Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2015) A Primer on Classical Political Philosophy  (Part 19 of 24)

0124 The ninth primer concerns classical political philosophy.

What do classical philosophers talk about?

Well for one (1), they ask people for their opinions and for two (2), they try to figure out what is really going on,concerning the topic of opinion.

0125 The first (1) involves a strange game, concerning the difference between sensible and social constructions.  Most people regard their opinions as sensible constructions, in the same way that they regard their spoken words as real.

A spoken word labels an artifact that validates the… um… spoken word.  So, opinions are sensible in so far as artifacts validate them.

0126 That is where the second (2) comes on stage.  What happens when artifacts no longer validate their words?  Or, even more unsettling, what happens when the origin of opinions is social, rather than sensible construction?

Where have I heard that idea before?

0127 Now, I want to discuss one small section of the ninth primer, in order to explore a referral from classical political philosophy back to the distinction between sensible and social construction in the second primer.

0128 Here is a general picture of social construction.

Figure 39

0129 Note the virtual nested form in the realm of actuality.

A perspective-level socially constructed reference2c brings the actuality of a bewildering experience2b into relation with a content-level originating reference2a.

I shorten this nested form into a coherent whole with the label, “a reference2c constructed3b on a reference2a“.

Here, the term, “constructed3b“, points to the failure of sensible construction and the triggering of social construction.

Also, the entire label has the character of secondness, the realm of actuality, when social construction really has the character of thirdness, the realm of triadic relations.

Unwittingly, my label changes categories.

0130 In the next blog, I will apply this pattern to one of my cherished opinions.

Wine is the nectar of the gods.


Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2015) A Primer on Classical Political Philosophy  (Part 20 of 24)

0131 Wine is the nectar of the gods.

That is my opinion.

0132 My opinion starts as a social construction.

Figure 40

0133 A perspective-level socially constructed reference2c brings the actuality of a bewildering experience2b into relation with a content-level originating reference2a.

The normal context of the nectar of the gods2c virtually brings the actuality of intoxication2b into relation with a glass or two (or three?) of wine2a.

0134 My label, reference2c constructed2b on a reference2a, turns the bewildering experience of intoxication into the continuity between the perspective-level naming of “the nectar of gods” and the content-level encounter with wine.

Figure 41

0135 When I say, “Wine is the nectar of the gods.”, the verb, “is”, actually points to the bewildering experience of intoxication.

But, look up the definition of “is” in a leather-bound dictionary.  “Bewildering experience of intoxication” is not listed as one of the definitions of “is”, except in so far as the intoxication is a state of being.

0136 So, what happens when I meet my philosophical friends and state my opinion?

The conversants assume that I am making a statement subject to sensible construction.

Figure 42

0137 What does one of my philosopher friends reply?

“How can wine be the nectar of the gods?”

Yes, the logic of secondness includes the laws of contradiction and noncontradiction.

0139 Any defense can lead to only one conclusion.

I am drunk.


Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2015) A Primer on Another Infrasovereign Religion  (Part 21 of 24)

0140 Well, “intoxicating” is not the only term that may be applied to A Primer on Classical Political Philosophy.

Another phrase is sobering.  It says, “The sovereign will not be denied.”

The classical philosopher replies, “The glitter of your crown pales in comparison to the constellation of virtues shining above your head.” 

Is that reply philosophy?  Or poetry?

0141 The tenth primer returns to a world where the suprasovereign level of the society tier is occluded.

0142 Classical political philosophers are always caught in the middle.

The middle of what?

The middle of two opposing factions.

0143 What happens when a suprasovereign religion3cC harbors the single point of agreement between two opposing factions2cC?

For classical philosophers, the object that brings all into relation2cC consists of a constellation of virtues2cC.

For opposing factions in a divided society, the object that brings all into relation2cC brings everyone into conflict.  After all, what is everyone fighting over?  No one can say?  Well, perhaps, the single point of agreement is that the other party is wrong.

0144 There are no grounds for reconciliation.  So, each contesting party3aC demands sovereign power3bC in order to achieve its organizational objectives2aC, which is based on the conviction that the other party is wrong1aC.

Of course, two movements at each other’s throats2aC gives the sovereign3bC plenty of room for asserting legal authority2bC.

0145 Here is a picture.

Figure 43

The sovereign3bC is in charge of maintaining order1bC.

But, sovereign acts and decrees2bC merely maintain the fight between competing institutions3aC.

The sovereign gains more and more authority by satisfying no one.

0146 Indeed, a sovereign3bC capable of accommodating two opposing camps, keeping the conflict roaring, does not need to look up and see a constellation of virtues in the heavens above.  Rather, accommodation encourages a lack of virtue among the opposing factions3aC.  The two antagonistic righteousnesses1aC may boil over into chaos1bC.

0147 Oh, chaos1bC increases the demand for sovereign power3bC.

So, sovereign power3bC stokes the flames without realizing that chaos1bC can also destroy the reigning order1bC.


Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2015) A Primer on Another Infrasovereign Religion  (Part 22 of 24)

0148 Can a sovereign3bC keep a lid on two opposing factions3aC and, in the process, continually gain legal authority2bC?

Or, does another dynamic enter into the play?

0149 Enter the classical political philosopher.

Like Socrates, the classical political philosopher is a journalist.  Not the propaganda variety of journalist.  But, the curious variety.

0150 In this instance, the classical political philosopher asks people their opinions and notes that they fall into two camps.  One camp calls members of the second camp, “evil”.  The second camp labels members of the first camp, “stupid”.


The first camp3aC has a rhetorical excuse for the unintended consequences of their organizational objectives2aC.  The cover up their policy failures by blaming the second camp, who acknowledges the unintended consequences and say that they are no good.

The second camp3aC learns to ignore the rhetorical abuse1aC and attempts to protect itself from the material consequences of the first’s implemented policies2aC.

0150 Like Aristotle, the classical political philosopher in an anthropologist, who observes the organizationalB realities associated to each camp3aC, then reaches the conclusion that the opposed parties3aC agree to a single assumption2cC.

Plus, that assumption is wrong.

0151 The assumption is not that the second camp is evil because it says that unintended consequences2aC are bad, and therefore the second camp is responsible for awareness that the unintended consequences are bad.

The assumption is not that the first camp is stupid because it blames the unintended consequences of their policies on the second camp.

The assumption is that… aargh!

Both parties are attacking the poor political philosopher!

0152 Christian humanist, Rene Girard, identifies this dynamic.  He studies the literature of many civilizations.  Stories portray the dynamics of mimetic contagion over and over again.  Mimetic contagion is found in every period of every civilization.  Mimetic contagion is a property of our current Lebenswelt.

What is another word for this dynamic?


0153 Scapegoating occurs when the reigning order1bC gets into trouble.  Scapegoating preserves a unity residing above the reigning order1cC.  Scapegoating renews the object that brings us all into relation… er… conflict2cC.

The object that brings all into relation2cC is really an object that brings us all into conflict2cC.  That is why the actuality2of the perspectivec level of the societyC tier is occluded.  No one can say what it2cC is.

 Until God intervenes and reveals the truth.

0154 The Father sends His Son into the world, in order to establish a kingdom, above the sovereign.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit2cC bring all into relation. God does not bring all into conflict.  Rather, the Son2cC reveals of the dynamic of mimetic contagion, itself.


Looking at Razie Mah’s Series (2015)  A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion”  (Part 23 of 24)

0155 In the movie business, the previous blogs would be called “trailers” or “teasers”.

They assure the reticent adult that the material of the course is not only interesting, but also accessible.  There are no trained instructors in this field of inquiry.  There are only fellow travelers.  Or, maybe, I should say, there are adults who may be motivated to serve as fellow travelers for their children and other students.

0156 Now, I want to get technical.

Suppose that you walk with your students.

At what pace?

For middle-school students, maybe 20 points in an hour.

For high-school students, around 30 points in an hour.

For college students, say, 40 points an hour.

How long would the course take?

0157 Here is the breakdown for the first five primers.

Figure 44

0158 Here is the breakdown for the second five primers.

Figure 45

0159 Here is the breakdown for the masterwork.

Figure 46
Figure 47

0160 Here is the summary.

Figure 48

Looking at Razie Mah’s Series (2015)  A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion”  (Part 24 of 24)

0161 In conclusion, many home and private schoolers face a difficulty.

They want to teach their children and students about God and nature.

At the same time, they want their children and students to pass standardized tests constructed by government agencies that promulgate a religion, even they they declare themselves to be “not religious”.

This course is one way to approach the difficulty.

This course offers a path, a text, along which you, the adult, and your children and your students may walk together.

0162 No other work in the field of education in 2022 compares.

Except of course, other courses by Razie Mah, such as A Course on The Archaeology of the Fall and A Course on the Human Niche.

Welcome to the fourth age of understanding.

0163 A Course on How To Define The Word “Religion” may be found at smashwords and other e-book vendors, using the search terms: Razie Mah, series,  course, how to define the word “religion”.

The course consists of ten primers, followed by the masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”.

Each primer and masterwork is punctuated, not by page numbers, but by points.  A one-hour class may cover between twenty and forty points.  That is a little slower than one per minute.  If you conduct a class, record the number of points covered per session and report to raziemah@reagan.com.

0164 These blogs provide a taste of the style and the content.  They complement, rather than substitute for the primers and the masterwork.

I hope that you enjoy these blogs and pass them onto others who may serve as guides in a world where education is the job of parents and those similarly motivated, rather than those who are certified by the state.

God bless.


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 1 of 16)

0001 Biologist Daryl P. Domning and theologian Monika K. Hellwig collaborate in a work, entitled, Original Selfishness: Original Sin and Evil in the Light of Evolution.  Domning professionally studies the evolution of sirenians, sea cows, while maintaining an interest in Catholic theology.  The sea cows, like the whales and the seals, are land mammals that adapted to an aquatic environment… or should I say?… niche.

0002 In terms of human imagination, sea cows associate to mermaids.  Mermaids are chimeric.  They are half woman and half fish.

0003 The titular word, “selfishness”, is chimeric as well.  It starts in Germany as an emphatic, added to a pronoun (A).  For example, I can say, “I myself” or  “you yourself” or “he himself” or “she herself” and so on.  Then, in Old English, the emphatic coalesces into a noun, “self” (B).  Then, the noun becomes an adjective with an added,”-ish” (C).  “Selfish” denotes an emphasis on self by self.  Then, the adjective converts back into a noun with an added “-ness” (D).  Selfishness (D) is the state of being selfish (C).

0004 So, there is an evolution to the word, “selfishness”, as well.

What games we play with words.

It makes me wonder whether the evolution of this spoken word has anything to do with evil in the light of evolution.

0005 If I change the mode of talk to hand-talk, I may say POINT TO MYSELF.  I may not say I POINT TO MYSELF, because the pronoun, I, is signified by pointing to myself.  I may gesture, POINT TO MYSELF twice, or with dramatic flair, but that is not equivalent to the spoken word, “self” (B) or “selfish” (C).  It may be equivalent to the emphatic, “I, myself” (A).

0006 If language evolves in the milieu of hand talk, then our distant ancestors do not hand talk the equivalent of the spoken words, “self”, “selfish” or “selfishness”.

Does this fact provide a clue to original sin in light of evolution? 

At least, it provides a clue to a divide in the course of human evolution.

The emphatic, I-myself (A), associates to hand talk and the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

The explicit abstractions of self (B), selfish (C) and selfishness (D) associate to speech-alone talk and our current Lebenswelt.

0007 Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

In 2006 (and perhaps, anytime before Domning reads this), the author does not suspect that there may be a twist in human evolution.  In general, evolutionary biologists have no idea.  Like Domning, they are focused on genetics and natural history, not cultural turns.  The hypothesis of the first singularity first appears in 2012 with the masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall, available at smashwords and other e-book vendors.


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 2 of 16)

0008 Here is a more technical presentation of the previous blog.

How does the term, selfishness, come to be?

The term comes into fullness through four waystations.

0009 What does it mean to define a spoken word?

A particular category-based nested form is foundational to the masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”.

A definition3 brings a spoken word2 into relation with the potential of meaning, presence and message1.

0010 The emphatic, I-myself (A), is the initial actuality2.

Figure 01

This emphatic is consistent with iconic and indexal sign-qualities of hand talk.  It expresses a psychological aspect of an ongoing situation.  Under what conditions would one have to emphatically POINT TO MYSELF, or emphatically POINT TO ANOTHER SELF, in the environment of evolutionary adaptation?  I suspect that social situations involving larger social circles, such as band (50), community (150), mega-band (500) and tribe (1500) might require emphatics.  So, the emphatic may have first appeared as a formality.

0011 The term, “self” (B), is the second term.  The step from “I-myself” to “self” involves an explicit abstraction.  Emphatic expressions are consolidated into a noun, indicating a thing.  Moral deliberation is not required.  Social intelligence is.

Figure 02

This explicit abstraction is consistent with the purely symbolic qualities of speech-alone talk.

0012 However, this first step carries a suggestion of an implicit abstraction.


This first step feels very natural, even though few other animals succeed in self-recognition experiments.  Animals act as if they are selves, but they don’t realize that they are selves.  So, there is something implicit in the abstraction.  The “self” involves a theory of mind.

0013 Then, “self” is turned from a noun into an adjective, with the addition of “-ish” (C).

This involves an explicit abstraction.  “Selfish” is a quality where the “self” puts its own interests ahead of others.  One gets the impression that the interests of others should be taken into account.  This implies that morality enters the picture.

Figure 03

This explicit abstraction requires the purely symbolic character of speech-alone talk.

0014 Then, “selfish” is turned back into a noun, with the addition of “-ness” (D).  The message1 underlying the term, “selfish”, becomes the presence1 underlying the term, “selfishness”.  The quality of “selfish” becomes a psychological state.  Moral overtones cannot be ignored.  “Selfishness” entails moral deliberation.

Figure 04

“Selfishness” has another notable facet.  The term is scientific.  One can observe and measure behaviors where the interests of one party obviously override the interests of others.  These situational measurements may be modeled as instances of “selfishness”. 

0015 The sequence of development for the term, “selfishness”, is as follows.

(A) The first term appears as it would in hand-talk.  Its definition is nascent.  Moral deliberation is not required.

(B) The second term is an abstraction to noun.  This abstraction may be implicit (more on that, later).  Here, it is explicit, since I am discussing the steps in the development of another spoken term.  Moral deliberation is not required.

(C) The third term is an explicit abstraction, requiring fully symbolic speech-alone talk.  The noun is turned into an adjective, describing a particular behavioral quality.  Moral deliberation is implied.

(D) The fourth term is another explicit abstraction, building on its immediate predecessor. The adjective is turned into a noun.  A quality is turned into a general property.  Moral deliberation is required.

0016 Domning intends to connect the doctrine of original sin to the scientific facet of the term, “selfishness”, leading me to wonder, “Do our ancestors adapt to the niche of selfishness, in the same way that the ancestors of sea cows adapt to the niche of waterways?

Or, is selfishness itself an adaptation to a niche?

What interesting questions.


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 3 of 16)

0017 If “selfishness” is a noun with a scientific affiliation, then what about Domning’s titular adjective, “original”?

What is “original selfishness”?

0018 To Domning, “original” means “evolved”.

“Original selfishness” is an adaptation into (what I will call) the niche of natural selection and genetics.  This niche is more complicated than my quick-and-dirty labeling.  See Comments on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Book (2017) Adam and the Genome. (Search for Razie Mah and this title.  It is available in smashwords and other e-book venues.)

This niche operates since the origin of multicellular eukaryotic life on Earth.

The adaptations promote self-preservation and reproductive success.

Here is a definition.

Figure 05

0019 Of course, “original selfishness” locates Adam as the earliest microscopic creature, perhaps the first eukaryote, appearing hundreds of millions of years ago. 

On one hand, this association may seem to be a disadvantage to Domning’s association of original selfishness to original sin.

On the other hand, Domning’s association accounts for the universality of original sin, as well as its moral reality.

Yes, that is the claim.

0020 These deficits and benefits are wrestled with in chapter 10, in a paragraph starting with, “in regards to concupiscence”.  Our disordered selfish desires act out our original selfishness.  So, the moral character (the acting out of a disorder) is distinct from the universality of selfishness (as an evolved trait, an adaptation into the niche of natural selection and genetics).  The former calls for grace and salvation.  The latter is what Christ transcends.

In sum, Domning separates the source of original sin’s universality (which, traditionally is descent from Adam, but now, Adam is a microorganism at the base of the tree of life) and its moral character (which is tied to human free will, and, to me, is the noun that “selfish” applies to).


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 4 of 16)

0021 Domning’s move is clever, except for a critical implication.  There is a sequence of adaptations within the Homo lineage that follows and builds on the primal adaptation into the niche of natural selection and genetics.  So, the universal aspect of Original Sin, dealing with descent from a progenitor, and the moral reality of Original Sin, concerning the disordered expression of original selfishness in humans, are not fully separate.

Domning offers a graphic.

Here is my re-enactment of figure 10.1.

Figure 06

0022 Original selfishness does not implicate moral deliberation.  Human selfishness does.

0023 What is “X”?

Domning places the word, “evolution”, here.

I ask, “How can this be?”

How can natural selection eventually yield human free will… er… selfish human free will?

Is selfish human free will an adaptation?

How does the Homo lineage pass from instinctive behaviors to deliberate choices?

0024 I suppose that Domning covers this challenge in chapter nine, titled, “Evolution and human ethics”. 

What does he say?

Evolutionary selfishness is one thing, corresponding to adaptation into a niche of natural selection and genetics.  Psychological selfishness is a second thing, corresponding to “original selfishness”.  Psychological selfishness that intentionally disregards the interests of others is a third thing, corresponding to “human selfishness”.

So, X describes the evolution of psychological states.  Selfish human free will, the foundation of human selfishness, evolves from original selfishness.

0025 However, I already am inclined to think that there must be another step, the evolution of self, that enters into the picture.  Why?  If human free will is to be selfish, then there must already be a self.

Here is a picture.

Figure 07

0026 Isn’t that curious?

The four waystations in the historic development of the word, “selfishness”, recapitulates the evolutionary sequence from “original selfishness” to “human selfishness”.

Okay, I immediately wonder, is there another word that also parallels some sort of evolutionary progression, from noun to adjective then back to noun?

Yes, there is.

0027 The term is “concupiscence”.

Concupiscence is a technical term used in theological discussions of the doctrine of Original Sin.  It may be derived from Latin roots in more than one fashion.

Here is a picture.

Figure 08

0028 Of course, my preferred derivation is the lower option.  To me, “concupiscence” is the state of being with Cupid.  Cupid is an implicit abstraction from two features of natural selection: cooperation (Venus) and competition (Mars).

What do I mean by the term, “implicit abstraction”?

In some way, Cupid may be stated in hand talk, in the same fashion that Cupid is portrayed in visual art.  PANTOMINE DRAWING A BOW, PANTOMIME ARROW FLYING, POINT TO MY OWN HEART.  This fully linguistic statement in hand talk does not make sense, at first.  Later, it does.

Cupid is the self, in the presence of other selves.

Cupid shoots arrows of desire, in the presence of other selves.

0029 I ask, “How could hominin awareness of the counterintuitive nature of Cupid evolve?”

This question does not surface in Domning’s chapter on evolution and human ethics.  

Ethics among animals is mediated through ritual and emotion.  The rules of the game say that cooperation may be necessary for surviving to the next competition.

In contrast, human ethics transcends an animal’s sensible and amoral tendencies.  Human ethics demands social construction.  Social construction is addressed in the masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.