About the book
How is it possible to have
political order and peace at all? This is the key question we
This book, on the bases of
biology, psychology and human experience, argues that our
salient characteristic is creativity, the capacity to acquire,
transmit and apply knowledge. Creativity is a precondition for
morality, the best morality, therefore, is what facilitates
creativity best. Agreement on morality is what
resolves conflicts of interest and leads to the formation of
political power and, thus, order. But how is agreement possible?
Liberal democracy and ideologies, including religions, evolved
to deal with moral disagreement. However, they evolve and
develop differently, so they have shaped and will
shape political history differently. Read on to see how.
If we assume that we have evolved from apes, two
phenomena would strike us as remarkable. Firstly, why should a
descendent of apes adhere to morality even when that morality
was detrimental? In the course of struggles for power,
particularly dictatorships, it is not uncommon to realise that a
decent politician loses to the criminally minded one.
Machiavelli must have been well aware of this, and hence the
counsel for his prince to be ruthless and manipulative.
Secondly, why do we care about systems of beliefs like religions
and nationalism, despite the fact they bring about misery for
great numbers of people, including some of their followers?
Answering these questions is essential for explaining history,
because so many events in politics cannot be explained without
considering the moral and ideological concerns of those acting.
My involvement with these questions dates from 1982, when I
wanted to write a short historical account of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The book, Knowledge Processing, Creativity and Politics (www.authorhouse.co.uk),
puts forward a view of morality and ideologies that can lend
itself to the explanation of politics and political history that
fits into Dawkins's Selfish Gene worldview. The book also tries
to point out the psychological mechanisms and backgrounds for
the concern with values in general which take into account the
contradictions and inconsistencies of human moral concerns.
Moreover, it demarcates the social contexts in which the
selection for morality is likely to occur.
The Essential Characteristic of Human Nature
In a worldview argued for by Plotkin, adaptation
can be seen as a manifestation of knowledge acquired
heuristically by genes. The bodies of all organisms
represent knowledge of what works in their environment. Humans
can be seen as occupying the branch of the evolutionary tree
where specialised structures - the brain, sense organs and
mediums of manipulation, the hands and tongue - have evolved to
actively incorporate abstract knowledge and capture it in
memories or cultural artefacts. Accordingly, I suggest that
human's salient characteristics is the greater capacity for
knowledge processing - acquisition, transmission and application
of knowledge propositions. Ideas, whether moral, ideological,
economic, scientific, aesthetical or technological, can be seen
as means for competition, in this worldview of
adaptation-as-knowledge. Although it might be regarded as an
unfamiliar view, science, nevertheless, can be seen as an
institution that arbitrates and validates between competing
ideas about nature. However, is there a parallel institution
dedicated to competition between values or moral propositions?
The necessary first step to explain politics is
to identify the significance of moral propositions in social
life. The book argues that moral agreement is the sole element
that brings about political power - this idea is not as
impossible to argue as it might sound. Yet it is obvious that
political power can be used and abused as a means to obtain
various resources, we should therefore expect competition over
power and some of this competition can take place through
competing moral propositions. This point underlines the
difficulty of reaching moral agreement. That is why we will need
to ask: How has the building of political power been possible
and how can we explain the existence of states, and even the
tribe or clan? If my previous premises were plausible, then the
next step should be to assume that humans must have evolved
certain institutions that provide unified sets of moral rules (USMR),
and also deal with the challenges to these USMR. If so, what are
these institutions and where are they?
If we try to devise theoretical models of
institutions that can carry out the function of providing USMR,
and also deal with disagreement over USMR so that political
power is formed and preserved, we will come to think of two
different approaches to achieve this. If we stipulate that no
violence should be used in response to moral disagreement, we
will come to realise that the argument that is likely to win is
in favour of the an arrangement that we should adopt, on
tentative bases, a set of moral rules that the majority of the
group agrees upon, in which it is accepted as a principle that
the majority might err, or that the majority changes its
preference and thus further opportunities are offered to draw up
new tentative sets of moral rules.
The other approach evolves when the proviso of
non-violence is dropped. This model will adopt a set of moral
rules and will permit suppressive methods to pre-empt challenges
to the sanctioned set of moral rules. It is not difficult to
find that these two methods have been and are being used by
various institutions. Current liberal democracies, manifest,
though not completely, the first approach. Religions, at least
some of them if not all, are characterised by providing rigid
moral rules and prohibition of challenging them. However, it can
be shown that Marxism, illiberal nationalism and racism have
some features matching or resembling religions (henceforth I
call them the ideologies or ideological model).
To explain the political reality and history we
can return back to the theoretical models and try to envisage
the structures and policies that these models should acquire, so
that they can carry out the task of providing and preserving
moral agreement necessary for the existence of political power.
It is not difficult to realise that the development, the likely
evolutionary trajectory and the behaviour of the ideological
model match very closely, if not completely, the actual
political history and reality. Even the evolution of liberal
democracy can be expected to happen at some stages in the
evolution of the ideological model under certain conditions.
No doubt, to employ moral propositions in the way
suggested above indicates having made certain assumptions about
morality that can be at a variance with other views of morality.
These differences can be highlighted if viewed along certain
dimensions. Firstly, from the point of view of what forms
morality takes, which is a question about ontology, we can
distinguish two aspects for morality. On the one hand, it is
evident that we have moral propositions. These are what people
in general say when they prescribe, proscribe, approve of or
disapprove of human behaviour and characteristics.
The other component of morality is the
psychological capacity to interact with moral propositions. I
propose the theory of emotional fitness. This theory suggests
that owing to the fact that human actions are driven by emotion,
a capacity can have evolved that makes emotions to interact with
values or vulnerable to values that may be expressed through
body-language or verbally. However, this vulnerability to values
allows manipulation and exploitation through the use and misuse
of social values, which can render us emotionally unfit and
undermine our survivability in the Darwinian sense. In response,
it is speculated that another capacity may have also evolved to
restore or build emotional fitness.
The second dimension is that of evolution.
Considering that human civilisation is a manifestation of
creativity, which is enabled and supported by brain structures,
and that these structures are coded for by certain genes, we can
deduce that there must have been some selection in favour of the
genes for intelligence, and particularly creativity which make
morality possible. In line with Dawkins's the Selfish Gene, we
can say that morality may be for the benefit of genes which
prescribe morality or creativity.
Regarding the context of the selection for
morality and creativity, I have suggested that humans enter
various systems of interdependence, where we select each other.
These include families, businesses, states, parties, etc.
Deontologically, we can easily infer that since
morality will not be possible without creativity, then the best
morality should be the morality that serves creativity best.
Epistemologically, the supposition here is that
moral propositions can be seen as scientific claims of knowledge
and be experimented with. Here I underline the difference
between my approach and Dewey's. However, this assumption needs
the drawing of attention to the differences between moral
propositions and ideological proposition, and also with natural
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