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The Lesser of Two Evils

October 10, 2010

This world is wrought with two forces, which themselves manifest in two opposing, yet profoundly dependent realities. These forces, while they have been known by many names, are known by myself as “Materiality” and “Ideality”, and although they are both considered as evil in their raw form, with Ideality inspiring Chaos and Materiality inciting fear, we must choose from this epic dualism the lesser of two evils, for the benefit of mankind.

Before I go on, I should note that although this may reference the respective philosophies of Materialism and Idealism, the use of such words in this post do not necessarily define the words the same, as I employ a more versatile and transitive understanding of the underlying roots of these philosophies; in some senses my reference to these philosophies is made with a more mystical and / or abstract context.

Materiality and Ideality have their respective proponents and detractors; the metaphysical embodiment of these two forces being best understood through the philosophical movements of Materialism and Idealism. But to study either of these philosophies will only serve to confuse a person about the importance of these two forces, both at cosmic and pragmatic levels; after all, an in-depth analysis of materialism and idealism will eventually lead the knowledge-seeker to suggest that perhaps the difference between “body” and “mind” are mere semantics.

This is where dualism comes on: In recognition that there must be a body for the mind to be appreciated, and a mind to appreciate the body, Dualism recognizes that appreciation itself requires the recognition of opposing forces; that is, it is meaningless to say that all is mind or that all is body, because without the existence of one of these the other could not be appreciated, and thus (perceptively) could not exist. To cite the proverbial metaphysical thought-experiment, “If a trees falls and no one is around, does it make a sound”, the dualistic answer would be “maybe”. Furthermore, for it to make a sound would depend equally on both mind and body; thus, for it to make a sound there must be both a body to hear it, and a mind by which to distinguish sound from not-sound. Dualism is in this respect more rational than either Materialism (which is overly-dogmatic) and Idealism (which is overly-abstract). Dualism in its perfect form would permit the union of these opposites, and is thus both idea and material simultaneously; it is the coin upon which the material side and the idea side can both coexist peacefully.

In deciding that inspiration should be the standard for absolute truth, I noted that the truth of a cause should be decided by its effect. For example, Christianity can be considered an important truth for humanity, having survived for thousands of years and still ever-prominent among people from different cultures, nations, ethnicities, and castes. However, it is not necessarily a good truth, as more people have been killed in the name of the Christian god than of any other deity. So Christianity is true, it is a truth that people are better off not applying to their life.

In the same way, I have evaluated modern society, and determined that although the prospering societal trends such as nationalism, prejudice, ethnic pride, and capitalism are true (being pervasive and prominent in their presence), they are not good truths, as they have historically caused more good than harm.

So let us evaluate: what do Christianity and Society have in common that makes the true, yet harmful?

The simple answer: both are largely adhere to the forces of Materiality.

Note that it used to not be that way. Society was always a Materialist, but Christianity was originally Idealist, rampant with mythology, mysticism, and abstract philosophy. As Christianity matured, they latter developed a more Dualistic philosophy, while still retaining their Idealist roots. But with the merging of Christianity with Society, Constantine I transformed Christianity into a Materialist abomination, known later on as “The Catholic Church”.

The Roman Empire was likely the most Materialistic Society of the time, evidence I will explain later on in this post. Saint Paul was a Roman citizen and a tacit proponent of Roman law, culture, and societal norms; it is for this reason he is most passionate in his letters to the Romans, and for this reason that he is so dogmatic in all of his letters. While Constantine merged Christianity with the Materialist Roman Society, Paul is the one who planted the initial seeds and thus made the transformation so successful and the effects of which so pervasive.

Materiality favors the tangible and controlled; for this reason that Society can be considered the epitome of Materialism. Society, which is itself the controlled form of an otherwise chaotic humanity, values Solidarity; that is, a world where every aspect of human nature is static, predictable, measurable, and reliably manipulatable. This is why Science is supportive of Materialism: what good is the abstract, unpredictable, ethereal, cosmic Ideality? Unlike Idealism, Materialism is practical, useful, and measurable; it can be built upon, evolved, and manipulated to produce a reliable result.

The Roman Culture thrived on what might be considered the first true materialism: while they still relied on gods (a somewhat ideal concept, being transcendental), they had a myriad of them– gods for nearly every essential function of Society. In this respect, the Roman subserviated God himself to Materialism, making use of his idealistic qualities to support the needs of a material Society. Constantine passed this materialism onto Christianity, which in the unity of church and state quickly became indistinguishable from Society.

It should be noted, however, that Ideality was never quite rooted in humanity; not because it was any less true, but perhaps because of the nature of its truth. Ideality advocates freedom, uninhibition, honest, untapped desire, and in its raw form, chaos and anarchy. However, pure Ideality does not result in fear, suffering, crime, and death– although these things are usually associated with Chaos by conventional societal adherents. Ideality lacks the impetus for such evils; it has no pride, prejudice, lust, greed, desperation, or hate. In an “ideal” world, there is after all no need for such things.

It would appear the Materialism is to blame for the evil in the world, but this is not the case. For we only scapegoat Materialism because that is controllable is easier to project blame onto.

To clarify:

While Materialism and Idealism are often viewed as alternate perspectives on the nature of reality, they are ‘in reality’ as mutually inclusive as the Yin and Yang of Taoism. As a I said before, there must be a body for there to be a mind, and a mind for there to be a body. Thus, as I first realized a few years ago and conveyed in “Philosophical Scrapbook”, Materiality and Ideality are both required to produce either evil or good!

For there to be murder, there must be murderous intent (Ideality) and someone to murder (Materiality).

For there to be a religion, there must both be God (ideality) and worshippers (Materiality).

And so on…

So you might say, surely all evil originates from Dualism!

But you should also keep in mind:

All good also originates from Dualism!

The other important thing to consider is that neither absolute Ideality or absolute Materiality are plausible, because an absolutely infinite world is not appreciable, and reality is far too vast and diverse for every factor to be reliably controlled. No matter what we try, we will always be stuck somewhere in the middle, making some form of dualism an inevitability.

So then, since Dualism is a metaphysical inevitability anyway, we should examine the virtues of Dualism, and in doing so determine what might be the dualistic “lesser of two evils”:

Dualism can be considered the bastard son of Yin and Yang (with Ideality being the driving “plus” factor, and Materiality being the resistant “negative” factor); history shows that trying to control chaos has the inevitable side effect of corruption, and so it is that Dualism produces evil. But note also that “corruption” is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, both good and evil are born from the corruption that Dualism produces. What might be seen as beauty by some might be considered disparity by others; in the same way, what is corrupt and what is beautiful is all in the eye of the beholder.

As I first realized in my Popularity post, what is evil and what is good is determined by who is in control; the person(s) in control might consider something a good thing, or even believe themselves to be righteous, while those people who’s control has perceptively been taken away by those person(s) would view such things, or such person(s) as evil.

For something to be considered good by both those in control and those not, one of two things must occur:

(1) The mindset must allow for the distinction between control and chaos to be lifted.

(2) An actual perfect Balance between Chaos and control must be applied.

You should notice that #1 is a solution from the perspective of Ideality, wheras #2 is a solution from the perspective of Materiality. While both perspectives might be equally valid, I personally feel that #1 is more plausible, which is probably part of the reason why I tend to lean more towards the Idealist end of the Ideality-Materiality spectrum.

My rationale for this, is although #2 is more practical, being a goal that can be engineering, evaluated, and systematically set into motion, it requires uncontrollable variables to be treated as if they were nonexistent, and requires that all interference and “noise” be treated as evil. For example, from the Materialist perspective, ghosts, demons, psychics, and other supernatural anomalies cannot be accurately controlled, measured, reproduced, or proven; thus, they do not exist. Ideality (#1), on the other hand, asserts that it’s impossible to truly control anything, and as so is a proponent of everything in existence, regardless of the universal validity of its existence. Thus, Ideality is IMO a more pure solution to this problem.

To understand what I mean by “more pure” requires an understanding of Ideality and Materiality in regards to Potentiality versus Actuality: Ideality, if it were treated as manifest, would be Absolute Potentiality. Materiality on the other hand would be Absolute Actuality. As you should know, neither of these can exist without the other, because without potential there would be nothing to actualize, and with Actuality there would be no way to tap potential, and thus appreciate its manifested form.

If God is Potentiality (passion), and Satan is Actuality (resistance), then surely God cannot be appreciated without Satan, nor Satan without God. They are just like Yin and Yang, mutually inclusive forced cursed to depend on each other to manifest. Of their cooperation is born corruption, whether for evil or good, the more worth of which is determined by who is in control (justice), and who is out of control (crime). Referencing my philosophical scrapbook once more, is it any wonder that criminals are always on the run and the law is always “fighting crime”? Just some food for thought 😉

So then, what is the lesser of Two evils?

Even within the confines of Duality, there is no lesser evil, except perhaps a perfect Balance. But as perfection cannot exist in Duality (duality itself being wrought in corruption, which is by its nature imperfect), there is no perfect Balance, but only the opportunity to strive towards it. Perhaps this futile, yet somehow meaningful strive for a Balance in life is really what a virtuous life should be about!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2015 12:19 am

    Thank you. I like your argument on how to relate between materiality/ideality to actuality/potentiality. I came here due to understand Luhmann’s point of view on the concept of meaning and its relation to the distinction of materiality/ideality.

    • October 22, 2015 11:09 pm

      I’m glad you appreciated my post. I have not looked at my old posts for quite some time now, having written so much and forgotten much of what I have thought in the past. Reading these old thoughts of mine, though I can’t say I disagree with what I thought, certainly raises a certain awareness of how equally brilliant and convoluted my works were, and *sigh* how full of typos and grammatical errors my writing has suffered from due largely to an emphasis on the creative process at the expense of quality writing and well-structured thought.

      One of these days I’m going to go through all my old writing, edit it all and rework it to ensure it is refined enough to be better appreciated. Sometime after I graduate from UC Berkeley, get my JD and MPA/ID degrees from Harvard, and become President of the U.S. (if things go as planned!) I will finally have the time to go back and fix all this. Hopefully sooner than that, but when there’s so much ambition, blogging tends to end up on the back burner 😉

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