Go to Ecology of Values
(This is under construction)
Herein the old Conversation of Democracy.
Part Three: Holograph as Metaphrand
A. The ecology of life-stuff has over time given birth to an ecology of mind-stuff, including ideas about fundamental values and the goals they aim to promote. This "Ecology of Mind" is — or ought to be — cybernetic: focused on finding and pursuing the truth about the good, as these relate to choices and actions.
Seeking truth or wisdom or understanding about how we should live, etc., requires deepest consideration of how such "truth" emerges. This, as already noted, is largely the province of what the ancient Greeks came to call "Nomos" — cultivating feedback processes linking ontology, What is?, and epistemology, How can we best discern what is?, with teleology, So what?
Deliberate and systematic cultivation of such feedback processes has, over many centuries, metamorphosed the memesphere into the nomosphere.
Upon reflection, we see that the systematic cultivation, harvesting, and further cultivation of Nomos has, over time, refined our ontological and epistemological understandings, thereby changing them and us. But not enough. Specifically, although the history of ideas is important, and although ancient thinkers were often profound, reliance on "holy books" whose assertions are immunized from criticism — immunized by faith, dogma, or other "received" authority — demeans us and insults our "God-given" biological and cultural inheritance as Homo sapiens sapiens ... and (let us hope) as "time-binding" thinkers composing Homo sapiens unitus.
I place "God-given" in quotes because, as I will detail, this phrase is a place-marker for further inquiry, etc. We do not yet know how life and evolution started, nor why, nor even whether there is a "why"! The fact that others have assumed a "why" is interesting but insufficient, in my view.
Acknowledging ignorance and celebrating the fathomless are the first steps to acquiring truth, wisdom, understanding. Only the worst kind of hubris, and nothing more noble, condemns that most probing of assertions: The map is not the territory. The blueprint is not the bridge. The name is not the same as the thing, concept, relationship, or system named. In a civilization worthy of that name, what a component "is" is often "called into being" as humans learn or design — and name — what it is not ... or what it is evolving away from being. This is especially true of law and governance.
Too complicated and abstract? For whom?
B. Goals and their underlying values are central to "third-nature" evolution — conscious global commitment to building upon the foundations of the biosphere and the memesphere to create the nomosphere, the embodiment of Regenerative Intelligence Still Evolving (RISE) — of which Constitutional Democracy aimed at securing Ordered Liberty is the essential seed element.
True, in an important sense, "the child is parent to the adult"; nothing that has a history can be comprehended in isolation from its history and, arguably, from all history; every event is "defined" in terms of everything that touches and influences it. Yet our use of history must not become a fetish. Some things are truly "new under the sun"; what we call "synergetics" maps territories of irreducibly-unpredictable novelty. The nomosphere, like the biosphere and subsequent memesphere that make it possible, is synergetic, unpredictably new "under the sun" and perhaps beyond.
Put differently, our capacity to think systematically about the requirements of RISE, and to build the nomosphere accordingly, constitutes the most staggeringly significant novelty in human history. The issue is not whether we "play God"; we have been doing that, initially unconsciously, for thousands of years. Doing so, we have "made" hundreds of varieties of dogs, etc., and (arguably) have greatly accelerated our own genetic improvement.
The issue, rather, is whether we can generate and continuously regenerate the conditions by which humanity consciously, deliberatively, and with charity aforethought, improves our solar system's capacity for sustainable further evolution ... on a worthwhile course.
Our most difficult challenge will be to establish what that "worthwhile course" shall be. Whatever it is, it must be sufficiently open-ended to allow for refinements in light of future knowledge, insight, and wisdom that we cannot currently attain.
That world is best which does not lock itself too firmly into today's necessarily-cramped ideals, with this exception: We must never, ever, decouple RISE from Freedom of Inquiry.
Our biosphere, memesphere, and nomosphere must remain open to further inquiry and exploration.
C. Because the child is parent to the adult with reference especially to institutions, including the institutions of constitutional governance, it becomes clear (as already suggested) that it is better that some be wholly free than that all be partially free. World progress would be greatly advanced if all competent adults were wholly free, and hence were equal in their liberties and equal in the constitutional restraints upon their liberties (see Isonomia), yet it is even more essential that at least some be wholly free — in inquiry, association, expression, democratic participation, etc. — else the integrity of the idea of RISE will perish.
Try to be wholly free, governed only by the Rule of Law based on the Rule of Reason — a special kind of reasoning: synergetic, cybernetic, feedback-harvesting, self-transforming, teleologically-sound. The stuff of Nomos.
Unless at least some are wholly free — that is, governed in a constitutional democracy by the Rule of Law — there will be none to assert the power of the proposition that when the rights of even one are trampled the rights of all are imperiled. Individual liberty is the other side of the coin of societal wellbeing, responsible citizenship, and the Rule of Reason. Just because we have the right to do something does not mean it is the right thing to do.
As percept is the foundation of concept (see below), so the reality of RISE "writ small" by pioneers will be essential to extending the blessings of liberty to all, worldwide. In that sense, these Jurlandia essays are dedicated to the pioneers of constitutional democracy, generation after generation.
See Note Regarding Research on Democracies, Ancient and Modern.
The assertion that "percept is the foundation of concept" should not be interpreted as a rejection of the assertion that some "knowledge" is innate, hard-wired. I think it is fair to say that at this point we just don't know, for example, the extent to which the physical structure of human brains structures — indeed limits — what we know, what we are capable of conceiving. The quintessential self-referential paradox involves human intelligence reflecting upon the limits of human intelligence. I tend to think this topic will remain open far into the future, possibly forever. An interesting recent review of this topic is Steven Pinker's book, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (2007).
I address this topic in First Trinity.
These writings examine the many facets of the Conversation of Democracy while also providing "launching points" for other writings, all of which seek to illuminate the dependence of RISE upon constitutional democracy grounded in that Rule of Law which itself is grounded in the Rule of Reason, properly understood.
I maintain that the "regenerative intelligence" at the heart of RISE has coevolved with freedom of inquiry; these two are co-causative; they compose, define, and refine human nature and nurture and culture, which are likewise coevolving, mutually defining; all, together, compose not merely a conversation but a metalogue; the focus of this metalogue is humanity's relationship with the depth and ground of being; this relationship has heretofore been the domain, in essence, of "religion"; and it is in this sense that I maintain that RISE might be the basis of an improved religion, an enhanced relationship between what used to be referred to as Man and God.
In our metalogue with this God, we cannot be "objective" — separated from what we seek to know — because we are trying to understand ourselves in fullest context, from every perspective: historical, biological, intellectual, cultural, etc. These perspectives, too, are mutually-defining, co-causative.
I perceive this website as a sort of hologram. Its contents (and those to which it links) can be viewed from many perspectives. This essay is one of them.
This website is an experiment in progress. Some of the tools for making and viewing this "hologram" do not yet exist. I am aiming my arrow to intersect a "reality" that (a) is a moving, evolving target, and (b) will doubtless change that "arrow" as it and its target approach each other. This is a poor metaphor, but will have to suffice for now. At the end of this essay (in Part Two, under construction) I will propose a better metaphor.
See Note on Construction.
D. As there has been a coevolution of physical, chemical, and especially biological phenomena on our planet, so too, starting with the dawn of civilization, there has been a coevolution of ideas, ideals, narratives, traditions, speculations, theoretical frameworks, and unarticulated and perhaps unarticulable insights and anticipations regarding those natural phenomena and the metaphysical "life of the mind" — indeed, life of the global "soul" or planetary "self" — which they sustain.
See Note on Punctuation.
Societies, no less than individuals, are products of both nature and nurture. Such nurture is often called second-nature. Many animals exhibit second-nature or "culture" in rudimentary forms, passing "know-how" from generation to generation ... a phenomenon we call "time binding" — based on the writings of Alfred Korzybski. Of course, animals do not write and do not have libraries, etc., including the internet.
See Note on Searching the Web.
Through humans, second-nature has been forming increasingly-complex ideas, institutions, cultural know-how, and time-binding networks of distributed intelligence — including law — which, together, compose our emergent global civilization. It is already quite extraordinary, and has the potential to become far more so. But, is it good?
Or, perhaps more relevant: How can we guide the coevolution of matter, mind, choice, and will to keep this remarkable process healthy, self-correcting, aimed at "improvements" that do not — in their ultimate results — outsmart humanity?
The Great Question emerges: Is the evolution of intelligence on this planet evolutionarily viable? Will hubris outpace empathy and the Advancement of Learning?
E. Evolutionary "advancements" are not necessarily "improvements"; whether they are depends on what we make of them. These choices go beyond "facts" to embrace "values"; hence my first sentence:
The ecology of life-stuff has over time given birth to an ecology of mind-stuff, including ideas about fundamental values and the goals they aim to promote.
The distributed intelligence on which we all depend includes moral, ethical, teleological understandings, as already discussed. The Ecology of Mind coevolves with an Ecology of Values.
2. Invitation to the Metalogue
A. Through humans, nature and nurture (second-nature) are being embraced within a form of advanced life and intelligence, a "much-of-a-muchness" that (as already suggested) composes "third nature": something as "unpredictable" — based on our knowledge of second-nature capabilities — as second-nature capabilities are "unpredictable" based on the capabilities of quarks, atoms, molecules, cells, multi-celled organisms, and multi-organned organisms coordinated by the interplay of complex limbic and nervous systems, etc.
No matter how well you understand quarks, in isolation, you cannot predict the results of their "dancing": atoms, molecules, mitochondria, Bach, and (gasp!) you.
But ... are you good?
Can you help guide the coevolution of matter, mind, choice, will, and societal determination to keep this remarkable process self-correcting, ever improving?
Of course, nobody would dream of trying to think "quark" in isolation from "atom" or "mitochondria"; these words are tools of thought and communication, "heuristic concepts" intended to facilitate further inquiry about a reality which (1) we know we don't know much about, and (2) most deep thinkers are convinced cannot be "reduced" to atoms and mitochondria and all other emergent, synergetic, cybernetic phenomena, including our biosphere and the memesphere it is becoming (see below).
Quarks, atoms, biospheres, and memespheres are "place markers" for what we do not claim to comprehend adequately, yet (being human) we cannot help but try to comprehend better.
Of this I am certain: Quarks don't care what they are made of, but they (in a manner of speaking) "form" humans who do. And that is splendid!
That is worth our further dancing!
On deepest reflection, we see that many of our words are essentially "explanatory principles" for what remains deeply mysterious, like gravity, matter, energy, electromagnetics, electromgnetic thermodynamics, coevolution, life, constitutional democracy ... and metalogues, cybernetics, and synergetics, or synergy, or synergism.
English verbs implode and explode the immanent into imminent "codes of conduct" that are deeply secured within the laws of physics, but only up to a point. We must explore that point, and then beyond.
See Note on Synergetics.
Both enthusiasts and opponents of "intelligent design" must acknowledge that the very words "intelligent" and "design" are (mere?) cultural software, tools that we shape and are shaped by. The fact is, we just don't know all that much. If gravity were slightly weaker, our solar system would not have formed; if gravity were slightly stronger, our solar system would have collapsed into itself, whatever that means; calling that something a "black hole" does not make it less mysterious. The laws of nature seem "perfect" for us; but does that mean the universe was designed by an intelligence "just so" for us? If yes, and we are next year wiped out by a clever virus, does that mean the universe was designed "just so" for clever viruses?
In a sense, we are engaged in a metalogue with our contingent future(s). Some of these are potentially glorious yet staggeringly problematic. See, for example, Nick Bostrom's essay, History of Transhumanist Thought. The Jurlandia Institute is devoted to addressing these contingent futures within broadest multi-disciplinary contexts which focus especially, however, on their implications for emergent global constitutional jurisprudence.
B. Changes of degree can result in changes of kind, and when second-nature mind-stuff works on first-nature physics, chemistry, and biology, and works also on itself — and does so on a global scale, using instant communications and instantly-available libraries of accumulated knowledge and wisdom, etc. — the result can be a change of degree that "gives rise" to what some have called a "singularity": a change of kind, something wholly different from anything that could have been predicted: a synergism in which the behavior of the "whole system" (whatever that means) is unpredicted by — indeed, is unpredictable based on available knowledge of — the behavior of constituent sub-systems.
But here is what is most fascinating: The discontinuity we are here focused on is currently generating, as its most significant attribute, attention to the nature of "synergetics" and "emergent phenomena" and "discontinuity" as such, and is thereby focusing our attention on the question: What abides, what continues, what governs synergetic "worlds where all things are possible" to arrive at a world, a universe perhaps, where only some things are likely and even fewer things are good?
I think the answer is "cybernetics" — as already discussed — but, again, both "synergetics" and "cybernetics" are mere place-markers for what is to be explored rather than for "what is" in any concrete, satisfactory, sense.
Synergism and cybernetism undergird a "belief system" whose main characteristic is skepticism: An exploration beyond all certainties, intended to tease out those facts, insights, and wonderments that are most probable ... and those values that are most precious.
Thoughts about all this are not new.
Such thoughts have already, I believe, generated civilization-invigorating enhancements of understanding and communication. I can trace such thoughts back to the mists of time. That, itself, is comforting: For all the "newness" of our predicament, it is not entirely new.
Yet some of the resulting insights attain special urgency in our time, I think.
See "Original Meaning" of the Constitution.
C. High on our list of most-precious insights is staggeringly-powerful reinforcement of the realization that not all ideas, etc., are civilization-invigorating enhancements of understanding and communication. Many are dysfunctional. Perhaps most.
How do we judge?
How do we separate fact from fiction in an era when almost anybody can blog and almost everyone can read, albeit not always well ... let alone critically?
Our "better world" must hearken to those better angels that summon it to become a superb learning organism: a self-reflective, self-knowing, self-governing, and self-transforming "something" that is its own best metaphor, its own best lens for viewing ... beyond all metaphors, beyond any language.
The Conversation of Democracy is a "metalogue" — a dialogue whose subjects include not only various ideas, facts, values, theories, and points of view, etc., but also (1) the adequacy of all languages and other tools of thought and communication, (2) the relationships among those involved in this metalogue, and how such relationships can be made more creative, intellectually rigorous, culturally responsible, and supportive of the further worthwhile evolution of choice and will, and (3) how we can best determine whether ideas and opinions, etc., are good or bad, healthy or dysfunctional, worth pursuing or unworthy of further serious consideration.
The term "metalogue" was coined by Gregory Bateson. See Note on Gregory Bateson. It is self-referential, thereby making that "self" complex — somewhat like a chameleon in a mirrored box trying to distinguish itself from its apparent environment. Inevitably, all discussions of the human condition are self-referential. That does not make them impossible. But it does make them ... harder ... deliciously more flavored with piquant possibilities.
Metalogues invite tastes that invoke bouquets, shades of meaning, touches of ineffable consequence. Why not window their delicious ambiguities!
Anything that is self-referential encounters the so-called self-referential paradox, "deliverance" from which generates not a duality but a trinity of "actors" engaged in (for lack of a better term) a metalogue.
The Conversation of Democracy is, and must remain, a metalogue.
3. E Pluribus Unum: The Many as One
The idea of a planetary "self" is a metaphor — ultimately an invitation to further exploration. Our planet is what it is, and includes our ideas, etc., about what it is. It is like many things we know, or at least know of, yet is fundamentally different from them all.
Everything is both similar to and different from everything else. Even the polar opposites of "everythingness" and "nothingness" are similar in this respect: They are human concepts, tools of thought and communication. As Aristotle noted: Only similars can be usefully contrasted.
The fundamental structure of thinking is examined in First Trinity.
We should be amazed — from many standpoints — that we can apprehend our planet as a sort-of "self".
Among the most intriguing aspects of the Conversation of Democracy, I submit, is that we can — indeed, we must — share standpoints, including the perspectives and world-views of others, and of earlier times, and ... arguably ... of potential future times.
In some fundamental sense, indeed, we must try standing in our planet's shoes — transporting ourselves into our planet's "contingent futures" and thinking deeply about what those futures might require of us today.
Doing so, we will find that our emerging global civilization "thinks us" and thereby composes us as much as we compose it.
Yet free will remains.
See Ordered Liberty.
4. Genes and Memes, Metaphors and Framustans
A. As genes are the basic building blocks of biological life, so (by an illuminating analogy referenced below) "memes" are the basic building blocks of mental life.
And as all living, past and present, has formed the biosphere, so (in theory, at least) all thinking, experimenting, evaluating, and pondering, if shared and propagated, has formed the "memesphere" — the InfoSphere — the Ecology of Mind. I emphasize that by "thinking", etc., I mean also, perhaps especially, the interplay of "schools of thought" over time, as well as the work of institutions like universities, parliaments, publishing houses, etc. But I also mean something more subtle: the accumulation of know-how, of institutional memory, and of "knowledge" that is not contained in any individual brain and cannot be spelled out adequately, if at all. This is cultural knowledge, cultural software, distributed intelligence evolving and accumulated over time, indeed centuries and millenniums.
Consider how much historical trial-and-error, and resulting accumulated insight, is contained in the following passage from Friedrich A. Hayek's book, The Constitution of Liberty (1960), at p. 32:
The benefits I derive from freedom are thus largely the result of the uses of freedom by others, and mostly of those uses of freedom that I could never avail myself of. It is therefore not necessarily freedom that I can exercise myself that is most important for me. It is certainly more important that anything can be tried by somebody than that all can do the same things. It is not because we like to be able to do particular things, not because we regard any particular freedom as essential to our happiness, that we have a claim to freedom. The instinct that makes us revolt against any physical restraint, though a helpful ally, is not always a safe guide for justifying or delimiting freedom. What is important is not what freedom I personally would like to exercise but what freedom some person may need in order to do things beneficial to society. That freedom we can assure to the unknown person only by giving it to all. ... The argument for the freedom of some therefore applies to the freedom of all. But it is still better for all that some should be free than none and also that many enjoy full freedom than that all have a restricted freedom. The significant point is that the importance of freedom to do a particular thing has nothing to do with the number of people who want to do it: it might even be in inverse proportion.
As suggested, the cultural phenomenon of distributed thought and centuries-spanning communication is less a dialogue than a metalogue, for the "topics" of emergent global civilization are by order and dimension self-referential: We are constructing not only information and ideas, etc., but also relationships among ourselves, and with the past and future, as we daily "remake" the Cradle of Culture, and hence of Creation (or at least of our little corner of Creation).
See Note on Cultural Software.
Whether things, ideas, and relationships result from "nature" or "nurture" ("second-nature") remains an ancient debate. Obviously, much results from both, and the human brain's biological evolution over the past million or more years probably occurred (and is still advancing) to accommodate the increasing complexity of human relationships and institutions, including language and culture, science and cybernetics, law-making and (in a manner of speaking) earth-shaking.
Whether, in turn, this second-nature evolution is giving birth to a fundamental discontinuity that merits a new name, third-nature, is worth exploring.
There are few things we know of that are more complex than a human brain. One of them is two humans thinking together, even more so when aided by a third, or by libraries linked over the internet, etc.
Another is a civilization that aspires to understand itself and to shape its future based on that understanding.
A much-of-a-muchness of biological and cultural hardware and software — including will and whimsy, hubris and zealotry, double-binds and double-takes, wrong turnings and brilliant side-steppings, wisdoms galore and stupidities astonishing, together with lessons learned and (of greatest accomplishment) future lessons humbly anticipated — is coevolving to form a "not-this-not-that" world-self of genes, memes, languages, cultures, and emerging self-images that constitute, for lack of a better word, a culguage: a new kind of primordial soup whose most evolution-affirming characteristic is its growing capacity to enjoy thinking of itself as a new kind of primordial soup.
Its next most evolution-affirming characteristic is its comfortable acknowledgement that it is a framustan: a "place" known by what it is not ... a place-marker inducing successive generations to further inquiry, new orders of complexity, unpredictable synergies and enhanced capacities for determining which potential futures should be welcomed, and why, as well as which should be shunned, and why. The best of all possible framustans, whatever that might be, is the "objective" of Regenerative Intelligence Still Evolving (RISE) — at least in our planetary neighborhood — and, humans being makers of culguage, this objective deserves a name. I call it Katchalpolis.
Nature and second-nature are giving birth to a third-nature meta-intelligence that, as RISE, is "thinking things through" with us and through us. Calling it "Katchalpolis" is like calling a new-born human a blind biped — somewhat true, but mostly a parental challenge to "help the world along" towards something better.
B. The Conversation of Democracy reflects the necessity, in our time, to examine and promote ways to "give voice" to an evolving Ecology of Mind as it calls forth an Ecology of Values ... aimed at further worthwhile evolution towards Katchalpolis.
Granted, those values must remain largely tacit, unspoken. For example, the strands of history, thought, and purpose, which link (1) why "the unexamined life" is not worth living, (2) why "being human" requires freedom of inquiry, expression, and association, (3) how to "grow" competent and sustainable constitutional democracies, (4) the goals of Due Process of Law — perhaps the most beautiful phrase in our language, yet defying merely-linguistic definitions — and (5) the often-unarticulated "major premises" undergirding the Rule of Law ... and all that these five worthy subjects of inquiry imply ... all, together, compose questions and premises that compose a much-of-a-muchness whose moral and intellectual linkages compose their own best metaphor. They "are" us, yet we are more.
5. Transcending Logos with Nomos
A. The concept of the "memesphere" originated with Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene (1976), but is essentially what Teilhard de Chardin called the "noosphere" in a 1925 essay entitled Hominization: "And this amounts to imagining, in one way or another, above the animal biosphere a human sphere, a sphere of reflection, of conscious invention, of conscious souls (the noosphere, if you will)." Teilhard's "noosphere" was a neologism based on the Greek word nous, meaning "mind." See Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (rev. ed. 1948). As with so many ideas, we can find much older relics. Regarding this "noosphere" concept, John of Salisbury (c. 1110-1180) comes especially to mind, but he was not the first to speculate along these lines.
Both the memesphere and the noosphere are essentially what Gregory Bateson called the "Ecology of Mind" in his book Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1971). Bateson's examination of the Ecology of Mind — as illuminated by cybernetic theory (as then advanced) — is very deep. But cybernetic theory has not stood still. Its healthy advancement is a major purpose of this website. Cybernetic theory raises fascinating questions about "scientific causality" and advances the thought-provoking concepts of synergism, already discussed.
The Conversation of Democracy undergirds the Ecology of Mind checked and balanced by the Ecology of Values to the extent that "the rules of the game" by which the Ecology of Mind remains dynamic, healthy, sane, etc., are law, enforceable law, remedy-providing law — including the enumerated constitutional guarantees, still not adequately secure, of free inquiry, association, expression, etc., the unenumerated fundamentals of Liberty, and those evolving standards of Due Process of Law, Equal Justice under Law, and Nomos: the Rule of Reason.
As science swallows logic whole, then goes beyond, so cybernetics — Nomos — swallows science whole, then goes beyond.
B. My reasons for seeking to subordinate "science" to "cybernetics" are primarily practical: During many years of law-reform effort in what is now the former Soviet Union, I have had much occasion to ponder "Soviet legal science" and its roots in what is often called "German legal science"; and I have become convinced that our world must tackle head-on the very notion of law as "science"; this notion is pernicious; see Theory of State and Law.
The scientific enterprise of knowledge-generation and wisdom-ascertainment is of supernal value, but — in those "sciences" focused on our world and the human condition — science, the quest for the Truth, must be anchored in cybernetics, the goal-oriented quest for the Good: areté.
Law is "science" only in the astonishing sense that we humans are engaged in a long-term "controlled experiment" testing whether the evolution of Intelligence — and of the capacity to choose based on knowledge, including self-knowledge — is evolutionarily viable. This Ecology of Mind "calling forth" an Ecology of Values (and all that this implies) is powerful indeed, allowing us to eradicate all forms of intelligent life on this planet, but also, perhaps, all forms of human mayhem and all impediments to RISE.
C. Some say our world is a single living organism. Some say it is poised to "flash" its Intelligence throughout the universe. Some say it is God's play-pen, others say it is Satan's. Silly notions compete with profound. Metaphors abound. Let's be clear: Lots of things have been said of our little water-blue "Earth" floating lovely and mysterious in the twinkling black-velvet of space-time. But, truly, our planet is fundamentally unlike anything else we know of — its own best metaphor ... and ours, too.
Yet saying that is not the end of the matter. Let us look at our planet through the eyes of the "ancient-child" Billiken, the "God of things as they ought to be." Let all human history instruct us, yet let us also be as children, seeing as if for the first time.
As Isadora Duncan explained, "If I could say it, I wouldn't have to dance it!" Yet she said this; she did not dance it.
Her famous quotation is easily found on the internet. Perhaps films of her dancing are, too. Her dancing and her spoken reflections thereon leave us doubly blessed. Yet, I submit, they inspire us to rise beyond all previous art.
Trying to discuss something that is ultimately beyond words can add "values" that are themselves hard to spell out. They enrich us all. They go without saying. Yet the Conversation of Democracy seeks to give them voice.
Articulating our most fundamental understandings and values is possibly humanity's most challenging — most splendid — art form.
The genius of constitutional democracy is that it institutionalizes feedback-cultivation and feedback-harvesting — free inquiry, a free press, periodic free and fair elections, etc. — the lifeblood of the Conversation of Democracy based on the Rule of Law.
A competent constitutional democracy has, as its principal object, the goal of keeping that Conversation ongoing, unfinished, still young, yet — generation upon regeneration — well-rooted in "history told with fidelity" ... including that of the Mythos which, on examination, retains authentic value.
The "good society" is not a supposed utopian plateau of perfection that can ever be reached, but is instead an unending process of reaching, of becoming, of perfecting.
Utopia gained is, by definition, utopia lost.
Failure to understand this lies at the root of all theocracies, dictatorships, and "absolute" states, and leads to their eventual intellectual, moral, and material collapse.
Fundamental human rights such as freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression are fundamental precisely because, without them, we cannot be "fully human" — conscious carriers of evolution, conscious participants in the coevolution of matter and mind. We are participants in co-creation; we "play God"; and we have to get better at it. As President Kennedy said, "Here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own." See Note.
We build, maintain, improve, and "grow" constitutional democracy as a tool, a vehicle, that can carry our memesphere — our experiment in participatory co-creation — to loftier heights of self-reflection, new dimensions of self-governance, improved realizations of the democratic ideal. We seek to know ourselves better that we may govern ourselves more wisely. As individuals and societies, we seek to cultivate and harvest reliable self-knowledge to enhance the areté of wisdom, choice, will, action, and feedback leading to further wisdom. This requires a viable Conversation of Democracy.
Corruption in society, the economy, and governmental processes generally, and of political discourse specifically, feed upon each other. Dumbing-down constitutional governance and ginning-up facts, arguments, and other components of the Conversation of Democracy are contemptible expedients that endanger the long-term health of liberty, justice, accountability, and similar "Open World" values so crucial to global peace, prosperity, and sustainable progress.
Keep the Conversation of Democracy alive!