Practising Faith as an Atheist

1

I can’t elucidate the unfathomable; I can’t prove the unproveable; I can’t sense the empirically unverifiable. I can however point out that there are limits to conception itself, science, and rationality. Such limits imply a domain we cannot know or approach with science, reason, or the senses. This domain may contain things that are True, that exist and are Real.

2

It seems more likely to be the case that there are things that are True, that exist, and are Real, that are beyond the scope and capacity of the human mind to fathom–let alone derive rationally–than not.

That is, if put another way: it seems false to assume that everything that is True, that exists, and is Real, can be proven or even ascertained by the human intellect.

3

The drive to seek Truth is a human burden. We seek truth in all things–including within the existential realm of purpose, meaning, and ethics, that is:

  • “What is the purpose/meaning of my life? What is the purpose/meaning of life itself?”
  • “Why am I here? Why is there life at all? Why is there something rather than nothing? Why does this world exist as it does? What is the cause of this world? Does the world have a cause?”
  • “What is (absolutely) Good, right and moral? Are such things objectively, absolutely, mind-independently so? Or are such things relative to a perspective, a time, place, or group? Hence, are there even such things? If so, how do they establish their absolute primacy over opinion and relative morality? What is the mechanism of their normative force?”

4

Are there truths in existential matters, or are we driven toward the ineffable? If there is no absolute Truth on existential matters, then all that remains is nihilism:

  • There is no absolute purpose to life itself, or my life; there is no necessary reason for this world beyond material mechanisms; there is no absolute good, right, or just act.

Nihilism, follows from a godless worldview1. Nihilism, therefore, is not to be celebrated nor is it to be deplored. It just is.

Without an absolute ground for meaning, purpose, right and wrong, we are left to squabble amongst ourselves with petty opinions–might is right, and to the victor go the spoils.

5

Nihilism is existentially unsatisfying. When I consider the non-answers it provides, the dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest, the challenge of raising Godless children, grief and its senselessness, no, nihilism does not resolve a drive for purpose, meaning, and ethics.

Nihilism is the null-answer:

  • What is the meaning of life? There is none.
  • What is Good? Nothing. (What is bad? Nothing.)
  • Why are we here? No reason.

As null-answers they don’t conclude the journey for existential answers.

Since nihilism follows directly from a Godless position, only two possibilities remain:

  1. Either the drive toward existential meaning in a meaningless world is the human lot.
  2. There are answers to existential questions and since nihilism follows from the Godless starting point, God must exist.

In order to know which of these are true, I must examine my atheism.

6

To discover God, I believe that rational, scientific approaches appear unsuited. However, God may possibly be known through practice. This requires humility and openness. It is not an easy thing to do after three decades of godlessness. Time will tell if this works out. As always, I am a work in progress.


1 - For the modern "good without God" types, I won't defend this conclusion here--feel free to read my earlier posts--or read R. Garner, J. Marks, J. L. Mackie, et al.

Kant – Liberal Rationalising

I’m no Kantian expert. If you want to read a scholarly expert on Kant, refer to someone else. I am merely going to share some thoughts on Kant – The Great Philosophers by Ralph Walker (1998).


My Conclusions First.

The recurring thought I get from reading Kant’s moral ideas is that he has described a mathematical system, but no argument for practising maths. His categorical imperative begs the meta-ethical question: “why ought I engage in practical reason?” His entire system relies upon Reason’s successful exaltation, otherwise we can ask: “Why ought I always act rationally? Who made Reason God? What force compels us to obey Reason?”

Furthermore, even if Reason is akin to God, it does not follow that we are motivated to be moral. One must choose his obligations. One must freely choose the premises from which conclusions follow, whether from God or from man. Even if God is real and His moral law is real, we must freely choose it, thus attaining the motivation to be under its spell.

I also take issue with the assumption that moral law is necessarily rational. If moral law are commands from personhood (and not disembodied Reason) it need not be mathematically universalisable nor coherent–it need only be the will of said agent (of God). It may well be that moral law is rational, but it need not be fundamentally characterised so. If morality is fundamentally characterised as imperatives, it is as rational or irrational as its commander.


Moral Realism.

For Kant, morality is real and absolute–not relative or changing. Walker calls it “objective,” meaning not-subjective and therefore mind-independent. So, regardless of what anyone’s opinion, feeling, or belief is, morality is unflinching. This doesn’t mean that the moral act is always the same in every situation.

Kant talks about the ‘moral law’ to stress the imperative character of morality; he does not mean it can be neatly codified.

Walker, 1998, page 8

Hypothetical Imperatives.

Kant makes the distinction between hypothetical and categorical imperatives. Hypothetical imperatives being obligations that follow from certain premises or conditions. A condition, or if-clause, becomes the end to which the action is pointed.

If the action [commanded] would be good simply as a means to something else, then the imperative is hypothetical

Kant (G 414)

For example, consider the being inside a burning house. We can provide a hypothetical imperative: “If you want to live, exit the burning house.” The if-clause provides the conditional premise, and the conclusion is to exit the burning house. As a syllogism:

  1. Premise: You are in a burning house
  2. Premise: If you do not exist the house you will die
  3. Premise: You do not want to die
  4. Conclusion: You should exit the house

The conclusions of hypothetical imperatives are means to the ends defined in their premises.

Categorical Imperatives.

In contrast to the hypothetical imperative, Kant defines the categorical imperative, an imperative which follows without any conditional premises. That is, the reason to obey a categorical imperative follows from the imperative itself–not from any conditional premises. As a syllogism, a categorical imperative is just the conclusion. Hence, the categorical imperative is at once its own end.

…but if the action is represented as good in itself and thus as a necessary principle for a will which is in itself in accordance with reason, then the imperative is categorical.

Kant (G 414) (bold added)

Note the bolded conditional premise hidden in the above quote. The implied conditional statement is, “[if you are/possess a will] in accordance with reason, then…” Kant’s categorical imperative therefore breaks down into a hypothetical imperative, where the conditions are its end (i.e. rationality is Kant’s goal.)

But the only way in which Kant can sidestep this implicit conditional premises is to make an additional claim that we rational-capable animals should always be and act rationally.

Walker would disagree:

For Kant the moral value of an act depends on the moral law, not on any consequences. The difference is subtle but important. For the utilitarian …morality is concerned with how to get [happiness]. Kant would say that the utilitarian’s imperatives were only hypothetical, telling us how to achieve an assumed goal. On his view, it is the moral law itself that requires us to pursue those ends … and their value is derived entirely from the law, which lays them down as obligatory.

Walker, 1998, page 12

But how does moral law “lay [its duties] down as obligatory”?

Imperatives, Obligations, and Commands.

Morals can be formulated as commands (i.e. imperatives or obligations), for example, “Do not kill innocent people.”

For hypotheticals, commands (e.g. above, “You should exit the house”) naturally emanates from within the context of conditional premises (the subject/agent’s desire to live). Since categorical imperatives do not rely upon conditional premises, they take the form of contextless commands.

Walker clarifies by saying,

By ‘imperatives’ Kant does not just mean ‘commands’: he means ‘commands of reason’. (Kant, P 20)

Walker, 1998 page 7

But Reason does not command so we are not yet closer to knowing how categorical imperatives are not to be distilled into hypothetical imperatives.

Commands without a Commander.

Unlike the hypothetical imperative, there is (supposedly) no agent or personhood commanding the commandment. Kant thus defines a morally motivating set of commands without a commander. (Although his implicit commander is Reason itself–a point I will detail shortly).

However, commands require a commander. Commands only make sense when coming from an agent. It is incoherent to suggest otherwise. Self-defined, mind-isolated, intrinsically motivating moral facts are impossible. This can be demonstrated by the following:

“Do X.”
“Why?”
“Because it is a command.”
“From whom?”
“From no one.”
“Then what compels me to do X?”
“You are already motivated to obey it because you are aware of it.”
“Then why command it?”
“Because you are obliged to do X.”
“What happens if I don’t do X?”
“Nothing. You are defined as immoral.”

The above shows how impotent commanderless imperatives are.

The question of moral commands then is ultimately one about who is sovereign. This is a topic for another post. Suffice to say that, for Kant, Reason is sovereign.

Sovereign Reason.

The device that Kant uses to achieve commands without a commander is anthropomorphisation. Kant grants Reason itself personhood. He gives it intentionality. Reason is no longer the tool by which logic is practised, it is a red-blooded real boy. It intends, wants, commands, and compels by implied normative threat of force.

Kant grants Reason itself sovereignty within his moral framework. Whether he believed in God or not, it is evident that his deontological moral system exalts Reason to a high throne. This is evident when we see the word be used as if it were a proper noun.

For example, Kant says, “In order to will that which reason alone prescribes to a ration being affected by the senses in the form of an ‘ought’, it is certainly required that…” The word bolded by me here could be replaced with a name, Jimmy, perhaps. It would then read a lot easier–and of course lose Kant’s intended meaning (recall that Kant doesn’t mean for imperatives to be commands from an agent, but from reason itself sans personhood).

Kant makes the point that reason is required to derive necessary actions:

Only a rational being has the capacity to act in accordance with its idea of laws, that is, in accordance with principles: in other words, it has a will. Since for the derivation of actions from laws reason is required, the will is nothing other than practical reason.

Kant (G 412)

But to derive actions is not the same as deriving motivation to act on said actions.

Moral Motivation.

If Reason is not an agent for Kant, but a coherent system of disembodied laws, bereft of personhood, Kant must account for why its imperatives are forceful. He attempts this:

In order to will that which reason alone prescribes to a rational being affected by the senses …, it is certainly required that reason have the power to infuse a feeling of pleasure or of well-being at the fulfilment of a duty, and so there is required a causality of reason, by which it can determine the sensibility in accordance with its principles.

Kant (G 460)

So, reason requires correspondence with a positive qualitative experience otherwise we will not be motivated to be moral.

Kant continues:

But it is wholly impossible to understand … how a mere thought, which contains nothing that has to do with [qualitative experience], can produce a feeling of please or displeasure … Thus it is entirely impossible to explain how and why … [morality] should interest us.

Kant (G 460)

Two questions are raised here, namely by the words, “how” and “why.”

First, why morality should interests us (if it does not already)? If our feelings do not correspond with moral law, and hence we are motivated toward immoral (or at best permissible) behaviour, Kant is unable to argue forcefully for our realignment toward moral law. Kant has to contend with the lack of moral behaviour and the rampant relativism of modern life amongst rational agents.

Secondly, how does pure thought impel the senses?

Queerness.

In modern moral error theory, this refers to the queerness of morality: how does reason cross the boundary of the intellect into the heart and motivate us to act? That is, if categorical imperatives do indeed motivate us to act obligingly, then the relationship between such rational laws are fundamentally different to all other known relations in the universe.

Facts, or true statements, don’t inherently inspire action, they require subjective desire for that. Recall:

  1. Premise: You are in a burning house (fact)
  2. Premise: If you do not exist the house you will die (fact)
  3. Premise: You do not want to die (subjective desire)
  4. Conclusion: You should exit the house (obligation/imperative/command)

Premise three completely relies on the psychological state of the subject of the argument. Without it, the argument is not sound. Hence when Kant elucidates a categorical morality, which introduces no subjective premises, he fails to argue convincingly for moral action.

In other words, if rational concepts are moral facts–and even if God proclaimed such moral laws, they would remain a fact–true statements, but the motivation to obey them would not inherent in them. That must be provided by an additional (subjective) element: the desire to be moral.

Rational does not imply normative.

Liberal Foundations.

…I believe it is best if one first proceeds analytically from ordinary knowledge to the determination of its supreme principle…

Kant (G 392)

Hence, speaking as a German of his time (lifetime: 1724-1804), Kant begins his analysis of morality’s essence within the context of a Liberal culture. There is no reason to assume that what he takes as “ordinary” knowledge, corresponds to morality’s essence.

This unjustified assumption therefore influenced the character of the morality he ultimately distilled. The principles he derived are Liberal–for example, the primacy of reason and requirement for independence/freedom of the will.

By developing the concept of morality that is universally current [common/ordinary/popular], we have shown that … autonomy of the will is unavoidably connected with it…

Kant (G 445)

No doubt, had Kant been living in a different culture, his morality formulations would assume a very different flavour. Perhaps instead of propping up Enlightenment anthropology (the natural free state of man) and its exaltation of reason and sense experience, Kant might formulate a moral system which is no less absolute but entirely aimed towards different goals. His commander may not have been Reason, but another God.

Attempting Faith

A long time ago I stopped respecting faith (or “belief without evidence”). I have taken its counterparts–materialism, scientism, empiricism, and rationalism–to its logical conclusion and found it wanting. I have decided to change my tune.

I have always had a drive to understand. This had been the constant theme in my self-paced development. I’ve always gained joy from understanding and tension from disorganised and unsystematised facts. So, for all things greyscaled, music, politics, culture, philosophy, morality, etc., for which categorisation and objectivity remained elusive, my fascination never wanes.

This drive to knowledge thrust me into atheism and eventually toward explicit disbelief in moral facts. No doubt I am a product of my Liberal culture, but my drive didn’t end having derived a purely individualistic, detached, subjective form of ethics. My existentialism does not yet rest.

In the face of my explicit moral nihilism, and my growing existentialist psychology I am left to attempt an entirely new strategy.

I am a naturally analytic thinker, very logically and scientifically inclined. Regardless, I like to think, that despite my nature, I am truly open to growth, and reflection. In this respect, I am now attempting a completely new approach, to challenge my analytic approach completely.

For a long time, I have said that nothing less than a qualitative experience could convince me of God’s existence. Argumentation for God seems so inadequate. Why would God be derivable by mere argumentation? Even logic and rationality itself seems insufficient to truly show Him. I would need something convincing to believe. Then I may join my dear friends who have had such experiences, and likewise become utterly convinced (and just as unconvincing). But, even then, I suspect my analytic mind would be able to dismiss my own experience as hallucination. Am I doomed to rationalise forever?

Atheism resolves in nihilism. Those that profess they are “Good without God,” are wrong. They are either confused: attempting to attain religious-like morality without invoking an all-powerful commander, or bridging Hume’s is-ought gap. Likely, too, atheists try to convince themselves (and others) that they are good guys, for social credit…

The task ahead of them is to be Nietzsche’s active nihilist. But who is capable of such a task? I may be able to walk in such shoes, but they are not suited to me, it seems: I still have a drive for existential meaning, objective ethics, and a sense of purpose. None of which can arise from atheism.

The problem for the atheist-nihilist is that to claim to be good in a world without God, you must first define the Good, but to define the Good, you must be God (or be godly enough to point to it–to take Euphryo’s other option). No man can do it and hence the atheist is lost. They can act, they can prefer, but they cannot justify objectively. And, that makes all the difference.

Atheists might be able to define things they like, things of utility, of communal value, of hedonistic desire, but they cannot define the Good. How can a man know true goodness–that which must be external to his own petty will, his prerogatives, his materialistic contingent thoughts and desires? If he can know the Good, it must be through mediation with divinity, but this is what the atheist denies.

I have every motivation to attain belief in God, yet… I must be honest with myself: just because I desire the benefits of God belief, doesn’t mean He exists. If I were that soft-minded, I would have remained religious since my young days at catholic school. I respect truth too much for easy conclusions.

I believe there are some truths that cannot be known by mere mortals, and fewer still that can be derived by logical thought. It seems appropriate then, given the preponderance of those who claim knowledge of God, to attempt an approach toward truth with different tactics.

The moral nihilism mindset, for me, is not sufficient. I acknowledge the growing existential emptiness and longing for epistemological and ethical grounding that I see other (devoted) people profess to have.

My radically new approach is to stop approaching God from the analytic path. I need to try faith, and see what comes of it. I am a beginner in the matters of faith, so am open to a variety of methods, and will humbly attempt them for what I suspect will be a many year (if not decades) journey.

My first step, which I have already begun is to attend Christian church, while simultaneously reading and learning about Paganism and Hinduism.

Depending on how this experiment turns out, I shall look back on this post in very different ways. Either it is the ramblings of a fledgling nihilist, beset with the existential consequences of the empty nature of Being, or as the Outsider looking in, on the first humble steps of a great journey toward God–one I’ve always been on… toward truth.

What is Morality?

Morality begs for definition. Productive discussions about it must be precise, but the word “morality” alludes to many disparate concepts. How might we navigate this labyrinth?

Upper vs. Lower-Case Morality

Not only is there capital-M Morality, where right is Right and wrong is Wrong, and the only problem is knowing which, but there is also relative morality, where right and wrong are merely tethered to specific groups or individuals.

One problem for relative morality is that it begs the meta-ethical question, “who determines right and wrong?” and, “what legitimises their authority?” Anyone who asks these questions is ultimately in search of capital-M Morality, but the bigger problem for relative morality is the existential dread that undergirds it.

Relative morality is deeply unsatisfying.

Without eternal or external answers to moral and ethical questions, humans don’t know what they ought to do, and cannot know whether their actions and lives are good or evil. Their actions are without meaning because they do not fall within a structure which provides meaning by issuing imperatives, assigning roles, and facilitating the individual’s communion with the cosmos or greater (moral) order.

But capital-M Morality has its own existential crisis: does it even exist? If we are to characterise capital-M Morality as a set of mind-independent, objective properties of worldly objects, then how do we account for these facts motivating human behaviour? How do we even learn of these moral properties of regular objects?

Perhaps God can provide an answer.

God and Morality

The existence of God is not going to be something derived here, though we can make some logical points despite this uncertainty. God either exists or not, and if capital-M Morality exists, we can analyse His relationship and influence on it.

If God is good and moral, then it is either because He acknowledges Morality, or because He is Morality.

In the former case, God is irrelevant to ethics, because so long as we are Moral, we are also congruent with God’s will. God and humanity both acknowledge the same set of objective moral facts. The only difference is that on the one hand, God created them, and on the other we are intrinsically motivated to live according to them. God’s approval of our behaviour may be significant, but it is after-the-fact: Morality judges us–God merely agrees with its assessment.

But how could God create the Good if it isn’t part of Himself?

Consider, therefore, God as the locus of Goodness itself: the very source of Morality. Such a situation raises this question: “What if God had preferred bad to the Good? What if it had been the other way around? If good were bad and bad were good, we would have inverted moral intuitions. For example, murder is good, not bad.”

If God defines Good (because of what or who He is), then what we consider Good is relative to His perspective and morality is once again relativea form of divine relativism. This begs us to ask God: “What makes your moral authority legitimate? How do we know that what you call good, is Good?”

But we are immediately faced with the perversity of asking God such a question. Surely, by definition God is the authority of all authorities, hence His legitimacy as moral arbiter is unquestionable. Therefore, if God and capital-M morality exists, God is literally Goodness itself. So, assuming capital-M Morality, how do we square the problem of divine moral relativism with God’s unquestionable moral authority?

Perhaps the answer lies in re-evaluation of our conception of God.

Consider what, “God being Goodness,” means. God == Goodness. If, like a mathematical equality, each side of the equation must be the same thing, then we need to correct any disagreement in these concepts. From one approach (left to right), we modern people have a conception of God as an entity which is assigned the characteristics of Goodness, and from another (right to left), we have moral norms being equated with divinity itself.

Norms and beings are not equivalent, though, so this equation strikes us as counter intuitive. How can God literally be Goodness? Perhaps the solution is to understand God, less as an all-powerful entity that created the universe, and more as Goodness, such that the equation becomes the explicit tautology that, “Goodness equals Goodness.”

The Anthropological Understanding of the Sacred

God, then, is the binding force of community, Goodness. Divinity is that normative drive to socially approved behaviour. In a particular sense, therefore, there is no God–at least not from a modern overly-anthropocentric understanding. We’ve answered Euthyphro’s dilemma by granting the Good as God, but literally. We have not lost God with this definition. God exists, however His nature is merely, purely, precisely, that which the community desires as Good.

To further clarify, this conception of God does not precede the human community. It is another word for the norms that arise from a community. God is synonymous with the aggregate pro-social will of human society. If God, the Sacred, is born of the community, a human social order, then He has a human origin, an anthropological one.

If God is the good natured will of society, and nothing more, then our conception of God is no longer an answer to questions about ultimate, human-external meaning and purpose (let alone of the universe’s origin). This leaves us open to the possibility of the Real God (or none at all). It seems we are back to a deeply unsatisfying resolution. (However, most people should not be so unlucky, for they do not understand God as we now do. They are within the structure we have described, not outside it, deconstructing it.)

In the 19th century, Nietzsche articulated an awareness that, “God is dead,” but rather than this reflecting a growing sense of dis-belief, what if, we modern people of Western civilisation didn’t stop believing in God, but rather, began to understand God in a new way, and it is that which we fine unbelievable?

We moderns have a materialistic, over-rational view of the world. We take the idea of God as a being literally. The existence of God therefore becomes a question of empirical reality, of science, of verification. No wonder we scoff at religious faith. We can’t understand that faith may not refer to, “belief in something empirical yet without proof,” but rather something more like, “the necessary moral condition for human communal existence.”

For believers, God is real, because they feel His presence. This feeling is real, and it derives from the social understanding of norms and communal relationships. Within a community, each person knows their role, their purpose, their rights and obligations, right from wrong, and derive satisfying meaning in their lives. The normative forces that compel them to “be moral” are the social forces of their peersan awareness that without their continued acceptance as a member of the community, they would face violence or expulsion.

This anthropological understanding of the Sacred is effectively equivalent to traditional understandings. In both cases, the believer has purpose and Morality. Only by deconstructing Morality in these explicit anthropological terms does the Sacred appear to lose its power.

Back to One

We are back to the beginning of our journey for we now can glimpse a new type of morality, to which we again ask: what is (Real) Morality? As opposed to lower-case and uppercase morality, which can be accounted for in concrete anthropological ways, does Real Morality exist? Does a Real God exist? What is the relation between them and to our worldly lower-case morality?

We return to an atheism and uncertainty with a greater respect for what Morality and God must be. Any conception of a Real God must be truly above human activity, for we can already account for human morality without Him. Likewise, a Real Morality must be truly external to the human. It would be as objective, and eternal, as it has been elusive.

Unless there is nothing. Perhaps lower-case morality is all we have, and it is our dissatisfaction that needs re-appraisal. Can we gain solace in a world without Real Morality and/or a Real God? Can we return to innocence, before our deconstruction of morality in anthropological terms, and regain our purpose and meaning, reclaim right and wrong, derived from the human community?

Can we discover the Real God, or is this anthropological understanding of the Sacred, “God is dead” for a new generation?

The ideas from this post are heavily influenced by Moral Error Theory, Generative Anthropology, and Nietzsche, in addition to general philosophical ideas, such as Euthyphro's dilemma from Plato etc. Please research those topics for further details or ask me for authors or starting points.

Veganism Defined – Apolitical, Negative, Subjective

This is the second in a series of three posts, although it can be read on its own. Part One. Part Three.

Veganism defined

–Apolitical

In its most essential form, veganism is apolitical; the mere rejection of animal use. This includes meat, milk, cheese, honey, petting zoos, “toy” pets, etc.

Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

The Vegan Society, https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/definition-veganism

Only when veganism becomes a movement intending to spread throughout society, does it become political. For this reason, it should be noted, that even though the left-wing are prominently over-represented in vegan movements, the left do not have a monopoly on animal (nor environmental or human) issues, let alone the definition and interpretation of veganism.

–Negative

As defined, the vegan philosophy is a negative one. It seeks to exclude, abstain, limit, and remove experiences from our lives. This reeks of predestined failure for what philosophy inspires people to hold back from life?

As a negative philosophy, it sows the seeds of its own self-destruction. The latent assumption is that, since veganism is a rejection of animal use, which is the default lifestyle in modern life, that therefore animal use is normal, necessary, and natural. Hence, the negative framing paints veganism as not normal, unnecessary, and unnatural. This is effectively backward for it is only in the unnatural Liberal era that unnecessary animal use has been normalised!

As a negative philosophy, after veganism’s historical need, then its (hypothetical) success as a movement, it would no longer be required. Hypothetically, if ever there were no need for a movement to avoid using animals, what would stop its eventual passing out of memory, and perhaps, historic necessity and revival once again? The goal of political veganism should not be to wax and wane with the tides of historic animal use, but to become a constant standard for human-animal-environment relations, regardless of history’s trajectory.

A positive philosophy is required to forge a movement that is not based on others actions, and stands on its own values. Rather than a trajectory of negation and resentment toward our anti-vegan world, a path of assertion is required. A set of positive values, devoid of all reference to what historically contingently causes gave them rise, is required. A positive vision is required after the initial spark of veganism’s impetus is doused. This positive valuation is found in a wholistic attitude toward life itself, which is something expounded upon here.

–Subjective

The key feature of the “official” vegan definition is that it includes “grey-zones” and allows for the complexities of human subjectivity. “As far as is possible and practicable,” means that, for some, eating meat is allowed, either always or at particular times. It means that research on animals is not denied carte blanche. It means that difficult topics in the animal-rights sphere are not black-and-white.

The phrase, “possible and practicable,” brings the flexibility of human circumstance and subjectivity. For some, eating animals is a biological necessity–without flesh, blood, sinue, or the concentrated and unique forms of nutrients found directly in animals, they would not survive. For these people, veganism includes animal use (when necessary). For some peoples living in remote areas, it is essentially impractical to avoid animal products, for food, clothing, or shelter. For these people, veganism includes animal use (when necessary). Of course, for most people in a modern city, being complete veganism is eminently practicable–and unnatural, man-made supplements such as B12 are a considered, practical trade-off against the extremity of modern animal agriculture.

We can sensibly debate animal use issues without giving up on our principles or being dogmatic. Perhaps hunting-sanctuaries are a realistic solution to near-extinct species. Perhaps questions like, “is honey vegan?” can be appreciated as involving less urgency and importance than others. Veganism is not opposed to pragmatic, evolving implementations of, “as far as is possible and practicable.”

What is clear is that we are destroying our planet, our own health, and causing untold suffering to billions of sentient beings annually. See the documentary, Dominion, below, for a vivid example of modern Australian (and typically Western) animal agriculture.–Note that outside Western culture, animals fare far worse.

Even if The Vegan Society had not arrived at such a wise formulation of its definition, we should create a new one in its place. With that said, who and where veganism was defined is irrelevant. What matters is why we care to be vegan in the first place.

So, continue on to read why we care to be vegan in the first place — hear a the case for a form of veganism which IS political, yet not left wing (or Liberal). Reactionary veganism is pragmatic, realistic, timely, and coheres within a larger positive outlook on the world.


Dominion (documentary) view on YouTube