rich and powerful do.  No one should have that power save the scientist himself.  Thus, M is rejected.  [Please don’t claim that we have made remarkable strides in art and science since materialism became the world religion.  That is easily refuted.]

34)      Materialism makes possible the bidding up of junk to the status of art.

35)      We don’t believe that accidents of birth such as race or gender justify greater material wealth.  Why should we accept accidents of birth like higher intelligence or even good character as justification for greater material wealth.  On the contrary, intelligent people of good character should renounce wealth.

Houston, Texas

January 6, 1990

The List Compiled from Chapter 1 of The Communist Manifesto [1]

“The history of all hitherto existing societies [not including prehistory] is the history of class struggles.”  So wrote Marx and Engels [1] in 1848.  Human society is a complicated hierarchy of classes and subclasses each one oppressing those beneath it.  But, in Marx’s day, class antagonisms were simple enough that Marx could identify a single oppressor class made up of capitalists and their top managers and a single oppressed class made of workers, both employed and unemployed.

Nowadays, class struggle has become more complicated because of the rise of a powerful elite composed of top-level bureaucrats, religious leaders, powerful lobbyists, self-serving academicians, entertainment and media superstars, top sports figures, white-collar criminals (including the bosses of the most powerful drug cartels), and others.  But, most of these identify themselves, or can be identified, with what Marx called the bourgeoisie and what I call, in plain English, the money and power seeking class, as discussed in “On a New Theory of Classes”.  Also, Marx’s model must be modified to account for new members of the oppressed classes who would be surprised to find themselves considered part of something called “the proletariat”, in particular, reasonably well-educated (yet incredibly naive) engineers, scientists, and other so-called professionals.  After college and graduate school, which are part of their oppression, they join Marx’s traditional proletariat, which was valued primarily for its physical strength, which is rarely of much use in this day of powerful machines, and which accounts for the marginalization of “manual” laborers.

Let us list Marx and Engels’ criticisms of capitalism one-by-one and see if we can find any fault with them.  It appears that Marx is more concerned about honor and nobility than I am!  I seem to be more utilitarian than Marx!

1)        Although the workers, including technical workers, produce the wealth, their share of it remains disproportionately low.  Moreover, they are under the power of a handful of capitalists and the highest