In the third chapter of author Brad Thompson’s book America’s Revolutionary Mind (titled Self-Evident Truths), he tells us “the concept of truth identifies a kind of relationship, between a proposition and certain facts of reality. More specifically, truth is the end to which self-evident is the means.”
In fact, America’s tradition of Equality (the fourth chapter’s title) – equal justice under objective law – began during the pre-Revolutionary War period. “The Americans conducted their debates with Great Britain during the years of the imperial crisis very much like a criminal or civil case. Truth, including moral truth, is possible, necessary, and desirable.” In his 1689 Essay, John Locke defined truth as a proposition whose subject and predicate relate to each other without contradiction. As Thompson explains,
Grounded on perceptually self-evident axioms, moral truths can be discovered that are as certain as mathematical truths, but they require thought and attention. The freedom to think (collect, weigh and judge evidence) is a requirement of human flourishing.
This is the Law of Identity in action; aka the Law of Causality – an action is caused by the nature of the entity that acts, nothing acts in contradiction to its nature. The first self-evident truth, all men are created equal, is what Thompson calls species equality. It is perceptually self-evident that men are not horses or birds, and consequently, no man is born to rule another by nature. By the process Locke calls demonstration, subsequent truths are conceptual, and form a continuum known as the conceptual hierarchy.
The moral and political truths presented in the Declaration can be self-evident only after they are discovered and presented through a process of reasoning and demonstration. Starting with an axiomatic truth, three self-evident corollary truths were deduced.
Because reason is the primary attribute of man, and yet inequality of physical strength, esthetics, cognitive skills, and family resources are the natural state of human existence, reason itself is under attack in 2020 American culture. The popular bromide of these nihilists, the ones who reject moral truth, is “there are no absolutes.” The phrase itself is an absolute. As a self-evident contradiction whose purpose is to force artificial equality, it implies let the consequences be damned.
And ambition. However, in chapter four Thompson writes, “18th Century American society was the most egalitarian society in history. The New World lacked the glaring economic and social inequalities that defined life in the Old World. Because land was so much more available in America, economic opportunity and wealth creation were open to virtually all people willing to be rational, industrious, and economical.”
In other words, to square each person’s equal ownership of reason and free will with the unequal distribution of several other qualities, America’s Founders made the essential distinction between qualitative and quantitative attributes. Thompson writes,
In Jefferson’s understanding of equality, measurements have been omitted. Following Locke’s innovation that all men are born tabula rasa, whatever their natural differences may be, they are not so great as to confer a natural title to rule over any individual by nature.
More broadly, measurement omission is essential for the entire process of concept-formation, aka thinking. There is the forest and there are trees. This is an example of unit-economy. One does not need to know how many trees are required to define a forest. The concept of species-equality is no exception. Concept-formation differentiates men from animals who are limited to perception and instinct. Reason expands our range of consciousness to an unlimited scale.
While today’s social justice warriors may agree with “Jefferson’s revolutionary generation did not think that all men were equal with regard to moral virtues such as rationality, honesty, integrity, fortitude, courage, justice, and productiveness,” they are determined to do something about it!
Yet, absent moral principles, force is the only means for their ends. Because productiveness is the virtue dependent on the ones preceding it in this list, and the only one that is routinely measured objectively, it is the virtue that is marginalized most easily.
The other six virtues take effort to understand – and perform. So for anyone who wants to force equality into measurable units, and reverse the law of causality, the first thing to do is demonize the unit-economy of productiveness – money, prices, and profit. Then glorify the animal-level perceptions of race and sex in primitive defiance of what Declaration and US Constitution signer James Wilson said of “the role of inequality in human affairs,”
It is fit for the great purposes of society that there should be great inequality among men. In the moral, political and natural world, diversity forms an important part of beauty; so of utility likewise. Hence the necessity of great variety, even great inequality in the talents of men.
What Wilson has done is weave diversity into the fabric of American originalism, and explain “mutual dependence supposes mutual wants: all the social exercises and enjoyments may be reduced to two heads – that of giving, and that of receiving: but these imply different aptitudes to give and to receive.” Here, like everywhere, the law of causality is at work. The beauty offered by diversity of talent and ambition is predicated on the equality of rights, derived from species equality, and the unit-economy of concept-formation.
Also unique to human life is language, whose definitions of words give simple and complex concepts their identity. The most commonly used tool for those who wish to reverse the law of causality is to alter definitions, particularly those of words like equality, rights, diversity, and justice. In their hubris, they believe that reality is defined by their imaginations, but that is impossible. Existence exists. You can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality forever.
Regardless of today’s progressive bromides, money remains the keystone of civilization, prices possess more information than all economic planners combined, profit is the mother of all poetic justice, and to quote the prolific novelist turned philosopher Ayn Rand, “a word is worth a thousand pictures.”