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Foundations For Freedom

Finding Reasons For Our Feelings

A Comprehensive Treaty On Freedom And Morality

By Allan Sztab
© 1997 Allan Sztab
First Edition
Edited by B.Kurz. Cartoons by Whale (Jerry Van Heerden)

Freedom is one of the most cherished yet illusory ideals of

all. Many people have fought and died for it yet others give
it away. Freedom varies from person to person but absolute
freedom is at odds with both human nature and morality.
The range and scope of our actions are limited by the
beliefs we have and our moral conscience that is based on
them. In order to make our dreams come true we must
have as few restrictions as possible and this can only be
achieved by creating a solid moral foundation with which to
do so.
These foundations may be built on three pillars of
knowledge: physiology-psychology, history and philosophy.
The complexity of these subjects stands in marked contrast
to the simplicity of the assumptions upon which they are
based. Here for the first time is a comprehensive treaty on
freedom that brings these simple assumptions within the
reach of anyone who can read well.
Liberating ourselves from the many unnecessary limitations
imposed on our personal freedom enables us to soar to
heights from which anything is possible.

It would appreciate it if you are able to assist by distributing original and unmodified
copies of this file or its printed counterpart. You may use any portion of this text subject
to the usual acknowledgements. Constructive criticism is also welcome and will be taken
cognisance of in future editions.
Best wishes and happy reading
Allan Sztab
17 April 1998
Notice: This book is given away for free without any warranties express or implied. It
may only be distributed on its own in its original format free of any charges and may not

© 1997 Allan Sztab 1

form part of any other scheme of distribution without the prior written consent of the

© 1997 Allan Sztab 2

© 1997 Allan Sztab 3
How To Use This Book

Part One - Human Behaviour

Chapter One - Information
S1 The great divide
Interaction between organism and environment. Life, action and accurate
S2 Collecting and storing information
Environmental sensitivity and the central nervous system.
Fixed and flexible responses.
S3 The power of language
Language and its power to expand the conscious mind. Imagination and
S4 The subconscious mind
Dreams, fantasies and the key motives of human behaviour.

Chapter Two - The Behavioural mechanism

S5 Biological signals or stimuli
The internal and external source of signals. Needs, drives and their conscious or
subconscious satisfaction.
S6 The key role of learning and association
The association of behaviours with the satisfaction of a drive. The mechanisms
of habituation and sensitisation. Values as a determinant of behaviour.
S7 The natural incentives
The innate incentives which underlie human behaviour.
S8 The role of the emotions
The incentives engage our emotions to prepare us for action. Limitations and
excessive emotional expressions. Pain can endure but pleasure wanes.

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Chapter Three - Mechanisms Of The Mind
S9 Processing speed and defence
Short cuts in processing information. Relegation of fearful experiences to the
subconscious. The ties that bind us to the past.
S10 The formation of character concerns
Varying degrees of sensitivity towards the natural incentives. Dispositions to
behaviours that binds us to the past.
S11 The rational mind
The sequence of events, prediction and security with the familiar. Belief and
distortions of reality. Conformity, guilt, rationality and their pitfalls.
Thoughts & Things To Remember

Part Two - Human History

Chapter Four - The Dawn
S12 The spread and development of ideas
The similarity of human innovation and the spread of ideas.
S13 Rights and wrongs, do's and don'ts
Controlling behaviour by means of the taboo.
S14 The quest for certainty and the development of religion
The fertility of women and ideas of re-birth. The attempt to understand and
control the unknown forces of nature.
S15 Ritual and myth
Communication by means of gestures and rituals. Cultural myths and their
S16 The changing climate
The transition from a nomadic to a settled existence.
Chapter Five - Civilisation and Power

S17 Agriculture and a surplus of food

Population growth and the distinction between civilised and barbarian.
S18 Communal and Private property
The growing dependency, investment and attachment to land.

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S19 The commencement of theft, war and conquest
Wealth, non-productive labour and standing armies.
S20 The consolidation of power
The accumulation of wealth and power. The demise of democracy and the
advent of centralised control.
S21 The voice of democracy
Equality of power and the development of modern democracy.

Chapter Six - The Rise of the Major Religions

S22 The moral significance of the afterlife myths
The notion of an afterlife and its relationship to a persons behaviour.
S23 The forces of change
Suffering at the hands of nature and conquerors.
S24 The dawn of scepticism, pessimism, messianism and monotheism
The inadequacy of cherished beliefs to explain change.
S25 Monotheism and the first religious revolution
The linking of military successes with a universal God.
S26 Judaism
The rise to domination of the Jewish God Yahweh. The prophets as spokesmen
for the poor.
S27 Religious reform and the Old Testament
The reinterpretation of history. Suffering as a punishment for disobedience to the
laws of God.
S28 Jesus
The historical life of Jesus and the Gospels.
S29 The death of Jesus
The death of Jesus and the belief in his resurrection.
S30 The rival Christian doctrine of Paul
The Gospel of Mark accepted by other disciples.
S31 Zoroastrianism
Many original religious concepts can be traced to Zarathustra who attempted to
reconcile the forces of good and evil.

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Part Three - Philosophy
Chapter Seven - The attempt to understand change
S32 What is truth?
The desire for consistency and stability fuels the quest for truth.
S33 The first philosophers
Their attempt to understand change. The constancy and inevitability of change.
The notion of universal laws governing change.
S34 Parmenides and the illusion of appearances
The paradoxes of Zeno.
S35 Anaxagoras
The immaterial mind.
S36 Leucippus, Democritus, materialism and idealism
Atoms and space. Reality and happiness created in the mind.
S37 The Sophists or Intellectuals
The relativity of moral behaviour. Justice as an artificial set of convenient
standards. Might is right.
S38 Socrates
The essences of objects, actions and their definitions. Variations in behaviour
due to ignorance.
S39 Plato
The reality of essences or ideas versus mere appearance. Intuition as perfect
knowledge. Change as decay.
S40 Aristotle
Change as progress according to a things potential.
S41 The Cynics And Self-sufficiency
The common nature of humankind and their cultural disguise.
S42 The Sceptics
An open mind in the face of many dogmatic claims to the truth.
S43 Epicurus
The natural striving to seek pleasure and minimise pain.

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Chapter Eight - The entrenchment of superstition
S44 The power of belief
Belief, suffering and hope as an effective means of behavioural control.
S45 The marriage of Religion and Politics
Religion offered rulers a means of obtaining legitimacy.
S46 Religious Faith and Philosophy
The ideas of philosophers and their use by the church.
Chapter Nine - Science and Reason
S47 The myth of impartial observation
The survival value of quick, subconscious judgements and intuition.
S48 Science And Faith
Science requires a faith in the truth of its generalisations.
S49 The bridge between what is and what ought to be
Facts don't convey any moral information.
S50 Logic, reason and rationalism
The rules of logic. The belief that knowledge can be obtained independently of
S51 A mediator between mysticism and science
Reaching for truth by attempting to uncover the hidden rules of the mind.

Chapter Ten - Utopian Ideals

S52 Utilitarianism
The greatest happiness for the greatest number. Pragmatism and that which
S53 Socialism And Marxism
Humanitarianism and Socialism. The class struggle and laws of history.
S54 Analytical Philosophy
The body-mind problem as the misuse of language.
S55 Nietzsche
Pioneer of the human mind and arch-critic of Christianity.
S56 Existentialism
The individuals responsibility for creating meaning in life.
Part Four – Foundations For Freedom
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Chapter Eleven - Freedom And Morality
S57 The Origin Of Morality
Might is right. Voluntary agreement between parties of equal power.
S58 Errors Of Reason
Imaginary causes and freedom of will.
S59 Moral Relativity, guilt, justice and punishment
Obligations and responsibility.
S60 Equality, reciprocity, prestige and redistribution
Voluntary and involuntary distributions of wealth.
S61 Three Laws For The New Millennium
Moral obligations, freedom and limitations. Self-interest, order and rationality.
S62 The Greatest Obstacles To Freedom
Habituation to obey, fear and the ties to the past.
S63 Mysticism, Superstition And Manipulation
Fear, suffering and manipulation by faith, hope and love.
Chapter Twelve - Towards Freedom With A Clear Conscience
S64 Pitfalls on the road to freedom
Isolation as the price for individuality.
S65 Determining the obstacles to our freedom
Rationality and order versus irrationality and disorder. Critical appraisal of
S66 Freedom and the Individual
Pleasure and the fear of losing it. Overcoming fear. The moderation and
satisfaction of desires through wisdom.
S67 Freedom and society
Protection as the primary role of government. Freedom of choice and the growth
of government power. Education, sound information, critical debate and the
danger of losing democracy.
In A Nutshell

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Appendix A - A Brief Introduction To Popular Theories Of
A 1 Sigmund Freud
A 2 Alfred Adler
A 3 Eric Erikson
A 4 Henry Murray
A 5 BF. Skinner
A 6 Albert Bandura
A 7 Gordon Allport
A 8 George Kelly
A 9 Abraham Maslow
A10 Carl Rogers
Appendix B - A brief guide to The Major religions
B1 Hinduism, the caste system and the Vedas
B2 Rival interpretations of the Vedas
B3 Buddhism and Jainism
B4 Islam
B5 Confucianism and Taoism
B6 Confucianism
B7 Taoism
Appendix C - A guide to fears, phobias and paranoia
Appendix D - A guide to modifying behaviours and controlling desires
Appendix E - A guide to some tricks and traps of language
Appendix F - The myths of racial prejudice and the eugenic experiment
Appendix G - The danger of surrendering to popular opinion
Appendix H - The danger of over-population

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© 1997 Allan Sztab 11
'It is good to repeat oneself and thus bestow on a thing a right and a left
foot. Truth may be able to stand on one leg; but with two it can walk
around.' (Nietzsche)
This work is a collection of information that is often encountered on a search
towards a better understanding and enjoyment of life. It borrows heavily from
countless experts in their fields who are acknowledged by the incorporation of
their works in the bibliography. There are nevertheless certain authors whose
works stand out as bright beacons of light on an otherwise desolate landscape.
Men such as Karl Popper whose vision of truth sees clearly through the mystical
cant of philosophers like Hegel and detects a lack of intellectual integrity in
Plato. It was Nietzsche in particular whose unsurpassed yet easily accessible
prose and penetrating insights into the workings of the human mind, history,
logic and science provided the inspiration and guidance for this endeavour. This
would not have been possible but for the accurate translations of his works into
English. No apology is made for having to repeat what has already been said so
many times before but the truth must be repeated many times and in many ways
for it has much to overcome.

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© 1997 Allan Sztab 13
How To Use This Book
This book had been designed to place key psychological and philosophical
concepts within the grasp of the interested reader. The constraints imposed by
the attempt to keep things simple is evident in the style which is at all times
exceptionally brief and to the point. Unlike a novel that provides entertainment,
this book is intended to provoke thought. However, knowledge is power and the
exercise of power is pleasurable in itself.
It is possible to find your way around this book quickly without wasting time
covering areas you are already familiar with. It consists of four parts and is
broken up into sections which makes cross-referencing far easier. If you are
already familiar with the details of any sections then you might find it easier to
omit them at first. Appendices have been used in an effort to keep the main body
of the text short. However, they should be read when first referred to in the text.
The underlying concepts they illustrate are easy to recall and it is unlikely that
you will find it necessary to read them more than once in conjunction with the
text. An index to sections has been provided for your convenience. Combined
with the search facility in MS Word this should make it far easier to navigate the
document. In order to minimise eye-strain the windows system colours (text and
background) can be modified at intervals of a chapter or as you desire (Settings -
Control Panel - Display - Appearance) When viewing the appearance is also
enhanced if the non-printing characters are hidden (Ctrl + Shift + *) and if the
spelling checker is set off (Tools - Options - Spelling & Grammar [clear Check
spelling as you type])
No complex terminology or philosophical jargon has been used in this text and
when a concept is introduced it will always be followed or preceded with an
explanation. When a concept is used in the text that has some relevance to
another section then a reference to that section will be found as a footnote.
During a first reading it may be distracting to refer to other sections on the fly.
However, when reading the text for a second time it is recommended that you do
so in order to gain an ever deeper insight into the far-reaching implications some
of these concepts have.

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One of the primary purposes of this book is to cast doubt on some of the beliefs
and opinions that are widely held by many of us. It is only possible to gauge the
success with which it does so by committing your first thoughts or comments to
writing with suitable references to the particular page or section. This will make
it far easier to recall the reasons for your comments in the future. Recording our
beliefs and opinions is useful as a gauge to measure our personal growth. To
derive the maximum benefit from this book you should always consider the
ways in which the information might be applied to ourselves, those people and
animals around us and the society which we are part of.
The subjects we are going to cover are vast and could never be fully covered in
any detail in a work of this size. The purpose of this book is to provide a basic
foundation upon which you may continue to build on your own. It is no
mistake that names such as Heraclitus, the Sophists, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle,
Epicurus, Buddha, Hume, Locke, Kant, Hegel and others are mentioned in
current articles, books and discussions on philosophy. This seems to be the
customary way of acknowledging the original source or inspiration of certain
ideas. The same applies to discussions concerning psychology and here the
names of pioneers in the working of the mind such as Nietzsche, Freud and
Skinner emerge to take credit for ideas that permeate the work of many theorists
who followed after them. Only those parts of the works of these great thinkers
that were considered original within the context of this text have been dealt with.
The price to be paid for presenting their ideas in this fashion is that it isn't
possible to obtain a well-balanced perspective of their life-works. However, if
this is required there is no substitute for the original texts themselves.

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Whenever an opinion is expressed by someone it is obvious from our own
experience that somebody else might have a different one. For this reason many
of us obtain a second and even third opinion, especially concerning things that
are important to us. If a doctor recommended surgery as the only solution to our
backache we would feel far more comfortable if their opinion was confirmed by
another doctor and the chances are very good that this will be the case.
However, if we sought out the opinion of someone who holds a different set of
beliefs such as that of a Chiropractor we might be offered a non-surgical
treatment. Differences of opinion like this are common and, as in this example,
the stakes are often high. What we tend to find in all areas of life is that people
who belong to different schools of thought will consider their beliefs to be right.
In the face of conflicting beliefs it is clearly in our best interests to make well-
informed decisions for ourselves.
However, we too belong to many specific groups depending on our nationality,
religion, cultural background and occupation. For each group we belong to there
are other groups who are likely to hold different beliefs to those of our own. If
we are honest with ourselves we might accept that many of the opinions we have
aren't really our own in the sense that we haven't compared them with the
opinions of others and then decided for ourselves, as we might do in the above
example. Taken to its logical conclusion we might even find that the path we
have chosen to tread in life has in fact not been determined by ourselves at all.
We have become accustomed to acting in accordance with conceptions of
right and wrong that we have never really determined for ourselves.
Today there is an overwhelming amount of information and with it the problem
of determining how it all fits together. There is no shortage of books written by
highly qualified professionals offering sound advice on topics of general interest
such as how we can achieve our career and financial objectives, improve our
love lives, escape from fear and modify our behaviours. However, in the vast
majority of cases a single truism or insight is taken and literally beaten to death.
When we put these books down we still find that we have no answer to
questions such as, 'I now know how to do x, but is it right or wrong for me to do

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x?', 'why do I feel like doing x at all?', 'what guiding principles should I adopt in
reaching a moral decision?', or 'how does this fit in with the world I see around
me?' This book provides the foundations upon which we can develop an
individual morality that can be consistently applied throughout our lives.
Life would be simple if we were free to behave exactly as we pleased. However,
the laws of society restrict our freedom in ways that are supposed to be
beneficial to us although many of them aren't. The obeying of traffic
regulations is clearly beneficial to us as the results of not doing so are obvious.
However, in many other cases laws are made that confer a benefit to other
people at our expense. The problem we are faced with is that freedom without
any laws would soon lead to disorder and conflict as there wouldn't be anything
to stop people from harming each other.
This is the paradoxical nature of freedom - to avoid conflict and ensure the
safety of our person and possessions we have to sacrifice certain of our
freedoms. The primary objective of this book is to free ourselves from as many
unnecessary restraints to our freedom as we possibly can. The range of human
behaviour is unlimited and the laws and moral codes of all societies vary
markedly from one another. There is no objective way to determine which laws
and moral codes are right or wrong without being influenced by the opinions we
already hold. Nature is indifferent and provides no clues for us. It is obvious that
no law or moral code is of any use if it cannot be enforced and this duty is
normally granted to government. There are many forms of government which
range from military dictatorships to various forms of democracy and each one is
representative of the way in which power is shared amongst its citizens.
All conflicts, whether between citizen and citizen, citizen and government, or
one government and another, arise because each party believes that they are
right. Conflicts are nothing other than a clash of beliefs. Beliefs therefore
play a very important part in our lives and underlying all our behaviour is a
belief that it will enable us to satisfy one or more of our needs or desires. As
humans we are geared towards overcoming harsh, dangerous and difficult
environmental conditions. It was primarily the immense power of language that
enabled us to become master over much of our environment in a very short

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period of time. However, we still have the same old desires and many of them
are ill-suited to the lives of comfort that we now lead. These desires cannot be
turned off so despite the fact that we are now masters of our environment they
actively seek for satisfaction. This only becomes obvious when we compare our
behaviour with those of other animals or humans. Most animals are satisfied
when they have a full meal in their bellies and are safe from other predators.
Until fairly recently hunter gatherers like the Bushmen also lived in a very
simple fashion. However, for many of us who live in the fast lanes of modern
society, life has lost its simplicity. The attempt to satisfy insatiable desires can
go on indefinitely unless we realise that it is our desires themselves that are the
greatest obstacles of all.
The attempt to control and guide our desires is the most difficult task we face. It
is only in death that our desires cease but there are some who nonetheless strive
to attain this state while they are still alive. The elusive state they seek is often
called enlightenment or nirvana. Their attempt to do so is elusive because it is a
desire or combination of desires which is behind their attempt. Certain people
call this elusive state heaven and find no shortage of others who believe they
hold the key to it. However, it simply isn't possible or necessary to extinguish
the desires, for they are life itself. Overcoming our desires is merely an attempt
to give them a form and a shape, a process which is an art. It is a never-ending
process and one that must of necessity be undertaken alone because we are all
On our journey through life there are many potholes and if we can illuminate
some of them we will be able to avoid them or get back on our feet if we should
stumble and fall. Whether we care to admit it or not we are natural scientists
because we continually adapt our behaviour to take account of the regularities
we observe in nature. From our observations of nature it seems that some events
are connected to others and this leads us to assume that their relationship is one
of cause and effect. Based on this assumption we look at nature and ascribe to it
a set of rules or laws that seem to govern its behaviour. In today's modern
society we make use of many things like radios, telephones and electricity that
are based on these laws. We know how to operate them even though we know

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very little about the laws that govern their operation. However, from our
observations we have learnt that they do work and we do so by trusting our
senses. That we trust our senses is evident because we don't let things escape
from the grip of our hands as we know they will fall. We walk around obstacles
because we know we cannot walk through them. Every animal has unknowingly
arrived at many of these conclusions. Despite this obvious trust there are many
people who distrust their senses and cling firmly to a belief in things which
cannot be sensed. These beliefs impose unnecessary restrictions on those who
hold them.
No attempt to explain human actions can be made successfully without a good
understanding of what it really means to be human so the first part of this book
deals with human behaviour and the inner workings of the human mind. This
will enable us to see why people cling so strongly to their beliefs, even to the
extent of fighting and dying for them. While other animals are only consciously
aware of their surroundings as they appear from one fleeting moment to the
next, we are capable of conscious awareness, not only of our present but of our
past and future. No other living organism is capable of doing so and this extra
dimension is brought to us by the unique power of human language.
If we look at a cow grazing contentedly in a field we could enquire whether it
was happy. If it was free of pain and capable of satisfying its immediate needs
we might conclude that it is. However, because of the power of conscious
thought even these two conditions wouldn't be adequate when applied to a
person because a person could be suffering from unpleasant memories of the
past or imaginary visions of the future.
Not being able to forget is often a source of suffering even though it has enabled
us to build upon the observations of the past and to penetrate the mysterious
workings of nature. Our brain is like a sponge and from birth onwards it soaks
up information indiscriminately and interprets it according to our infantile level
of understanding. These interpretations form the behavioural guidelines that
enable us to survive and are made according to rules we don't know or fully
understand but which are beyond our power to control. These guidelines are
essential because without them we wouldn't be able to avoid situations that had

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proved harmful to us in the past. We begin to form them some time before birth
and the process is completed at about the age of six. As we age it becomes
progressively more difficult to change them. If these guidelines are unable to
lead us successfully towards the satisfaction of our present desires then
frustration, unhappiness and suffering are the result. Unless we can critically re-
interpret the information of the past in terms of our present level of
understanding, or learn to modify the responses we make that are based on them,
we will never break free from their hidden strands.
This is our objective and what we discover on this journey is unique for each
one of us. There might only be 26 letters in the alphabet and 8 musical keys but
the stories they can tell and the music they can play are limited only by our
imagination. Similarly, even though there are only a handful of incentives that
govern the expression of our emotions, the range of human behaviour is limited
only by our environment. There are two incentives that play a particularly
noticeable role in guiding our behaviour and these are the incentives of
pleasure and pain. If we analyse any behaviour we are sure to find one of
them at its core.
Our parents are the primary source of the information on which we base our
guidelines and they have modified this information during their lifetime of
experiences from information they received from their parents in a cycle that
commenced ages ago. Right from the outset the information we obtain is never
the unique product or interpretation of any single person but rather the collective
information of the past. This information has enabled us to survive throughout
the ages and its usefulness in this task is of considerable importance because the
environment we rely on for our basic requirements is often dangerous - it is
necessary to distinguish between those actions which favour our survival and
those which don't. Those which do will be encouraged by society whilst those
which don't will be forbidden under threat of punishment. These do's and don'ts
are the rules or emotional restraints that society imposes on us and are the key to
our survival. They account for the majority of information which is passed from
one generation to the next and their overriding purpose is to channel our
emotions into socially acceptable behaviour.

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History enables us to trace the development of socially acceptable behaviour and
the methods that were developed to enforce them. Society itself functions in
accordance with traditions and institutions which are its guidelines from the
past. When our social institutions are no longer capable of guiding society
successfully then frustration and conflict are inevitable. In the same way that we,
as individuals, must critically re-interpret our personal history to break free from
its hidden strands, so too must society. We are members of society and when we
attempt to break free from our past we often find ourselves challenging some of
its institutions and traditions. We are brainy animals and our capability for
logical thinking is unrivalled in the animal world. A brief tour of western
philosophy will enable us to get to grips with the fundamental assumptions that
form the foundation of many systems of belief. History is the human track
record, and interpreting it in terms of the forces that govern human behaviour
enables us to understand the events and errors of the past and the reason they
continue to be repeated. Many unsuccessful attempts have been made to
interpret and alter the course of history as though it unfolded according to
certain laws. These attempts are reflections of the human desire and craving for
certainty which leads us to search for a complete understanding of the world
around us and, more importantly, our place and purpose for being in it. The
failure of this quest, despite many ingenious attempts to do so, sets many of us
adrift with a sinking feeling that life has no meaning or purpose, and the
temptation is always there to grab and hold onto anything that might save us
from drowning in a sea of despair. So we grab, often without being consciously
aware of it, and seldom by choice for the full range of options is seldom
presented to us.

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© 1997 Allan Sztab 22

© 1997 Allan Sztab 23
Chapter One
The great divide
The subject of our enquiry is to find the truth and eliminate the possibility of
being fooled by those who claim to have found it. This task is best undertaken
by each individual for the simple reason that there is no objective yardstick by
which to measure the truth. This approach is resisted by almost every figure of
authority who would prefer us to believe that they know what the truth is. Not
surprisingly we find that there are many different claims to the truth. Every
religious group and political party claims to know what it is but we can be
certain that not all of them can be right.
There are a few unique features that distinguish humans from other animals.
One of these is our ability to reason and the means by which we do so is well
understood. If we can grasp only a basic understanding of this process we will
learn not only how we are able to reason but also the errors of reason that we
have an overriding tendency to make – errors that easily lead to our
manipulation. Being able to reason is a two-edged sword because while it has
distinct advantages the downside is that it condemns humans to an anguish that
no other animal experiences to the same degree if at all. This anguish is the
result of being consciously aware of the certainty of our own death and never
knowing why, what or even if there is any purpose to our being here at all.
The attempt to find the truth and to furnish us with a meaning to life has been
almost the sole occupation of philosophers throughout the ages. I will not bore
you with the details of their works or even attempt to summarise them. This is a
task that has already been done by many other authors before me and their
works are readily available. What I believe would be far more instructive is to
examine the basic assumptions that all of them made and which will be found
under the surface of any ideology.
We begin our journey by dividing the vast majority of thinkers into two schools
of thought.

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On the one hand are those who believe in imaginary things and
explanations which are not in any way demonstrable to the senses. It is
interesting to note that of all living organisms only humans place their trust
in imaginary things.
On the other hand are those who accept the world of appearances and rely
principally on explanations that are in some way demonstrable to their
senses - here we find a far smaller group of humans together with every
other living organism.
The key words that differentiate these two schools of thought are 'imaginary
things' and a belief in imaginary things was considered by the philosopher
Nietzsche to be one of the greatest errors of reason. Only humans can reason and
dream of imaginary things and this is why only humans are capable of placing
their trust in them. A deity, spirits, ghosts, heaven, hell, aliens and a whole host
of imaginary things have never been seen by any group of impartial witnesses.
They have also never been recorded or captured on video or any other storage
device. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don't exist but only that there is
no evidence to support or back the many contradictory claims that hinge on their
alleged existence. We only know for sure that there were once dinosaurs
roaming the earth because we have discovered their bones and fossils. Without
this evidence dinosaurs would also be regarded as one more mythical entity
together with the unicorn and a host of others. Whenever we rely on the
evidence or claims of any other people, institutions or the media without
subjecting them to critical appraisal we open ourselves to being manipulated. It
isn't surprising that an uncritical obedience to the commands of authority figures
is the primary cause of almost every crime against humanity.
This brings us to our first task which is to understand why so many humans
cling to their beliefs in imaginary things and why this opens them to
manipulation. We need to know why humans are geared towards the uncritical
obedience of others irrespective of what horrors they are asked to perform. In
short, we need to know why trusting our senses is the best possible avenue in
our pursuit of the truth. A brief excursion into the basics of physiology will
make this far easier to grasp and this occupies the balance of part one.

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Collecting And Storing Information

For any organism to live it must be able to satisfy all its requirements for things
like food and shelter from the environment that surrounds it. Should its
environment change then it must be able to adapt to these changes or else it will
perish. To survive an organism must be active. It must move in some way.
Inactivity, a lack of movement or a lack of action are merely other words for
death. Survival could easily be achieved if all the requirements of an organism
were readily available in the environment around it. However, this ideal
situation is seldom the case and survival usually means having to deal
effectively with less than ideal conditions. It is often necessary to search for
food or a mate and avoid predators or dangerous situations. Even a simple
single-celled organism can move towards food and away from danger. In order
to do so information about its immediate environment is required. Because there
is so much information available it has to be carefully examined and processed
to select only that information which can be used.
To process information it must first be collected and there are many ways in
which this can be done. It isn't surprising to find in nature a great variety of
specialised organs and mechanisms with which insects, plants and animals are
able to select highly specific pieces of information. This information may be
chemical, magnetic, electrical and even gravitational. The greater the sensitivity
to detect, the greater the advantage for the organism. This sensitivity is even
found in metals which react to extremely small variations in light and
Single-celled organisms have to pack all their life-sustaining functions,
including sensitivity, into one cell which has the advantage that communication
between one part of the cell and another isn't difficult. However, in more
complex organisms these functions are performed by other specialised cells
which no longer have to maintain this sensitivity along their perimeter as long as
they can communicate with other cells. Those cells that specialise in distributing
information form amongst themselves communication lines known as nerves.
Over short distances this communication can be achieved by chemical
© 1997 Allan Sztab 26
signalling. Over greater distances a wave of electrical activity is passed along
the nerve cell membranes to signal a chemical release at the nerve end. In this
way a sensory mechanism that detects the presence of food or danger can relay
this information to other mechanisms within the organism so that a suitable
response can be made. These communication lines form a network of
connections within the organism. The network could be a very simple one with
the message being relayed throughout the organism, or it could be a highly
complex one whereby various messages are relayed directly to a specific part of
the organism, which is the case in humans. The human brain is housed in a
central location and is connected to all the other parts of the body by an intricate
pathway of nerves. The primary duty of the brain is to guide and control
responses to external and internal stimuli.

Figure 2.1 The brain is connected to every part of the body by an intricate pathway of nerves.

An organism can respond to specific information in the same way every time.
This fixed behavioural response is incorporated into its genetic development
program and no trial and error or learning experience is required for its use. The
obvious disadvantage is that this behaviour isn't capable of being modified
within the lifetime of the organism should conditions require it. In an ever-
changing world an ability to adapt would be advantageous. To achieve this the
ability to adapt could be fixed within the organism's genetic development

© 1997 Allan Sztab 27

program leaving some of the responses to be determined according to the
experiences of the organism during its development.
The concept of flexibility can be easily understood if we take the case of a
simple telephone system that consists of a cable that can only link two
telephones to each other permanently, say phones 1 and 2. The only
conversations that are possible will be between these two phones. This is a fixed
and inflexible system and if it was necessary to connect phone 3 to phone 1
instead of phone 2 to phone 1 a new system would be required. On the other
hand, if we had millions of telephones that were all connected to a central
exchange that only linked them to each other as circumstances demanded then
this would provide the flexibility and power to connect phones to each other
without requiring a new system each time. The human brain consists of
approximately 20 billion brain cells or neurons which can form amongst
themselves an almost unlimited number of unique connections or memories, and
has the ability to cross-reference and compare them.
'... memory lies within the topography - the wiring diagram - and dynamics
of the neuronal system. This means that the cellular mechanisms of say,
remembering a telephone number and remembering a car wouldn't differ -
it would just be that different cells, connected up in different ways with
other parts of the brain, are involved.' (Rose)

Figure 2.2 The neurons form chemical bonds between each other

These unique connections or memories are the end result of processing vast
amounts of information that have been channelled into the brain by the senses
and each of them have a specific meaning.
'... brains do not work with information in the computer sense, but with
meaning.' (Rose)

© 1997 Allan Sztab 28

The first step in learning is to record information which can be used later and
this is performed by the formation of these unique connections. Like each frame
in the sequence of a film these unique connections become part of our memory
system. They include sight (the shape and spatial relationship between objects),
colour, smell, taste, sound, touch and the ability to manipulate them. The
merging, modifying and association of these images with each other gave
humans a mind, one that could imagine or dream of new images.
'The difference between brain and mind is surely as great as that between a
phonograph and the music that comes forth from it. There is no hint of music in
the disc's micro-groove or the amplifier, except through the vibrations induced
via the needle by the record's rotation: but these physical agents and events do
not become music until a human ear hears the sounds and a human mind
interprets them. For that purposeful act, the whole apparatus, physical and
neural, is indispensable: yet the most minute analysis of the brain tissue, along
with the phonograph's mechanical paraphernalia, would still throw no light upon
the emotional stimulation, the aesthetic form and the purpose and meaning of
the music. An electroencephalograph of the brain's response to music is void of
anything that even slightly resembles musical sounds and phrases - as void as
the physical disc that helps produce the sound.' (Mumford)
With a memory information such as the location of a food supply or of danger
can be stored. Having information or knowledge about a food that made you
sick allows you to avoid eating it again. It is this ability to store and use
information about our experiences that we call learning. Learning enables us to
adapt to a far wider range of environmental conditions. At the forefront of this
learning ability stands the human being who is born in ignorance and must learn
almost everything from its parents and society. To achieve this flexibility the
human brain had to undergo much development and today there is evidence of
the continuous growth in its size and complexity. More than any other organ in
the body, the brain has such an excess capacity of power that even today we
cannot fully utilise it.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 29

The size of the human brain in relation to the rest of the body is remarkable
and 'in fishes the brain weighs 1/5668 of the body; in reptiles, 1/1321; in
birds, 1/212; in mammals, 1/186; in a two-year-old chimpanzee, 1/25; in a
two-year-old child, 1/18.' (Will Durant)
The human brain has a capacity for storage that is so large there is even the
possibility that no memory is ever erased - it is only the inability to recall
information to the conscious mind that we call forgetting. Subjected to
various internal mechanisms memories may be relegated to the deepest recesses
of the mind where they are difficult to recall. The brain isn't dedicated to any
one task but is connected to all the other organs in the body. Having such a huge
capacity for storing data requires the capacity to process all this information.
The processing power and capabilities of the brain are so great that not even the
super-computers of today can match it. When it comes to making judgements
the human brain is in a class all of its own. It has been estimated that for each
second of vision the brain performs 100 million floating-point calculations.
Despite these huge requirements the processing capabilities of the brain easily
exceed the demands which are normally made of it and its capacity is almost
limitless. The immense power and capacity of the brain is required for the
complex and simultaneous processing of new information with the vast amounts
already stored. The end results of these complex calculations form an internal
representation of the external world. It is this moment by moment representation
that we call consciousness - a small window through which we view the world
around us. It is through this window of consciousness that humans, along with
many other animals, are able to see and respond to the external world with either
a fixed or a learned response.

Figure 2.3 An internal representation of the external world.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 30

Some people believe that animals don't have a conscious mind and many of
them arrive at this conclusion because they confuse consciousness with self-
awareness. At this point in time self-awareness is unique to humans because
only humans have managed to exploit the tremendous power of a complex
language and the next section will explain why this is so.

The Power Of Language
Without a spoken language the only means of communication are gestures and
crude noises. It is fairly easy to see and hear when an animal is in pain by the
noises or screams it makes and the grimaces that accompany them. This also
applies to the emotions of anger, fear or hostility. All animals share these basic
means of communicating with each other to share their experiences, co-operate
in the identification of common dangers, or for finding food. Initially humans
developed a whole range of complex gestures and noises which enabled them to
communicate these simple meanings to each other. It took considerable time
before they became commonly understood by all the members of a specific
family or tribe. This common understanding is essential to any language.
We learn largely by our ability to imitate or act in a manner that is consistent or
in conformity with those around us. By constantly repeating what we have learnt
to perform the behaviour is slowly drummed into the mind until it becomes
habituated and may be recalled without any conscious effort.1 Some theorists
claim that speech is another faculty much like vision but there isn't yet any
scientific evidence to confirm this. It is only when we attempt to convey a story
or feeling without speaking that we begin to appreciate the great difficulty
involved in communication. A series of gestures and noises that we use in an
attempt to convey a story or a particular meaning are known as rituals and the
failure to grasp this underlying purpose of early ritual ruined many philosophical
attempts to understand language.
'... meaning is a historically and developmentally shaped process, expressed
by individuals in interaction with their natural and social environment.'

Refer to the consistency incentive in section 7.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 31
The first rituals were held in the highest esteem and some even became sacred
due to their powers of communication. Any attempt to tamper or meddle with
them was resisted. This desire to cling strongly to what is familiar, even to the
extent of idolising it, is evident throughout the ages. Some societies felt so
indebted to their ancestors for passing on their valuable experiences and customs
that they even worshipped them as gods.1 Those who were practised at
performing rituals became the first shamans or priests who were entrusted with
teaching these lessons to the next generation.
Over time our ancestors learnt how to co-ordinate their lips, tongue and palate to
create a new range of noises which we now call words, but it took a long time
before complex ideas and behaviours were ultimately reduced to single words
such as those we are familiar with today. Many words were introduced to
represent abstract concepts and feelings, such as the words 'jealous' or
'possessive', that describe the mental state or behaviour of a person. Complex
associations like these are only possible with a massively powerful brain and the
image that is produced in one's mind when a person is said to 'eat like a pig' is a
uniquely human ability. At the time this abbreviation was taking place it would
be clear to all concerned exactly what each word meant as they could recall their
precise context and history and possibly the gestures that may have originally
accompanied them. However, as time went by a series of gestures would be
continually abbreviated until they could be abbreviated no further. The history of
language is essentially a continual process of abbreviation that made it possible
to convey complex meanings in a fraction of the time it previously took.2

Refer to the common ancestors of tribes or clans in section 13.
In many cases the particular history of a word was forgotten with the result that the precise
circumstances and series of gestures surrounding its original use vanished with it. A factor
contributing to the loss of the original meaning of words was the fact that it wasn't yet
possible to record this history independently of the human mind. The history and practical
circumstances that led to the encouragement or discouragement of specific behaviours were
also lost in a similar manner even though the behaviour or taboo itself continued to be
practised. (Refer to the cycle of ritual warfare of the Maring tribe in section 19.)
© 1997 Allan Sztab 32
Figure 3 The power of language to compress vast amounts of information into single
words and sentences.

Naturally the larger the memory with which to record these generally accepted
meanings or words the larger the vocabulary that was possible and as we saw
earlier humans do have large brains.
A large brain combined with the ability to compress large amounts of
information into single words are the secrets behind the tremendous power
of human language.
According to scientists our ancestors, the Ramapithecus, had a brain capacity of
about 400cc which was more or less the same size as that of a chimpanzee.
Australopithecus had an increased brain capacity of about 600cc and were the
first of our ancestors to make use of weapons. Not long after this Homo Habilus
emerged with a brain capacity of about 700cc. During the next one million years
the brain capacity almost doubled in size with the emergence of Homo Erectus.
In the course of the next half million years the capacity of the brain increased
even further until it reached its present size of approximately 1,750cc. So rapid
was the increase in the capacity of the brain that most of the pain associated with
childbirth is attributable to the size of the baby's head.
The human brain now had a virtually unlimited capacity which could be utilised
for language. It is possible that the sudden increase in its size was a direct
response to an urgent demand for rapid communication which would enable
people to co-operate as part of a team. In nature such a radical change is almost
always a response to conditions that threaten the very survival of the species.
The shark is a good example of a species that hasn't changed in over 150 million
years because it is so well adapted that it has never had to. It is perhaps no
coincidence that most of the rapid development of the human brain took place
© 1997 Allan Sztab 33
during the Pleistocene age which commenced about two million years ago and
was characterised by unprecedented droughts, floods and ice ages.
Our early ancestors of 100,000 years ago were equipped with almost the same
powerful brain we have today. One-word associations made it possible to
compress large amounts of information or meaning structures into the conscious
mind where it could be manipulated. Together with the speed at which this could
be done the power and scope of the conscious mind is magnified considerably.
It is the rapid stringing together of words or meanings in the conscious
mind that is called thinking and with it came the capability for intelligent
thought. It is not so long ago that those who were deaf and couldn't speak were
referred to as 'deaf and dumb'. By observing and memorising how things worked
in nature the brain could now manipulate an ever-expanding vocabulary of
meanings and imagine doing new things which could then be performed at their
discretion. Humans had now become thinkers and it is no coincidence that the
activity of thinking takes place in the new part of the brain called the neocortex.
There was always something mysterious about the magical power of words.
They enabled people to share a far wider range of experiences and feelings than
was previously possible. Words enabled a person to command and receive
immediate obedience. They allowed people to co-operate and plan future joint
ventures such as hunting expeditions which were previously difficult, if not
impossible, to organise. The more people could communicate their intentions to
each other without being misunderstood, the more they could co-operate and
promote order and stability amongst themselves. Words had the power to make
someone laugh or cry. They could evoke the emotions of joy, sadness and anger.
They had the power to persuade, seduce, whip a crowd into a frenzy and instil
courage into warriors before a battle.1 Words had an element of immortality to
them and the ritual recitation of a family or tribe's history conveyed the lessons
of the past to the present.
Being able to compress large amounts of information into the conscious mind
enabled humans to scrutinise the past and identify the long-term consequences
of present actions, thereby making the external world far more certain and

Refer to the tricks and traps of language in Appendix E.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 34
predictable. The ability to bring our own experiences into consciousness led
indirectly to the discovery of the subconscious mind – a mind that is geared
towards operating without any conscious intervention at all. The ratio between
the conscious mind and that of the subconscious mind is estimated to be 1 to a
billion. It was through this small window to the external world that humans
emerged as the first organisms capable of being aware of themselves and the
universe around them.

The Subconscious Mind
With the power of language humans were now capable of exploring the
workings of the subconscious mind and it was dreams that provided the first
clues. With a newly expanded consciousness and the ability to think it might not
have been so easy for our ancestors to distinguish between dreams, day-dreams
and conscious reality as is common in young children. We can still observe the
effect of dreams on animals which often twitch, whimper and growl in their
sleep. Nightmares must have terrified our early ancestors and, as with animals,
the only means of escape they had was to return to wakefulness. Numerous
observations of other dead people, animals, plants and insects must have led
them to an awareness of their own mortality and humans have always struggled
to accept this. It is possible that the appearance of a dead relative or ancestor in a
dream may have led them to believe that it was the dead persons spirit which
had come to them from 'another world'.1
Dreams thus had a profound influence on our ancestors and they were
interpreted by some as the revelations of gods, supernatural beings, spirits and
demons. Today we know that dreams are an interaction of memories and their
meanings which the brain manipulates and modifies, often into new and
imaginary images. Dream interpretation has been practised throughout the ages.
It wasn't uncommon for some dreams to be interpreted as instructions which
were then executed. Those old and possibly more experienced people whose
dream interpretations seemed to be better than others became the first priests and
soothsayers. The priests would also offer assistance in the form of chants and
spells in an effort to prevent certain dreams. There has never been a shortage of
See the various mythical explanations of the unknown in section 15.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 35
people who claim to have divinely inspired dreams, or the ability to foretell the
future. Divinely inspired dreams, visions and prophecies feature prominently in
most mystical texts and commentaries. Today dream interpretation and prophecy
is still based, for the most part, on superstition and wishful thinking. One only
has to recall the dreams of the dictator Saddam Hussein during the Iraqi invasion
of Kuwait which he claimed were divinely inspired and instructed him to point
his guns towards Israel.
Dream interpretation is far from scientific and may be based on something like
the phase of the moon during which the dream occurs or on the interpretation of
the first letter of a book that is opened at random. As in years gone by there are
still many books available on dream interpretation. Some of them claim that
there are certain techniques which enable us to intervene and determine the
course of our dreams.
Dream interpretation in modern times features prominently in the work of
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and is still practised by many professional
psychiatrists. Their research suggests at the least that recurring themes of dreams
are the result of subconscious and persistent concerns relating to past events,
fears, or future concerns. It isn't beyond reason to consider the possibility that
conscious and persistent thinking, coupled with a strong desire for or regarding a
specific outcome, could lead to the stimulation of dream activity concerning the
desired subject, although there is little valid scientific evidence to support this.
There is research which suggests that dreams are largely a product of our
sensory-motor systems which continue to interpret both internal and
external stimuli while we sleep. It isn't uncommon for external sounds and
sensations to be incorporated into our dreams and we might find, upon
awakening, that a loud noise such as a cat knocking something over or a person
knocking at the door has been incorporated into our dream as an accident or
Dreams and fantasies provide invaluable insights into human behaviour because
in them no censorship exists and behaviours such as those relating to the sexual
drive, which is normally controlled and enforced by the laws and customs of our

© 1997 Allan Sztab 36

society, are freely expressed. It is this aspect of dreams and fantasies which
makes them so useful.
I mentioned earlier how even some scientists today confuse self-awareness with
consciousness and a similar but far more profound misunderstanding can be
made if we are led to believe that our ability to survive is in any way dependent
on our conscious mind – the subconscious mind is all that we or any other
animal requires. If this statement is correct then we will be drawn one step
closer to accepting that we do not have anything like the Freedom Of Will we
believe we have.1 We must remember that almost every other animal has a
conscious mind in the sense that it is a window to the external world. We are
certainly no exception in this respect and without the tremendous power of
spoken language we would be an integral part of the food chain once more.
It is beyond dispute that at some time in the past (approximately 100,000 years
ago) we never had spoken language. This leads us to consider how it is possible
for us and other animals to survive without a thinking mind. Not surprisingly we
find that the basic behavioural mechanisms that make this possible are almost
the same and the balance of part one is dedicated towards obtaining a better
understanding of them.

The implications of a belief in Freedom Of Will are covered later in section 58.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 37
Chapter Two
The Behavioural Mechanism

Figure 5 shows the sequence of events that are required in the performance of an action.
Columns 1 and 2 illustrate how a natural incentive to perform an action is aroused in
response to an internal or external stimulus. Columns 3 and 4 reflect how the emotions
amplify the stimulus and engage the learning mechanism to determine an appropriate
action that will satisfy or consummate the stimulus that gave rise to it. The
determination of a response may take place consciously or subconsciously. Column 5
illustrates that the response itself also generates stimuli which help to determine
whether the incentive is satisfied. These stimuli may turn on the same incentive once
more or engage a different one.

The amount of literature and information dedicated to human behaviour is vast.

There are literally thousands of books on the subject. Whether the literature
relates to inter-personal relationships or the economic choices people make, the
behaviour of other people is of interest to most of us. It isn't surprising that the
majority of magazines are virtually guaranteed to contain at least one article that
attempts to explain some aspect of human behaviour. We are social beings and
because of our interaction we often attempt to understand and even alter the
behaviour of other people towards us or our behaviour towards them. As a result
it isn't surprising to find that most people have certain ideas or explanations to
account for the actions of both themselves and others. However, human

© 1997 Allan Sztab 38

behaviour may be the result of many different, sometimes interacting factors.
This complexity and the lack of sufficient scientific evidence makes a
comprehensive account of human behaviour very difficult. Without evidence no
explanation, irrespective of its worth, can bridge the gap between speculation
and scientifically demonstrated fact.
Direct research on human behaviour has been far slower than similar research
performed on animals due largely to the different moral and ethical
considerations imposed on researchers when conducting experiments with
human subjects. However, by studying animals and insects in the laboratory or
in the wild, valuable insights are made into the various determinants that are
responsible for certain behaviours. Although it is not always possible, or
reasonable, to make assumptions about humans from research on other animals,
the mechanisms responsible are in many cases similar enough to be able to do
so. The fact that there are so many functional similarities between various
human and animal organs is the reason that many medical trials are first
performed on animals.
To survive any organism has to perform certain functions such as eating and
avoiding danger. For a function to commence a biological signal, stimulus, or
turn-on is required and may originate internally or in the external environment.
There are literally thousands of bodily functions which we are unaware of and
many of them don't require any conscious behaviour to satisfy them. These
various functions may be referred to as drives. The stimuli or biological signals
of specific bodily functions are particularly noticeable during the course of our
physical development when specific hormones are released into the bloodstream
to stimulate bone growth and the development of the reproductive organs. The
process of sun-tanning illustrates clearly the silent interaction between the
environment and our body. The production of melanin is turned-on by the
stimulus of ultra-violet light in order to protect us. As soon as the exposure to
ultra-violet light is reduced or eliminated the body again responds and our
protective tan is lost. In many cases the signals that arouse us are unknown but
once turned-on a drive is satisfied either automatically or by learning how to
satisfy it. Many biological requirements such as breathing are performed

© 1997 Allan Sztab 39

automatically or subconsciously without having to learn how to satisfy them.
Those drives that don't have a fixed response can only be satisfied by learning
how to do so. A drive like hunger is more powerful than most of us realise. It is
absolutely essential for life that certain functions are performed, and to ensure
that they are, the drives are capable of becoming powerful and ruthless tyrants as
the following story illustrates:
Faced with starvation after their plane had crashed in the Andes mountains
in 1972, the survivors resolved (after 10 days of small rations) to eat the
dead bodies of their friends who had died in the crash. One of them
concluded that a body '... is meat. That's all it is. ... All that is left here are
the carcasses, which are no more human beings than the dead flesh of the
cattle we eat at home'. Later on after cutting off some meat '... he hesitated.
Even with his mind so firmly made up, the horror of the act paralysed him.
His hand would neither rise to his mouth nor fall to his side while the
revulsion which possessed him struggled with his stubborn will. The will
prevailed. The hand rose and pushed the meat into his mouth. He
swallowed it. He felt triumphant. His conscience had overcome a primitive,
irrational taboo. He was going to survive'. Eventually they all ate. It
became necessary to ration the remaining bodies and after about 45 days
the thawing snow revealed more. 'It would have been possible now to avoid
eating such things as rotten lungs and the putrid intestines of bodies they
had cut up weeks before, but half the boys continued to do so because they
had come to need the stronger taste. It had taken a supreme effort of will
for these boys to eat human flesh at all, but once they had started and
persevered, appetite had come with the eating, for the instinct to survive
was a harsh tyrant which demanded not just that they eat their companions
but that they get used to doing so'. After two of the survivors had made
contact with other people they were given food. 'No sooner had the bread
and cheese passed their lips than some of the early revulsion they had felt
for their former diet returned to them.' (Read)

© 1997 Allan Sztab 40

Learning And Association
Over the years theorists like Freud attempted to explain human behaviour in
terms of certain basic drives such as sex, aggression and the anxiety produced
when these drives are frustrated. He used concepts such as 'id', 'ego' and
'superego' to explain behaviour and pioneered the analysis of dreams, word
association and fantasies to uncover hidden motives.1 Dreams provided the first
clues as to the influence and power of the drives and the emotions that helped to
satisfy them. 2 However, because of the difficulty involved in scientifically
measuring these drives, it isn't possible to test them against rival personality
theories with the result that there is still no consensus as to what the key drives
Early theorists accepted the biological basis of certain key drives which,
according to them, produced a tension which was released by an activity that
had been learnt. According to their theories more complex drives could be
acquired by a process of learning whereby they are associated with the key
drives. As with hunger, people learn to associate the behaviours that satisfy or
consummate a drive and the greater the extent to which a behaviour satisfies a
drive the greater the association between the behaviour and the drive. The
opposite also applies. The greater the discomfort or pain associated with a
behaviour the weaker the association.3 It is in this way, for example, that people
learn to associate the eating behaviours that satisfy the hunger drive. Learning is
essential because not all foods are good.
The ability to memorise and recall information is vital to learning.

Refer to Freuds theory in appendix A1.
Refer to dreams as the key to the discovery of the subconscious mind in section 4.
Refer to the theory of B.F Skinner in appendix A5.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 41
The learning process takes place both consciously and subconsciously. For
example, it had long been known that humans and other animals display a
natural curiosity to explore their surroundings, often for no apparent reason.
However, from studying this activity in animals researchers realised that
exploratory activity allowed them to gather information which might prove
useful at some later stage. If a source of food was discovered nearby then this
knowledge would be valuable when food was required; faced with sudden
danger a good hiding place to flee to would ensure survival. Thus the mind
operates on its own and we learn subconsciously, whether it is from the lyrics of
a song or the background chatter of the evening news on radio or television. Our
ability to learn subconsciously is exploited by the media because if a message is
repeated often enough it will sink into our subconscious. Because we aren't
aware of this we might later express these same messages or opinions in the
mistaken belief that they are our own.1 Without the ability to memorise our past
experiences and observations we would be unable to recognise similar situations
and to recall the best way of dealing with them. Our behaviour is therefore, of
necessity, always based on the past2 .
If a drive, such as hunger, isn't satisfied then an emotional state of distress is
produced. As infants we learn to associate eating with pleasure because of the
relief from distress that the eating brings. These associations stay with us
throughout our lives and many eating disorders can be traced to early
experiences in childhood. Abnormal associations towards food could lead to
disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. It is well known that people sometimes
Refer to the learning theory of Albert Bandura in appendix A6.
The oft heard phrases like 'breaking away from the past' etc may now be viewed in a new
© 1997 Allan Sztab 42
eat, not to alleviate the distress caused by hunger, but in an attempt to alleviate
some other distress. This might be due to an association formed as a child
between the stressful situation and eating. Parents often feed a child when it is
distressed irrespective of the real cause, and if the pleasure of eating provides it
with some level of comfort then an association between distress and eating may
be formed. It is interesting that a sate of emotional distress such as that of
hunger can sometimes be alleviated without the hunger being satisfied as is the
case when a distressed baby is picked up and comforted. It isn't uncommon at all
to attempt to comfort other people who are distressed by hugging them, holding
their hands and speaking gentle reassuring words to them.

There are other non-associative forms of learning like habituation and

sensitisation. Habituation is a process whereby we grow accustomed to a
stimulus until we no longer respond to it. When we put on our clothes we may
initially be consciously aware of them but shortly thereafter we become
accustomed to them. Sensitisation is almost the opposite process. If a weak
stimulus is coupled with an unpleasant one we may become highly sensitive to
it. While associative learning tends to be specific, sensitisation is generalised.
For example, if we are on a hike and feel something biting us on our arm and
look down to see a mosquito on it, we will specifically associate any further
biting sensations with mosquitoes. However, if we look down and cannot see
anything we will tend to exaggerate our responses to other stimuli whether they
are actually related or not. We might now respond to anything that moves or
touches us even if this is the person walking next to us or the shadow of a bird
flying overhead. The longer the biting sensation continues the more exaggerated
and generalised our responses might become. Both habituation and sensitisation
are usually short-lived but are the first steps towards the formation of permanent
associations and learning.
The power of association is used with great effect by modern marketers who
attempt to influence our behaviour in ways that might even be harmful to us. For
example, certain advertisements attempt to form associations in people's minds
between something that is desired or valued by their prospective customers and
their product. Cigarette advertisements are a good example - the attempt is often
made to associate physical prowess and ability in sport with smoking. Their
success illustrates the important influence of values in human behaviour
© 1997 Allan Sztab 43
especially since values are learnt. Values are sometimes called secondary or
acquired drives. We begin to appreciate how strong an influence values have
when we consider that, irrespective of the drive to survive, there are many
values such as honour that people are prepared to sacrifice their lives for.
The Natural Incentives For Action
From their observations of animals scientists realised that there were certain
behaviours that couldn't be accounted for by the satisfaction of biological drives
alone. Certain behaviours indicated the presence of other more basic motivating
factors, such as natural curiosity, which seemed to be rewarding or satisfying in
themselves. These basic motivating factors are referred to by ethologists as
'natural incentives' and they serve to direct behaviour in ways that will ensure
survival. From their studies ethologists gained an indication of the role these
natural incentives play. They demonstrated clearly that many behaviours or
responses are brought about by certain environmental cues or stimuli such as
colours and exposure to sunlight. The cues may be certain sights, sounds or the
smells given off by certain chemicals. There is now strong evidence that even
though human behaviour is more variable we are also influenced by
environmental cues, albeit in very subtle ways. It is known that certain
sensations are instinctively favoured over others: sweet things are preferred
to bitter, smooth to rough, low intensity sounds to loud sounds, low intensity
light to bright light. Food that tastes sweet is more likely to be safer to eat than
food that tastes bitter. It is the interaction of factors like these that make human
behaviour so complex. Our senses select only specific stimuli that have a
survival value to us. This is the reason we can only see light and hear sounds of
specific wavelengths. Of course, other animals have different capabilities.
To interact with the environment an organism has to be able to move, either
towards food or shelter or away from danger. It is the natural incentives like
curiosity that form the foundation upon which the emotions and all our actions
are based. They are innate or fixed within our genetic development
program. It isn't known how many of them there are and extensive research has
only been undertaken on a few of them. One of the most compelling reasons for
favouring one scientific theory over another is the scope of its explanatory
© 1997 Allan Sztab 44
power which means not only its power to account for what is already known, but
also for what is unknown. This was the power of Sir Isaac Newton's theories and
those of Einstein after him. The importance, from a scientific point of view, is
that unlike biological drives the natural incentives are capable of being
measured.1 Their explanatory power is also unequalled and most other theories
can be incorporated into them.2 Over the years various theorists have claimed
that there was one overriding drive upon which all the other drives were based.
Thus Nietzsche claimed it was the drive for power, Freud the drive for sex,
Adler the drive for superiority and Rogers the drive towards self-actualisation. It
is always tempting to speculate in this regard and perhaps Nietzsche and Adler
were correct because survival of necessity implies exerting power or influence
over other things - so much so that any activity of an organism may always be
reduced to the constant struggle to maintain, extend, or terminate some aspect of
its influence over things outside or even inside itself. Power concerns play a
major role in any society or personal relationship. However, there isn't sufficient
research to confirm any one drive as a master drive and it is far more likely that
there are several basic incentives from which other incentives are derived. There
is also evidence that the incentives interact with each other. It is known, for
example, that introducing the variety of a new sexual partner increases the
sexual responsiveness of both humans and animals. When anger is aroused it
may also be accompanied by sexual arousal. The opposite also applies and
sexual arousal may be accompanied by anger as is the case in many rapes.
Natural incentives are broadly defined so they account for many specific
behaviours. For example, aggression and attaining a higher status, although
vastly different activities, are both ways of expressing the desire to have an
impact on things or people around us. A natural incentive such as that for having
an impact is accompanied by an emotional state which prepares us for an action
that is necessary to satisfy it. Studies of the facial expression of infants indicate
that there are a limited number of basic emotions which can be turned-on by
specific stimuli. These emotional states seem to be common to babies from all

Refer to the measurement of character concerns in section 10.
Refer to the various theories of psychology in appendix A.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 45
cultures although there is no consensus as to the precise number of emotions or
combinations of emotions there may be.
Pain and discomfort -ve Feeling afraid, Fear
Inconsistency -ve Feeling apprehensive Sadness - distress
Unpleasantness -ve Feel like expelling Disgust
Variety +ve Feeling curious Interest-surprise
Impact +ve Feeling strong, Anger-excitement
Contact +ve Feeling happy, Joy-happiness-
loving pleasure
Figure 7 shows the natural incentive and the corresponding emotional state and facial
expression that is thought to be derived from it.

The incentive of pain or discomfort

The incentive of pain or discomfort is one of the so-called negative incentives
and to escape from pain those activities that cause any pain or discomfort
whatsoever will be readily and strongly associated with it, to such an extent that
the slightest hint of the activity concerned is enough to produce fear or anxiety. 1
In a capitalist society much hardship and discomfort is felt if people do not have
sufficient money to provide for the comforts of a home and a full stomach. Lack
of money is therefore associated with pain and discomfort. This is probably one
of the most compelling reasons that money has acquired such an important value
in these societies. By association, many other values may be related to pain or
discomfort. The avoidance of pain or discomfort is one of the most powerful
teachers and the pace of learning increases greatly if pain is involved. It isn't
surprising to find that the use or threat of inflicting pain is therefore one of the
most commonly used methods to control or regulate the behaviour of others.
The Consistency incentive
An organism can only survive by interacting with its environment. Our
observations over a long period of time lead us to accept many consistencies
such as the fact that the sun always rises in the East and sets in the West. We
come to accept that during particular seasons certain plants bear fruit and that if
their fruits are edible one day they don't mysteriously become poisonous the
next. If this were the case we wouldn't be able to rely on them as a stable supply
of food. If there were many of these inconsistencies in our environment then
food and shelter might be readily available one day and absent the next. Never
Refer to fears, phobias and paranoia in appendix C.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 46
knowing what to expect we would be trapped in an almost constant state of
anxiety or fear. Fortunately nature changes slowly and for the most part behaves
consistently from one day to the next. It is this consistent behaviour that has
enabled life to gain a foothold and our survival is largely dependent on being
able to take advantage of it. Being able to learn which things behave consistently
makes it far easier to avoid danger and obtain reliable sources with which to
satisfy our needs. The consistency incentive enables us to observe and
distinguish between those things that behave consistently and those that don't.
An ability to distinguish the slightest variation in sound, colour, or movement is
useful because the sound of a breaking twig, inconsistency in the colour of a
tree-trunk, or movement against an otherwise stationary background might
reveal the presence of a predator.
If people behaved in a markedly different way from one day to the next we
would forever be uncertain as to what we could expect from them and this
would also lead to a state of anxiety and fear whenever they were around us. 1
The inability of people to co-operate with each other to face a common threat or
to achieve a common objective would make survival very difficult. People
therefore conform to a specific set of behaviours and traditions that they believe
enhance their survival prospects. As we mentioned earlier, it is even possible
that our language-learning ability is determined to a certain extent by the
incentive to conform to the speech patterns of others. It is by conforming or
acting consistently with the behaviours of others that we come to learn those
behaviours that are socially acceptable, those that are frowned upon and those
that will be strictly enforced under threat of punishment. We usually feel safe
and secure provided people and things around us continue to behave in a
consistent and therefore predictable manner. (We saw earlier how language
gave us the ability to compress vast amounts of information into the conscious
mind and this enabled us to determine the long-term consequences of our
present actions, thus making our environment more predicable.) When
something behaves inconsistently it is a signal for danger and might be feared. 2
Refer to the dangers of behaving differently to others in section 64. Refer also to the
resistance of other people towards those who change in appendix D.
In section 11 we see how fear can lead us to distort our reality. In section 14 we see
how fear leads to superstitious and mystical beliefs.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 47
Over time we develop a set of expectations as to how the world and people
around us behave, together with a set of expectations concerning our abilities,
strengths and weaknesses. Any change that threatens to disrupt the consistency
of our expectations can lead to confusion, disorientation and an overwhelming
fear for the potential of pain that the unfamiliar brings with it. Therefore there is
a strong disposition towards resisting new ideas and behaviours on both an
individual and social level, to such an extent that even the slightest hint of
disruption could be regarded as a serious threat that is often met with violence or
hostility.1 This tendency to resist new ideas and behaviours makes it difficult for
people to accept change and we will deal with some of the more significant
attempts to stop change in chapter seven. On a personal level this resistance to
change often makes it difficult for a person to develop or behave independently,
and especially resistant to the attempt by others to change or have an impact on
them. The value of a consistent environment may also be instrumental in the
formulation of the strongly held belief that for every event there is something
that caused it.2
The Variety incentive
Closely allied to the consistency incentive is the variety incentive. We
mentioned earlier how natural curiosity plays an important role in learning about
our surroundings. However, once we have familiarised ourselves with
something, boredom sets in. We become habituated or used to it and it ceases to
amaze us. After listening to the same music repeatedly it might even become
unpleasant. If we eat the same food continuously it soon loses its appeal. The
boredom we experience if confined in isolation is extremely unpleasant and for
very good reason - our survival depends on our ability to move around. At the
same time that significant changes to our expectations might create distress,
things that are moderately different to what we expect are highly desirable
because they are familiar enough to understand without creating distress but
sufficiently different to arouse our curiosity. It isn't surprising to find that
innovations which rapidly achieve widespread acceptance in art, music and
design often adhere to these basic requirements. Novelty or variety is actively
For the resistance to ideas in science see section 48.
Refer to section 58 for the error of imaginary and false causes.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 48
sought after and the amount of stimulation required varies from person to person
and may often be reflected in their choice of career. The desire to do things
progressively better is known as the achievement motive and it is thought to be
derived from the variety incentive.
The Impact incentive
The impact incentive or the ability to influence people and things around us is
essential if we are to satisfy our needs. In order to do so we must be able to
overcome any obstacles that might be in our way, and this is one of the reasons
that freedom from any restraints is so highly valued. Today there is evidence
that specific chemical reward mechanisms exist for the successful
manipulation of the environment; and this is particularly evident with infants
who derive much pleasure from dropping, pushing, pulling and manipulating
things. It is known that adrenaline is always present with anger or aggression
and drugs such as amphetamines and alcohol enhance these feelings. As in
almost every instance where it is vital that something be done there will usually
be some reward to encourage its fulfilment. Researchers now agree that many
chemical reward systems exist and they have established a link between anger-
excitement, sex and pleasure, and it is possible they are all served by the same
chemical reward system. The brain produces its own opiates such as the
encephalins and endorphins which may be released due to emotional arousal.
These opiates are similar in effect to that of morphine. Many athletes, such as
runners, sometimes report feeling a high during training and this is probably due
to the release of these natural opiates. The survival value of painkillers is
obvious because if we were injured they would allow us to function and if
necessary to flee from danger. The power motive is thought to be derived from
the impact incentive and it is possible that the use of power may be pleasurable
and satisfying in itself.
The Contact or Sexual incentive
The contact or sexual incentive is necessary for any species to survive. As
infants we form an attachment to the parent or person that nurtures us as our
survival depends on it. Freud was the first to draw attention to the pleasures that
are produced by the erogenous zones, the primary ones being the mouth, anus
© 1997 Allan Sztab 49
and genitals. These are probably the first pleasures that infants experience and
the associations that are formed with the erogenous zones tend to be complex
because they serve other functions as well. Once again, these early associations
may accompany us throughout our lives1 . Sexual pleasure is the incentive that
ensures reproduction and the stimuli vary. In animals certain smells, sensations
and visual stimuli are utilised. The peacock uses a brilliant display of colours to
attract a mate. The sound of a person's voice may be a turn-on and experiments
with music indicate that the sexual excitement in women produced by male
singers is greater than the sexual arousal in men that is produced by female
singers. Music that is arousing tends to contain a pronounced emphasis on
rhythm, themes with comparatively large tonal ranges and a gradual build-up to
a climax. It is thought that the need for affiliation and intimacy is derived from
the contact or sexual incentive.
Survival and reproduction wouldn't be possible unless common members of a
species can be identified. Infants identify strongly with their parents and will
adopt many characteristics and behaviours from them. This process has been
likened to the imprinting that occurs in certain animals such as ducklings which
will follow any moving object shortly after birth provided it has not already seen
a member of its own species - the object may even be a box or a dummy.
Imprinting as a means of identifying common members of a species has obvious
survival value but the interesting fact is that no ready-made responsiveness is
built in as this would require the ability to recognise the parent from many
different angles and positions. It seems far easier to evolve a learning ability
and, unlike most other animals, humans must learn who to identify with - who is
friend and who is foe.
Identity, or a lack thereof, plays a leading role in human aggression. 2
Motivational theorists have identified many other possible incentives and a few
of them are shown below.
Autonomy To be independent, unattached, and free
Deference To praise, support and be influenced by others
Dominance To influence and direct the behaviour of others
Exhibition To entertain, shock, amuse and intrigue others

Refer to Freuds theory in appendix A1.
Refer to section 11 for the role of identity in aggression. Refer to section 63 for the
ways in which the suffering of people can be manipulated into aggression.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 50
Harm avoidance To avoid pain, suffering and illness
Play To laugh, participate in games, sports, dancing, and
Succorance To be nursed, supported, protected, loved, advised,

The Role of the Emotions
The emotions are engaged by the natural incentives to prepare us for an action
that will satisfy them. Amongst the many emotional states we experience are joy,
anger, hate, love, tranquillity, wonder, guilt and amazement. All the emotions are
geared towards our survival. We feel intense pain if we hurt ourselves and this
motivates us to remove the cause. We experience pleasant feelings when we
satisfy our other needs such as the pleasure of eating a tasty meal or making
love. Under certain circumstances even fear and anxiety may be pleasurable. We
enjoy roller coaster rides, parachuting and bungi-jumping, feelings that may
perhaps be beneficial in dangerous situations or when exploring the unknown.
The biological signal or turn-on for food or hunger is a low blood-sugar level.
Similarly, the biological signal or turn-on for oxygen is the build up of carbon
monoxide in the blood. However, hunger can also be turned on by the sight or
smell of a good meal. Hunger ensures that we obtain food while sex ensures that
we can reproduce and survive as a species. Biological signals or stimuli activate
a particular drive to perform some function. The emotions amplify these
signals and utilise our learning capacity to prepare us for a behaviour that
will consummate or satisfy the particular drive. The word emotion is derived
from the Latin movere - to move or set in motion.

Figure 8 The human brain may be viewed as consisting of three parts - the oldest or
reptilian brain, the next oldest or limbic system and the latest or neocortex.

Biological signals are thought to originate in the older or reptilian part of the
brain. The emotions have been linked to the next oldest or limbic system of the
© 1997 Allan Sztab 51
brain while the processes of thinking and rationalising take place in the latest
part of the brain or neocortex. The triangle represents a hierarchy of control and
the reptilian part of the brain is geared towards operating without any conscious
intervention by the neocortex or thinking part of the brain. It is possible, by
thinking or rationalising, to control some of the biological signals or emotions
but the degree to which we can do so varies greatly from person to person.
We saw earlier how the tremendous power and capacity of the brain is necessary
to meet the demands that are made on it by spoken language. It is no
coincidence that thinking takes place in the neocortex which is the most recently
developed portion of the brain.
Our ability to reason is nothing other than the thinking of the emotions.
Reasoning is a tool that enhances our emotional ability to satisfy our needs
and is the servant of the emotions.
The ability to control conscious reactions to external events isn't found to the
same extent in animals whose cortex is not as fully developed as that of humans.
Research suggests that with certain judgements 'the older part of the brain
is responding more quickly or immediately, before the newer, cognitively
oriented part of the brain has time to function.' (McClelland)
Because they stem from the older or more primitive part of our brain emotions
can be impulsive or instantaneous and it isn't necessary to summon the rational
or thinking part of our brain. 1 There is evidence that the emotional response to a
stimulus occurs before the stimulus is even consciously recognised, and the
rapid emotional response we give to all types of physiological arousal is
determined entirely by the meaning or understanding we give to a particular
situation. Some people might find the gentle rocking and swaying of a train or
ship to be sensual or comforting as do infants who are rocked to induce sleep.
Some people find the relief that follows the build-up of anxiety in certain sports
and activities pleasurable and this sensation can often lead to sexual stimulation.
Once in an emotional state of preparedness such as anger or joy, that particular
emotion tends to override any other concern. The presence or absence of stimuli
can also override the ability to consciously control the emotions. For example,

Refer to section 61 for the possibility of making logical, rational and moral responses.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 52
the knowledge that some pleasures today may be dangerous in the future will
not evoke any fear, so warnings about the threat of Aids or the dangers
associated with smoking and cholesterol may not be heeded. On the other hand,
stimuli can evoke emotions despite any information we may have concerning
them. Knowing that spiders are harmless may easily be overridden by the sight
of one. Knowing that planes are safe will not prevent our pulse from racing
when we take a flight. Our reaction to stimuli are powerful enough to override
an emotional impulse. For example, if we interpret a remark from someone as an
insult then this could result in anger. On the other hand, if the remark comes
from an aggressive person and there are inhibitory stimuli present such as the
possibility of retaliation, then fear could arise instead. The emotions are
primitive and universal. They apply to people everywhere. They are innate
or fixed within our genetic development program and cannot be learnt. For
example, we generally express the emotion of anger in frustrating situations
where there is some obstacle that prevents us from doing something that we
want to do. Similar principles apply equally to all the emotions. All that it is
within our power to do is to give expression to them in accordance with how we
have been taught to do so. As with internal stimuli, some people are capable of
learning how to control the situations or stimuli that arouse them. Some of the
emotional responses of people are so predictable that tears can easily be drawn
in films or stories, especially when personal or family relationships and
attachments are considered. Some favoured situations are the parting of lovers,
the loss of a parent, an abandoned child finding a new home, the reuniting of a
child with a lost father, mother or grandparent.
The emotion of love is notorious for overriding any practical or rational
considerations. There are many reasons why people fall in love - the satisfaction
of sexual desires, to provide excitement or variety, or to combat loneliness. The
view has even been expressed that loneliness plays a very great role because at
birth we are at one with the world and haven't yet developed a sense of identity,
of being separate from other objects and people. This sense of identity and
feeling of aloneness grows as we develop. Falling in love with somebody else
provides the illusion that we are no longer alone and that in this sense two

© 1997 Allan Sztab 53

identities have now merged. It is believed that this merging of identities provides
an escape from loneliness, the feeling that there is someone else who thinks and
feels the same way that we do. This is the feeling that provides the exhilaration
and euphoria that accompanies love, the feeling that anything is now possible.
However, this feeling wanes over time and ties in with other theories which
suggest that physiologically men and women may not be geared towards a life-
time of monogamy.1
Some researchers believe that the courting ritual of people is little different to
that of other animals and they have identified a five-fold sequence of events
leading to the pairing of couples from their observations of people at singles
clubs. First a person makes their presence known. This could be as simple as
walking into a room full of people. Like many other animals such as the
peacock, appearances are important and much time is spent on looking
attractive. The second step is to seek out and obtain a look of approval from a
member of the opposite sex. This is performed by gestures and body language, a
language that existed before verbal language. It is estimated that the facial
muscles are capable of over 2,000 different expressions. These gestures are also
subject to cultural influences. Once again this body language is common to other
animals. The third step is to communicate verbally with the interested party. A
voice conveys much information and we have already mentioned the different
effects that particular sounds have on males and females. If all goes well the
fourth step is to make physical contact and, interestingly enough, it is the female
who will most often make this first contact by touching the man's hand or
patting his arm. The fifth step is for the touch to be returned and once this has
been completed the male and female begin to mimic or co-ordinate their
gestures. Having satisfactorily completed these five steps the couple have now
paved the way towards a more intimate and possibly long-term relationship.
There is little doubt as to the power of love, yet any need that remains
unsatisfied can become very unpleasant. If we are hungry our behaviour will be
dominated by attempts to satisfy it.2 It is essential in a case like this that we are
able to tolerate some degree of frustration or else it could interfere with the
Refer to section 13 for research that seems to support this conclusion.
Refer to the experience of the Andes survivors in section 5.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 54
attempt to satisfy our needs. A hungry hunter must therefore be able to maintain
some control over the frustration relating to the delay in satisfying his hunger. In
some cases if an incentive is turned on but not satisfied then after some length of
time the desire to satisfy it might even diminish and disappear. The need for
some control is also required because we have to determine and give priority to
the satisfaction of that incentive which is most important at any given time, be it
the desire for food, sex or to avoid danger.
Once an incentive has been turned-on and an emotion engaged it is also essential
that the emotion is turned-off when it has been satisfied. This is often achieved
by producing the opposite emotion. There is evidence 'showing that not only is
pain often followed by pleasure but pleasure is often followed by pain'.1 If we
are hungry and eat a meal, the mere sight of more food might repulse us. A
pleasure taken to excess might become painful. Malfunctions in any of these
regulatory mechanisms could lead to over-reactions to stimuli, resulting in
excessive rage, misery, jealousy or depression.
Pleasure depends on the change from one state to another, and the degree of
pleasure will vary to the extent of the change. For example, if we had been
pensively waiting for the results of an examination, job application, or medical
test, the relief we would feel on obtaining a positive result could vary from a
state of joy to that of elation, depending on the importance and significance to us
of the results, and on the length of time we had been waiting for them. A
pleasurable sensation would be enhanced if we were in a state of severe pain
before it commenced. However, pleasure disappears with continuous
satisfaction, unlike pain which persists until the underlying cause is removed.
Continuous pain is necessary because until the source is removed a response is
required, while with pleasure no further response is required so the signalling
system is shut off. What this means is that the body is geared more towards the
avoidance of pain than that of providing continuous pleasure. Besides the
impossibility of attaining a state of perpetual pleasure, the fact that there are no
regulatory mechanisms for other emotions poses a far more sinister problem.
Anger and aggression have always proved useful and there are no self-imposed

Refer to the inability of the body to maintain a constant state of pleasure in section 66.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 55
limitations on them other than those of the environment. The survival strategy of
sheer size is successfully used by the elephant, and the size of pre-historic
animals is another case where sheer size proved useful. In other animals what
proves useful may be speed, agility or disguise. It can only be surmised that
human anger, cruelty, hate, greed, lust, possessiveness and jealousy all proved
useful at one time and that no internal limitations to the scope of their expression
were required because environmental forces were capable of imposing limits on
them. However, when humans developed the power to control and mould the
environment these limitations were no longer so effective. Thus the way was
paved for the unlimited expression of greed, hatred, resentment and aggression.1
In addition, there are certain mechanisms of the mind that, even when
functioning normally, can nevertheless prove hazardous as their powerful yet
necessary grip can keep us tied to behavioural patterns of the past.

Section 63 illustrates how people can be manipulated if their desires are strong.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 56
Chapter Three
Mechanisms Of The Mind

Processing Speed And Defence Mechanisms
The more information we have at our disposal the easier it is for us to
understand and give meaning to the many situations and events that affect us.
The capacity of the brain is unlimited and the vast amount of information it
contains creates a problem when it is required to process all this information
quickly. Researchers have only recently begun to understand some of the
mechanisms the brain employs to achieve this speed and some of the short cuts
it takes to do so. The complicated process of vision serves as a good illustration:
To produce a continuous and internal representation of the external world
the brain has to process and interpret vast amounts of information almost
instantaneously so that we can understand what it is we are actually seeing.
We see colour, detect motion, identify shapes, gauge distance and speed
and judge the size of faraway objects. We see in three dimensions even
though images fall on the retina in two. We fill in blind spots, automatically
correct distorted information and erase irrelevant images such as our nose
and the blood vessels of the eye. This complex processing is handled by
different parts of the brain that work simultaneously - a malfunction or
injury can lead to specific deficits such as the ability to recognise faces, see
in colour, detect motion, or the misinterpretation of visual clues. The brain
has to guess at the true nature of reality by interpreting a series of visual
clues that help us to distinguish near from far, objects from background,
motion in the outside world from motion created by the turn of the head.
The brain makes certain assumptions such as the fact that objects which are
close to us are larger than distant ones or that lightning comes from above.
Researchers don't know whether these assumptions are built up from
experience or are part of our genetic development program.(Discover)
In taking short-cuts the features of a familiar face are recalled from stored
images and aren't studied from scratch. This may be one of the reasons we
sometimes fail to notice changes in another person's appearance such as the
© 1997 Allan Sztab 57
absence of a moustache or the presence of a new hairdo. We saw in sections 2
and 3 that each memory and the meaning associated with it consists of a specific
interconnection of certain neurons within the brain. The fact that our memory of
specific events isn't stored in any one particular site within our brain compounds
the problem of processing this vast amount of information. For us to respond
quickly the brain not only has to process a continuous stream of new
information but must at the same time refer to all our previous experiences in
order to determine a suitable response. This process of recording and then
recalling or remembering this information and the meanings associated
with it is the heart of the learning process.1
If the brain never took short-cuts or made assumptions, and performed each step
of a complex process such as that of vision in the conscious mind, then quick
responses wouldn't be possible at all. Our very survival often requires quick
responses and this is why the emotions are geared to react spontaneously. This
also explains the ease with which the emotions can override or bypass the
conscious and thinking parts of our brain. Driving a motor car, operating
complex machinery, or avoiding danger in a competitive and hostile
environment often requires quick responses. Taking the time to think about
something is a luxury that we cannot always afford.2
At the same time that we have to recall past experiences it is also necessary to
forget past experiences, because being consciously aware of terrifying or
unpleasant experiences might lead to a constant state of fear. The ability to
forget is therefore almost as important as the ability to remember. Freud called
the emotion or feeling of fear anxiety and identified certain defence mechanisms
that are responsible for keeping unpleasant experiences from our conscious
minds. However, the benefit of having a memory is to make use of our
experiences, especially those we don't wish to repeat and to do so they are
confined to our subconscious minds. This mechanism is called repression or
selective forgetting, and works so well that some people are unable to recall
unpleasant experiences at all. The defence mechanism of repression makes it

Refer to section 6.
Refer to section 11 for the blocking out of fear-producing stimuli, section 47 for the
myth of the impartial observer and section 61 for the habituation of rational actions.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 58
very difficult to go back and correct or eliminate associations that we have
formed as infants. The more information we have at our disposal the easier it is
for us to understand and give meaning to the many situations and events that
affect us. The powerful meaning structures of language enhance our ability to do
so, but as infants we haven't yet learnt to talk. As infants we understand and
respond to our first experiences primarily in relation to the pleasure, discomfort
or pain they give us with the result that the meanings we give to these first
experiences are based on ignorance. The mechanism of repression ensures that
many of these first associations and meaning structures remain with us all our
lives, sometimes in the form of complexes. It isn't surprising that many adults
behave like children. There is as yet no way to re-learn all previously formed
associations, with the result that the old simply cannot adapt to new situations as
well as the young can. It is so difficult to break away from the associations and
meanings of the past that death itself could well be essential for the long-term
survival of the human species. These are the physiological mechanisms that tie
us to the past.
As an indication of how powerful these ties are we can consider a circus
elephant that is kept from wandering by a rope that is tied around its back leg
and secured to the ground by a peg. It is a very powerful animal and it isn't
actually the peg that keeps it there but its memory. When the elephant was
young it was tied to a heavy concrete block with a slip-chain that tightened its
grip as it struggled to move away. In its attempt to escape the chain would cut
into the elephants foot causing it much pain which it has never forgotten. The
human tendency is also never to forget. However, it is possible to modify the
meaning of past childhood events by applying our present level of knowledge
and understanding to them. The attempt to recall our past experiences in order to
do this is an approach that is common to many schools of psychology, but isn't,
of itself, necessary for us to modify or eliminate the behaviours we may have
adopted as a result of them.1
Besides taking short-cuts the brain employs other mechanisms to free our
consciousness for other activities. Habituation and sensitisation are two
Refer to the theory of Carl Rogers in appendix A10. Refer to the possibility of self-
change in section 66 and appendix D.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 59
forms of non-associative learning. 2 Performing repetitive tasks such as driving
a motor car or operating a piece of machinery takes effort to concentrate on
them. The mechanism of habituation relegates repetitive tasks like these to the
subconscious mind and allows the conscious mind to indulge itself in other
activities such as day-dreaming. The lack of concentration while performing
repetitive tasks can sometimes allow small variations in our surroundings to go
unnoticed by our conscious minds. In the case of a pilot, train driver, or machine
operator who might be day-dreaming this can be a recipe for disaster.
Another common defence is that of blaming other people or things for our
anxiety, a process known as projection. A golfer who hits a bad shot might look
at his club in dismay. A student who fails an examination might attribute the
cause to an unfair test and not to a lack of study. Certain impulses which might
be unacceptable can be projected onto others. People who are afraid of their own
sexual and aggressive impulses might attribute these feelings to other people - it
is they who are aggressive and sexual. Projection offers people an excuse for
their actions and we are rewarded to the extent that our excuses help us avoid
bearing the responsibility for them.

The Formation Of Character Concerns
Our actions are geared towards the satisfaction of our physiological needs. The
natural incentives and the emotions are the tools with which we are able to do
so. Our physiological needs are continually being ranked according to their
importance to our survival at any given time. When the satisfaction of a need is
delayed it grows in importance and if not satisfied will eventually dominate our
concerns entirely. The only way we know how to satisfy such demands is from
our collection of personal experiences. From them we have learnt those actions
that are likely to meet with success and those which will result in failure. Our
parents and society teach us to perform certain actions which will ensure not
only our survival but that of our species. To ensure we learn these right and
wrong behaviours our parents and society might punish us by inflicting pain
because pain is the quickest and most effective teacher of all.

Refer to section 6 for learning based on association.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 60
Figure 10 The formation of character concerns. Our first efforts at satisfying the
incentives are guided by the natural rewards of pleasure (positive +ve) and pain
(negative -ve) together with the approval, disapproval, rewards and punishments of our
parents and society. These experiences are instrumental in the formation of our
character concerns and self-image.

Our actions are determined to a large extent by the ranking of our physiological
needs at any given time and the values or ways we have been taught to satisfy
them. Thus amongst the majority of societies we learn not to eat our own kind.
However, an extreme physiological need, such as hunger, is able to overcome
such values as we saw in section 5 when the survivors of a plane crash decided
to eat their dead companions. They were able to do so not only because their
hunger was so great but because there was no immediate possibility of
punishment. The certain guarantee of pain is often the only thing that
prevents us from performing certain actions.
In almost the same way that our physiological needs are ranked in order of
importance, so too are the natural incentives. From birth onwards our immediate
environment and the experiences we have in it determines the extent or
importance that each incentive or combination of incentives has to play in
satisfying our needs. The greater the resistance or frustration an incentive
encounters, the greater the effort and attention that will be accorded to it. We
thus develop a greater sensitivity or concern towards those incentives that are
weakest or which require most of our attention and effort. The fact that we
display a greater sensitivity or concern towards particular incentives is the
primary reason that makes it possible to arouse them and accurately measure
their strength. Our concerns operate at a subconscious level and, in the same
way that we are able to express our desires freely in dreams, we reveal the
importance to us of these subconscious concerns by the number of times they
occur in our thoughts. For example, stories written by someone highly motivated

© 1997 Allan Sztab 61

by power concerns will tend to contain references and words concerning power
imagery such as prestige, winning, being the best etc. Our memory will also tend
to be selectively biased in favour of those incidents that are associated with our
strong concerns. Someone who was strongly motivated by power concerns
would recall more incidents relating to issues or events that concerned power. A
strong concern that a person has for an incentive will aid learning if the stimuli
that turns it on are present during the learning situation. Thus, in general, a
person who has a high concern for power might learn a game far easier if there
is a chance of them winning. In contrast, a person who has a strong concern for
pleasing others might learn the same game far easier if this would enable them
to please someone. However, being more concerned with a particular incentive
doesn't necessarily imply any stereotyped behaviour. These concerns are only
subconscious dispositions or inclinations. Unlike our physiological needs, which
vary constantly throughout our lives, the behaviour we perform to satisfy them
grows progressively more difficult to change as we get older. More significantly,
the concerns we have are almost fully developed by about the age of six and
remain fairly constant thereafter. These are the behavioural mechanisms that
tie us to the past.
There are only a few natural incentives, yet the concerns we develop for them
are sufficient to account for the rich diversity we find in human behaviour. There
are some people whose dominant concerns can be summarised in only a few
words. Jim might be accurately referred to as a 'control freak' who is dominated
by a desire to control others. Jack might be referred to as 'Mr feel good' who is
dominated by a desire to please others. Sandra might be referred to as a
'perfectionist' who is dominated by the desire to achieve. Brian might be referred
to as a womaniser who is dominated by a desire for sexual contact.
A concern might be positive or negative depending on the pleasure or pain
associated with it. (See Figure 7)
The association with pleasure and pain is a natural one but our
interpretation of success or failure depends on the values or preferences we
have learnt from our parents and society. Thus in one society a person who
has strong concerns about power might express this by being the best hunter

© 1997 Allan Sztab 62

whilst in another society they could display this by attempting to be the best
athlete or the most wealthy. Here the concern will be associated with positive
rewards or pleasures and the tendency will be towards action. The concern could
equally be negatively associated with pain or discomfort and the tendency could
then be towards the avoidance of action.1 The same principle applies to all the
incentives, and a person could thus be positively motivated towards achieving
success, or negatively motivated to avoid success because of a fear of its
consequences. For example, some people might fear the jealousy of other people
or the responsibilities that might accompany success. A person could be
positively motivated to seek intimacy or negatively motivated to avoid intimacy
because of a fear of rejection. Thus pain and pleasure ultimately guide both the
behaviours we undertake and the formation of our character concerns. Positive
motivations are characterised by a pleasurable sense of anticipation whilst
negative motivations or fears are accompanied by a state of anxiety.
Our first efforts at achieving, conforming, having an impact on, and making
contact with other people and other things are therefore of prime importance in
the formation of our character concerns. The first experiences, pleasures,
frustrations, discomfort or pain we have are related to the satisfaction of our
physiological needs and our parents play a key role in our success or failure in
satisfying them. For example, it is with toilet training that we first attempt to
control our bodily functions, and our experience in this regard has a marked
influence on the development of our achievement concerns. Toilet training is
usually the first time that our parents impose discipline on us and this experience
influences the formation of our concerns for power and our attitude towards
We depend on our parents and other authority figures for feedback as to our
effectiveness at achieving and performing tasks, and the exclamation 'look at
me' is commonly heard at the poolside, beach or sports field. Such feedback is
instrumental in the determination of how we come to perceive our capabilities,
strengths and weaknesses. Positive confirmations of success instil in us the
desire and expectation of even greater successes. This positive motivating effect

Refer to Fears, Phobias and Paranoia in appendix C.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 63
created by receiving encouraging feedback is something that casino operators
have honed to a fine art. Every one-armed bandit is scientifically programmed to
give rewards that are sufficient to encourage the expectation of bigger rewards,
and anyone who has ever played one will be familiar with the power and
enticement of such feedback which almost always results in our ploughing back
every last coin!
Our parents serve as role models and the ways in which they speak and
behave towards each other, towards us and other members of our family,
towards their employees and other people, are important determinants of
what we will come to regard as good, bad, acceptable or unacceptable
behaviour. Our parents instil in us an expectation as to the role that hard work,
discipline and good fortune play in our lives. Some people might be led to
believe that success or failure depends largely on good or bad fortune whilst
others might come to associate success with hard work and discipline, and
attribute failure to a lack of effort or ability. This is why some women fear
excelling in certain activities that society considers unladylike and their
performance is often inhibited when in competition with men. The values and
expectations of our parents and society play a major role in the formation of our
characters and moral conscience.1
The way in which our parents express their love and concern for us determines
to a large degree the way in which our concerns for contact, sex and affiliation
develop. Some parents turn their love and care into rewards that are conditional
upon their children's behaviour.2 Some parents verbally abuse their children
under the guise of scolding them but after being repeatedly told something along
the lines of 'you will never amount to anything', a child might come to expect
that it rightfully deserves such a fate. Another common form of abuse is to
compare them with others by saying things like 'why can't you be like little
Jimmy' who might have a specific talent or ability in sports or academia that
they don't possess. Such admonishments can lead to the development of a low

Refer to section 13 for the values of society and sexual behaviour. Refer to section 59
for the values of society and punishment.
The behaviours referred to here are those of non-moral concern. Refer to sections 57,
61 and 65.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 64
self-esteem and, to complicate matters even further, the opposite views of
parents could easily lead to confusion.
Right throughout this process the underlying pain or pleasure related to these
concerns and behaviour is a guiding light. It is a combination of complex and
little-understood factors such as these that determine the manner in which we
develop a set of expectations of the way in which the external world functions,
our abilities and most importantly, our self-esteem or self-worth. It is thus
common for people to blame their parents for many of their shortcomings and in
many cases they are justified in doing so. Besides disciplining children with real
or imaginary threats of pain other far more subtle forms of coercion often
commence from birth. An example of this might be when a parent tells a child
from the moment of birth that 'with hands like this you can only be a doctor'.
This kind of wishful thinking might be expressed throughout the child's life and
it wouldn't be surprising to find that when it comes to selecting a career they
choose one in medicine.
It is beyond the scope of this book to explore the large and continually growing
number of theories which attempt to explain how these concerns might be
influenced during a person's development. In this respect a variety of
psychological theories of behaviour are briefly outlined in appendix A and
illuminate some of the possibilities governing their formation although there is
insufficient research to confirm any one of them. Researchers have identified
certain characteristics that seem to be indicative of people who have developed
strong concerns towards certain of the incentives such as those for achievement,
power, variety and contact, and some of these are briefly outlined below.
Achievement and power concerns
Studies on achievement indicate that achievement concerns are strongly
influenced by the way we cope with toilet training and feeding schedules as
these are the first experiences infants have with controlling their bodily
functions. What still remains unknown are the reasons a person high in
achievement concerns will continually seek ever greater challenges. People who
display high levels of achievement concerns tend to prefer moderately difficult
tasks that shouldn't be so easy that anyone could do them or so difficult that they
© 1997 Allan Sztab 65
will fail. In moderate risk tasks they prefer to take personal responsibility and
like to be able to see how well they are doing so they can attribute their success
to their own effort. They like to take short-cuts and are more likely than others
to resort to cheating.
Studies suggest that if children learn to associate pleasure with aggressive or
sexual impacts they could develop strong power concerns. However, if they are
punished for these behaviours they could develop negative associations and
inhibitions with having impacts in these areas and possibly in other areas as
well. This could lead to them developing a negative self-image. A fear of failure
is strongly associated with being punished or criticised for failing.
Unlike those with high achievement concerns those who fear failure will tend to
avoid moderate tasks. They will choose either easy tasks with a low risk of
failure or very difficult tasks where their failure can then be attributed to the
level of difficulty involved. They will tend to perform better at tasks if they
believe they are succeeding at them. However, if they hold a strong belief that
they will be negatively judged then their performance will be poor. Child rearing
practices will also vary from culture to culture and the experiences of a
particular cultural group can exert an influence.
The children of 'parents who have lost power and been oppressed, like the
Jews in Nazi Germany or unemployed black males in the United States,
tend to develop a strong power motive, perhaps in retaliation.'
In societies where people were suppressed such as Blacks in America and South
Africa, assertiveness was fraught with danger and often led to the development
of a fear of success. People with high power concerns strive to be assertive and
have more emotional problems. Socially they are able to exercise their influence
by pursuing careers in politics, 'teaching, psychology, the ministry, business, or
journalism'. They also tend to collect symbols of power such as prestigious
luxury goods and credit cards. They tend to select friends they can lead who are
not in a position to compete with them. Men are more likely to drink and fight
despite the fact that the power motive generally functions in the same way for
both sexes. The reason is probably because women are generally taught to adopt
© 1997 Allan Sztab 66
more passive values that prepare them for the social responsibilities of nursing
and taking care of children. This emphasises the importance of social values
as determinants of our behaviour, particularly when we consider that
unlike most physiological drives such as hunger and sex there are no built-
in mechanisms to signal their satisfaction. This paves the way for unlimited
hatred, aggression, resentment, greed and jealousy1 . People who are highly
motivated by power concerns stand a good chance of one day becoming
influential politicians.
'The fact that Nixon was forced to resign for using illegal short-cuts [theft,
burglary and tapping of telephone calls] to reach his goals is dramatic
confirmation of the tendency of individuals who have high achievement
concerns to behave dishonestly if necessary to achieve their goals.. Winter
also showed that the higher a presidents concern for power.. the more likely
it was that the country would go to war during his administration and the
less likely that he would favour strategic arms limitation.' (McClelland)
Possibly the most disturbing thing of all is that after Nixon was impeached he
never admitted that he had done anything wrong but held firmly to the belief that
his actions were fully justified. He died never having apologised for betraying
the trust of a nation.

Refer to section 60 for the social value accorded to high achievers who distributed
their excess wealth amongst the community.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 67
Variety concerns
Inquisitiveness or curiosity, novelty and the need for stimulation are all derived
from the need to have to get up and move about in order to survive. As we saw
earlier, exploratory activities play an important role in obtaining information
which could be of use either immediately or at some time in the future. Slight
variations in things could indicate the presence of a predator so they are sought
after. Manufacturers of products as diverse as motor cars and vacuum cleaners
are forever introducing new models which cater for this incentive. The danger is
that unlike most physiological drives such as hunger or sex, which have a point
of satisfaction, curiosity is insatiable. As soon as something new has been
uncovered boredom sets in once more. In much the same way that we habituate
repetitive tasks we become habituated to a situation, be it of pleasure or
hardship, and the greater the change from one situation to another the greater the
emotion that will accompany it.1
Extreme boredom is often a major factor that leads people to seek new and novel
ways to find excitement by way of gambling, sexual experimentation, drink and
drug abuse. Some people may even turn to crime to alleviate the pangs of
boredom. It is novelty that sells Sunday newspapers and many magazines: novel
accidents and deformities, ordinary people doing extraordinary things and
extraordinary people doing ordinary things. It is excitement that draws crowds to
accident scenes and blood sports, and many accidents have been caused by
people trying to alleviate boredom whilst performing mundane or routine tasks.
In one instance the crew of a DC10 airliner decided to race an engine just for the
hang of it with the result that the engine exploded. The explosion created a hole
in the aircraft next to a passenger who was promptly sucked out of it when the
cabin lost its pressure.
Contact concerns
The incentive for contact is evidenced by our concerns towards affiliating or
making social contact with others, seeking their approval and intimacy and a
fear of rejection. If a person is deprived of interaction with others whom they
wish to affiliate with then their desire to do so will be intensified. Being denied

Refer to section 66 for the practical effect of these swings on our actions.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 68
membership of a specific or exclusive club or social circle can intensify the
desire to join it. The learning skills of people who are motivated by strong
concerns for approval are enhanced if their performance will lead to the pleasing
of others. Some people will even go so far as to take up a new sport or hobby in
an effort to please those whose affiliation is desired. People high in affiliation
concerns fear rejection or disapproval and are so anxious about their
relationships with others that they constantly seek reassurance. People who fear
rejection will tend to favour people of lower prestige or status than themselves.
A loss of love as a child due to the death, illness, divorce or abandonment by a
parent can also lead to a loss of self-esteem and a concern with the approval of
others. Those with a low sense of self-esteem will be more likely to give in
towards the inferior decisions of group or peer pressure. A fear of failure and
rejection could be closely related and both may be derived from a need for social
approval. It is known that people who are anxious or fearful get relief by being
in contact with others.
A desire or concern to please others can be dangerous in a person who also has a
high concern for power, especially if they manage to obtain a position of
influence or leadership. This was the case with Neville Chamberlain the Prime
Minister of Britain in 1937. He had lost both his mother and grandmother at the
age of six. It is possible that his concern for approval was instrumental in
leading him to conclude that Hitler liked him and could be trusted. After his
third visit to Hitler he returned with an agreement and the now famous words
'Peace in our time'. Shortly thereafter Hitler invaded Poland which event led to
the commencement of World War II.
In contrast with those who have a concern for approval, those who have a desire
for intimacy are not concerned with pleasing others, and will favour the
recollection of memories concerning intimate moments as opposed to those of
pleasing others. They will tend to be more selective in the people they choose to
be intimate with and display more empathy towards them. A particularly
noticeable characteristic of people with a high concern for intimacy is their
tendency to touch other people affectionately in a non-threatening way.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 69

The Rational Mind
'Men are only slightly different to animals. Most of them throw this
difference away.' (Confucious)
The natural incentive of consistency enables us to observe the regularities in our
environment. By associating one event with another we are able to anticipate the
approach of danger or pain before it actually arrives. Language gives us the
power to consciously manipulate large tracts of our experiences. We are thus
capable of tracing a sequence of events and predicting the future outcome of our
present actions with a degree of certainty and clarity that is unique amongst all
animals.1 This ability to observe and predict was a key factor in the separation
of behaviours into those which proved useful or good and those which proved
harmful or bad.
Learning enables us to utilise the experiences of our past and for this reason
the very first interpretation we make is that of recognition. Whenever we
look at something or find ourselves in a particular situation the brain
subconsciously determines whether we recognise or are familiar with it. Let's
say we meet someone in the street. If we recognise them the meanings that are
associated with them will be subconsciously recalled. These meanings might be
pleasant or unpleasant, and we will respond accordingly. This entire process
takes place subconsciously and at such a speed that it is almost instantaneous
despite the fact that a comparison is being made between all the images of faces
that we know. If we don't recognise the person then they represent a potential
danger to us because we have no way of knowing if they are friend or foe.
Immediately we begin to interpret the visual clues they provide us with. We
study their features, mannerisms or body language, to see whether we recognise
any of them. If these visual clues can be associated with those of someone we
already know then those meanings, pleasant or unpleasant, that we associate
with them will surface and form the foundation for our assessment of this total
stranger. This is the reason that some people seem to have friendly and trusting
faces whilst others look aggressive or foreboding. If we have been taught that
people who have dark skin or long hair are dangerous then we will be suspicious
or wary of them.

Refer to section 58 for the belief that everything has a cause.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 70
Faced with the unfamiliar we make snap judgements, irrespective of how
irrational they are, and often we stick dogmatically to them. The proverb
'first impressions last the longest' is not without substance. This is the bias
and prejudice we project onto the external world - one that is in accordance
with the most important function of memory - to learn from it. These snap
judgements or feelings of intuition, despite being biased or prejudicial are
often useful because taking the time to think things over carefully might be
fatal when a speedy response is required - procrastination is a luxury that
we are scarcely suited for.1
If we are familiar with our surroundings it is comforting, because we are in a
better position to anticipate or predict what might happen from one moment to
the next. If we are unfamiliar with our surroundings or with other people we feel
slightly anxious and remain alert and cautious. Learning more about an
unfamiliar place or stranger helps us to overcome these feelings. Like two
boxers sizing each other up during the early rounds of a fight, we converse with
strangers to discover their intentions. Faced with an obstacle, such as a stream of
water, we test to see how deep it is or what lies below its surface. However, if
we are unable to obtain answers to our questions, and there is no way to obtain
any appropriate response, the object of our attention will remain unknown.
What cannot be known always carries the potential for harm. In such a case
we can avoid what is unknown or comfort ourselves by distorting our reality -
we make guesses and generalisations to reduce the fear or anxiety we may feel.
'It is far easier to stay with what is familiar than to change. We tend to
fabricate or colour our experiences based on what is most familiar - we are
from the very first accustomed to lying or to express it more pleasantly -
we are more of an artist than we realise. To see and retain what is new
requires more strength - more morality.' (Nietzsche)
The desire to reduce fear and anxiety is the natural incentive we have to distort
reality - we want to believe we know or are familiar with what is unknown.
These distortions usually evolve through three stages which could vary in time
from a day to that of a few generations. In their infancy we call them opinions,
in their teens we call them beliefs and when mature we call them faith or

Refer to section 47 for the myth of impartial observation.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 71
convictions. Belief is the uncritical acceptance of an opinion as being true,
while faith or conviction is the placing of our complete trust in a belief or
system of beliefs.1 Distortions of reality will nearly always arise out of a fear of
things which are unknown, especially if there is little chance of acquiring any
information about them. In this category we have the fear of death, the fear of
losing anything which is valued, such as a herd of animals and a harvest which
is dependent upon the vagaries of the elements. Fear and anxiety are therefore
the source of much superstition, prejudice, self-delusion and crooked thinking.2
Fear is the force behind free enterprise and capitalism because without
money a person could suffer from a lack of food and shelter. Money can
bring security concerning our basic needs together with the power to
influence and control people and events.
The power of money to gain influence was amply demonstrated by the
presidential candidate Ross Perot who self-financed his first attempt to enter
politics in the 1992 American elections. Because we conform and adhere to an
accepted set of beliefs and expectations our range of behaviour is kept within
their boundaries so that we continue to play the same tune over and over again,
like a gramophone with a needle that is stuck in the groove of a record. The
desire to reduce fear and anxiety is the force that glues us to them and if we are
not happy or content within the boundaries they impose upon us then we should
consider changing them by subjecting them to critical appraisal.
Our ancestors were confronted with many things that they never knew or
understood, and began to make assumptions about them. Pain and discomfort
were their guides. Those actions which led to the satisfaction of their needs, or
that of their family, group, or society, without creating any obvious pain or
discomfort, were valued and became established or customary ways of
behaviour.3 Explanations for their continued use and effectiveness were based
on their limited knowledge and were believed to be true. In the same way that
the meanings and interpretations an infant gives to its first experiences are
based on ignorance, so too were those of our ancestors. It was only through
Refer to section 32 for belief and truth.
Refer to section 66 for the importance of escaping from fear and appendix E for habits
of thought that might reinforce our fears.
Refer to section 13 and the factors that influence the sexual values of society.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 72
bitter experience that doubt or scepticism concerning many of these
customs arose. Human history is riddled with rival claims to certain knowledge
and the right way to behave.1 Customs are passed down from parent to child and
vary from one group of people to another, as we would expect, due to
differences in their experiences and environment. However, they all provided
stability and a sense of certainty in an ever-changing world - an anchor of
understanding in a sea of doubt; a set of beliefs and expectations, or a frame of
reference from which to view the world.
Customs and the beliefs that accompany them furnish us with a sense of
individual and group identity, of who and what we are. As such they are often
regarded as sacred or unchangeable, and any new idea that questions them may
be viewed as an attack against life itself. The behaviour of any person or thing
which is inconsistent with our beliefs or expectations of them alerts us to the
possibility of danger. It is only when faced with suffering at the hands of
powerful and uncontrollable forces or events, that both individuals and society
often have no choice but to question the adequacy of their cherished system of
beliefs, and to accept the delusional quality of many of the expectations, hopes
and dreams upon which they are based. History never fails to bear testimony to
this fact, particularly during times of upheaval brought about by events such as
climatic changes, wars, the agricultural and industrial revolutions and the
information revolution which has only recently commenced.2 A close scrutiny of
our own past will also never fail to reveal this same process which surrounds
events such as divorce, death, illness and changes in one's fortunes. In short - we
rely on these painful experiences to hurt and shock us into learning.
Customs vary depending on the experiences of a group or tribe. However, in the
same way that the history of language was lost in the mists of time, so too are
many of the practical and mundane circumstances that gave rise to a particular
custom or belief.3 There is no shortage of myths based on an ignorance of these
factual circumstances and rather than determine what these may be it is far
easier to believe in myths. Many of our beliefs and the behaviours they tie us to
Refer to section 32 for the division of thinkers into two schools of thought.
Refer to section 23 and 24 for changes in belief due to conquest and suffering.
Refer to the history of language in section 3 and to the ritual warfare of the Maring in
section 19.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 73
could thus be based on myths which are rooted in the distant past and whose
value is no longer capable of satisfying our present needs.
As children we conform to the customs, beliefs and regulations that are set down
by our parents. We are trained to obey them without question and we have little
choice as our lives depend on them. They have the ability and a variety of means
to punish us, ranging from the withholding of food or privileges to acts of
physical violence. This process continues from birth and intrudes into almost
every area of our private and social life. Thus we first learn how to walk safely
on the roads and later, if we become motorists, to obey traffic rules and
regulations. Learning to stop at traffic lights and drive on the correct side of the
road makes for a stable and predictable environment. Each time we drive
through an intersection we trust and expect that others will conform to the same
rules and regulations. We thus become accustomed to acting in conformity with
others especially when we aren't sure how to act.
'In a well-known experiment Asch (1951) demonstrated that if subjects hear
three or four others say a shorter line is equal in length to a longer line,
most will conform to the group opinion despite clear visual evidence to the
contrary.' (McClelland)
We are taught to trust, obey and respect figures of authority be they politicians,
religious leaders, policemen or traffic officers. In the animal world leaders have
to constantly earn their positions by displays of superiority, but this is seldom
the case with humans, where people are conditioned to accept competence based
on a person's title or position. At war crimes trials, such as that at Nuremberg
after World War II, the most oft-cited reason for perpetrating horrific crimes was
the 'following of orders'. In a now famous experiment conducted by Millgram,
volunteers continued to administer large shocks to other volunteers, despite
knowing they were dangerous and while being able to hear their screams - again
for the same reason, 'following orders'.
The incentive to conform or obey 'is a fatal flaw nature has designed into us
and which in the long run gives our species only a moderate chance of
survival.' (Millgram)

© 1997 Allan Sztab 74

In the same way that we are accustomed to obeying orders from figures of
authority we can also be persuaded that there is a danger even when there isn't1 .
Being able to create or imagine situations or things that are non-existent is
unique to humans who are encouraged to do so by their parents and society.
Unlike animals who can only perceive immediate danger, humans have
imagination and foresight and will react against imaginary threats. It isn't even
necessary for the threats to be real as long as they are thought or believed to be
'In animals, intraspecific fighting is usually of distinctive advantage. In
addition, all species manage as a rule to settle their disputes without killing
one another; in fact, even bloodshed is rare. Man is the only species that is
a mass murderer, the only misfit in his own society' (Tinbergen)
We can react to a threat in one of two ways - we can either flee or fight.
Aggression is a natural response but fleeing is the most life-preserving action. It
isn't surprising that to get people to fight in wars it is often necessary to
manipulate them with threats of certain death, fear of being called a coward,
promises of rewards such as women and gold, and even by the use of drugs. 2
Because our language, customs and beliefs provide us with an identity, a sense
of who we are and who we belong to, they present us with a great problem.
Animals use their instincts to determine friends from foe while humans must
rely on what they have been taught. The failure to identify and empathise
with other people who speak a different language, dress differently and
have different customs nullifies a fundamental natural barrier to killing our
own kind. It is difficult to kill anything or anyone with whom you can identify,
even a pet insect. We may have been taught any number of prejudices about
people who dress in a specific way or have certain features, so that when we
meet them we automatically attribute these features to them. This is how we can
be manipulated into projecting the prejudices of other people onto strangers and
this makes it easy to justify acts of unprovoked and unwarranted aggression
against them.3 In contrast, most other animals survive by behaviour that is to a

Refer to section 54 and appendix E for the tricks and traps of language.
Refer to manipulation by the offering of rewards and punishments in section 63.
Refer to section 66 for suspending judgement as a means of overcoming prejudices.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 75
large extent fixed or innate. Their actions are geared solely towards survival and
in this sense are rational. No other living organism will die for abstract ideas
such as honour, glory and pride. No other living organism will die to further the
objectives of abstractions such as God, nation, fatherland, or state. It isn't
possible to persuade or convince any other living organism to act today for what
may or may not come tomorrow; to accept suffering today for a promise of
something bigger or better tomorrow; to accept the existence of things which it
cannot sense; or to believe that they are in some way superior to others of their
own species.1
Acting contrary to our set of beliefs and expectations is the source of guilt.2
Soldiers who are taught 'not to kill' may suffer terribly from guilt as a result of
having to kill the enemy in battle. Politicians misleadingly refer to these guilty
feelings as 'post combat trauma'. To combat these guilt feelings some distortion
of reality or rationalisation is required, and in almost every human conflict
aggression is justified either before or after the action by dragging up some old
grievance or allegations or holding beliefs like 'it is for their own good' or 'for
the greater glory of x'. To avoid guilt it is common for the enemy to be
dehumanised first. This is easily accomplished by calling them names such as
sub-humans, dogs, vermin, geeks or huns, and once completed the stage is set
for the most vile acts of barbarism and cruelty which the participants seem to
enjoy. Researchers have established a link between anger-excitement, sex and
pleasure, and this could well explain the pleasure that seems to be obtained from
violent acts of rape, torture and cruelty. With humans the context or
surroundings in which the excitement or stimuli occurs is of paramount
importance. For example, sexual arousal cues such as being gently massaged
mightn't lead to sexual arousal in the context of receiving treatment by a
physiotherapist as opposed to being gently massaged by our partner at a party.
Interpretation and context thus play a key role and in the context of war it is easy
to see how barbarous acts might easily be committed and enjoyed.
Paradoxically, many displays of power actually reveal the weakness of the
perpetrators who feel they have no option other than to resort to these methods.
Refer to section 58 for errors of reason and section 63 for manipulation.
Refer to section 59 for guilt as punishment.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 76
Because we tend to form strong concerns based on our success or lack of
success at satisfying the natural incentives, we could find that people who seek
power do so to make up for an inability or weakness to have an impact or
control events during their development.1
The powerful force to conform to a set of beliefs and expectations is therefore
enhanced by the guilt and suffering that is felt when we don't comply with them.
So much so that people will specifically distort their reality to keep their beliefs
and expectations intact. People who have been abused or assaulted at the hands
of a person whose authority they have been taught to respect often feel guilty
and personally responsible for the act. Questioning such a major part of their
beliefs and expectations is often resisted because it could lead to confusion and a
loss of orientation which might be severe enough to drive a person to suicide. A
resistance to questioning accepted beliefs is also common to society as a whole.2

The powerful tendency to rationalise or justify our past and future actions is well
researched. A particularly strong attempt will be made to justify or rationalise
those actions or decisions that have been voluntarily undertaken, especially if a
person has invested time or money in doing so. In one study it was found that
one person could be led to dislike another whom they had voluntarily given an
electric shock in order to justify having done so. The greater a persons sense of
self-esteem the greater the reliance they will place on their actions, and the more
likely they will be to justify or defend them.
In a nutshell - the negative incentive of pain and the fear or anxiety it engenders
leads to the adoption of a set of behaviours and beliefs. Guilt and the rational
mind work together to ensure that we continue to perform and justify them. It is
beliefs that create reason and not reason that creates belief. The rational
mind can distort our perception of reality in an attempt to protect us from
unpleasant or fear-producing stimuli and any other activities that might be
associated with them. The fear of the unknown is so powerful that a belief in a
fictitious cure is even capable of alleviating suffering. Although our ancestors
Refer to section 10 for the development of character concerns.
Refer to section 64 for some of the difficulties experienced in questioning our system
of beliefs. Refer to appendix G for the resistance of society towards the theories of Freud
and the effect on children of being sexually abused.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 77
never knew the complexities of human behaviour as we know it today, they
discovered this quirk of human nature and in time refined it into one of the
easiest yet most effective methods of behavioural control and manipulation ever
developed. They noticed that if a person was sick or suffering they could be
comforted merely by kind words or human contact and modern research
confirms this. There was something else which was even more interesting to
them: even if a sick or suffering person was given an ineffective remedy to take
it would nevertheless alleviate their suffering provided they believed it would
cure them. Their desire to get better was so strong that they would follow the
prescribed remedy without question. Moreover, even if they never recovered of
their own accord they would still continue to follow the prescribed remedy, as
long as its failure to work could never be blamed on the remedy itself but on
their failure to observe it faithfully. (Today our bookstores are full of books
selling the concept that the power of belief can cure.) It didn't take these early
psychologists long to discover that this basic principle had an almost unlimited
range of applications. If they wanted to get people to follow a prescribed set of
rules which they had devised, then all that was required was to disguise them as
a remedy for a common ailment. The more common the ailment or the suffering
the larger the number of people there would be to take the cure, and the more
effective or comforting it would be for them. We shall see in part two how such
conditions arose and the ways in which the exploitation of this serious flaw first
commenced in earnest.1

Refer to section 26 for the establishment of suffering as punishment and to section 63
for the manipulation that such a belief opens us to.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 78
Memory or the meaning of our experiences are all unique connections that are
formed between our brain cells. Our characters are determined primarily by our
earliest experiences. Our personal identity or the I we refer to is based on a
lifetimes accumulation of memories or experiences.
What would happen if we lost our memory? Would we be the same person
with the same character and sense of identity? Would it ever be possible to
become the same person again? When our brain dies our memory dies with
it - how is it possible for our personal identity to survive, be resurrected or

Things To Remember
Any living organism collects, interprets and processes information in order to
interact with the environment around it. Sensory organs are the primary means
of collecting this information and survival is a measure of their success in doing
A key survival strategy is that of learning which enables an organism to make
variable responses to environmental conditions.
Verbal language enables humans to communicate rapidly by the conscious
manipulation of vast amounts of information and thereby to discover
regularities in nature and the long-term consequences of actions.
We learn from our parents, society and our own experiences. Pain or
punishment enhances learning and instils in us the habit of giving unconditional
We are comfortable with the familiar and fear the unfamiliar to such an extent
that we colour our world and in some cases distort our sense of reality so as
to live with the familiar. This is the source of bias, prejudice and self-
deception which may or may not be beneficial to us.
We develop a set of beliefs and expectations of how people and the world
around us behave and become habituated to live in accordance with them.
Pain or discomfort is for the majority of people the only way in which they will
be prepared to change or modify their beliefs and expectations.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 79



© 1997 Allan Sztab 80

© 1997 Allan Sztab 81
Chapter Four
The Dawn
The Spread And Development Of Ideas

Any form of life must interact with the environment that surrounds it. Changes
in the environment must be adapted to, and this adaptation will in turn have an
impact on the environment. Climatic changes could lead to the intensification of
competition for other sources of food which might lead to the extinction of less
competitive species and any species that are reliant upon them in a complex
domino-like effect. Nowhere else is this continuous cycle of action-reaction-
action demonstrated more clearly than in human history. Freed from their
biological strait-jacket, and with an immensely powerful brain, humans were
now able to shape their environment and express their emotions with an ever
increasing force. It seems almost to be a law that any change will be certain to
produce unexpected and sometimes unknown consequences. In adapting to the
forces of nature humans put into play forces of their own such as those attending
the commencement of agriculture and commercial trade which would have far-
reaching effects.
The earliest writings known are those Mesopotamian and Egyptian texts which
were written on rolls of papyrus and etched onto the walls of monuments, tombs
and tablets. They take us back to approximately 4,000BC. However, from
archaeological excavations, artefacts, utensils and other remains that have been
unearthed, we are able to penetrate even further into the past. Here we catch
glimpses of the lives and thoughts of our ancestors and the events which
moulded their attitudes and influenced their behaviour - the forerunners of many

© 1997 Allan Sztab 82

of the beliefs and attitudes we still have today. Researchers have fortunately had
the advantage of studying many ancient cultures at first hand. Although they
vary considerably, cross-cultural influences are evident.
There have always been divergent opinions as to whether a new innovation in
one part of the world could spread to other parts, or whether there were multiple
but similar innovations. Some things, like the type and style of housing a tribe
chose to build, would be influenced by the materials available in any given area.
However, ideas are free from any restrictions and can travel easily over vast
distances. The similarity of stories and myths from all quarters of the world
bears testimony to this. In many instances they have been modified, perhaps to
suit local conditions; yet the underlying idea or principle remains. Those ideas,
inventions and stories that impressed people with their practical application,
wisdom or wit, were almost surely to be the favoured topics of conversation
with other strangers. In this way beliefs, practices and the inventions of one
culture were often borrowed by other cultures.
In 1987 an American professor on tour in China was shown 113 mummies
in a museum which had been dug up by Chinese archaeologists. Some of
them were estimated to be 4,000 years old. A family of man, woman and
child stood out - they were white Europeans. Their clothes displayed
weaving techniques similar to that found in Europe in the same period. Two
cartwheels found where they were buried were similar to wheels found in
the Ukraine dating to approximately 2,000BC. The find provides further
evidence that even before recorded history there was contact between East
and West, shattering the myth that Chinese civilisation developed
independently. (You)
People moved around over vast distances and took their possessions with them.
Identical solutions to problems are few and far between. However, it is possible
that humans would respond in almost the same way to similar conditions. It is
almost certain, for example, that agriculture originated in more than one
location. While it isn't possible to give an accurate account of the past there is
sufficient evidence of the way in which humans reacted to climatic changes. A
good account of the early Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilisations is recorded

© 1997 Allan Sztab 83

in the texts they left behind. Egypt was a large, centrally-controlled and
regulated society presided over by a king or pharaoh. Under his command a host
of officials and advisors saw to it that orders were carried out. Many of the
problems and concerns they had still beset us today, and the business of war and
conquest was already far advanced. However, our story begins much earlier than
As long ago as 30,000BC our ancestors had already mastered the crafting of
utensils and weapons out of stone and bone. It is possible that they first learnt to
hunt animals by observing the techniques of predators such as lion, whose diet
consists mainly of high-protein meat. As hunter-gatherers they would have lived
on a diet consisting mainly of fruits, nuts, edible plants, seeds, vegetables and
grubs. When possible they ate meat and fish, which is almost the exclusive diet
of the Eskimo. Animal hides provided warmth and comfort. Fire caused by
volcanic action and lightning or other natural causes led to the discovery that it
enhanced the taste of meat. The harnessing of fire provided warmth and added
security, and was also used to drive animals over cliffs. Hunting larger animals
required the skills of initiative, self-confidence, patience and the willingness to
kill. The bow and arrow, spear and dart enabled the killing of animals at a
distance while at close quarters a club could be used. Temporary shelters were
constructed which supplemented the natural shelter provided by caves and rock
Although this may seem a difficult style of life we are fortunate to be able to
make comparisons with the Bushmen who are hunter-gatherers and whose
lifestyle has been very well studied. They are estimated to spend roughly 3 hours
per day per adult to secure an adequate food supply, despite the fact that they
live on the fringe of a desert. It is also well known that primates manage to
spend as much time playing and grooming as they do feeding, and for a
considerable time our ancestors probably found it equally as easy to secure a
living. Families and small groups were constantly on the move as the seasons or
other requirements dictated, and were scattered thinly over vast territories. An
argument with family, tribe or clan could be settled merely by parting and going
separate ways. Compared to the majority of subsequent lifestyles it is most

© 1997 Allan Sztab 84

likely that when ancient texts referred to a 'golden age' or 'garden of Eden', this
was the period they were referring to - a time when there was plenty of easily
obtainable food, land and shelter. However, the ease or difficulty of life probably
varied considerably from region to region and from age to age, depending on
circumstances, much as it does today. As opposed to a 'golden age' some could
plausibly argue that life was characterised by a continual struggle against
predators, disease, the elements and rival tribes.

Rights and wrongs, do's and don'ts
From the very outset humans had to learn how to behave. Pleasure and pain
were their guides and successful or useful behaviours were encouraged and
enforced. The most effective means of controlling or directing behaviour that
was used by our ancestors was that of the taboo which means 'that which is
forbidden'. The taboo served the same role as the modern laws we are familiar
with today, and were passed on from generation to generation by gestures and
rituals, then verbally, and later in written form. In certain instances some of the
taboo's and practices associated with them were incorporated into the religions
of a particular culture or society while others formed part of their law. As with
the origin of words, the original reasons or purposes for them often became
clouded in myth or legend, or were forgotten completely even though the
practice remained. When a religious taboo is broken it is called a sin and an
example of this would be of a Catholic person who eats meat on a Friday. When
a non-religious taboo is broken it is supposed to bring bad luck; an example of
this would be the spilling of salt. To rectify the sin the sinner must confess and
obtain absolution, while to prevent bad luck some of the spilt salt must be
thrown over the shoulder.
The fact that a specific practice or belief was accepted or performed by their
parents, grandparents and great-grandparents before them is even today usually
deemed sufficient reason for continuing the practice or accepting the belief,
despite being inappropriate for the times, and often in the face of glaring
inconsistencies. Humans turned to nature for moral guidance and every natural
disaster, configuration of the night sky, creature and plant was thought to carry a

© 1997 Allan Sztab 85

message which could be deciphered. It is evident from a comparison of the
taboo's and practices of different societies that interpretations of human
behaviour vary markedly from each other. The taboo with respect to sexual
relations is one such example that illustrates some of the factors that are
involved in these interpretations, and the far-reaching effects they can have.
Reproduction is one of the most important functions of any living organism and
the human sex drive is regulated by almost every society. While marriage to
more than one partner is taboo in most western civilisations, it is permitted in
many other societies. The Mormons and Eskimos may have multiple wives
whilst the Tibetans and Toda of India may have multiple husbands. Premarital
sex and wife-sharing for hospitality are also not uncommon. In many societies in
Africa and Indonesia it is common for a man to pay his wife's family to marry
her, and this payment is a form of compensation to her family for the loss of her
fertility to anothers family. The value of big families is clearly reflected in this
custom which is still widely practised today despite over-population problems.
In some societies if a man died his brother might inherit or be required to marry
the widow so as to keep the children in the family. A woman might also be
required to marry her dead sisters husband in similar fashion, and in both cases
sexual privileges were often enjoyed beforehand in anticipation of such an
'This handy practice occurs in all parts of the world among peoples of the
most diverse levels of cultural development. The ancient Australians made
it a rule; the biblical Hebrews approved of it; and the civilised Incas
provided for the inheritance of all a mans secondary wives by his younger
brother, or perhaps his sons.' (Hoebel)
According to researchers all living primates are promiscuous and all pairs of
mammals which vary in size between male and female have more than one
mate. When males are bigger than females in the animal world it is referred to as
dimorphism. The variation in size is most often the result of competition
between males for sexual partners. Male primates like the orang-utan and
gorillas are bigger and therefore stronger than their female counterparts and also
have multiple mates. Recently anthropologists have produced evidence that men

© 1997 Allan Sztab 86

between 1 to 3 million years ago may have been significantly bigger than
'There is a social system among monkeys and apes called the multi-male
troop which is essentially a promiscuous free-for-all in which one group of
females and one group of males share each other, though not equally. Some
such species are not dimorphic - the chimpanzee being the best example -
but others are highly dimorphic, such as the baboon. It is not yet possible to
say whether ape-men lived in harems or multi-male troops. But a
monogamous pair bond can probably be ruled out... '(Economist)
It is thought that reduced competition for sex between males may have led to a
reduction in their size. It is not uncommon among primates for a male to assist a
female by offering protection and other forms of assistance in raising her young
so as to be favourably considered as a sexual partner. There is no doubt that a
woman would require assistance due to the long period of nurturing that humans
require and as with primates and other mammals some organisation and control
is necessary. Throughout history men have been relied upon for protection and
to this extent they are physically better equipped than women. There are theories
that attempt to explain the tendency for men and women to fall in love with each
other and then to drift apart after a period of four to seven years. According to
some theorists the love between men and women leads to their union which if
successful produces offspring. Love from both is then focused on the child.
However, after about four to five years an infant is able to walk on its own and
to assist in the gathering of food and any other duties. As a result the assistance
of the male would no longer be vital and both partners would be free to select
different partners if they so desired, a practice which might even be beneficial to
the species.
In fact, some theorists claim that sexual reproduction serves the specific
purpose of spreading genetic material to enable people who are naturally
immune to a particular disease to pass their immunity onto their children.
Although there are rival theories the evidence thus far seems to favour this
theory. Prohibitions against ethnic mixing would obviously prevent this
mixing from occurring. This theory also explains the marked tendency
within humans and most other animals to produce offspring with different
partners. (Economist)

© 1997 Allan Sztab 87

Irrespective of the size of a group of people, as long as there are children in it
there comes a day when sexual partners will be required for them. Because of
their close proximity to each other there would be ample opportunity for sexual
encounters between family members. The taboo on incest, whether between
brother and sister or parents and children, is common in almost every culture. It
is a myth that this taboo is motivated to prevent handicapped offspring. It is
more likely that it exists to prevent the power of the sexual emotions from
destroying the unity of the family in much the same way as it would affect the
relationship between two friends today. No deterioration occurs due to
inbreeding and only the favourable and unfavourable traits which are already
present can be passed onto the children.
'Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemies, product of twelve generations of
brother-sister marriages, was hardly a specimen of physical degeneration.'
The obvious choice of sexual partners for the children of a group would be from
within the family, the extended family of uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and
cousins or from outside the family. Love and personal compatibility play a small
role in many cultures and often the prime concern is the continuation of the
family and its traditions. The rules or religious practices relating to the incest
taboo varies but generally the prohibition extends as far as first cousins.
Marriage between members of different cultural groups is not uncommon, and
has the benefit of merging or uniting the forces, wealth and power of two
different groups. However, marrying outside of one's cultural or religious group
is often prohibited and subject to social censure. Restrictions against inter-
marriage may be found in the Indian caste system, amongst Catholics and
Protestants. Orthodox Jews who marry out of their faith are supposed to be cast
out and treated as if they were dead, even to the extent of mourning for them.
The limitation of the choice of partners to those within a specific group, whether
this is based on ethnicity, religious belief, nationality, or within any other
arbitrary defined group may be the reason that certain distinctive features can
readily be associated with persons of such groups. Even certain diseases are
more common in these groups and Tay-Sachs, for example, is a genetic disorder

© 1997 Allan Sztab 88

that is found almost exclusively amongst French Canadians and Orthodox Jews.
Beta Thalassemia is found mainly in Mediterranean regions, Alpha Thalassemia
is found mainly in the Far East, and Cystic Fibrosis is common amongst West
The major factors which have an influence on the rules relating to sexual
relations are religious practices or taboo's, prestige and property. Religion is an
influence because mixing out of one's cultural group may not be permitted;
prestige because of the existence of different social classes and property because
of inheritance considerations. Marriage formed an alliance between two families
or groups. Then (as is often the case today) you got a lot more from marriage
than merely a mate. As the family grew the problem arose as to which family a
person owed their allegiance to. If they were organised by identifying with both
parents then the family could grow so large within a short period of time that
conflicting loyalties would be inevitable. In organising families by identifying
with either the mother (matrilineal) or the father (patrilineal) these problems
were overcome. The children of both sexes would belong to the group of their
father, grandfather, great-grandfather ad infinitum or their mother, grandmother
or great-grandmother ad infinitum. If it was the intention to keep the property of
a particular group within the group then this could easily be achieved provided
only men or women were allowed to inherit property as the case may be. In such
a system the children of a brother and sister (cross-cousins) wouldn't be in the
same family and as a result they might be permitted to marry.
When a couple married they might stay with or close to the mans family in
which case the lineage would probably be patrilineal and matrilineal if they
stayed with or close to the womans family. Often the location of residence
would be governed by economic factors. If the main activity was the working of
a family-held piece of land, then the family would probably live in close
proximity to each other. Inheritance of this land might pass down to the next
senior family member, which would be a son in a patrilineal system or a
daughter in a matrilineal system. The Iroquois Indians stayed in long houses
with separate bedrooms for each family. Long houses may still be seen today in

Refer to section 65 for non-moral restrictions as obstacles to freedom.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 89
Malaysia. A large house is representative of a large family and may once have
served as a deterrent to any would-be attackers. It has even been suggested that
an advantage of a matrilineal lineage is that men from different families are
forced into close contact with one another which fosters friendship and cuts
down inter-family conflict. This would make it easier to organise large groups of
men who could leave their homes for extended periods of time to wage war or to
When the founding member of a group is so far in the past that he/she cannot be
traced, we then speak of a clan as opposed to a lineage where the common
ancestor is known. Because the clan couldn't trace this common ancestor there
was often a myth surrounding him/her and according to these myths such an
ancestor may have been a great warrior or an animal. Some of them were
regarded as gods and the leader of a clan might have been a priest who served as
an intermediary between the clan and their god. The clan or lineage offered
security and a united front. Intermarriage between clan families provided
additional clan affiliations. Tribes are made up of a number of independent clans
or lineages. It was usual for each family, tribe or clan to have a representative.
Initially this was a person who possessed some characteristic that was favoured
by the tribe. This could have been the possession of superior strength, wisdom,
talent for performing rituals or making dream interpretations.
The quest for certainty and the development of religion
Our ancestors realised they were totally dependent on the forces of nature which
held the power of life or death over all animal and plant life. The howling wind
could uplift trees and if it never rained there would be no food for them or the
animals they preyed upon. Erupting volcanoes would destroy everything for
miles around them while molten lava annihilated everything in its path.
Earthquakes were terrifying and opened holes in the ground from which nothing
returned. Humans stood before nature in fear, awe and submission. These
tremendous forces were called gods. It was the sun that seems to have made the
most profound impression on them. As long as everyone could remember it had
always risen daily in the East and moved across the sky to set in the West. If

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there were storms the sun would always succeed in pushing the rain and wind
aside. It brought warmth and its rays spread out to claim vast areas as its
kingdom. The never failing appearance and action of the sun may have given
rise to the first thoughts of immortality which could account for the fact that
heaven is in the sky with the sun-god. Because birds could fly high into the sky
and close to god they were used as symbols depicting the heavens and often
appear symbolically in myth and art.
The lush vegetation which grew out of the fertile earth was likened to the
fertility of women who also created and nurtured life. The cycle or seasons of
nature, the menstrual cycle of women and the cycle of the moon were all
symbolic of the process of life. A woman bleeds and heals herself every moon
and when she gives birth. Red, the colour of blood, came to symbolise life.
Plants live and die and their seed, once returned to the soil would bring forth
new life. It was probably this observation that led to thoughts of re-birth and the
Neanderthal who lived approximately 15 to 25 thousand years ago would
sometimes bury people in their homes. The snake which sheds its skin to be
'reborn' became a symbol of re-birth and often features prominently in myth and
art. The myth of Adam and Eve depicts a snake as responsible for humanity's
loss of immortality, while in the Epic of Gilgamesh it is a snake that takes the
plant of everlasting youth away from Gilgamesh who has been seeking
A womans breasts were likened to that of a storage vessel and the protection of a
cave to that of her womb. Any opening in the earth came to symbolise an
entrance to the womb of mother earth. It was in their capacity to give and
maintain life that women were revered as the Goddesses of creation. The art and
artefacts our ancestors left behind reveal the feminine force of creation and
many of the oldest carvings were only of women - in some cases only her sexual
organs are shown.

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'The close association of the Goddess with wild beasts is also evident...
This theme appears repeatedly for thousands of years and in every culture:
the Goddess with her wild lions, wolves, deer, snakes, birds and bears, who
seem to offer themselves into her service. Perhaps initially she was a clan
mother who actually suckled the young leopards, as the Ainu of Japan are
known to suckle and raise bear cubs. The Australian Tiwi people also bring
young orphaned animals into camp and suckle them; if the animal survives
the night they become part of the clan, are given a name, and are even
provided with funeral rites when they die...' (Getty)
Faced with the sometimes terrifying, destructive and unpredictable forces
of nature the desire to understand and control them was great. Being able
to do so would reduce their fear and bring them an element of certainty in
an ever-changing world. In order to do so they made use of the crude yet
common psychology that we covered in section 11 - they found beliefs and
reasons to support them. If an action or activity could in some way be linked
either favourably or unfavourably with a natural event such as rain or wind, it
might have been adopted as a belief - a general rule of behaviour that was to be
practised or avoided. Causes or reasons for everything were sought for and led
to the adoption of entire systems of superstitious belief. Suffering at the hands of
nature may have led them to equate this as a form of punishment which followed
the breaking of these superstitious beliefs and the equation of ill-fortune with
punishment was made. Even today we are conditioned to apportion blame for
any suffering we endure, even if we blame ourselves. We accept without
question that there are reasons for everything, because this shields us from the
discomfort that accompanies pure chance. Jumping to conclusions regarding the
cause of things still abounds.1 For a long time it was thought that thunder causes
lightning when it is exactly the other way around. Often a particular explanation
would be favoured for practical or self-serving reasons.
Few people today would readily admit to being superstitious, but many carry
charms or lucky objects which are considered responsible for some stroke of
personal good fortune or for preventing bad luck. Some buildings don't have

Refer to section 58 for imaginary and false causes.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 92
thirteenth floors and lucky chants can be heard in casinos as the dice are rolled,
often accompanied by strange gestures and facial expressions. Our ancestors
were deeply superstitious and their desire to stay on the better side of the
powerful forces of nature was strong because they knew their lives depended on
them. To impose their own conditions on nature, or in an attempt to improve it,
they even began to modify their own bodies, sometimes by removing the male
foreskin and testicles while other organs would be pierced, pricked, painted,
tattooed and punctured. The body would often be decorated with necklaces
made from shells or teeth, hair trimmed and fashioned, the skin dyed, its texture
and smell changed. The naive attempt was also made to obtain the powers of
certain animals by eating their hearts or other bodily parts. This belief is still
practised today and is responsible for the virtual extinction of many animals
whose body parts are believed to confer some benefit to those who eat or ingest
them. In South Africa the body parts of children are still used by certain witch
doctors to make potent muti or medicine.
'In the recent anarchy in Liberia young heavily armed teenagers ransacked
villages. "They killed my brother.. opened up his body and took his heart
out. They put it in a big pan and cooked it in palm butter. Then they ate it."
Dozens of Liberians in refugee camps outside Monrovia described similar
acts of cannibalism, believed to endow those who partake with supernatural
powers. One woman had seen young warriors.. extract the heart and private
parts of five boys and eat them.' (Guardian)
The attempt to control the forces of nature also illustrates the cunning of vanity.1
The gods were said to have human characteristics such as the emotions. They
were said to get angry, happy and sad. Giving the gods human characteristics
meant that they would be able to relate to them in the same way they could
relate or act towards other humans. Later the Egyptian kings would become
gods. This set the stage for the first of many attempts to influence and control
the gods in ways that humans might be influenced. This was attempted by means
of worship and sacrifice using the logic that if the gods accepted a gift or
sacrifice they would then be obliged to return the favour by providing good

Refer also to vanity and the reinterpretation of history in section 27.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 93
weather or anything else that was desired. The particular gifts or sacrifices the
gods might appreciate were similarly based on those that might appeal to
humans - things such as food and drink. The most precious sacrifice was life -
either that of an animal or a human. It was not only the forces of nature that
were referred to as gods - various animal spirits were also worshipped so as to
ensure a plentiful supply of animals to hunt. Behaviour was regulated and
controlled so as not to offend the gods. The success in controlling people by
making their behaviour comply with 'gods will' proved so successful that its use
in society was assured.

Ritual and Myth
The superstitious practice of linking events to natural occurrences was made in
the belief that if their cause could be determined then it would be possible to
control them. The illusion of being able to control these forces of nature had the
effect of alleviating any fear and anxiety concerning them. The appearance of
deceased relatives in dreams gave rise to ideas of spirits and a spirit-world. The
planting of seeds to create life gave rise to ideas of re-birth and the constantly
rising sun gave rise to ideas of immortality. A specific set of gestures and actions
are called rituals and many of them are repetitive in nature. Before language
they were used as a means of communication. When attempts were made to
communicate with the gods or spirits, they were also made by means of rituals.
Rituals were performed in the same way and at the same time by those people
who were deemed proficient at performing them. These people were to become
the first shamans or priests. The rituals consisted first of sounds and later of
spoken words which are called myths. Myths told the story of the ritual. The
repetition of sounds and the new-found power of words were believed to be
capable of influencing or bringing about a desired event ranging from good
harvests to the curing of an illness. Not all myths are ritual myths and other
myths, together with folk stories, provide imaginary explanations of the origins
of things, ranging from the universe to objects as mundane as a pickaxe. Some
attempt to predict coming events such as the end of the world, while others

© 1997 Allan Sztab 94

provide a sense of mystery and wonder surrounding popular heroes, gods or
Myths, like ideas, spread around the world by travel, trade, migration and
invasion, or by independent imagination in similar circumstances. It is not
surprising that most of the religions in existence today bear a striking similarity
to each other. Myths or stories of creation or birth include those of cities, gods,
consciousness, the earth and the universe. The mother of creation is often
reflected by the use of female symbols. Life is seen as a creation either out of
chaos or out of nothing with death being a return to that original state.
Myths of creation may be re-enacted in an attempt to return to these origins
either to be re-born or cured of an illness and certain religious ceremonies
commence with these re-enactments.
Myths of floods are very common probably due to the world-wide occurrence of
destructive floods or the deluge of water due to melting glaciers. Water is also
symbolic of life. After the destruction of a flood or the watering of land new life
would appear. It isn't surprising to find that many purification and cleansing
rituals such as that of baptism make use of water. The sun rising and setting or
going down into the underworld, and the cycle of birth, death and re-birth
of vegetation all gave rise to the conception of some form of existence or
consciousness after death. Myths of an afterlife and a day of judgement where
we will be punished or rewarded for our deeds in this life are common and in
one form or another have been incorporated into most religions. There are
literally thousands of myths and their similarity is striking.
Ancient Mesopotamian myths tell of:
a sea goddess who gives birth to heaven and earth;
the creation of primary gods and lesser gods such as a god of cattle and a god of
grain, a sun god, moon god, water god, plant goddess and a god of wisdom;
a union of gods that produced plants which caused illness when eaten and the
creation of a goddess known as 'the lady of the rib' to cure the illness of the rib;
a scorpion-man and centaur, of conflicts between settlers and nomads;
the descent into a netherworld or underworld where the dead are trapped;
demons and ghosts;
© 1997 Allan Sztab 95
an incestuous relationship between father and daughter;
ritual slayings and banishments;
the hero Gilgamesh who is superhuman, being two parts god and one part man;
the slaying of a fire-breathing giant;
the gods reserving immortality for themselves;
the creation of humans from clay and from the blood of a god in order to serve
the gods;
the intention of the gods to destroy mankind by floods and other means;
a paradise where immortals live, where there is no sickness or old-age and
animals don't kill each other;
the seven 'tablets of destiny' that relate the creation of gods of heaven and earth
by the mixing of salt and fresh water oceans;
the creation of a god-king whose responsibility is to care for the calendar;
a destructive flood and the instructions to build a boat for all the seeds of living
and the creation of god-kings to represent the gods here on earth.
Ancient Egyptian myths tell of:
the sun god Re who created the world from water and created lesser gods of
earth and sky;
the king who is the son of Re;
the slaughter of disobedient men;
the darkness that shelters the enemies of Re;
the moon-god that shines at night;
the vegetation god Osiris, son of the earth god, king of the underworld who
determines the fate of departed souls on judgement day;
and the god Khnum who fashions the first man and woman on a potters wheel.
Ancient Canaanite myths tell of:
Baal the god of fertility, his fight with the god of the seas and rivers and with
Mot the god of sterility and the underworld;
the gods sanction of bestiality and the practice of brother-sister marriage;
and seven years of famine and drought.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 96

Hittite myths tell of:
the rivalry between young and old gods;
purification rituals and spells;
and the slaying of dragons.
Many religious stories are based on these ancient rituals, myths and folk-lore
and the best example is that of the Old Testament. What is unique in the Old
Testament is the further development of ritual myth to incorporate historical
events and in many cases it is difficult to discern the historical from the
mythical.1 Before writing was invented the traditions and history of a tribe were
recorded in the minds of people. The oral recitation of these traditions and
history was the only means of conveying this information to younger
generations. Even after the commencement of writing, the observation of ritual
myth gave rise to the idea of reciting history at seasonal festivities and other
occasions. This practice, including the verbal participation of worshippers, is
still in use today.

The change in climate
After many thousands of years our ancestors who had lived as hunter-gatherers
began to settle down and commenced life as primitive farmers. To many this
might be seen as progress towards an easier style of life. However, in contrast to
hunting and gathering which left ample time for recreation, life as a primitive
farmer was difficult. A piece of land would first have to be cleared and the soil
broken in order to plant it. Both were difficult tasks considering the primitive
tools they had. In addition, a plentiful supply of water was required which
dictated where they could settle. This probably meant the building of permanent
dwellings, as suitable natural shelters might not be located in the same area.
Crops would have to be tended so the freedom to move around at will was no
longer possible. Security was also compromised by having to remain in the same
place. It was unlikely to have been a voluntary decision as hunter-gatherers like
the Bushmen, Aborigine and Eskimo have always been loathe to give up their
lifestyles which are certainly far easier compared to that of primitive farming.
Their lifestyles can even be favourably compared to modern workers who must
Refer to the reinterpretation of history and the Old Testament in section 26.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 97
often work a whole year and are then considered fortunate if they are able to
escape for a few weeks to the country to get 'back to nature' and breathe clean
air once more. It was probably a change in climate that was responsible for the
transition from hunter-gathering to that of farming, a change which was to
forever alter their way of life.
The vast territories of open grassland in the Northern hemisphere, which
supported many large herds of animals, were fed by the melting waters of
glaciers. Global warming around 13,000BC heralded the final stages of the last
ice-age. Over a long period of time mountainous glaciers began to melt and
retreat towards the poles, leaving massive floods of water behind them. It was
probably these floods that provided the inspiration for the ancient stories of a
universal flood. Their effect was to change the grasslands of Europe and Asia
into swamps and forests, which in turn reduced considerably the herds of
grazing animals that had already become an essential part of the human diet. In
an attempt to maintain this diet certain slow breeding animals like the woolly
rhinoceros and giant elk were hunted to extinction.
Population growth alone could have accounted for the increased pressure on
food resources, but various studies show that population control was
successfully used by hunter-gatherers. The quickest and surest means of
increasing resources was simply to reduce the population. There were ways of
controlling population such as waging war, female infanticide, geronticide, the
use of plant and animal poisons to induce abortion and prolonging the lactation
period by feeding infants for a longer period of time. It was known that
ovulation only commences once a sufficient weight gain has been achieved and
this could be delayed by dieting. There were other more brutal methods of
inducing abortion, such as jumping on a woman's stomach, even though they
often resulted in her death.
The effects of a change on global weather would have different effects
throughout the world. In the North of Africa for example, the vast once-fertile
plateau was slowly transformed by declining rainfall into what we know today
as the Saharan desert. It is more than likely that the basics of farming were
already widely known for a long time before farming became necessary. The

© 1997 Allan Sztab 98

grains of wild plants were eaten and probably first tended on a part-time basis by
removing weeds. It was the observation of nature at work that led to the first
experiments of planting seeds instead of eating them. However, planting
required a plentiful supply of water which would most likely be found in fertile
areas where vegetation already existed. People began to settle alongside rivers
such as the Tigris and Euphrates of Mesopotamia which emptied into the Persian
Gulf, the Nile in Egypt and the Yellow river in China.
The population density, type and availability of wild grains and domesticable
animals varied from area to area, and this might account for the fact that settled
village life and civilisation in Europe, Asia and North Africa took place several
thousand years earlier than that in the Americas. If settling down permanently
meant going without meat then it wouldn't have been attractive. On the other
hand, if it were possible to combine farming with hunting then permanent
settlements would have been a better proposition. It was probably factors such
as these that influenced the decision and not a lack of knowledge concerning the
planting of seeds. The domestication of animals and plants was a slow and
gradual process. However, the change from life as a nomadic hunter-gatherer to
that as a settled agriculturist set into motion forces so great that social life as it
was known up to then would never be the same again.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 99

Chapter Five
Civilisation And Power
Agriculture and a surplus of food
As would be demonstrated over and over again in human history, hardship
seems to go hand in hand with ingenuity. Farming proved to be so successful
that soon a steady and sustainable surplus of food was produced. It was this
surplus of food that would prove to be one of the most significant influences in
determining the course of human history.
A surplus of food meant that it would no longer be necessary to rely on hunting
for food, with the result that the number of animals available was no longer a
factor in determining the size of the human population. The restraint of carrying
children around fell away. A woman could now nurse an infant while at the same
time work in the fields. As children grew up they too could help with the farm
work. The result was a steady increase in population, fuelled by even more
innovations.1 The idea that a seed would have the same desirable characteristics
as the plant it came from led to selective planting.2 The idea also occurred that
there might be other uses for animals, and experiments led to their domestication
which provided a ready supply of meat, hides, wool and milk. Animals were to
become in many senses the first slaves.
The domestication of animals also had an unexpected consequence. Living
closely with animals led to the outbreak of new diseases to which humans would
ultimately develop an immunity. Later, the spreading of these new diseases to
the Americas by European settlers would be responsible for the decimation of
local Indian populations who weren't immune. This proved to be a decisive
factor in overcoming Indian resistance. Without this biological weapon earlier
Vikings who attempted to settle in North America many centuries before were
easily overcome. Whereas hunting was mostly left to the men who were stronger
and more aggressive, it was the women who took over as cultivators of the soil,
probably because women were also fertile. It even occurred to them that if there
was a god of fertility to worship then this god would surely be female. This

Refer to over-population in appendix H.
Refer to the history of eugenics in appendix G.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 100
might explain why they began to worship female goddesses. The dependence on
herds of wild animals was replaced by a dependence on the seasons; this
heralded a swing away from the worship of animal spirits and gods to new gods
of fertility and nature. The priests who had already been chosen to guess what
would please or displease the older animal spirits or gods, designed a new set of
ceremonies in the hope of securing good rains and bountiful harvests. Knowing
when to plant and when to harvest required an understanding of the movement
of the moon and stars and the evidence suggests it was this priestly class who
first specialised in predicting the seasons. Any success they had in doing so
would enhance even further their authority as messengers of the various spirits
and gods who the people worshipped. Later they extended their range of
predictions to incorporate other human affairs. It had become necessary to
measure the size of a piece of land and how much seed would be needed for it,
and these requirements led to the development of precise measurements and a
The change from life as hunter-gatherers to that as farmers was a gradual one
and many tribes were reluctant to give up their nomadic way of life which they
equated with freedom. The domestication of animals provided them with an
alternative lifestyle as pastoralists, moving from pasture to pasture to graze their
herds and their hunting skills were combined with herding. However, it was
inevitable that as time passed new ways of behaviour emerged that suited life in
a settled community, as for example, the worship of new gods of nature and
fertility. Where conditions permitted large scale settlements the changes to their
previous ways of life were more radical, especially when they came into contact
with tribes whose customs and religions were different to their own. This entire
process of change provided a fertile ground for the cultivation of new ideas.
The new ways of settled life were called civilised and the old ways barbaric.
However, they were only reflections of the comforts which settled life now
provided, and the words soft and hard are far more descriptive of what happens
to people as life becomes comfortable. The hardy barbarians would continually
invade settled communities and this is evident right throughout history.

Refer to section 32 for truth as that which proves useful or beneficial.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 101
Communal And Private Property
Humans and all animals are totally dependent on land for survival. For this
reason most human and animal societies are territorially based, and ways of
sharing the land have evolved with time and changing circumstances. In a
natural state no such thing as the ownership of land exists - land belongs to
nobody. The exclusive use of land can be achieved only if nobody else wants
it, by fighting for it, or by agreement.1 The continued use of a piece of land
would have to be constantly enforced. Naturally as food resources shrink or
populations increase the value of land would increase accordingly. It was
only in response to their particular requirements that humans created the
concept or idea of property ownership, and more significantly, that of
private property. Those societies living a more settled type of existence would
naturally be more bound to their territory as opposed to that of a nomadic
society. A territory might be favoured due to the fertility of its soil, the type of
fruit-producing trees it supported or the variety of animals living on it. Humans
sometimes form an intimate bond with their land because their dead are buried
on it and other animals such as elephants are also known to have specific burial
sites. With the exception of the Eskimos who have no land use restrictions, and
certain other Indian societies, most land was held in common, and generally the
chieftain or leader would allot land to various tribes for their use and grant
special privileges to outsiders. Tribal chiefs would then allocate the 'right to use'
specific pieces of land to its members. The failure to use the land as it was
intended to be used would often lead to the loss of the right. The right could
even be passed down along the family line, but the land would always belong to
the community. This fact would later be used by communists to support their
argument for communal property. The principle that a weapon or farming
instrument created by someone belonged to them, was also a long-established
practice that would later be applied by political philosophers such as Locke and
Marx.2 This principle was applied equally to the rewards of working a piece of
land or hunting an animal. However, most of the time these rewards would be
Refer to section 57 for the origin of morality in superior force.
Refer to section 50 for the views of Locke and section 53 for those of Marx. Refer to
section 61 for the limitation to freedom that is required for private property.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 102
shared with others because it was advantageous to everyone concerned; if
someone's crop failed or they were unsuccessful in hunting they wouldn't starve.
It was also common to contribute food towards a communal pool to use in times
of drought or at specific feasts. Besides the principle of reaping the fruits of
one's labour, a personal relationship between farmer and land was bound to
arise. The domestication of animals led to the development of a personal
relationship between the herders and their animals in much the same way that a
personal relationship is formed between people and their pets. It is probable that
the nature of these personal relationships was also instrumental in the formation
and acceptance of the concept of private property.

The commencement of theft, war and conquest
Large-scale agriculture and private property now made it possible to measure the
wealth of a family, tribe, or village by the size of their herds and/or the size of
their crops. For the first time there were now commodities to steal in the form of
grain that was stored or lay ready for harvest, and herds of animals. It was far
easier for a hunter to raid and steal than to go hungry. Theft also suited those
who were too lazy to work. Theft and armed robbery with all the conflicts that
accompanied them would soon become a regular part of life. The skills and
weapons for armed conflict were already present. Hunters had long mastered the
art of hunting and killing at a distance. These same skills and weapons were
easily put to use against people. Nomadic tribes had never given up their hunting
skills and would often raid villages. Either in isolation or by forming alliances
with other tribes these barbarians would continue to invade civilised
communities, villages, cities, states and even empires for many centuries to
come until most of them were eventually assimilated into civilised life.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 103

There had always been inter-tribal, village or group warfare. At a basic level a
war between two clans or villages might be initiated by hostilities between
individuals which eventually escalated until everyone was involved. Of course
there would usually be a lot of threats, insults and scuffles and some primitive
tribes such as the Australian Aborigines even have set procedures so that
hostilities of this sort can be settled by the venting of anger and frustration, often
with no loss of life. Sometimes a conflict would result in permanent hostilities
leading to war raids in which entire villages would be destroyed and hundreds
killed in battle, but these wars seldom resulted in the expansion of a tribes
territory. A war party would return with a few scalps, and possibly a few
utensils, as there were no possessions of any value. If anything, such warfare
caused tribes to create a 'no-mans' land in-between them to distance themselves
from each other.
The ways humans modify their behaviours in response to environmental
pressures and the unanticipated results that such modifications bring, are often
mysterious and little understood. The opinion has even been expressed that
'warfare is an ecologically adaptive lifestyle among primitive peoples..' For
example, the entire cycle of ritual warfare which has been adopted by the
Maring tribe of Papua New Guinea, has been found to have the desirable effect
of protecting the resources of their precious forests. Their customary cycle of
pig feast, war and peace has been found to have an interval of roughly twelve
years. The conditions that herald the commencement of the cycle depends on the
population growth of men and pigs, who both consume more than they produce,
and the return of forest growth to gardens that were abandoned at the cessation
of the previous war. Yet the Maring themselves are completely unaware of the
facts which underlie such a major part of their social life, and the myths that
surround them remain intact. These strange customs may have been the bright
innovation of one of their ancestors in response to the destruction of their
forests, but the simple and practical circumstances which originally led to their
adoption were lost in the mists of time. 1

Refer to the loss of the history of words in section 3 and of the history of customs in
section 11. Refer also to the practicalities behind the primitive method of redistributing
wealth in section 60.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 104
In any fight for scarce resources the brute strength and aggressiveness of men
are an indispensable and valuable means of survival. This is reflected in a
preference for male children, which was also encouraged by the fact that the
most effective way of limiting births is to reduce the number of women as one
man is sufficient to father an almost unlimited number of offspring. In its turn a
shortage of women has the effect of creating conflicts amongst competing males
and the offer of women as rewards was often one of the most enticing
motivations to induce men to fight in wars. It will almost always be found that
when competition for resources is keen it will be accompanied by a preference
for male offspring. This could be a factor in the preference for male children in
China today.
Innovations in agriculture, such as the irrigation of lands that sloped away from
river banks, made it possible to feed even more people. In large settlements
dependencies arose, as the supply of water to anothers land could always be cut
off. Naturally this would lead to conflicts, and many clashes between
communities revolved around the supply of water. As populations increased
even further, a shortage of suitable land led to the creation of a working class.
Labourers would work the land in exchange for a share of the harvest. Faced
with starvation and no prospect of finding or obtaining suitable land, a person
had little choice but to beg, steal, rob, or become a paid labourer. Increasing
populations made it necessary for some sort of administration. It was a surplus
of food that permitted the introduction of administrators or managers, who
became the first class of non-food producing labour. With a centralised
administration it was now possible to run large-scale irrigation schemes. It was
most likely the priests who took on the role as managers of these schemes, as
this was suited to their role as weather diviners. They were also authorised to
settle disputes and allocate land. A central administration soon led to a change of
loyalty from one's tribe towards that of the community. A food surplus also
made it possible to support other non-food producing classes such as
artisans, who now had the time to produce better farming implements,
weaponry and other luxury goods. As soon as a village or community

© 1997 Allan Sztab 105

prospered they became a target, either to other villages, bands of opportunistic
raiders, or nomadic tribesmen.
It was only with an increasing population density and the surplus of food
provided by large-scale farming that warfare, in the sense of armies of men
plundering, occupying and increasing the boundaries of their own territories,
was possible. Only a large surplus of food that was not perishable would present
the opportunity to feed an army or band of men. A smaller or unsuitable surplus
might perish or be given away. To be able to feed an army or band of men
required wealth in terms of land, livestock, surplus grain and luxury goods. Most
of the historical events that would now unfold can be explained in terms of the
basic physiology and psychology we have already covered. Faced with hunger,
water and land acquired an ever increasing value. Competition for these valuable
resources mounted due mainly to increases in the size of population, natural
disasters such as drought, or bad harvests due to insects. Having an army or
band of raiders meant being able to exercise and project one's influence or
power far into the territory of other tribes. This reduced the fear of hunger and
deprivation considerably, because it was now possible to obtain and defend
supplies of food, water, livestock and land, even if one had to steal or kill in
order to do so. A surplus of grain would ensure survival even in bad times, while
hired or slave labour would eliminate the necessity to work. With wealth it was
now possible to afford a whole range of new and prestigious luxury goods. Of
greater significance was the fact that the accumulation of wealth had the effect
of disrupting the equilibrium of power by concentrating it in the hands of the
wealthy. There is no built-in limitation to the desire for power, greed, hatred,
anger, jealousy and the extent to which a person will go to satisfy them. The
emotions of greed, hatred, anger and jealousy would now have the opportunity
to express themselves with an ever-increasing force, one that would continue to
grow as society evolved, reaching a peak with the modern advent of nuclear
weapons capable of annihilating every living thing on earth. The power and easy
access to small yet extremely powerful weapons that we find today is another
cause for concern.1

Refer to the possibility of losing democracy in section 67.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 106
The consolidation of power
In the earliest times there was an equal distribution of power as everyone could
obtain a spear, bow and arrow. In a fight it was only the superior skill or strength
of an individual that would be decisive in victory over an opponent, who also
had the option to flee. This equality of power was reflected in the democratic
systems that many nomadic tribes had evolved.1 A leader or representative of a
tribe or clan would possess something extraordinary that was valued by the
tribe, such as strength or wisdom. All this would change as more and more
people opted for a settled life. Being dependent on a plot of land meant that a
person no longer had the option to flee. The private ownership of property, be it
land, surplus grain, livestock or luxury goods led to the steady accumulation of
wealth or power into fewer and fewer hands, with the result that tribal forms of
democracy tended to be abandoned as soon as settled territories were conquered.
The accumulation of wealth was also inevitable by the sheer nature of private
property itself. As soon as a person died someone stood to inherit their
possessions. In addition, trading surplus grain for land was inevitable. In bad
times loans would be made using the land as security. The failure to repay would
then lead to forfeiture of the land. Even if it were possible to redistribute every
piece of available land in equal portions to every living person, the process of
accumulation into fewer and fewer hands would commence almost immediately.
Not all primitive people valued the collection of private property as an end in
itself, and in some societies a persons wealth and prestige in the community was
judged not on how much a person had but on how much they could give away.2
From this time on the affairs of humans would be dictated by the accumulation
and exercise of power. Warfare would ultimately lead to a continual pattern of
the rise and fall of powerful states and empires. The earliest evidence of large-
scale warfare are the remains of fortresses such as that of Jericho, which dates to
approximately 7,500BC. The amount of power a person could acquire was
limited by the strength of their opponents, their economic resources which
determined the number of men in their pay, the weapons they had and their
Refer to section 21 for ancient Greek forms of democracy and section 67 for modern
Refer to section 60 for the notions of equality and redistribution.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 107
battle skills and tactics. Natural defences such as mountains, deserts and rivers
would make some villages more difficult to attack than others. Geographical
factors like these were often decisive in determining the fate of village
communities. In Mesopotamia, villages had no natural defences and were
separated from each other by marshes, so it wasn't easy for villages to co-
operate or consolidate to ward off attacks. Communication wasn't easy either
because the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were difficult to navigate. In contrast,
the Nile valley was bounded by the Saharan desert on one side and the Red Sea
on the other, which made it secure from outside attack. The Nile was also easy
to navigate both upstream and downstream. This ease of communication,
together with the desirability for a central control to manage flood waters, made
it possible for a powerful Egyptian chieftain or king to consolidate his rule over
a vast territory. It was only the accumulation of such power that made it possible
to undertake huge construction projects on the scale of the pyramids.
Agricultural innovations, such as the harnessing of animal power to plough
fields, made it possible to farm on suitable rain-irrigated land as opposed to
alluvial flood plains. The more land that was farmed the greater the surplus of
food and the greater the increase in population. A surplus of food and a shortage
of certain raw materials led to a growth in trade. Trade in turn led to the meeting
of strangers and the cross-pollination of ideas. The harnessing of animal power
led to a greater involvement of men in the production of food, as animals were
traditionally their responsibility and it was men who manned the ploughs. The
fact that men were now back in the fields soon led to their domination in food
production, and probably influenced the swing from female goddesses back to a
predominance of male gods. It was possibly the domestication of animals that
led to the discovery by men of their important role in producing children, which
could have given further impetus to the domination of women by men.
'Women began to be viewed as a receptacle for the male seed... Until this
moment sex was something to be enjoyed, without social stigma attached.
There were no illegitimate children or scarlet women, because there was no
value in paternity.. Along with the pleasure of sex there must have been a
mystical element as well, for numerous accounts of sacred sex or Tantra

© 1997 Allan Sztab 108

come down to us from classical times.. When a Jesuit missionary
reprimanded a Montagnais Indian for not stopping his wife from sleeping
with another Indian, by saying "How will you know that her children are
your own?", the Indian's poignant reply was "Thou hast no sense. You
French love only your own children, but we love all the children of our
tribe'.'' (Getty)
As the number of farming communities increased, so too did the number of raids
at the hands of nomadic tribes. Once a village had been conquered it was
advantageous to occupy it instead of razing it to the ground. Villagers could now
be kept on as slaves or as peasant farmers, who were required to pay a portion of
their harvest in the form of a tribute or tax. Thus the conquerors were now
assured of a continuous supply of food. However, this asset of theirs now
required protection from other robbers and it never took long before they
themselves began to equate this protection for their own benefit with the
taxation that was paid to them. Governments and robbers are not really as
different as we have been taught especially when they cannot even provide
this most basic of services to their taxpayers.1
It wasn't long before powerful chieftains or kings extended their rule to cover
ever bigger territories, and villages were consolidated to form states. The
obedience of conquered villagers to the laws of the conqueror was achieved by
the use of brute force and the offer of protection, but in many cases the attempt
was made to justify it on religious grounds. Self-imposed leaders would claim
either to be the appointed representative of god, or of being given a mandate
from heaven to exercise political control.2 However, an occupying force was
faced with an ever-present danger. If their occupation was resented, villagers
might jump at the opportunity to revolt or form allies with other potential
conquerors to gain their liberation or better terms from a new master. As a result
of this danger, conquerors were reluctant to give arms to all their subjects
because they knew that force obtains obedience - not loyalty. This often meant
they could easily be outnumbered and were less able to repel attacks from rival

Refer to the inability of modern democracies to provide protection in section 67.
Refer to the marriage of religion and politics in section 45 and the error of imaginary
causes in section 58.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 109
tribesmen. As uncivilised nomadic tribes came into contact with civilised
villagers, either by trade or conquest, it was inevitable that they would be
influenced by the luxury and comforts of civilised life. After a few generations
the once hardy nomads would become accustomed to a more luxurious and
gentle lifestyle. Their fighting skills and will to fight weakened, and the threat of
conquest by other uncivilised or barbaric tribesmen grew until they eventually
succumbed. This pattern would repeat itself continually. Elaborate fortifications
like the Great Wall of China, which is over 2,000 km long, 6 to 9 metres high
and 4.5 to 6 metres wide, bears testimony to the ever-present fear of invasion.
Not even the larger resources of civilisation could put an end to it, as the
barbarians were quick to learn and apply the latest skills. In 1,700BC they
perfected the art of chariot warfare which increased the rate of invasions. They
also mastered the art of smelting ore and the manufacture of iron and semi-steel
weapons. Iron-ore was widely available and therefore cheap. Its introduction
into warfare only had the effect of making superiority in numbers more decisive
because most people could afford them.
As the territories under the rule of a king or chieftain grew, another problem
arose - how to control them. In an attempt to do so, artificial provinces were
made and given to trusted family and friends to oversee1 . A new class of
people were created - nobles or aristocrats, who supervised the collection of
taxes and settled disputes. They formed what may be referred to as a ruling
elite. There was a danger in this too, for in certain cases these aristocrats would
become so powerful that they maintained almost total independence, and could
even pose a threat to their king. This occurred for the first time in Egypt around
2,500BC and led to the collapse of the Old kingdom. Similar problems would be
faced by civilisations everywhere. In China around 790BC the central Chou
state was surrounded by more than a dozen Chinese princes. Princes on the outer
perimeter were able to conquer and assimilate barbarian tribes around them and

Much of this wealth has been passed down over generations and is still in many cases in
the hands of the same families. Since they never paid for it some people believe this wealth
should be returned to the government. Land restitution can be a thorny issue to say the least.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 110
so grew larger and more powerful than their more civilised and centrally located
Other methods were used to prevent rebellion. Loyal soldiers were stationed in
special military colonies and given a plot of land in return for active service
when this was required. Rebellious people were forcibly removed to more
remote and distant areas where they would no longer pose a danger. However,
conquest was a threat to one of the most vital interests of people - their freedom.
Freedom has always been sacred, and for the first time cries for freedom
were heard. These cries were to be heard right throughout history, up to
and including the present time, and would fuel rebellions, revolutions and
wars of liberation such as those in ancient Egypt by the Hebrews and more
recently by the Germans, French, Russians, Chinese, Algerians, Vietnamese
and South Africans2 . In the majority of cases the rebellions are a protest
against things such as over-regulation, over-taxation, an unfair legal system, or
the forced conscription of citizens into the military. The human desire for
freedom and equality was often the rallying cry of nationalistic movements,
which would result not in freedom but in new forms of enslavement.3

Refer to appendix B5 for the period of change that influenced the religions of
Confucianism and Taosim.
The Vietnamese war of liberation was fought and won against the French and U.S.A.
Refer to section 67 for the historical cycles of government.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 111
The voice of democracy
It was only a shift towards equilibrium in the balance of power that would
spearhead the movement towards greater freedom and democracy. Such a
movement was mostly the result of a combination of unique circumstances such
as those that prevailed in ancient Greece.1 The decisive factors were those of
geography and military advances. Commercial trade with others also played a
role as it led to the realisation that customs and taboos differed from tribe to
tribe and none could be said to be better or worse than others. For this reason
sea-communications and trade were regarded as dangerous developments by
some of the wealthy rulers of Athens. Plato was hostile to democracy which he
viewed as the rule of the poor, and favoured the rule of philosophers instead.2
The mountainous country of ancient Greece was difficult to farm and farmers
tended to work small plots of increasingly precious land. The long coastline
made it difficult for anyone to control access to markets. These two factors made
it attractive to plant commercial crops such as olives and wine which the
mountainous and rocky slopes were well suited to. Although the work was hard
and the olive trees took a few years to harvest, olive oil and wine were assured
of a good reception in export markets where they could be traded for grains,
metal and timber. The relative prosperity of these farmers meant they could
afford the latest armaments and when necessary join forces and fight together to
ward off a common threat or enemy. It was thus possible for the development of
separate political units which made it difficult for the emergence of a central
power. Even though there was a large population of slaves or labourers, the
equal distribution of power amongst a large number of farmers found political
expression in the polis. The polis was basically a small town surrounded by
farms, and each farmer or landowner would represent himself in them. Thus
village life came to be dominated by these relatively wealthy aristocrats or
landowners. This form of Greek village life was unique compared to other
European villages, which tended to be populated by merchants and tradesmen.
This was particularly evident in the fact that it was largely in Greece that
Refer to section 67 for the unique circumstances that gave rise to democracy in
Refer to Plato in section 39.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 112
aristocratic ideals flourished. A good citizen was someone who had the spare
time to engage in politics and other leisurely pursuits. Commercial traders and
artisans never commanded social respect in ancient Greece.
However, military advances also played a significant role. Initially battles were
fought on foot by infantrymen, but the advent of the stirrup enabled fighting
while at full gallop, and saw the introduction of armed cavalry. This was yet
another advantage that favoured the wealthy because armour was expensive,
horses required food, and it took a lengthy training period to acquire the skills
for mounted battle. Stories of armed knights are legendary. These advantages
would normally result in the consolidation of power into the hands of an ever
smaller group of landed nobility. This was the pattern in most other centres of
civilisation but for an important development in military tactics - the phalanx.
The phalanx was a large formation of heavily armed infantrymen trained to
operate in unison and thus able to withstand cavalry charges. The significance
of the phalanx was that each member was dependent on the other for his
life, and this tended to encourage feelings of equality. Small farmers could
afford the weaponry and were always on call for active duty. This had profound
political consequences, as the new-found power of the small farmers, or hoplites
as they were called, now gained them a political voice in local affairs.
Extravagant displays of wealth were no longer favoured and in their place the
virtues of a simple life took hold. It was in the interests of the polis to maintain
the strength of its phalanx and special laws were even passed to ensure the
hoplites retained possession of their farms.
When commercial cities like Athens acquired a large fleet of ships, rowers took
over a role similar to that of members of a phalanx, and they too obtained
political representation. The pattern of population growth following a growth in
food supply was also noticeable in Greece, due specifically to the surplus of
grain which arose as a result of the favourable trading terms that olive oil and
wine enjoyed. These benefits were more evenly spread amongst a democratic
population than they were in other trading centres like those of the Middle East
or the Orient. Population pressures soon led to emigration, colonisation, and a
growth in the class of artisans and manufacturers who, together with farmers too

© 1997 Allan Sztab 113

small to achieve hoplite status, soon requested political representation. These
pressures led to outbreaks of tyrannical rule which were almost always short-
lived. However, the demands for representation ultimately resulted in various
forms of democracy, and at one time even landless citizens won representation.
It is interesting that there was never a total democracy in Greece, as women and
slaves were not given any political rights.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 114

Chapter Six
The Rise Of The Major Religions

The moral significance of the afterlife myths
Humans everywhere have always feared the unknown, especially death and a
loss of consciousness. Myths of an afterlife and a day of judgement, when we
will be punished or rewarded for our deeds in this life, are common in the vast
majority of religions. The Egyptians were obsessed with an afterlife.
Excavations of ancient Egyptian graves revealed bodies surrounded by artefacts
and jars of food. Mother earth was fertile and new life grew from it in a
continuous cycle. They held the simple belief in an underground 'kingdom of the
dead' where the vegetation god of the earth, Osiris, ruled. There were many gods
in ancient Egypt, but two gods in particular made an everlasting impression on
the people. These were the sun god Re and the vegetation god Osiris. To
followers of the Osirian faith the 'kingdom of the dead' was underground. Later,
when the sun god Re reigned supreme as the official state religion, life in the
hereafter was depicted as being a solar kingdom in the sky, with Re, whose
birthday was celebrated on 25th December, to coincide with the beginning of the
suns journey northwards. This solar festival was later appropriated by the
Christians. Initially entrance to the heavenly kingdom was reserved for kings,
who would first have to undertake a purification by water, but this privilege was
extended to nobles. However, for a people so concerned with death the appeal of
a life beyond the grave was so popular that the Osirian and state religions
eventually merged. This time the heavenly kingdom remained, a kingdom open
to all. Re was the god of the living and Osiris the god of the dead. Re passed
through the netherworld at night only to rise again in the morning. Imaginative
priests would later describe this journey as one passing through twelve caverns,
each with a gate and one for each hour.
In about 3,000BC victory on the battlefield led to the emergence of a unified
Egypt under king Menes, who became the first Pharaoh, which essentially
means 'king of the great house'. A centralised government made the construction
and administration of large-scale irrigation works possible. The Pharaoh was
© 1997 Allan Sztab 115
identified with the sun god Re and became the earthly representative or son of
Re and, as such, a god in his own right. A further identification was made
between the Pharaoh and the vegetation god Osiris who, as legend had it, was
re-born or resurrected after death in the same way that new life burst out of the
fertile soil after planting seeds in it. By performing a specific ritual of actions/
gestures/ dances/ sounds they hoped to identify or assimilate themselves with
Osiris in the hope that they would also be re-born or resurrected. This belief
proved to be exceptionally popular. It would later find expression in the rival
Christian doctrine of Paul.1
The ancient Egyptians never believed in a soul as existing with the body and
then going on to achieve immortality. They believed that a persons soul was
reconstituted piece by piece from their body after it had been resurrected
after death. This could only be accomplished by means of rituals that were
performed primarily by the mortuary priests. This soul would be aided by a
protecting spirit that came into being with the person and passed before them
into the hereafter. Food and drink would be required for the reconstitution of the
body into a soul. The simple burial procedures of the ancients soon give rise to
the construction of elaborate tombs and to the great pyramids themselves, which
were attempts to immortalise the human body by sheer force of material means.
It was clear that the deceased would require the assistance of the living, who
were required to bring them food and drink so they could partake in all the
important feasts and ceremonies, some even receiving daily meals which would
be placed before statues bearing their likeness. Details of service contracts and
festivals were even etched into the tomb and pyramid walls as a permanent
record. These texts came to be known as the Pyramid and Coffin Texts. The
significance of an afterlife on moral development arose from the notion that it
was the gods who had the power to grant eternal life. At first the idea of
judgement was more like that of a court, where a person would have to answer
to any accusations of wrongdoing brought by injured parties against them, but
gradually developed into judgement of a persons life, including that of the kings.
However, the preparation of people for this day of judgement created an entire

Refer to section 30.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 116
industry which was fuelled by a corrupt priesthood and a gullible public. Priests
were quick to take advantage of the opportunity to exploit the belief of the
effectiveness of prayer and ritual to ensure a safe passage to the afterlife. They
produced numerous prayers and spells that were intended to influence the gods
sitting in judgement. They sold these to the common people, written on scrolls
which could be taken to their graves with them or inscribed into their coffins.
Charts depicting the journey of the dead were also sold and placed on the bottom
of coffins so the deceased could find their way. The scrolls were sold with blank
spaces where the names of the dead could be written in. The more dangers the
dead were to face the more charms, spells and prayers would be required and the
dangers soon multiplied to include poisonous serpents, fires, demons, losing
one's heart, head, mouth and memory. The priests concocted fearful scenes that
the dead would have to face, such as a 'Hall of Truth' with 42 demon-gods, to
each of whom they would have to confess their innocence of a particular sin.
The number of gods coincided with the number of administrative districts in
Egypt at the time, so that at least one of them would be sure to know the
deceased and judge whether he was indeed innocent. Blessings were also
available so that the dead would be able to procure the same lifestyle in the
hereafter as they had on earth - perhaps a comfortable home, pool, a wife and
servants. Many tombs had inscriptions at their entrances imploring passers-by to
read prayers that would assist in supplying their requirements in the afterlife. To
arouse their sympathy appeals were made not to their riches and position but
rather to the good deeds they had performed.
Extracts from the Coffin Texts went into the making of a 'Book of the Dead'
which described the journey the dead would take and the day of judgement.
From these texts we obtain the very earliest ideas of those behaviours that
were considered to be good, sinless, or moral. Amongst these, and not in
order of importance, were devotion and obedience to one's parents, giving
food and clothes to the needy, modesty, humility, not stealing, killing,
harming, lying, creating fear or speaking badly of others, not blaspheming
the gods, not committing adultery and paying a fair wage.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 117

The force of change
For over 1,000 years the ancient Egyptian empire would remain unified with the
rule of one king. The policy of appointing family members or nobles to
administer portions of the country was initiated, and by 2,500BC these officials
were not even required to be family. In addition, gifts of land were awarded to
courtiers as endowments for the upkeep of their tombs and the provision of
funeral services. These gifts were often exempt from tax. The power and
independence of the noble landowners grew, and eventually laid the foundation
for a feudal state. Conflicts between these nobles were sure to occur, aggravated
by the commencement of a long period of drought and famine. Shortly after
2,500BC a noble family seized power in the South, and the Old kingdom was
split into a North and South. Bands of starving people searched for food and
widespread civil disobedience ensued. The famine attracted immigrants from
Libya in the West and Canaanites and Hebrews from the East in their search for
the comparative prosperity of the Nile. The Hyksos crossed the Sinai and
invaded in force around 1,730BC to conquer and occupy the northern territories,
where they remained for about 200 years until they were expelled by a united
Until this time there would be a long period of struggle by successive strongmen
to restore the divine power of the pharaoh. A document authored by a wise sage
known as the Admonitions of Ipuwer records clearly the miseries of these
times when brother killed brother, a son was regarded as an enemy, a shield was
necessary when working in the fields, crops and cattle were stolen by invaders,
taxes weren't paid, trade ceased and shortages of imported goods arose,
travellers were robbed and slain, those who were rich were now poor and those
who were poor were now rich. For all the talk of moral worthiness there was
now little to show for it. Concern with moral conduct could always be put to rest
by the knowledge that a safe passage to the afterlife could be purchased from the
priests. In addition, there was now a growing doubt as to the effectiveness of
pyramids and tombs, as it wasn't possible to continue their maintenance
indefinitely. A 100 kilometre stretch of these ruins now stood as a glaring

© 1997 Allan Sztab 118

monument to the futility of securing immortality by material means. Those kings
and gods who had been buried in their tombs for hundreds of years were long
forgotten, and none of them had returned with news of their journey.
When faced with suffering at the hands of powerful and uncontrollable
forces society and individuals begin to question their beliefs and
expectations. This is precisely what the ancient Egyptians began to do.1

The dawn of scepticism, pessimism, messianism and monotheism
Perhaps it was inevitable that sooner or later comparisons would be made
between the ideals of justice, morality, afterlife and loyalty with the reality of
everyday life. Those individuals who began to think and cast doubt on practices
and beliefs that had been accepted without question for long periods of time,
would be called sceptics. This period of social upheaval and hardship would
lead to the development of new ideas. Change is almost always resisted, but
when faced with forces that are beyond control, society becomes willing to
question its sacred beliefs and either modifies or accepts new one's which
are more appropriate. This tendency of society to accept radical changes in
times of disorder is a well-used political strategy so that the people
concerned will be willing to accept terms during a crisis which they might
otherwise reject out of hand. In economic terms this principle is none other
than the law of diminishing marginal utility, which simply states that it is
the extent of a persons desire for something that determines what they will
pay for it. In politics this desire is usually that for order out of chaos.
One of the earliest examples we have was the social upheaval that now took
place in Egypt, an upheaval which would ultimately result in the first
expressions of scepticism or doubt, the idea of a messiah who would restore
order, and the idea of monotheism or a universal god. This period of social
upheaval led to an era of pessimistic literature such as that of the 'Righteous
Sufferer' which told the story of a person who suffered despite being good. This
story later served as the inspiration for the Book of Job in the Old Testament. 2
The corruption of well-paid officials, injustice, unfaithfulness, the lack of
Refer to section 66 and the questioning of personal beliefs and expectations.
Refer to section 27.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 119
brotherly love and family loyalty, were denounced. It was also made perfectly
clear that a person in need couldn't be expected to remain impartial as they
would serve their own interests first. Although this sound advice served to
justify the unbiased judgements of the wealthy who weren't needy, it also led to
the practice of paying officials generous salaries to ensure their impartiality. The
'Tale of the Eloquent Peasant' put this false optimism to rest by telling of a
wealthy but nevertheless corrupt official who stole a peasants donkeys.
However, the lesson that you can never pay officials sufficient to ensure
their impartiality has yet to be learnt.1 There were those who arrived at the
conclusion that life is a 'long sickness from which we recover at death', a
sentiment that was expressed by Socrates on his death-bed fifteen hundred years
later. Scepticism was cast on ideas of an afterlife, and in its turn people were
encouraged to 'eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die', to forget
sorrow and pursue pleasure. To those whose desire and belief in immortality
was still unwavering, scepticism nevertheless had the effect of shifting the
emphasis from a reliance on material or external forces towards those that
resided within the individual.
Falling short of the sceptics rejection of established practice and belief was the
introduction of messianism - the hope that the sun-god Re, who once reigned
supreme, would return to impose order, justice and reunify the land. The belief
of a messiah still forms the basis of many religions today. To the Egyptians, and
even those who are today obsessed with an afterlife, literature casting doubt on
this belief may have seemed pessimistic. In contrast, the Mesopotamians
believed only in a descent into a 'land of no return'. While harbouring the hope
of immortality they had already reached the conclusion that its pursuit was in
vain, for they had been created to serve the gods who had reserved immortality
for themselves. The Epic of Gilgamesh of about 2,000BC tells of the hopeless
quest of Gilgamesh to find immortality, and offers the advice to 'eat, drink and
be merry', to find happiness and joy in whatever one can, as humans are mortal
and must learn to accept this. The ancient Hebrews also held a belief in the
mortality of humans, and it is only in the book of Job that we witness a struggle
Refer to the error of an unrestricted freedom of will and section 67 for its relevance to
modern political systems.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 120
to find reassurance in an afterlife. Pessimism is certainly relative to the beliefs
one has to begin with.

Monotheism and the first religious revolution
After the fall of the Old Kingdom it was a Thebian prince Amosis who finally
managed to expel the Hyksos invaders and unify Egypt. After suffering at
foreign hands, the Egyptians were no longer content with a unified Egypt and
embarked upon an expansion of Egyptian rule far into Asia. Their victories were
attributed to a previously unknown local Thebian god called Amun who now
came to power and was identified with the sun god Re by calling him Amun-Re.
This was small consolation to the old priesthood who had now lost much of their
influence, and with it their revenues.
The Thebian kings proved to be excellent warriors and with the expansion
of the Egyptian empire there arose the idea of monotheism or one universal
god for everyone. If their god could reign in Egypt and every territory they
conquered then surely it could reign everywhere.
It was one of these kings, Amenhotep IV who made a daring and courageous
attempt to introduce these concepts into a new monotheistic state religion, one
that would be based on the universality of the sun god whose rays cast light and
warmth throughout his kingdom and who was the creator of everything. The
first prophet would naturally be none other than Amenhotep IV himself.
The sun god was now to be called Aten and the attempt was made to remove all
references to other gods, even to the extent of chiselling their names out of
monuments. A new capital was built where the popular Osirian burial rituals
were abandoned in favour of prayers to the new sun god. This was probably the
first attempt to impose a new set of ideas and values onto the public, and it was
doomed to failure. The change was far too abrupt, and underestimated the
popular appeal and sentiment of the public for their old superstitious beliefs and
rituals, which were more than 2,000 years old. It proved particularly unpopular
with almost an entire industry that had developed to cater for the old forms of
worship, and included priests who prepared blessings and performed mortuary
rituals, bakers who prepared special food for feasts and artisans who sold

© 1997 Allan Sztab 121

trinkets. In addition, the Egyptian empire was slowly eroding and this caused
further discontent. It isn't known how his fall occurred, but soon thereafter the
old gods and priesthood resumed their former positions.
This lesson to all potential revolutionaries would be elegantly stated by Vilfredo
Pareto some 3,500 years later – not to spend one's time fighting a popular
sentiment but to use it to one's advantage - a lesson which modern
politicians have mastered.1

In the Middle East by the year 1,500BC all the ideas that would finally find
expression in the Old Testament of the Hebrews were already present, such as
animal spirits, nature gods, souls, afterlife, immortality, sacrifice, ritual worship,
a day of judgement, underground and heavenly kingdoms, a universal god, the
resurrection of god, the ritual assimilation with god and prophesies of a messiah
who would come to restore order and justice. The culture, commercial and
business practices of the Babylonians and the Laws of Hammurapi were well
known throughout the region. For example, all who traded with them were sure
to be aware that they never traded on the Babylonian Sabbath. Unlike the
Babylonians, who dispensed justice according to the social class of the
complainants, the Egyptian concept of equal justice for all was also known
throughout the region. There was thus a rich legacy of myths, folk-stories,
mortuary rituals and numerous other texts recording the wisdom, customs and
experiences of Egyptian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Persian and Syrian
civilisations, covering a period of at least 2,500 years, with each certainly
having some influence on the other.
The Hebrew people were originally nomadic herdsmen before they conquered
Canaan. Like other primitive tribes they practised ritual sacrifice, even of the
first-born child, and worshipped local gods which the Semites called 'els', a
word which is today appended to names such as 'Isra-el' and 'Micha-el'.
Amongst those who emigrated to Egypt during the lengthy period of famine that
beset the Middle East, were some Hebrews and Canaanites. The Hyksos who

Refer to Pareto and his observations in section 67.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 122
invaded and settled in Egypt also had numerous Semites amongst them. When
the Hyksos were conquered by the Egyptians it is possible that the Canaanites
and Hebrews were regarded as allies of the Hyksos, and were therefore enslaved
with them. Moses, the Egyptian name for 'child', was their first leader. Moses
was thus well versed with the customs of Egypt, including that of the
circumcision ritual and the writings of their social prophets.
Because the Hebrews were from different tribes, the original twelve Hebrew
tribes formed a military pact to escape from Egypt and settle in Canaan, one that
was to prove successful. Amongst these tribes was a tribe known as the
Midianites, whose god Yahweh was familiar to Moses and thus became the
patron god of the Israelite confederation. The various tribes had always
worshipped different gods, and this certainly wouldn't have created an
environment that would be conducive to maintaining unity within the
confederation. In addition, during their long period of slavery much of their
tradition was sure to have eroded, thus paving the way for new laws. Moses
ascended Mount Sinai to make a covenant with Yahweh, and returned with the
Ten Commandments. Not surprisingly, the first commandment forbade the
worship of any other god but Yahweh.
United under one god the Hebrews managed to escape from the Egyptians and
make their first successful incursion into Canaan territory. The Hebrews took no
credit for their success on the battlefield, but attributed it entirely to their unity
under one god and this became a strongly entrenched belief. Celebrations to
commemorate the confederation of Israel would later be held at the old
Canaanite cult centres of Schechem and Shiloh where the ark of Yahweh was
kept. It was at these celebrations that the oral recitation of the history of the
Israelites took place. As the Hebrews settled in Canaan they underwent the same
social upheavals that accompanied the transition from nomadic herdsmen to
settled agriculturists which the Babylonians, Egyptians and Persians had
experienced 2,000 years before them. They had two role models to follow, the
Mesopotamian and the Egyptian. Once again this process of adaptation to a
civilised and agricultural way of life provided a fertile ground for the cultivation
of new ideas, and it was the Hebrew prophets who emerged as the spokesmen

© 1997 Allan Sztab 123

for Yahweh. They had very strong neighbours and this led to the development of
a Monarchy or Kingship that would be better able to resist them. However, a
settled lifestyle led to the development of new classes of merchants, landowners
and artisans, and with it a division between rich and poor.
Unity under one god was weakened and the various tribes soon began to
worship their old fertility gods according to their old customs. The prophets
denounced this practice and in defence of the religion of Yahweh, the prophet
Elijah even went so far as to slaughter the priests of Baal. The prophets also
spoke out against the monarchy, who couldn't resist the temptation to abuse their
power by acquiring wealth under the guise of taxation, and became spokesmen
for the poor against the injustice of the rich and powerful. The prophets now
declared that their suffering was a punishment for their failure to follow the laws
of Yahweh - they had sinned and prophesied more suffering if they continued to
disobey the laws of Yahweh.1 Canaan was situated on a major trade route of the
Middle East, wedged between the powerful Egyptians, Mesopotamians and
Assyrians, so it wasn't long before this prophesy would be fulfilled. They were
first conquered by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. As a result of the
conquests many prominent families were exiled and later played a prominent
role in the rise of Christianity.

Religious reform and the Old Testament
After suffering at the hands of their conquerors and the bitter fight for freedom
that followed, a new set of beliefs and expectations was called for, one that
incorporated these new experiences. It was particularly the success of the Jews,
when united under one god, which finally culminated in the first attempt to
reinterpret human history according to the laws of their god Yahweh. So great
was their uncertainty and fear in the midst of these forces that a great distortion
of reality was called for - one so great that the idea took root that the entire
universe and everything in it revolved entirely around themselves and their god
Yahweh.2 For the first time in history the entire suffering of a people was

Refer to section 63 for the notion of suffering as a punishment for disobedience.
Refer to section 11 for the psychology of how beliefs find reasons to justify them even
at the expense of distorting reality.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 124
claimed to be a punishment for their failure to follow the laws laid down by their
god. Yahweh's love is purely conditional upon obedience.1 The story of Adam
and Eve shows that Yahweh is an unforgiving and merciless god who, for a
single act of disobedience, condemned all future generations of his chosen
people to perpetual suffering. However, this belief provided the Jews with an
explanation for the suffering of the conquered and the poor, together with a
remedy to prevent its recurrence by the strict observance of a set of laws.2 The
reality was simply their inability to win the day on the battlefield or to
successfully resist the corruption and abuse of their leaders. The novel idea of
the Old Testament that history develops according to specific rules had a great
future in the hands of others. Although their interpretations were also instances
of wishful thinking they at least contributed towards a greater understanding of
the forces of change. The philosopher Plato would look back on history and
explain its development according to the conflicts between different social
classes, a sentiment which was echoed by Karl Marx 2,500 years after him.
The reality of defeat or punishment by the Assyrians and Babylonians led to the
development of a religious reform movement, whose task was to reform and
purify the laws of Yahweh. It was these reforms that led to the finalisation of
much of the Old Testament and the rich heritage of myth, folk-lore, religious and
social experience, including that of their own, was incorporated into it. The Old
Testament was moulded by many different authors over a period of about 1,500
years and in its final form would contain the religious interpretations of all the
Jewish prophets. The Old Testament can rightly lay claim to be the most creative
work of literature to come from this period. It is an intricate tapestry of myth,
blended with history, that tells of the creation of the universe, the creation of life
from water or rain, the moulding of man from the moist earth, a paradise called
the 'garden of Eden', the creation of woman from a rib of man, punishment for
eating prohibited fruit, destructive floods, the building of a boat or ark and ritual
slayings.3 The twelve tribes were provided with a common ancestor called
In return for loyalty Yahweh promised them greatness and the land of Canaan - a
destiny which victory under the patronage of Yahweh seemed to confirm.
Conquests by outsiders were continually interpreted by the Hebrew prophets as

Refer to section 10 for the effect of conditional love on a childs development.
Refer to section 63 for the offering of rewards and punishments in order to manipulate
and control people.
Refer to section 15 for the similarity between parts of the Old Testament and ancient
© 1997 Allan Sztab 125
punishment for their disobedience to Yahweh. This led to an even stricter
interpretation of his laws, and to the desire for a messiah who would deliver
Israel from its enemies and establish a kingdom of god on earth, a
sentiment that had already been echoed by the Egyptians before them. This
vision wasn't of a peaceful messiah but a militaristic and powerful one, who
would lead them to victory over their enemies on the battlefields as they had
achieved when united under Yahweh. Anyone who claimed to be this messiah
had no chance of acceptance unless they fitted this role. The prophets of
Israel, as spokesmen for Yahweh, now upheld Yahweh as a universal god, the
same status the Egyptians had claimed for their sun god Re, and that Zarathustra
claimed for Ahura Mazda.1
Yahweh originally promised a prosperous and long life for obedience, and a
short and miserable one for disobedience. Experience soon put this wishful
thinking to rest, for the bad seemed to thrive and in the Book of Job we find the
same pessimism as was expressed in the Egyptian story of the 'Righteous
sufferer' from which it no doubt drew its inspiration. Here again we see the force
of reality leading to the questioning of beliefs and expectations. Here again we
witness not the outright rejection of beliefs but their modification. The Hebrews
originally had the same conception of an afterlife as had the Mesopotamians -
after death there was a descent into 'the land of no return' which the Hebrews
called sheol. If there was no salvation from injustice in this life, then this was
sure to lead to the despair expressed by Job; in Ezekiel we see the emergence of
a 'national revival' which could only be contemplated in similar form to the
popular ancient Egyptian belief of the reconstitution of the soul or 'ba' which the
Hebrews called a 'nephesh'. This reconstitution is followed by the rejection of
the descent to sheol in Daniel, but it was only in AD70 that in the rabbinic
Tractate Sanhedrin it was considered heresy to deny a physical resurrection in
another world to come.
The much admired guidance to right conduct contained in the Book of
Proverbs has a 'whole section of about a chapter and a half... largely drawn
verbatim from the Wisdom of Amenemope', a wise Egyptian, and includes

Refer to section 25 and 31 for the origins of monotheism.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 126
proverbs from other wise men whose non-Hebrew names testify to their
foreign origins.' (Breastred)

Not much is known about the historical life of Jesus, so much so that it has even
been necessary to refute the suggestion that he was a mythical figure. Most of
the information about Jesus is contained in the Gospels, which were written by
his disciples and therefore written from a religious point of view. A further
complication is the fact that the gospels are inconsistent with each other on some
major points. For example, there is no agreement as to where the resurrected
Jesus was seen.
What is known beyond doubt is that Jesus was a Jew who was executed by the
Romans on a charge of preaching rebellion against them. He held himself out as
the Jewish messiah, and protested against the leadership of the Jewish Temple
who were corrupt and under the direct control of the Romans. This made his
protest a political one, which led to his arrest by the Jewish leaders; they feared
it might spread and provoke the Romans into destroying their nation and
Temple. The gospels agree that the disciples of Jesus offered armed resistance to
prevent his arrest. It is certain that anyone who claimed to be the Jewish messiah
must have come to deliver Israel from its enemies, and this could only be
achieved by defeating their Roman conquerors on the battlefield.1 This liberation
struggle from the yoke of Roman colonialism had commenced from the time of
their occupation, and was no different to the anti-colonial liberation struggles
fought against colonial powers such as the Spanish, British and French in more
modern times. Jesus was himself a disciple of John the Baptist, who used to
create anti-Roman sentiments by bathing people to cleanse them of their sins in
preparation for the coming kingdom. Having tried Jesus and finding him guilty,
he was then handed over to Pontius Pilate, who sentenced him to be crucified
along with two other lestai or Zealots, as the Romans called them. Significantly,
the cross of Jesus was placed in-between them with the words 'King of the Jews'
written on it. The protest of Jesus also coincided with a Zealot rebellion against

Refer to section 27 for the Jewish requirement of a militaristic messiah.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 127
the Romans, and it is certain that Simon who was one of his disciples, was a
The Zealots were a fanatical Jewish sect who derived their name from the
zealousness with which they fought to defend their faith. It was their leader and
founder Judah, a rabbi, who in 6AD originated the philosophy 'No Lord but
God', based on the first commandment. The military success of the Israelites
under the patronage of Yahweh had convinced them of his devotion. Fresh in
their minds was the recent Israeli success under the leadership of the
Maccabaean family when they managed to overcome the superior forces of the
Seleucid leaders. Despite much suffering their faith had never wavered, and they
were eventually rewarded. As a result, the willingness to risk their lives in
defence of their faith took root in a new-found martyrdom for Israel. The zealots
were thus dedicated to fight to the death against Roman domination, including
the persecution of all those who collaborated with them. They refused to pay
taxes from Judaea, which belonged to their god Yahweh, to the Romans who
worshipped Caesar as a god. According to them this would be blasphemous. In
reply to whether he was in favour of paying a tribute to Rome, Jesus is said to
have replied: 'render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to god the things
that are gods, or in other words 'don't pay''.

The death of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus posed a problem to his followers for the Jewish
Messiah was supposed to free them from suppression and establish a kingdom of
god on earth. This was the reason so many Jews refused to accept him as their
messiah. Other Jews turned to their scriptures to find an explanation for it. 'They
found it in Isaiah's mysterious prophecy of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh'.
There had been many other military leaders spanning a period of over 100 years
who, like Jesus, had claimed to be the Jewish messiah. It was only the belief of
his disciples, that god had raised him from the dead so that he would soon be
able to return and restore the kingdom to Israel, that kept them going. This belief
is thought to be responsible for the fact that no written records were made. If the
second coming would herald the end of the present order, there would be no

© 1997 Allan Sztab 128

point in doing so. It was only when the entire Christian community was
destroyed by the Romans in response to defiance by the Zealots in 66AD that
the necessity for such a record was required. The Zealot rebellion led to the
destruction by the Romans of the entire Jewish-Christian community of
Jerusalem, including many eye-witnesses to the life of Jesus and not a single
document about its teachings or policy remain. The rebellion finally culminated
in the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70AD. For the Israelites the rebellion
resulted in the loss of their state which they would only regain in 1948. Far more
significantly was the fact that the success and foresight of the early Jewish
Christians in absorbing Jesus into Judaism was now lost and set the stage to
change Christianity for ever through the rival Christian doctrines of Paul.

The rival Christian doctrine of Paul
From the time of the crucifixion all Christians had been controlled by the Jewish
Christians based in Jerusalem. Having found confirmation in the scriptures
about the suffering of their Messiah Jesus, who they now considered a martyr,
their faith was restored and they continued to practice as Orthodox Jews. They
prepared for the second coming, and managed to convert many other Jews. Paul
was a Greek Jew who developed a rival version of Christianity. He was not one
of the original disciples of Jesus nor was he converted. He became a disciple
after the crucifixion, when he allegedly had a revelation of Jesus. He claimed
that his version of Christianity was revealed to him by god and was specifically
adapted for a mainly non-Jewish audience who had many different religious
ideas. Specifically, the Greeks believed in a soul that survives the body after
death. When they heard of a crucified messiah and his physical resurrection they
laughed at him, so he attempted to accommodate them.
As we have already seen, from ancient times burial procedures and rituals
indicated the belief that the dead would in some way live on in their graves.
These ideas evolved and many different conceptions of the soul were developed.
The ancient Egyptians believed that a persons soul was reconstituted piece
by piece from their body after it had been resurrected after death. The
Mesopotamians believed the dead dwelt in the 'land of no return', as did the

© 1997 Allan Sztab 129

ancient Hebrews before they adopted the doctrine of a physical resurrection. The
cult of Orpheus gave rise to the mystical philosophy of Orphism and Paul
developed a unique idea that was based on it. The history of Orpheus and
Orphism isn't very clear but essentially they believed that the spiritual soul is
created by god and is therefore immortal. As punishment for a sin the soul is
forced to reside in the human body, wherein it is exposed to corruption in a
world ruled by demonic powers. This idea may be found in various forms,
especially in the ancient Gnostic religions which claimed that by obtaining a
secret knowledge the soul could be purified and liberated. In ancient Greece its
influence was evident as they believed that at death the immortal soul escapes
once more to its non-material world. This sentiment in various guises is also
found in Hinduism, varieties of Buddhism, and Jainism.
The Christian doctrine now preached by Paul was that humans are 'enslaved by
demonic powers, from whom they are redeemed through the death and
resurrection of a divine saviour'. The original sin might have been that
committed by Adam when eating the forbidden fruit. By crucifying Jesus the
demonic powers make a grave error and lose their hold over humankind.
Furthermore, by the baptism ritual the new convert would be 'assimilated to
Christ in his death in order to be one with him in his resurrection'. At the second
coming of Christ the present world will end, the dead will be resurrected and
judged before him. Not surprisingly, the Jerusalem Christians were opposed to
this version which offered redemption to non-Jews, amongst whom were those
very people who had crucified Christ and now oppressed them. This made a
mockery of their claims to be the chosen people. Paul was also prepared to
baptise non-Jews without insisting on their circumcision. They therefore sent
their own followers to preach to his converts, who were mostly Jews who
understood the Old Testament.1 Their success at reverting his converts prompted
Paul to go to Jerusalem where he accepted the validity of Judaism. His
interpretation would surely have died but for the elimination of the Jerusalem
Christians during the zealot-inspired rebellion that ended with the destruction of
the Temple in 70AD. With their demise the Jewish Christians in other parts of

Refer to section 26 for the Jewish families that were exiled due to conquest.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 130
the world were now left on their own. It was at this time that the gospels were
written and, together with the writings of Paul, formed the basis for the New
Testament. It was the doctrines of Paul that finally emerged as the work of a
saint and came to be recognised as the official doctrine of Christianity.
Much confusion about Jesus relates to the fact that the earliest gospel was the
Gospel of Mark which was written in Rome during or shortly after the
rebellion. The Romans regarded their victory as a triumph and were intent on
making an impression on the Roman people. The gospel could hardly disagree
with the Roman version of the political nature of the crucifixion, for fear of
being similarly persecuted. The blame for the execution of Jesus was therefore
apportioned to the Jewish leaders, and a fictitious account given both of their
motivation for doing so and of the trial of Jesus who was now portrayed as a
peaceful messiah who would never contemplate overthrowing the Romans by
force. Anti-Semitism was also rife in Rome and this led to even further
repressive measures against the Jews who now had an added incentive to
The Gospel of Mark was accepted by other disciples who continued to add
to it. One such addition by Matthew has Pilate saying: 'I am innocent of
this man's blood', and the Jewish people answering: 'His blood be on us and
on our children'. It was these words that would justify persecution of the
Jews for hundreds of years to come. 'It is significant that only recently in
the Vatican Council has a formal declaration been made, exonerating
subsequent generations of Jews from responsibility for the murder of
Christ.' (Brandon)

Probably the first religious movement to stress the moral choice one had
between Good and Evil was that founded by a prophet called Zarathustra, who
came from an area bordering Iran and Afghanistan. Not much is known of his
personal history, and estimates of his birth date range anywhere from 1,000 to
570BC. Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions and is still practised today
in certain parts of Iran and India. His original writings are found in the Gathas

© 1997 Allan Sztab 131

but many changes were made to his original doctrines and are known as the
Avestas. He rejected the traditional religious practice of his time which was
formal and ritualistic, often involved blood-sacrifices, but had no answers for
the existence of evil. These ancient religious beliefs, based on the worship of
many different nature gods and spirits, were derived from common Aryan
ancestors who migrated from the plains north-east of Mesopotamia south-
eastwards into India and further east into China. The Aryans used to trade with
the Mesopotamians, so it is very likely they were also influenced by their
religious ideas.
The forces of evil were most likely impressed upon Zarathustra by the attacks of
nomads upon his people, who were caught up in the process of adapting to a
civilised and agricultural mode of life. He was a religious reformer but many of
his ideas can be traced to a more ancient religious belief, one that was morally
indifferent by its acceptance of two forces, one good and the other evil, both
seen as necessary aspects of life. His achievement was to make one universal
god, Ahura Mazda, the creator of Good Order in the universe. Like so
many other self-proclaimed prophets before and after him, Ahura Mazda is
alleged to have spoken to him personally. According to Zarathustra two spirits
emanate from Ahura Mazda, a Good spirit called Spenta Mainyu and an Evil
spirit called Angra Mainyu, Satan or Ahriman. How they came to be is never
clarified and later modifications of his doctrine had Spenta Mainyu assisted by
angels and Satan assisted by demons. Zarathustra considered other 'pagan' gods
as forces of Evil but according to him each person has the moral choice between
following Good or Evil (the Lie), a choice on which their destiny depends. By
way of contrast, no choice exists in Christianity, where everyone is born in sin,
or in Islam where everything is determined by Allah. In return for obedience to
Zarathustra and the supreme god Ahura Mazda, followers were promised
prosperity in this life and immortality hereafter. Immortality could be obtained
not by magic or ritual but only in a judgement after death when their lifetime of
moral deeds would be considered.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 132

If necessary, the followers of Zarathustra were to fight against the Lie and the
evil practices of other religions.1 Immortality in a judgement after death had the
benefit of rewarding those who never prospered in this life and of punishing the
bad who might have prospered. In promising immortality he was in effect
accepting the ancient Aryan belief that some element of a person survives
physical death, a belief that derived from early ideas of ancestral spirits. In the
Avestas it is those whose good thoughts, words and deeds outweigh their bad
one's that go to heaven, while all others go to hell with the exception of those
whose good equals their bad - they remain in limbo, a place of the shadows.
The earth, fire and water were considered sacred and their pollution was evil.
Later this doctrine was developed further and led to the adoption of the ritual
disposal of a persons body at death by its exposure to vultures on top of a
specially created tower - a ritual which ensured that the elements wouldn't be
polluted. A prophesy was also made of a final day of judgement when good
would triumph over evil. Later this was further developed by other priests to
include a future saviour born of a virgin impregnated by water in which the
sperm of Zarathustra was deposited. Over time these modifications even led to
the inclusion of some of the ritual practices which Zarathustra had denounced. It
was the Iranian concept of dualism such as that of good and evil, light and dark,
angels and demons that was significantly modified by the priestly Magi clan.
According to the Magi all beginnings, all conflicts such as those between good
and evil, were all part of the principle of 'Time as Destiny' - time from which
nothing can escape. The Pahlavi name for time is Zurvan and according to the
myth it is the god Zurvan who is the father of twins Ohrmizd or Ahura Mazda,
the force of Good, and Ahriman or Satan, the force of Evil. The High God
Zurvan is therefore 'Beyond Good and Evil'. Ahura Mazda is associated with
good, light and infinite time, while Ohrmizd is associated with evil, dark and
limited time. Infinite time or good will conquer limited time or evil on the final
day of judgement. These concepts of time can be found in the cult of Mithraism
where it is combined with astrological concepts, the cults of Orphism,
Gnosticism and in the Western tradition of Father Time.

Refer to the Islam and war against non-believers.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 133
While it is accepted that the Zoroastrian religion exerted a definite influence on
other religions, the extent to which it did so isn't known. When the Persian
emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon about 538BC many Jews came under his
control. It is significant that only after this period does the Old Testament speak
about an evil force called Satan and of immortality as a reward for the good. The
New Testament also accepts the existence of Satan. Jesus is also a saviour born
of a virgin. The idea of angels as allies of the forces of good, and demons as
allies of the forces of evil, as recorded in both the Old and New Testaments, also
derive from ancient Iranian concepts that were incorporated by Zarathustra.
A brief outline of some of the other major religions of the world is provided in
Appendix B.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 134

© 1997 Allan Sztab 135


© 1997 Allan Sztab 136

The Path Of Western Philosophy.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 137

Chapter Seven
Truth And Change
What is truth?
The fourth, fifth and sixth centuries BC were in general a period of great
political and social upheavals, a time when more than ever before humans
attempted to make sense out of the stormy events that threatened to drown them
in a sea of despair. It is more than coincidence that this period gave us
Buddhism, Confucianism, Jainism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism. The word Homo
Sapiens is a rough translation from the Latin 'thinking or knowing being'. It was
in this period too that the exploitation of the human potential for thought first
commenced in earnest - the attempt to find in the guise of human reason what
others believed they had discovered in myth, superstition and mysticism. Behind
all human actions is a desire or need to be fulfilled and there can be little doubt
that the desire for certainty, for a stable, consistent and familiar environment, is
the driving force behind all the diverse attempts to determine the truth.1
This continual quest for consistency and familiarity dominates our lives, and all
the more so because we live in a world that is constantly changing. The nature of
change is puzzling and we need only look at ourselves to see why. We are born
and grow up into adults but, despite the obvious changes in our appearance, we
claim the same identity throughout our lives. In addition, things are not always
what they appear at first sight to be, and the more information we have about
something the more we can see. For example, a radiologist who reads an x-ray
can see far more than we can, and what might only appear to us as an
indistinguishable pattern of different shades could actually represent the detailed
state of health of a persons lungs. A farmer might look up at the sky and see a
hailstorm coming when all we might see are dark clouds. We all tend to see in
things a lot more or less than others do. If things are constantly changing and
appearances can deceive us, then how can we ever know the absolute truth about

Refer to section 11 for the desire to eliminate the fear of uncertainty.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 138
The fact that appearances can be deceptive is the first argument used by
those who want to convince people that the truth can be obtained without
any reference to the senses
The question 'what is truth?' is therefore one of the most profound questions ever
asked and the quest to answer it defines to a major extent the course which
philosophy has taken. Right at the outset the attempt by philosophers to explain
the nature of change divided thinkers into the two distinct schools of thought
mentioned in section one.1
On the one hand are those who believe in imaginary things and
explanations which are not in any way demonstrable to the senses. It is
interesting to note that of all living organisms only humans place their trust
in imaginary things.
On the other hand are those who accept the world of appearances and rely
principally on explanations that are in some way demonstrable to their
senses - here we find a far smaller group of humans together with every
other living organism.
With the vast amounts of information and experience that we have today we are
able to see far more than our early ancestors. We know that vast quantities of
information are channelled into the brain from our senses and then processed
while at the same time taking into consideration all the information obtained
from a lifetime of previous experiences. It is only after all this processing and
interpretation that a meaning is given to it. Because we all have unique
experiences the meanings we give to things will vary from person to person. We
are no longer surprised that people have different tastes, opinions and
There are three objective requirements for the senses - an object or thing, an
intermediary or light and the sensory organs. However, there is so much
information available that it has to be carefully selected. With vision, for
example, of all the possible light rays that convey information pertaining to a
particular 'state of affairs', only 150 million are selected by light-sensitive cells
in the retina. These cells are connected to optic nerves which consist of only 1
Refer to the error of imaginary causes in section 58 and non-moral obligations as
obstacles to personal freedom in section 65.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 139
million fibres. Thus, in the very first step of visual processing all the available
light carrying information has been pared down from billions to a million. It is
only after a great deal more processing, during which a persons unique
experiences and the meanings they have placed on them are utilised, that a final
meaning or interpretation of the information is made. All this is performed
subconsciously and the rules governing the selection and processing of
information are still unknown. There are thus many difficulties to consider
concerning the senses but it is nonetheless possible to reach two obvious
conclusions - it isn't possible to obtain all the information concerning any 'facts'
or 'state of affairs' in the world, nor is it possible to make any sense of this
information without interpretation. As soon as interpretation is required there
is always room for error and disagreement. This is particularly evident when
we attempt to recall the details of past events with the result that no history can
ever be entirely honest.1
This is the second argument used by those who want to convince people that
the truth can be obtained without any reference to the senses.
It is with language that we think and pose questions, and all the knowledge we
have is expressed in terms of it. The question 'what is truth?' is really the
question of how we can determine whether an opinion, statement, or proposition
is true. Language requires social agreement as to the meaning of words and is
therefore objective - a private or subjective language isn't possible. If we
attempted to define a true proposition we could say that a proposition may be
said to be true if it describes a 'state of affairs' that exists, did exist or will exist
in the future. The problem is that 'a state of affairs' can only be described by
referring to certain facts, and whatever information we have about any fact we
have either learnt from our immediate sensations or from previous sensory
experiences. In the case of an individual the truth is consistent sensation.
However, truth on this level is subjective and depends on the interpretation and
reasoning given to it by the individual. If an individual claims to have seen a
unicorn there is no way to disprove their claim. Only if a unicorn is present so

Refer to the Old Testament reinterpretation of history in section 26, the controversy
surrounding the life and teachings of Jesus in sections 28 to 30 and the myth of the
impartial observer in section 47.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 140
that a number of people can see and touch it and agree that it indeed has only
one horn will it become accepted that such a thing as a unicorn exists.
When we require OBJECTIVITY we require social consensus or agreement
and in this case the truth will be socially consistent sensation. This is the
reply to any attempt to slander the senses.
In other words, if we all agree that something is the case based on the evidence
presented to our senses and this evidence is available to anyone who cares to
examine it we then have social consensus or agreement which is a far more
accurate messenger of the truth than the subjective interpretation of any one
person, irrespective of who they may be. The fact that our own personal
interpretations of events might be mistaken and that our senses can in
certain circumstances be deceiving does not mean that we should abandon
them. What it does mean is that anyone can misinterpret an experience with
ease so when extravagant claims are made they should be taken lightly. It is
only when the same experience can be had by any interested person that such
claims deserve to be taken seriously and their truth status investigated according
to the specific knowledge that exists at the time. Social consensus is a very
powerful force and we only need to look at language to realise this. Without
social consensus as to the meanings of words and the rules for their use language
wouldn't be possible at all. The same goes for mathematics. It wouldn't matter
who it was who wanted to develop their own words or calculus – without social
consensus their best efforts would be in vain. Take the example used earlier of
dinosaurs - we only know for sure that they once roamed the earth because we
have discovered their bones and fossils. Without this evidence dinosaurs would
also be regarded as a myth together with the unicorn and a host of other
mythical entities.
A lack of evidence surrounds most mystic and superstitious claims and
when we forego the evidence of our senses we lose the only standard of
truth by which we can objectively measure reality.
That truth and morality are relative was evident to the Sophists 2,500 years ago,
but philosophers such as Socrates and Plato refused to accept this simplicity.
They were followed by Aristotle and many others after him who set out to
© 1997 Allan Sztab 141
discover systems of knowledge that would lead to the discovery of a universal
morality. Socrates and Plato were the first to propose the existence of a
knowledge so special and elusive it would allow them to claim that all
wrongdoing was based on an ignorance of it. Fierce philosophical debates raged
for hundreds of years on this issue. So strong is the desire for certainty that it
was perhaps inevitable that philosophers would attempt to discover some
indisputable and absolute truth in the attempt to develop an indisputable and
solid foundation for knowledge and with it a precise conception of how humans
should behave. Many placed their hopes in the power of human intuition, reason
and logic. However, all interpretations are made to satisfy our desires and for
this reason it isn't surprising to find in these truths precisely the kind of
irrationality that accompanies belief, faith and conviction.
Belief is the acceptance, usually without any further consideration, of an opinion
as being true. No matter how strongly we believe something is true our belief
alone can never make it so. Something may be either true or not true but there
may be as many beliefs as there are opinions, irrespective of their truth status.
Having faith or conviction is the giving of our complete trust or confidence
to a belief or a system of beliefs. A theistic interpretation of the truth would be
one that is in accordance with the laws of a particular god. Another
interpretation of the truth might be 'whatever is of the best value to a community
or nation'. The truth may also be 'whatever works'.
However, we can always ask which god, for which community or nation, and
works for whom?1 Having a conviction regarding something is to believe that
one is in possession of the truth, and most conflicts are really clashes between
people who hold different beliefs. Progress almost of necessity requires the
discovery that previous truths were in fact errors, even though they may
have been 'useful errors'. Most innovations have their roots in practical
considerations. It was probably the need for speedy communication that led to
the development of language and the rapid growth of the human brain. Changes
in climatic conditions led to the development of agriculture. Arithmetic and
mathematics were born out of the necessity for accurate measurements

Refer to the Utilitarian philosophers in section 52.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 142
concerning the apportionment and allocation of land, the collection of taxes and
the keeping of accurate trading records. However, search wherever you like and
you will never find a number 2 or a number 4 because they are only abstractions
or ideas despite the fact that they can help us to accurately describe the content
of a box of apples. But don't ever be fooled - irrespective of how useful
something may be its usefulness is no criterion of the truth. We shall see later
that science and logic also require a faith in the truth of the assumptions that
they are based on. 1
In the next few sections we will see how the senses were slandered and how
certain extremely influential ideas developed – ideas that are still in vogue
despite their failure in practise as the recent demise of Soviet communism bears
testimony to.

The first philosophers and their attempt to understand change
The first philosophers occupied much of their time in an attempt to explain
change and so get to the truth behind its elusive nature. All things are in a
perpetual state of change, from children who grow into adults to political change
as a result of wars and conquest. Following an age-old tradition they were
tempted to assume that there were forces or laws responsible for these changes.
Each new war and conquest brought with it changes in personal fortune which
led people to question whether this was fair or just. If there were forces that
determined how things in nature changed were there also forces or laws which
determined political change? Were there forces or laws which governed human
behaviour and morals? The most influential theory on change was that
proposed by an aristocrat called Heraclitus who was born in about 504BC.
During his lifetime the aristocratic form of government was threatened by
democratic revolutionary forces. The impact of these forces of change on a
persons position and prestige were firmly impressed upon him. He concluded
that everything is in a constant process of change and coined the often used
phrase 'you can't step into the same river twice' (because there is always fresh
water flowing past). It seemed to Heraclitus that although people and other
things are constantly changing there is something in them that remains
Refer to section 48 for science and section 50 for logic.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 143
essentially the same.1 This something is common to everything and is like a fire
which constantly transforms whatever is fed into it. This basic substance he
called the One or God and believed that it was divisible into many different
things in a relentless process of change, change that was inevitable and
determined by a law of universal reason.
To Heraclitus change was a constant process of decay and regeneration, driven
by the struggle between opposite forces or contradictions. Nothing is lost in this
struggle and the opposites are combined to form something different. This
process is best illustrated by considering how cold mixes with hot to produce
warm. He viewed war as a natural struggle between opposites that produced
masters and slaves. Because war was natural the outcome was always just.
The forces of good and evil only appear to be contradictory but they are in fact
unified in the One. 'The good and the bad are identical'.2 The ideas of Heraclitus
can be seen in the works of Plato, Hegel and Marx.

Parmenides and the illusion of appearances
A contemporary of Heraclitus by the name of Parmenides accepted the idea of
one underlying substance, but rejected the notion that it could be divided by
change into many things. According to him a thing could only be what it is and
couldn't change into something that wasn't there before it. He concluded that the
appearance of change is an illusion - appearances can only produce opinions of
the world, and not truth. Zeno was a pupil of Parmenides and set out to defend
his master by developing four paradoxes. Firstly he demonstrated how
misleading the senses can be:- if one millet seed falls silently to the ground but
1,000 seeds makes a sound, it seems to suggest that 1,000 times nothing makes
something. According to Zeno we can only use thinking to determine the truth of
the matter, and he therefore concluded that it is better to rely on thinking than on
our senses. The paradoxes or puzzles of Zeno attempt to demonstrate how
difficult it is to describe or even think rationally of motion in a world that was
divisible into many things. According to Pythagoras everything was divisible

Refer to section 38 for Socrates and his belief in essences and universals.
Refer to the belief of Zarathustra of the co-existence of good and evil in section 31 and
the moral indifference of nature in section 57.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 144
into small units. This meant that a sports track was divisible into an infinite
number of points and it should be impossible to cover it in a finite or specified
amount of time because each point would first have to be crossed before arriving
at the next one. This process should proceed indefinitely and take an infinite
amount of time. Thus, if a tortoise got a head start in a race with an athlete, the
athlete would never be able to pass because the distance between them would
always be divisible into an infinite number of points, each one having to be
crossed by the athlete.
The paradoxes of Zeno were intended to illustrate the absurdities that arise when
things are divided into small units. Zeno's paradoxes are intellectually
stimulating and his intention in developing them were clear. However, they
should not confuse people to such an extent that they no longer trust their senses
because when we go against our sensations we lose the only standard of truth by
which we can objectively measure reality.1 Zeno's paradoxes illustrate this
clearly because irrespective of how confused we might be our common sense
and practical experience indicate clearly that we can cover the distance
between two points without any difficulty and beat any tortoise in a race. Our
sensory experience tells us that this is the truth and should alert us to the strong
possibility that the error and confusion lies elsewhere.
The rational solution to his paradoxes lies in the assumptions they make. All of
them rely on the abstract concept of division which was created by
mathematicians to assist them in describing nature. However, we know that
usefulness is no criterion of the truth and in nature, or reality, objects are not
broken up into units or points - a track or stick is one continuous whole.
Similarly, there is no such thing as units or moments of time. In reality time is
continuous and flows in a continuous, never-ending stream.
The next paradox of Zeno was based on the division of time. According to Zeno,
an arrow at rest occupies a space equal to its length. If it is shot at a target it still
continues to occupy the same space as its length, and at any point or moment
during its flight it should therefore always be at rest. Once again, our senses tell

Refer to section 2 for the basic function of any organism to collect environmental
information, section 32 for truth as consistent sensation and section 58 for the error of
imaginary causes that cannot be sensed.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 145
us that the arrow does move, and this alerts us to the possibility that the error
lies with time that had been divided into moments and, in addition, a static
definition of motion. (Einstein later showed that any object in motion changes
its dimensions although at the speeds we are normally accustomed to these
differences are indiscernible.)
He next demonstrated the relativity of motion which can only be explained by
thinking. There are three trains. Train A is stationary whilst trains B and C are
moving in opposite directions. A passenger seated in the first coach of train B
and looking out of his window will see three coaches of train A pass him as we
move from position 1 to position 2. Another passenger seated in the first car of
train C and looking out of his window will see six coaches of train B pass him as
we move from position 1 to position 2 despite the fact they have both travelled
the same distance. The solution is simple - an object that is moving in the
opposite direction to us will pass us by far quicker than a stationary one.
A 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6

B 6 5 4 3 2 1 - 6 5 4 3 2 1

C 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6

© 1997 Allan Sztab 146

Around the same time another philosopher called Anaxagoras proposed that
there isn't only one indivisible substance but four - water, fire, air and earth. He
claimed it was the different composition of these four substances that accounted
for the diversity of things in nature. Change only altered their mixture and in
doing so nothing is ever destroyed. He claimed that it was reason or mind
that was responsible for ordering matter into the many different things of
nature. Mind, being distinctly different to matter, 'is mixed with nothing, but is
alone, itself by itself'. This concept that mind is immaterial would in time have
an enormous influence on philosophical thought.1

Leucippus, Democritus, materialism and idealism
In about 440BC Leucippus and Democritus claimed that everything consisted of
space and solid particles called atoms. According to them there was no creator,
designer or purpose behind things - it was the movement of atoms in space that
formed the objects we experience. This is the classical position known as
materialism and its implications laid the foundation of epistemology which
concerns itself with how we acquire our knowledge of things. Democritus also
laid the foundation for idealism when he said that it is only by our actions that
we determine what is good and bad; similarly it is only by tasting something that
we can determine what is sweet or sour. However, 'in reality there are only
atoms and the void'. To idealists we create reality in our minds.2 The
prophetic theory of atoms was still used by Isaac Newton some 2,000 years later,
and the ethical views of Democritus would be perfected by Epicurus some 150
years later - the view that mental happiness is the most important goal and
can best be achieved by freeing oneself from fear and anxiety.3

Refer to Descartes in section 50 and errors of context in section 54.
Refer to the opposite view of the Sophists in section 37 that without our sensory
organs there is nothing at all.
Refer to Epicurus in section 43 and the quest for happiness in section 66.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 147
The Intellectuals Or Sophists
In the midst of this debate about substances, laws of reason and mind, a new line
of thought was developed by a group of Intellectuals or Sophists who came to
Athens from countries with different religious traditions and customs. They had
an entirely practical approach to philosophy. While debate raged over the
composition of things in the universe, Protagoras claimed that the extent to
which we could accurately interpret nature was limited to what our senses
reported to us. For this reason it was impossible to know anything about the
gods or even whether they existed at all.
We know that our senses are subjective and it isn't possible to accurately
determine reality because we can only select that information which our organs
are capable of selecting. We also know that this information is channelled into
our minds where we give it a meaning. If each individual interprets things
differently there is no objective reality or independent yardstick with which
we can tell whose perception is correct or whose actions are right or wrong.
All our concepts such as those of space and time are also subjective - time
trebles in the dentists chair and 'flies when you're having a good time'. It is only
in this sense that we create the world although one could always ask how much
of reality is actually there and not constructed by the mind1 .
The Sophists held the view that without sensory organs there is nothing at all.
According to them the role of reason is to order the sensations into knowledge
and harmonious conclusions which stand to be verified or rejected by the senses.
The more we drift away from the senses the more we drift away from the truth.
Whether we can ever know the absolute and indisputable truth about things has
always been and still remains open to doubt. Protagoras knew there were
many different cultures with their own laws, moral rules and customs, none
of which were right or wrong but merely different. He therefore concluded
that there is no universal law of nature relating to human behaviour. It was
obvious to him that if people ran around doing what they pleased without any

According to idealists it is by interpreting our sensations that we create the qualities in
things such as their colour, shape, smell and texture. Taking this view to its extreme leads
certain idealists to dispense altogether with the external world!
© 1997 Allan Sztab 148
rules then society would never be stable. Rules were therefore desirable, but this
didn't necessarily make them correct. To achieve stability amongst people he
advised them to follow the laws of their society and advocated freedom of
Thrasymachus took a cold look at history and at events around him and came
to the conclusion that crime pays, especially for the powerful who ruled over
cities and nations. He concluded that might was right and that laws were
made to suit the rulers who made them - it was they alone who determined
what was right or wrong. He recommended that everyone should pursue their
own interests and many Sophists did exactly that in much the same way as the
majority of us do today.1
The Sophists had an in-depth knowledge of many different customs, which
made it clear to them that it was prejudice and not fact behind the Athenian
distinction between Greek and barbarian, master and slave.2 They also
questioned the moral and religious views of their time and held strong doubts
about the many claims to truth, justice and a universal code of moral behaviour,
especially since reasons could be found to support any moral code. According to
them morality was an artificial set of standards created for the sake of
convenience. Knowing that truth was relative, they could argue effectively by
finding good reasons for both sides of an issue and it wasn't surprising that
before long they would make enemies. Even today they are still unjustly labelled
as nihilists, but claiming that there is no universal code of morals and that
morality is relative doesn't imply that all laws are of equal merit or that no
laws are desirable. The relativity of truth and morals led directly to the
realisation that rules or laws are made by humans and could always be modified
or changed. Their contribution towards the tolerance of other peoples' views is
still not appreciated today.
Their obvious verbal skills led to the derivation of the somewhat derogatory
word 'sophistry', which means a false argument used to deceive. However,
history and every advance in morals has lent added support to their claims,

Refer to the principle of might is right as the origin of morality in section 57 and the
pursuit of self-interest in sections 66 and 67.
Refer to the tricks and traps of language in appendix E.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 149
and, ironically, it has always been those who seek to ground moral systems in
reason or logical thinking that could rightfully be accused of sophistry. The first
to do so would be Plato. The Sophists charged for teaching to earn a living, and
Socrates even attended one of their shorter courses. However, charging for
teaching was regarded by Plato as conduct unbecoming of philosophers. It was
Socrates and Plato, more than any other philosophers, who refused to accept the
simplicity of their conclusions. To admit relativity would be to sacrifice both
certainty and the security that dogmatic claims to the truth provided. To
admit relativity was to admit the risk of misfortune that chance introduces
into events, and this was something that both Socrates and Plato refused to
Socrates turned to definitions in the hope that defining things would usher in
absolute truth and certainty, while Plato created another real and unchanging
world, and suggested a rigid political system where change wouldn't be possible
at all. Whatever their other merits these errors must surely rank foremost
amongst the most elementary blunders in the history of philosophy; errors that
are drowned out by the unqualified adoration of the majority of historians and

Socrates was born in 470BC. He claimed to have heard voices, which he
referred to as his daimon. He never wrote, and everything we know about him
comes from the recollections of others, foremost amongst them being Plato. The
Sophists claimed that their experience with many diverse cultures indicated
clearly that there was no right or wrong behaviour. Socrates disagreed and
claimed it was possible to define what was right or wrong in the same way
that he could define what a person was. He thought this was possible because
even though people are different there is still something essential that they have
in common which makes them people. Similarly, there may be thousands of
different flowers but when we think of no particular flower, but of a flower in
general, we have an idea of what the word flower means. This idea or general
concept of flower is universally applicable to all flowers. Socrates believed it

© 1997 Allan Sztab 150

was possible to define what these general ideas of things were. In this way
he would be able to define other ideas such as right, wrong and justice. It
would then be evident that the behaviour of different peoples varied due to
their ignorance of what these ideas were! He developed a means of
argumentation that he called dialectic which is the repeated questioning and
correcting of an argument or definition in order to bring out any contradictions
in a persons position and so awaken them to self-criticism.
However, the concept of a general 'idea of things' that is applicable universally,
is a purely verbal construction. It would go on to bewitch many of the most
highly esteemed philosophers into arriving at far-reaching but unfounded
conclusions. The first to do so would be Plato. It would later be claimed that
mathematical concepts such as 2 x 2 = 4 are applicable universally and are self-
evident truths.1 The quest for the certainty of having precise and accurate
definitions in an attempt at obtaining certain knowledge about things is an
illusion that has trapped the minds of many thinkers ever since. However, to
define one word other words must be used which in their turn must be defined,
and this process continues indefinitely. It isn't surprising to find that in science
there is no attempt to define things with any precision but rather to explain how
they behave under certain conditions according to certain laws. We don't have
to know what something is to know how it works or how we can use it. More
significantly, the futile attempt to rigidly define concepts like truth and justice,
encourages deceptive definitions. The difficulty experienced while making these
attempts may also lead to frustration and despair, which is often attributed to the
reasoning process itself. This serves to encourage a lack of faith in the proper
use of reason in favour of mystical solutions. The difficulty of defining things
accurately is a commonly-used debating strategy(you may justifiably call this
sophistry), and being lured into making a definition or merely accepting
someone else's definition should be resisted.2


Refer to sections 47 and 50 for intuition or innate truths that are independent of
sensory experience.
Refer to the tricks and traps of language in appendix E.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 151
Plato, a disciple of Socrates, was born in 428BC into an aristocratic family. Most
of his life was lived during periods of war and political instability, as a direct
result of the social change from a tribal to a civilised society, a society where
different ideas and cultures mixed. It was this experience that perhaps led Plato
to conclude that change was evil. He accepted the view of Heraclitus that
everything was in a constant process of change. Plato then developed his famous
allegory of the cave, which he used to denounce the accuracy of the world as it
appears to us. The allegory goes like this: if a group of people were confined to
a cave and all they could see were the shadows cast by a fire, they would
conclude that this world of shadows was the real world. Even if somebody
managed to escape from the cave and for the first time saw the sun, plants, trees
and animals, and then returned to the cave to tell everyone, they wouldn't
believe him. This is in fact the first reaction of people to something that is
considered revelatory. However, what Plato was trying to demonstrate was that
the world we see isn't all there is, and that there is actually more to it than meets
the eye. This is no doubt true, but as Parmenides had pointed out, it would be
impossible to obtain a precise and unchanging knowledge of a constantly
changing world of appearances. This wasn't good enough for Plato, who desired
a knowledge that was certain, so he claimed that this world of appearances
was in reality based on another perfect and unchanging world!1
The person returning to the cave where the rest of humanity was housed,
was none other than the philosopher Plato, who now held a special
knowledge. According to him the Ideas we have in our minds of right,
wrong, justice, of perfect triangles, circles and other objects, were in actual
fact the real world. The ever-changing world, as reported to us by our senses,
could only produce opinions and not truth. The real world of Ideas existed in the
mind of god or the universal reason or the One, before they became part of the
objects and people they represented. The real world, the Ideas and the One, are
uncreated. Material bodies were only imperfect reflections of the Ideas, and as
they changed they moved further and further from the original Idea from which
they were moulded. Plato concluded that change is therefore evil.2
Refer to section 58 for the error of imaginary causes.
Note the influence of Heraclitus (section 33)
© 1997 Allan Sztab 152
According to Plato the human soul had a full knowledge of the Ideas before it
became part of the human body, and people could recall what the soul once
knew by intuition, commencing with an examination of the contradictions that
occur in the world of appearances. The human soul had fallen to earth
because of conflicts between its reasoning ability, the various drives to
action and the appetites or passions. Like Socrates, Plato claimed that
ignorance was the source of error. In Plato's scenario it was ignorance that
enabled the appetites to outwit reason. This led to unhappiness as the soul would
seek pleasure in doing the wrong things. It is the irrationality of the passions that
pulls the soul towards earth. Desire creates lust which disturbs the harmony of
the soul. The concept of reincarnation or the transmigration of souls was well
known in Greece, and Plato was familiar with the Orphic concept of the soul
being trapped in the human body until it could be freed from its cycle of rebirth
by paying for a prior transgression.1
Plato now extended his theory of Ideas into the political arena. Just as things
around us are copies of Ideas, so too is there an Idea of a perfect state. The
closest a state could be to this ideal state had already existed - the aristocratic
rule of the wisest and most godlike such as that of Sparta and Crete. According
to Plato it is the pursuit of self-interest and material possessions that creates
conflicts between different classes in society, conflicts which lead to decay and
the change to inferior forms of government.2 A similar historical interpretation
would be reached by Karl Marx some 2,500 years later.
According to Plato it is the breakdown of unity within the ruling class that
brings about political change, a breakdown caused by a clash of economic
interests. Thus, aristocracy or the rule by nobles degenerates into a timocracy
where some aristocrats place the pursuit of honour and personal fame before the
common good. Competition amongst them eventually leads to greater disunity
This attempt to furnish a reason for human suffering is widely believed in. Refer to
section 30 for the influence of this concept on the Christian doctrine of Paul. Refer to
Appendix B1 and B2 where almost the same theme finds expression in the Hindu
religion. This theme is also found in the Old Testament notion of original sin, for which
Gods' chosen people are condemned to suffer forever. It is also to be found in the
influential psychological theory of Freud in the form of the inherent depravity of the id.
Individual actions pose a threat to authoritarian rulers so Plato cunningly equated them
as being selfish. This is another of his not so noble lies as it is clear that selfishness is
opposed to altruism and individual actions are opposed to group actions - selfishness
and altruism have nothing to do with individual or group actions.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 153
until timocracy degenerates into oligarchy, where the aristocrats pursue personal
wealth and disobey the laws. Now the society becomes divided into the rich and
the poor. Conflict between them eventually leads to civil war and degeneration
into democracy, where the poor rule. However, even the poor want to be rich
and they eventually begin to steal from the rich who seek out a strongman to
defend them. Democracy then decays into despotism.
Instead of opting for a classless society, Plato's ideal state is based on a tribal
authoritarian aristocracy that once existed in Sparta. It would be constructed so
as to make any conflicts that might lead to change or decay impossible. It would
be divided into three classes and he proposed to tell the people what he called a
noble lie, the Myth of Blood and Soil - a lie that would in time, through the
idolisation of Plato, provide an intellectual inspiration for racial bias and
prejudice - a lie that god mixed gold into the ruling class of philosophers, silver
into the guardians or military and brass into the farmers and craftsmen! Children
were not to be raised in the traditional way but would be bred according to strict
marriage rules to ensure the quality of the future rulers and guardians. Variation
brought about by the mixture of classes would introduce impurities which would
create disunity in the ruling class. This myth of racial purity still persists among
many radical movements, and, as one of the first to advocate breeding humans
for racial purity, Plato can rightfully claim to be one of the first eugenicists.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 154

The uncritical acceptance of such doctrines reached its most perverse form of
expression in the Nazi extermination camps.1
In Plato's schools children would be taught only what was in the interests of the
ruling class, and a strict censorship would be applied to prevent the minds of the
people from being corrupted. Children would not be taught philosophy as this
would be reserved until they reached the age of fifty, an age when their way of
life had already been accepted. We also find a similar logic at work in Hinduism,
where the Upanishads were modified by the Brahman priestly caste so that
ascetic pursuits would be reserved towards the end of a mans' natural life, when
it would undoubtedly be far easier and considerably more practical to achieve,
as most of the passions of youth would then have waned.2
According to Plato it was out of these elderly pupils that new leaders would be
selected. Today in France almost every politician and administrative official has
passed through the Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA). Burdening
education with objectives like selecting the best and allowing the state an
excessive control over education has its roots in Plato's philosophy.
'It has been said, only too truly, that Plato was the inventor of both our
secondary schools and our universities. I do not know a better argument for
an optimistic view of mankind, no better proof of their indestructible love
for truth and decency, of their originality, stubbornness and health, than the
fact that this devastating system of education has not utterly ruined them.'
Today education is influenced by big business groups who are obsessed with
producing skilled, as opposed to educated, graduates.3 Plato's ideal state is an
authoritarian one - there is no freedom of association, choice or thought, and all
laws would be made by the ruling class who would have absolute power. Plato
accepted the principle of the absolute and unchecked power of a ruler. It thus
seemed natural for Plato to ask who should rule absolutely without any regard
for restrictions on the use of power. Not surprisingly, about nine of Plato's pupils
and associates went on to become tyrants.
Refer to appendix F for the history of eugenics.
Refer to appendix B2 for further information.
Refer to section 67 for the vital role of education in a free and democratic society.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 155
'Plato's political programme was much more institutional than personalist;
he hoped to arrest political change by institutional control of succession in
leadership. The control was to be educational, based upon an authoritarian
view of learning - upon the authority of the learned expert, and 'The man of
proven probity!' This is what Plato made of Socrates' demand that a
responsible politician should be a lover of truth and of wisdom rather than
an expert, and that he was wise only if he knew his limitations.' (Popper)
Morality and justice for Plato is that which serves the interest of the state, one's
tribe or group. The natural enemy of such an idea is obviously the individual
who holds a different moral point of view. The theory of the Inquisition has even
been described by Karl Popper as 'purely Platonic' because in Plato's Laws Plato
justifies the persecution and slaying of those whose conscience forbade them to
follow the religious laws of society. To bring people over to accept his views,
Plato propagated yet another subtle lie - that if you hold beliefs different
from that of your tribe, group, state or leader, you are selfish or egoistic.
However, the opposite of a group is an individual and the opposite of selfish is
Aristotle was one of Plato's pupils and although he accepted much of Plato's
teachings, he proposed many different solutions of his own. He introduced the
word metaphysics to describe any speculation on things which are beyond our
power to confirm or deny. To say that spirits, souls, atoms, electrons and gods
exist are metaphysical claims. To say, as Plato did, that our world is merely
one of appearance but the world of Ideas is the real world is likewise
metaphysical speculation.
Aristotle founded the study of logic, which to him was the study of reasoning or
thoughts that are transformed into words, and with which we attempt to prove
things. He claimed that the five senses combine their information to reflect the
sensible world, and the mind focuses on the essential natures or the general
ideas of things.2 These essences or ideas don't have an independent existence as
Plato claimed but are properties they have in common and exist in the individual
things themselves.

Refer to section 66 where self-interest is vital to happiness.
Refer to section 50 for the view of Rousseau that reasoning is the processing of
© 1997 Allan Sztab 156
Plato was concerned with things as they existed now and viewed change as
decay. Aristotle viewed change as progress whereby things become, or
realise whatever their self-contained potential or natural end was. In a
similar fashion to that of Plato, Aristotle believed we could obtain a
knowledge of the essences of things by using intellectual intuition. He also
agreed with Socrates and Plato that the essences of things could be precisely
defined. These small changes to Plato's theory of Ideas would later give rise
to the attempt to discover what the potential, natural end or fate of things
were by examining how something had developed historically, a technique
that Karl Marx would later apply to determine the end towards which
society was developing.
To Aristotle the problem of morality was caused by the conflict between our
desires. The origin of morality was the choices we make and the habits we learn
to achieve our end. The word ethics (ethike) is derived from the Greek word for
habit (ethos). What this end was he never managed to say and the fact that we
exist and must create our own end or essence, forms the basis of what is known
as existentialism - the fact that our existence comes before our essence.1
For Aristotle the state was a creation of nature that functions to preserve life and
ensure that humans behaved well. Unlike Plato he left no utopian model or
blueprint for such a state. He also believed 'that some men are by nature free,
and others slaves, and that for these slavery is both expedient and right'. To him
democracy was based on the assumption that because people are equal in some
respects they are equal in all respects. Similarly oligarchy, or the rule by few, is
based on the assumption that because people are different in some respects they
are different in all respects. It is 'the desire of equality, when men think they are
equal to others who have more than themselves' that causes revolutionary
feelings - an acute observation that would later be echoed by Karl Marx, whose
impractical and failed communistic solution was to avoid class conflict by
abolishing all classes in favour of one class of person: the working class.2

The Cynics and self-sufficiency
Around 330BC the independent Greek city-states were absorbed into the
powerful Macedonian empire, only to become mere elements of an imperial

Refer to existentialism in section 56.
Refer to Marxism in section 53.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 157
order. There was no longer a stable society with fixed traditions but a mixture of
people seeking profits, pleasure and power. It was a time when a persons fortune
could change quickly according to chance, and this provided a fertile soil for the
growth of ideas.
In a world that seemed senseless and beyond control, many chose to withdraw
from the chaos in an attempt to take control of their own lives. A contemporary
of Plato and Aristotle, called Diogenes, advocated living a self-sufficient life
according to nature. He was shameless and therefore said to be like a dog, which
in Greek is the word kuvikos that is derived from the Latin word cynicus. The
word Cynic was used to describe anyone who advocated living a self-sufficient
life by freeing themselves from any conventions, influences, false values, ties or
responsibilities that restricted their freedom.1 Today a modern dictionary defines
it as an 'ostentatious contempt for ease and pleasure' or 'one who has little faith
in human sincerity and goodness'. The Cynics chose to live a life free from
customs and traditions, free from the distinction between barbarian and civilised,
rich and poor, free and enslaved. They believed in a universal and natural
society of humankind, distinct from historical society with its different customs
and traditions which served to disguise their commonality. This idea is known as
cosmopolitanism, and the Stoics held a similar view of humankind but believed
there was a rational substance or divine law that permeates everything, orders
nature and controls all events. The self-sufficient philosophy of the Cynics was
not very different to that of Gautama the Buddha, and is summed up by Lucian
in The Cynic
'I pray that I may have feet no different from horses hooves ... and that I
myself may not need bedclothes any more than do the lions, nor expensive
fare any more than do the dogs. But may I have for bed to meet my need
the whole earth, may I consider the universe my house, and choose for food
that which is easiest to procure. Gold and silver may I not need, neither I
nor any of my friends. For from the desire for these grow up all men's ills -
civic strife, wars, conspiracies, and murder. All these have as their
fountainhead the desire for more. But may this desire be far from us, and

Refer to the quest for freedom in section 66.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 158
never may I reach out for more than my share, but be able to put up with
less than my share.' (Wiser)

The Sceptics
Scepticism was a school founded by Pyrrho (361BC). The old Greek word from
which it derived meant seekers or inquirers. Today it is used to refer to
someone who doubts accepted opinions. Although many of their original works
were lost, the Greek arguments for scepticism were recorded by Sextus
Empiricus. According to Sextus scepticism arose due to the confusion caused by
many contradictory and dogmatic claims to the truth. The sceptics were wrongly
accused of denying the evidence of appearances. All they did was to question the
interpretations that were given to them. They advocated the maintenance of a
healthy mistrust of everything, and not to take anything for granted. They relied
on their senses, as this was natures' way of guiding them. If something tasted
bitter they didn't deny it but were wary of attempts to determine whether its true
essence was really bitter1 .
According to them the best chance of obtaining happiness and peace of mind
was not to hold dogmatic views but to always remain open to doubt. The fact
that it is possible for appearances to deceive us should make us particularly
wary of believing in things that we cannot experience because we can never
determine their truth. The fact that different moral views can be supported
indicates that there is no indisputable knowledge about morals - only
opinions. However, it was possible to act morally by choosing those actions
which had the highest probability of achieving happiness - customs and laws
were reliable guides, but should always be open to change.2

Like the cynics and sceptics before him Epicurus was faced with many
conflicting claims to the truth together with their prescriptions for moral
behaviour. His philosophy was primarily guided by the practical value that it

Not even our taste buds were immune from slander!
Refer to section 66 for the quest for happiness.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 159
had. Unlike many philosophers before him he lived according to his philosophy
- he practised what he preached.
He revived the atomistic and moral theories of Democritus, and is known mainly
for his version of hedonism which today carries a somewhat derogatory
implication. However, there is nothing whatever in his philosophy that even
remotely matches the vision of feasts and orgies that the term 'hedonist' conjures
up in the modern mind. The word 'hedonist' is defined in the Concise Oxford
Dictionary as the 'belief in pleasure as the highest good and mankind's proper
aim'. Epicurus was merely acknowledging the fact that people are naturally
driven to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and never required any beliefs in order to
do so. According to Epicurus it was our senses that told us that pain is bad and
pleasure good, and the maximum pleasure could be obtained in perfect health.
Mental pleasure was more important than sensual pleasures, and to achieve this
it was necessary to escape from useless fears such as those of god and death.
According to Epicurus everything that can be said to exist was made up of atoms
which had always existed and were created by some purposeless and random
event. There was therefore no need for god or an afterlife. We needn't fear death,
as in death there can be no sensation of pain. We needn't fear any gods as they
had no influence over us - they had no troubles of their own and never caused
any for people. They required no favours from anyone and never granted any
because these were characteristics of the weak. They have nothing to do with
human affairs and praying for help was therefore useless. If praying were
effective the world would have already ended as people would always request
bad tidings for others.
Because humans had sensations and could think, they were capable of
determining their own nature, and it was wisdom that helped us to avoid over-
indulgence and pain by controlling the desires. It was thus clear that the only
way we could achieve happiness was to do so on our own. The only function of
society was to prevent people from causing pain to others; laws and justice were
merely conventions that should be obeyed to the extent they provided for public
order and personal security. Epicurus advocated a simple and natural approach
towards life.

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Chapter Eight
The Entrenchment Of Mysticism
The Power Of Belief
We saw in section 25 how the psychologically powerful sentiment that people
attached to their superstitious beliefs and practices led to a revolution when the
attempt was made to change them. As the followings of certain superstitious
groups grew, so too did the power of their leaders. The historical studies of the
Sophist Thrasymachus in about 500BC led him to conclude that might is right
and that it was the strong who imposed their will on others by force. However,
superstitious leaders were now able to control and influence their followers by
offering them belief and hope. The belief of people that their suffering was a
punishment for not following a prescribed set of rules, together with the
hope that it would be followed by a better life after death, was sufficient to
obtain their obedience.1 The simplicity and power of this crude psychology
to control and influence large amounts of people without force didn't go
unnoticed. We will see in section 45 how, in the year 392AD, the
psychological power of religious sentiment and the might of brute force
would join hands together. It was an alliance that spread rapidly
throughout the old world and conquered the new world of the Americas
until it reigned universally.
Superstitious thinkers have always been impressed by the logic and certainty of
science and wherever possible they attempt to incorporate anything that might
give their speculations the appearance of being scientific, rational, or logical.
They were quick to make use of the mysticism of Plato but fiercely resisted
anything scientific that cast any doubt on their doctrines, to such an extent that
they effectively stifled scientific progress by at least 1,500 years. Today the
attempt is being made to enlist the uncertainty that is the hallmark of quantum

Refer to section 11 for the psychology of belief and distortions of reality. Refer to
section 27 for historical examples and section 63 for manipulation as a result of holding
certain beliefs.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 161
In doing so they are following a tradition that goes back thousands of years
in equating a fear of the unknown, the unfamiliar or the uncertain with
imaginary things such as demons, spirits and gods.1
It may seem fairly obvious that if you start with an empty container you can
only get out of it what you put into it, no more and no less. If all you have to put
into it is words then all you will get out of it is the air that carried them. This is
obvious, yet some of the most esteemed philosophers attempted to do precisely
this - to manipulate words and thereby bring into existence imaginary things
such as demons, spirits and gods. Their attempts stand as a monument to the
power that a fear of the uncertain has, and the consummate ease with which it
can distort the reasoning ability of even the greatest thinkers.2

The marriage of Religion and Politics
By the year 130BC the trading village of Rome had grown, by conquest and the
acquisition of territory over a period of 150 years, to become an empire
spreading from Spain and Britain in the West, to Egypt and Mesopotamia in the
East. The Romans ruled by disarming conquered peoples and collecting taxes
from them. Wealth poured into Rome and promoted both corruption and
luxurious living. By the year 27BC Rome had in effect become a monarchy.
Augustus Caesar was said to be of divine lineage, if not a god himself. The
Roman emperors Caligula and Nero who succeeded him, both considered
themselves gods. The empire had no particular culture with which to replace
those it conquered, and consisted of a diverse cultural mix of people. This led to
the unique development of Roman law which was objective, based not on
religion but on practical concerns such as the settling of disputes regarding
ownership, property and contracts that were entered into between members of a
diverse mix of people.
After the death of Christ vigorous missionary activity led to the rapid expansion
of Christianity throughout the Roman empire and beyond. Missionaries spread
wide and far to convert civilised and uncivilised alike, setting up churches
wherever they could. The Christian doctrine was open to all, and had a strong
Refer to section 58 for a belief in imaginary causes.
Refer to section 46 for some of the rational proofs for the existence of God.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 162
appeal especially to the poor, sick and oppressed. Christianity offered them the
hope of a better life after this one and accepted everyone as being equal. Many
Germanic tribes were converted long before their eventual incursion into Roman
territory. Having members from many different cultural backgrounds was
something the Christian and Roman empires had in common and both sought to
control and unify them. At first the Christians were persecuted by the Romans,
as they refused to partake in the worship of other gods, but their numbers and
influence continued to grow. The Roman Emperor Constantine claimed to have
been converted to Christianity after seeing a vision of a cross in the sky shortly
before a battle, with the words 'By this sign shall ye conquer'. Using a cross as a
symbol he won the battle and shortly thereafter in 392AD Christianity became
the official religion of the Roman empire. Those who preached alternative
doctrines were now guilty of a crime against the state. Unifying the many
churches within the empire became a priority and the name Catholic, which
means universal in Greek, was given to the church.
It was a marriage of convenience. From now on political power protected the
church and enforced religious conformity, while powerful rulers were given the
authority of god, an authority which provided credibility and stability to their
rule. An accommodation between religious and political rulers would now
become almost a necessity, and changes in political power merely brought about
new alliances with the church.

The achievement of political objectives that might previously have seemed to

revolve purely around the expansion of power for powers' sake, could now
shelter under the wings of religion, and the rally cry 'for the greater glory of
God' was soon heard. The attractiveness of such a marriage was evident even to
pagan, barbarian kings, as it allowed them to acquire vastly more power than

© 1997 Allan Sztab 163

their tribal and often democratic institutions and traditions permitted them. This
had the effect of spreading Christianity even further.

Religious Faith and Philosophy
The Christian philosophers were quick to reflect the accommodation between
state and church, although, like most marriages, there would be some difficult
times ahead. The most serious dispute centred around whether the authority of
the state or the church was supreme.
Saint Augustine (354AD), following Plato, concluded that humans were
sinful and the state was necessary to control and prevent them from
destroying each other. He insisted on loyalty to the state provided it never
interfered with any of Gods commandments. Almost 1,000 years later, Saint
Thomas Aquinas (1225AD) adopted an essentially Aristotelian approach: that
the state wasn't grounded in human sinfulness but had evolved from nature.
According to him people used to live in communities and enjoyed freedom,
equality and independence. Laws aimed to achieve the harmonious living of
people within society. Humans had an essence which was fixed by God. The
state should be subordinate to the church because it had been granted authority
from God. It was only the duty of the state to maintain law and order amongst
the people whilst the church would provide for their spiritual concerns.
This dispute would finally come to a head on the battlefield which divided
Christianity into Catholics, who believe the authority of the church is supreme,
and Protestants, who believe that the authority of the state is supreme. This all
commenced when Martin Luther (1483AD) spoke out against the Holy Roman
Empire that he felt had become a priestly, corrupt and privileged class. Like
Saint Augustine and Plato before him he concluded that humans were sinful and
required a strong ruler to prevent chaos. However, Luther went much further and
insisted that unlike faith which was required for religion, blind obedience was
required for politics. Rulers had obtained their authority from God and to resist
them was to resist the will of God. He protested by posting ninety-five theses
on the church door at Wittenburg in 1517 and thereby started the Protestant
Reformation. For his troubles he was excommunicated from the Catholic

© 1997 Allan Sztab 164

church by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, but his resistance was against
the Italian papacy, who were essentially a foreign power. His doctrine was based
on the bible and had a popular appeal in Germany. The German princes saw the
advantage that such religious power and authority meant for their rule. They
were quick to seize church property and take its revenues for themselves. The
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was slow to act against the Protestants but in
1530 he managed to defeat some of the princes. In 1555 he was forced to
compromise in the Peace of Augsburg, whereby each prince was entitled to
choose their own religion. However, it would take the Thirty Years War between
1618 and 1648 to settle religious conflict in Germany. It was a war which spread
internationally and cost the lives of half the German population.
The Reformation spread to France and led to a long period of civil war, until the
Edict of Nantes in 1598 allowed Protestants to worship in public. The
Reformation also spread to Italy, Switzerland, Spain and England, where King
Henry VIII declared the king, and not the pope, as head of the church in 1534.
The Reformation gave rise to a Catholic counter-reformation, whereby all
heretics or non-Catholics were strongly opposed. The Inquisition was the most
infamous system of all; a court of the Catholic church set up specifically for
the discovery and punishment of heretics or non-believers by some of the
most cruel and barbaric methods of torture ever devised.1
Christianity proved to be remarkably flexible, and over time was developed and
enhanced. It was quick to modify and incorporate any ideas that could support
its doctrines, and here follows a short list of the attempts made by some of the
most esteemed thinkers in human history to conjure up the existence of
imaginary things.
The source of the ideas that follow are shown in brackets and the three proofs
that are most commonly cited are shown in bold:
All change is an illusion. God is the only unchanging and true reality.
(Parmenides and Plato).
The closest thing to god is light or pure mind or universal intelligence and
as we move away from god we get material things, darkness, and then the
Refer to Plato's justification of the persecuting and slaying of those whose conscience
forbade them from following the religious laws of society.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 165
boundary between nothing or non-being where there is disorder and evil.
Light represents good and darkness evil. The sensual desires are the powers
of darkness. Evil is the choice between loving god or loving other things.
(Plato, Ancient Iranian, Zoroastrian and Mithraic concepts).
Principles such as justice are implanted in things by god. These universals
can be extracted from them. Universals have an independent existence.
(Aristotle and Plato)
The fact that we can have an idea of something that is so perfect that
nothing can be more perfect is the idea of god, therefore god exists.
There is motion. There must be a Mover which is able to move things
without itself being moved. This First Mover is god. (Aristotle)
Everything is caused by something. It isn't possible to go back to
infinity so there must be a First Cause - god. (Aristotle)
All things achieve their potential or ends which are well-ordered and
intelligently designed. This intelligence is god. (Aristotle)
The most basic substance is a force or energy which has a built-in purpose
and is capable of action. In nature they all act in harmony and this points to
a god. (Gottfried Leibniz)
Things have a beginning and end in time and cannot come from nothing.
There must always have been something - god. (John Locke)
'To be is to be perceived'. Nothing can exist without a mind to perceive it
and if they do there must be some other mind - god. (George Berkeley)
If humans were limited to this life they wouldn't be able to 'endlessly
progress' towards the experience that the supreme good is virtue and
therefore happiness. In order to do so the soul must be immortal. There are
no grounds in nature or humanity for the universal connection between
virtue and happiness but we believe this to be true so it is morally
necessary for there to be a god. (Immanual Kant)
Everything is a product of our minds. Since we never created our minds
there must be some other mind responsible for it - an Absolute Mind - god.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 166
The knowledge a person has of their own mortality causes anxiety which
can only be overcome by their relationship to something everlasting - god.
(Soren Kierkegaard)

© 1997 Allan Sztab 167

Chapter Nine
Science And Reason
The myth of impartial observation
The steady progress of science and the growing understanding of nature that it
provided seemed to confirm what many philosophers had long suspected - that
nature had no concern with morality at all. Once again there were those
philosophers who realised the errors that occur when trust is placed on things or
explanations which couldn't be sensed. One of these was Michel De Montaigne
(1533) who lived during the Protestant Reformation amidst religious
persecution. Despite the existence of many religious doctrines, none could
provide any solutions to the miseries of his time. This led him to doubt their
truth. To him scepticism was a mood of inquiry that never held any dogmatic
doctrines or denied what was common sense - it was simply an attempt to lead a
fulfilling life. It was clear to him that it was only when people go beyond
sensory experience to capture the truth that fanaticism and dogmatism arose.
The attempt to create idealised or utopian images of humanity as opposed to
confronting the reality of human nature created not angels but beasts.1
It was a steady resistance to mystic solutions that provided a growing impetus
towards some criteria by which rival claims to the truth might be judged. The
truth or falsity of scientific theories could at least be demonstrated, and there
were some philosophers who thought that the application of scientific method to
philosophy would enable it to make similar progress. Francis Bacon attempted
to reform philosophy and science which to him had now been mixed up with
superstition, mysticism and theology. He believed that peoples' minds had been
corrupted by traditional education which was full of ancient prejudices and
imaginary things. To him the solution was to observe things without allowing
one's prejudices to distort them. This commenced by getting rid of all unproven
claims so that everyone stood an equal chance of finding the truth. In this
process no Platonic claims to unique insight or intuition should be entertained.
According to Bacon nature was matter set into motion and because of its
indifference could offer no guidance for human behaviour. He believed that it
Refer to section 67 for political systems that are based on utopian ideals of humanity.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 168
was the misuse of language that created misunderstandings and while a word
such as purpose might describe human intentions, it was out of context when
applied to nature. Furthermore, because nature was indifferent the word good
only demonstrated the value or preference that people had towards certain
Bacons' attempt to eradicate some of the bias and prejudice that was inherent in
the way we observe things, would go on to have a marked influence on the
development of philosophical thought and the problems concerning observation
would take philosophers a long time to unravel. The view that we acquire our
knowledge of facts based on our experiences and observations of what goes on
around us, is known as empiricism. However, observation is fraught with
problems. To begin with, there is no absolute guarantee that our senses are
correct. If we look at a stick immersed in a bucket of water it appears to be bent,
although we know that this isn't so. Some might cite this as an instance where
the senses deceive us but we must also take into account that our senses work in
collaboration with each other, so the deception of sight is easily exposed by the
sense of touch. In addition, examples like this should always be treated with
caution, because it would be equally correct to say that what our eyes are
reporting is the fact that light is refracted or bent by water. It is only a lack of
knowledge of refraction that gives rise to the incorrect conclusion that it is our
eyes that deceive us.
In the process of interpretation an observer is influenced by their existing
knowledge and experience, cultural upbringing, prejudices and expectations. All
these are brought into play, and form the basis upon which the interpretations of
the observer are made. We saw in section 9 how the mind takes short-cuts and
employs various rules while processing information. Whatever we don't know or
recognise might be harmful. To this extent the unfamiliar is feared and we saw
in section 11 how the ability to recognise what is known to us is the cornerstone
of learning. Thus the very first thing we do when we observe something is to see
whether we recognise it. In this process all the past associations and meanings
that are associated with our present observations are recalled and applied to

Refer to section 58 and the error of imaginary and false causes.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 169
them. This is how our past experiences and interpretations, prejudices and
expectations colour our world. This same process applies even if the
observations only remind us of certain past events or experiences. The vast
amount of information that must be processed for recognition, combined with
the speed at which this is performed, can only be done subconsciously. What
we get is the end result of this complex and little-understood process, an end
result which might be a feeling of apprehension, fear, mistrust, or any other
emotion. This is what we refer to as a feeling of intuition.
When our survival is at stake we have to make speedy judgements - we aren't
geared for the luxury of contemplation. Hasty judgements with all their
prejudice and irrationality give us speed which is often vital. In mathematics the
fact that 1 + 1 = 2 or 2 x 2 = 4 might seems natural or self-evident. 1 However,
we have forgotten the length of time we spent habituating or learning our
addition and times tables. These feelings of intuition or self-evident truths
are merely the end result of the process of recognition. The natural or
intuitive feeling we have as to what constitutes the right and wrong
behaviour is fashioned in exactly the same way when we learn and conform
to the behaviour and commands of our parents and society. By constant
repetition these rights and wrongs, do's and don'ts are habituated and
appear at some later time to be natural, self-evident, or intuitive.

Intuition assists us to determine whether a stranger can be trusted, a

determination that is often based purely on the fact that they possess certain
features or characteristics that we have come to associate with other people who
have proved to be trustworthy in the past. Merely by looking at someone we
prejudge them as being dishonest or cruel or even depraved. The prejudice and
bias that is a daily part of our lives is well-researched, and it is known that
people who are tall tend to be better paid and rise to the top of the corporate
world more easily than shorter people. People who are good looking also find it
easier to get jobs - as one employer admitted candidly, 'why employ ugly people
when you can employ good-looking people for the same money?'2
Prejudices, strong desires and our beliefs colour or distort our reality. We
might interpret a glance from a member of the opposite sex as an indication that
Refer to section 50 for the criticism by Locke of intuition.
Refer to section 11 for the prejudice inherent in the recognition process.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 170
they are attracted to us. Politeness and a caring attitude could be interpreted as
an indication of a willingness to befriend us. Being reprimanded might be
interpreted as an indication that the person reprimanding us dislikes us or holds
a grudge towards us, especially if we are feeling unloved. To alleviate a fear of
death we might hold a belief in an afterlife or reincarnation.1 A scientist might
inadvertently design an experiment and interpret the results in such a way that it
lends support to a conclusion which is fuelled by a desire to earn praise from the
scientific community, enhance their career prospects or even the possibility of
earning a Nobel prize.
No matter how careful we are we can only conclude that there is no such
thing as an impartial observer. This fact underscores the essential
requirement of feedback, testing and the independent replication of claims
that is the hallmark of scientific method.
On a personal level we can achieve an air of critical awareness by deferring our
judgements and treating every new person and situation as what they are:
unique. We can go even further towards breaking from the past by not expecting
people and situations to stay the same or to last forever.2

Science and faith
'We cannot foresee which parts of our scientific knowledge may come to
grief one day. Thus the belief in scientific certainty and in the authority of
science is just wishful thinking: science is fallible, because science is
human.' (Popper)
Science may be defined as a discipline that expands and systematises
knowledge. Aristotle realised that generalisations or universal claims about
nature and things were based purely on repeated observations. Obviously these
observations were subject to the interpretation of the person who made them, but
even if we had the consensus of an entire society he realised that there would
still be a problem. A scientist might observe that whenever object 1 is raised and
released it falls, when object 2 is raised and released it falls, when object 3 is
Refer to section 14 for the fear of uncertainty and superstitious belief.
Refer to section 64 for the harbouring of unrealistic expectations and section 66 for
deferring judgement as a means of combating prejudice. Some of the pitfalls of leaping
to conclusions is clearly illustrated in appendices F and G.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 171
raised and released it falls and so on. Based on numerous of these observations,
the scientist would then generalise and make the universal claim that every
object that was lifted and released would fall, something that could only be
absolutely true if every object fell every conceivable time it was lifted and
released. Of course this would be impossible to perform so the generalisation
could never be said to represent the absolute truth. This process of arriving at
generalisations Aristotle called induction, a process that is the cornerstone of
science. What this means is that scientific belief also requires a faith in the
truth of its generalisations. There is simply no way of making all future
observations so the possibility always exists that a future observation will be
contrary to those already made. The example just cited would be considered a
very strong induction as there is much evidence to support the generalisation
that when objects are lifted and then released they fall. When this is clearly not
the case we would speak of a weak induction. Science commences with these
induction's or generalisations, and based on them scientists formulate laws,
hypotheses or suggested explanations of how things work. The attempt is then
made to test these hypotheses, which are often modified or even abandoned as a
result. What is explained by a particular model today might be abandoned in
favour of a better explanation tomorrow, and this process of trial and error is
essentially how science progresses.
A word of caution is required here. The fact that science also requires a
faith in the truth of its generalisations doesn't mean that any other faith is
of equal merit in the same way that the relativity of morality doesn't mean
that all moral systems are of equal merit.
Historically, the ability of science to predict has often been seen as a challenge
to the power of others, especially that of the Church, and when scientific
explanations conflict with the views and interests of others they are often
resisted. For example, Aristotle believed that the earth was stationary while the
sun, moon and planets moved in circular orbits around it. It thus appeared that
the earth was the centre of the universe. Ptolemy formed this idea into a
complete cosmological model in the second century. This view persisted until
the sixteenth century, when Copernicus theorised that the sun was stationary and

© 1997 Allan Sztab 172

the earth and planets moved in circular orbits around it. The Church had adopted
the Ptolemaic theory because it placed the creation of earth and human beings at
the centre of the universe. As a result, Copernicus had to circulate his model
anonymously for fear of being branded an heretic. It took almost another century
before his ideas were taken seriously and confirmed in part by the observations
of Galileo.
During the early part of this century the physics of Newton dominated science.
Newton's laws were based on observations and verified by numerous
experiments which anyone could reproduce. His laws of motion and gravity
unified vast tracts of experience, and gave us the ability to mathematically
predict the motions of bodies. They also portrayed the universe as being
determined in a mechanistic sense. In 1803 Thomas Young conducted a simple
experiment that revealed the wave-like property of light. This became the
accepted view of the nature of light but was problematic because light could
travel through the vacuum of space. Some scientists even proposed the existence
of an invisible ether which conveyed the light waves until Einstein demonstrated
that light was particle-like and is composed of photons. It was for this
achievement that he was awarded the Nobel prize for physics. Today the dual
nature of light still remains a mystery.
There was another peculiar property of light that puzzled scientists - its speed
was always the same whenever it was measured, irrespective of the
circumstances of its measurement. This perplexed scientists because the laws of
transformation did not apply to it. These laws were already entrenched in
peoples' minds and were accordingly considered natural, instinctive, or
common sense. They are best illustrated as follows: if we were on a huge
platform moving at 500 k.p.h. and whilst on the platform accelerated to 80 k.p.h.
in the same direction our speed would be 500+80=580 k.p.h. If we accelerated
to 80 k.p.h. in the opposite direction to that of the platform our speed would be
500-80=420 k.p.h. However, these laws didn't apply to light. Einstein's genius
was to accept the fact that light always travels at a constant speed even if he
couldn't explain it. He dared to accept that the orthodox views of his time were
wrong. He turned the problem of the speed of light into a principle - the

© 1997 Allan Sztab 173

principle of the constancy of the velocity of light, which is the cornerstone of his
theories of relativity.
Another assumption that scientists made concerned a concept of motion or lack
of motion known as absolute rest. Einstein could find no reason why anything
should be taken to be at absolute rest in preference to anything else, and
proposed to do away with this concept altogether. Nothing on earth is at rest. In
fact there is no such thing as absolute rest. The earth with us on it is spinning on
its axis and at the same time orbiting around the sun. We only feel that we are
stationary in the same way we feel stationary whilst as a passenger on an aircraft
or train. However, the measurements we obtain of other moving bodies are only
relative to our own movement at the time we take the measurement, and don't
represent the situation of the bodies as they actually are. The implications of this
are startling and difficult to comprehend even today.
The velocity of an object is the distance it covers divided by the time it takes to
do so. This is normally expressed in units such as kilometres per minute. There
are only three variables to consider - the velocity, distance and time. If we know
two of them the third is easy to calculate. Now if the velocity of light is constant
throughout the universe, then the difference between what we measure
concerning an object and the factual situation of the object can only be
accounted for by changes in time and distance. Once we know its velocity and
its distance from us then time is the only variable left. The result is that if we are
travelling much faster than someone else our clocks will appear to them to be
moving slower and vice versa even though everyone's clocks will appear to
them to be working perfectly. Similarly, if we measured the length of an object
travelling at great speed we would find it was shorter than it was at a slower
speed.1 To verify the differences in time that Einstein's theories predicted, four
highly accurate clocks were put on board a plane and flown around the world.
When the plane landed the clocks were found to be slightly slower than similar
earth-bound clocks with which they had been synchronised before leaving. The
rate at which time flows is therefore dependent on the velocity at which an
object moves and varies throughout the universe.

Refer to Zeno's paradoxes of motion in section 34.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 174
Just as Newton's theories made predictions that could be verified, so too did
Einstein's. The remarkable thing about Einstein's theories is that they not only
confirmed and incorporated the many explanations of Newton's theories but
went on to explain many problems and difficulties that were unaccountable on
the Newtonian model. Today a revolution is taking place in an area of science
known as quantum physics. Quantum physics deals with very small sub-atomic
particles such as protons and electrons. The reason quantum physics is so
revolutionary is that on this small scale the laws of physics as we know them
break down, and, to make things even more difficult to comprehend, particles on
such a small scale behave in ways that are counter intuitive.1 Quantum theory
does not deal in certainty but only in probabilities. For example, if we fired a
single photon of light at a wall and we wanted to know where on the wall it
would land, quantum theory will only give us the probability that it will land in
a given area but whether it does so or not is considered pure chance. This pure
chance aspect of quantum theory led Einstein to remark that '... god does not
play dice'.
Scientists are now confronting philosophical issues in the laboratory. They are
divided as to whether a quantum object (a sub-atomic particle) has any
properties prior to its being observed or measured. It isn't possible for the human
eye to see sub-atomic particles and complex equipment is required to detect
them. Let's say we couldn't physically see an obstacle but wanted to confirm its
presence. We could throw a ball at it and if it bounced back we would accept
that it was there. However, in the process of detecting the obstacle something
about it would have changed due to the impact of the ball - perhaps its position
or velocity. The same thing occurs when observing or measuring quantum
objects and this is the reason some scientists believe that quantum objects only
acquire their properties during the measurement process itself i.e. that observers
create quantum reality.2
It was for this reason that Einstein considered quantum theory incomplete. He
believed there were some hidden variables which, if known, would account for
the unobserved or unmeasured properties of quantum objects.3 This battle, in
Refer to section 11 for uncertainty, fear, belief and distortions of reality. Refer to
section 54 for the difficulty of conceiving matter as consisting of matterless energy.
Refer to section 51 for the claims of innate knowledge made by Kant and the mystical
philosophy of Hegel who believed that everything we experience is a product of our
Refer to section 58 for the belief that everything has something that caused it.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 175
which Einstein pitted his well-tested theories of relativity against quantum
theory, continued for almost 30 years until 1964, when Bells Theorem showed
that any hidden variable theory that attempted to account for the quantum object
having unobserved or unmeasured properties, must allow for faster-than-light
communication. The results of Bells Theorem are independent of the truth or
falsity of quantum theory. And this is very much where modern science stands
today - poised for yet another revolution on possibly an even greater scale than
that of either Newton or Einstein.
Science gives us a greater understanding of why things work the way they do
but it cannot explain everything, and is therefore incomplete. It makes no claim
to absolute truth and scientific progress of necessity implies that something that
is considered true today might be considered an error tomorrow.
'A particularly impressive example of this is the discovery of heavy water,
and of heavy hydrogen (deuterium, first separated by Harold C. Urey in
1931). Prior to this discovery, nothing more certain and settled could be
imagined in the field of chemistry than our knowledge of water (H2O) and
of the chemical elements of which it is composed. Water was even used for
the 'operational' definition of the gram, the unit standard of mass of the
'absolute' metric system; it thus formed one of the basic units of
experimental physical measurement... but after the discovery of heavy
water, it was realised that what had been believed to be a chemically pure
compound was actually a mixture of chemically indistinguishable but
physically very different compounds, with very different densities, boiling
points, and freezing points - though for the definitions of all these points,
'water' had been used as a standard base.' (Popper)
However, the methods of science renders it capable of a steady progress towards
an ever more comprehensive understanding of the natural world. Science has a
method of peer review whereby all scientific claims are subjected to
independent verification, demonstration and criticism. This process crosses the
boundaries of different cultures and language groups. Rival scientists are free to
criticise and conduct their own experiments to confirm, refute or modify any
© 1997 Allan Sztab 176
The critical methodology of science, particularly its ability to demonstrate
and predict by achieving the same results repeatedly by whoever chooses to
do so, is the single most important means of distinguishing scientific claims
from mystical and superstitious claims such as those of religion, astrology,
aura diagnosis, astral travelling, biorhythms, clairvoyance, extra-sensory
perception, ufology, graphology, numerology, parapsychology, precognition,
psychic surgery, faith healing, pyramidology, spiritualism, reincarnation,
regression, satanism, scientology, telepathy, I Ching and witchcraft.

The bridge between what is and what ought to be
There is nothing a scientist or any other person can do to compel nature to work
in any way other than the way it does. The philosopher David Hume first drew
attention to the fact that, armed only with an interpretation or generalisation
about what something is, it wasn't possible to determine how it ought to be. A
moral judgement that an object or action was good or bad referred not to the
bare facts of the object or action, but was something else that was produced in
the mind. This principle became known as Hume's Law. (How this law may be
applied to the process of logical deduction is covered in the next section). This
gap or bridge between what is the case and what ought to be the case is not even
considered in science. However, some philosophers believed that they could
cross this bridge by commencing with the truth and not with generalisations.
They attempted to define what good meant based on the properties or
essence of good actions, and in doing so they were led down the same blind
alley that Socrates had taken before them. In many cases they hoped their
basic assumptions about human nature would enable them to determine how
humans ought to behave and govern themselves. They made many attempts to
define what was considered good or bad and many of their arguments sound
convincing. However, the philosopher G.E. Moore formulated what came to be
known as the open question argument, which applied Hume's Law to moral
judgements and made it easy to expose the error that is implicit in them.
If we defined good as meaning 'feeding hungry people' then we could always
reasonably and meaningfully ask, 'If I feed hungry people is this good?' Having

© 1997 Allan Sztab 177

defined that good is 'feeding hungry people' and substituting it for the word good
in our question we would get 'If I feed hungry people is this feeding hungry
people?' which is a mere repetition of words and the sentence loses its meaning.
The same would apply to any definition of good we chose to use because good
is only an abstract name given to an action that we or society value or approve
The temptation to bridge the gap between what is and what ought to be the case,
is so irresistible that even today some philosophers continue to spend their time
carefully trying to define good as that which satisfies a human desire or want.
However, such a definition of good still amounts to the same thing, because the
only reason we would choose one action over that of another would be its value
to us in satisfying the desire or want. What is clear is that there is nothing
scientific in their definitions. Science doesn't require precise definitions or
make the claim that its generalisations are true. Scientists don't need to
know what something is to understand how it works. For example, it isn't
necessary to define with any degree of accuracy what a sand dune is unless a
sand dune with specific characteristics, such as those of its height and width, are
required. Science relies on demonstration and makes progress by a process
of trial and error.
Some philosophers based their observations on events that surrounded them, and
looked to history for evidence that would serve either to refute or confirm their
generalisations about human behaviour. Modern scientific research reveals how
accurate many of their observations were. The problems they faced in their
times were similar to those we face today - government corruption, escalating
violence and social disorder. It was probably with this in mind that Machiavelli
and Hobbes set about making generalisations based on their observations of
human nature. They laid the foundations upon which politics could progress
scientifically by a process of trial and error. However, politics is characterised
by a process of repetitive errors with hardly any trials. This is glaringly obvious
because, despite the fact that certain assumptions about human nature have
proved themselves to be wrong countless numbers of times, their lessons have
failed to lead to suitable political modifications in an attempt to weed them out.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 178

Thus we find that every form of government continues to give wide ranging
powers to individuals on the erroneous assumption that there is a mystical being,
such as a politician, who won't abuse them. Corruption by government
employees continues without proper safeguards, on the erroneous assumption
that if they are well paid they will not steal.1 Today we still have various kinds
of dictatorships ranging from the purely military to a combination of military
and religious. There are also a wide range of pseudo- democracies which serve
interests ranging from those of one party or tribe, to that of America, which
serves the special interests of upwards of 4,000 lobbyists who represent big-
business and perhaps even more clandestine groups.
Nicollo Machiavelli (1469) claimed that historically it was good laws combined
with the will and capability of enforcing them that had enabled societies to
What Is the case. According to him people desired more than they could
get and would therefore always be dissatisfied. A virtuous leader was one
who created order and stability out of chaos.
What Ought to be done. Order should be imposed by force. In order to
achieve this a leader was justified in using any means possible because
humans were unscrupulous, egotistical, and only understood force. Once
order was achieved the leader could then step aside and let the people rule.
He advocated a republic similar to the Roman empire where the interests of
all are represented and check each other. He recognised that force alone
doesn't make a leaders rule legitimate.
Suggested ordering of Religion. According to Machiavelli, having
religious support for political objectives was useful for a leader as religion
could unify people. The church must serve the state. Religion turned
attention away from the practical concerns of life towards the beyond, and
the failure of the Holy Roman Empire to achieve political order and
stability were proof of this.
Thomas Hobbes (1588) sought to instil certainty into politics and morality.
According to him what was missing was a method such as that of science, which
Refer to section 67 and political systems that continue to perpetrate the errors of the
© 1997 Allan Sztab 179
would enable certain knowledge to be found. He attempted to provide some
basic principles which to him were obvious. He began with human nature.
What Is the case. According to Hobbes humans are motivated by their
appetites - satisfying them yields pleasure. They seek personal safety,
economic gain, glory and fame. They are more interested in what is useful
to them than what is good and aren't motivated by social concerns. They
want to be esteemed by others and strive to establish their superiority.
There is no limit to their passions. Knowledge provides the information,
and power the ability to satisfy the appetites. This knowledge is based on
previously memorised, sensory experiences. Knowledge is therefore
limited to appearances and serves the desires. Signs and the names given to
things and events are represented by words. Reasoning is the manipulation
of words and the events or things they represent. The word 'good' is used to
describe useful or pleasurable things while the word 'evil' is used to
describe harmful or painful things. Because people have different pleasures
morality is relative. There are no principles in nature to determine right or
wrong, justice or injustice - in reality, the virtues of force and fear rule. All
humans are equal before nature, and because they compete for limited
materials, struggle will often be the result. Humans can lie and take offence
for no reason and the only solution for peace is to construct an artificial
convention (such as a constitution). The conditions for peace clash with the
quest for power.1
What Ought to be done. Hobbes proposed two 'laws of nature': every
person ought to be committed to peace and be prepared to mutually limit
their liberty over others.2 Based on his conception of human nature he
proposed an absolute sovereign to enforce the law, whether this was one
person or many - an authority that was to be above the law. It is for this
reason that he has been wrongly accused of being the father of
totalitarianism. His decision was based on the belief that there were only
two things that could influence people: force, and the fear of death.

Refer to section 65 for domineering desires and section 67 for the required safeguards.
Refer to section 61 for the determination of limitations to freedom.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 180
According to him life without order had always been 'solitary, poor, nasty,
brutish and short'.
Suggested ordering of Religion. To Hobbes religion was based on the
human desire to understand things. Ignorance caused anxiety and then fear
which led to the worship of invisible powers. According to him all the
pagan gods could be explained in this fashion. Similarly, religious leaders
like Abraham and Moses, who wanted to obtain the obedience of people,
used words within the context and beliefs of their time. To introduce other
philosophical ideas to them was a misuse of biblical terms. History
confirmed the use of fear in the development of religion, specifically to
obtain control over people. A contextual reading of the bible would
reveal that the kingdom of god was on earth and there is no such thing
as heaven, hell and an immortal soul. Accordingly, the church had no
power to grant eternal damnation or the reward of immortality. Until
the second coming of Christ the political sovereign was in effect the chief
pastor of the church.

Logic, reason and rationalism
In the previous section we saw how two renowned philosophers arrived at
certain conclusions based on the strength of their generalisations. Making
deductions, or reaching conclusions based on certain facts or generalisations, is
known as reasoning. When this reasoning is performed by complying with
certain rules of logic it is known as logical reasoning. Aristotle founded the
study of logic, which for him was the study of thoughts that are transformed into
words with which we then attempt to prove things. He formulated the three
fundamental rules upon which logic is based.
1. Non-contradiction: Nothing can be both A and Not A.
A person cannot be both single and married as this is a contradiction.
2. Identity: A is A.
When we refer to any object like a cup for example, we are assuming the cup is
a cup and not something else.
3. The Excluded Middle: Everything is either A or Not A.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 181
A cup is either a cup or it is not a cup; a person is either married or not married.
Aristotle also identified the logical principle of implication which states that if
A = B and B = C, then A = C.
These rules are accepted and used by all of us whenever we think and
speak. Once they are accepted the ground is prepared for what is known as
deductive reasoning, where we move from a statement or a premise to a
conclusion. For example, if we accept a statement or premise such as 'If it rains
then the garden will get wet', and it rains, we may arrive at the conclusion that
the garden will get wet. This is known as a logically valid deduction.
However, if we noticed that the garden was wet we couldn't validly deduce that
it had rained, because the gardener might have watered it. This would be an
example of a logically invalid deduction, because the premise only says 'If it
rains then the garden will get wet', and not 'If the garden is wet then it rained'.
We know that induction requires a faith in the truth of its generalisations.
Similarly, logic also requires faith - a faith in the truth of the rules upon
which it is based. These rules are not proved, but are assumptions that seem
to work for the purposes we have created them for: to serve our needs.
There is nothing of necessity in them.
Let's take the principle of implication that if A = B and B = C, then A = C. This
principle relies on the notion that there are identical things, something that is
only an assumption, because if A was in all respects equal to B it would in fact
be B and not A. That nothing can be both A and not A might only be a lack of
ability and not a truth. It is useful to make this assumption but what is useful
is no criterion of truth.
Logic is nonetheless a powerful tool with which we can differentiate between
logically valid and logically invalid deductions. It is seen at work in the heart of
every computer processor. The fact that logic also requires faith wasn't
recognised by many philosophers for a long time. The basic rules of logic and
mathematics seemed to them natural, intuitive and common sense.1 However,
these tools were designed primarily because a logical world or a calculable
world is useful to us, and not because of any claims to the absolute truth. For

Refer to section 47 for rapid interpretations and feelings of intuition.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 182
example, Euclidean geometry informs us that two parallel lines never intersect,
yet on any world globe we see lines of longitude which, while parallel at the
equator, converge at the poles.
The conclusions of philosophers like Bacon and Hobbes were based first and
foremost on their observations of the world. They were followed by other
philosophers whose faith in reason was so great that they believed the mind
itself could generate a system of absolute truths about the world. The first one to
attempt this was Rene Descartes (1596). He attempted to put aside all his
personal knowledge, prior experience and prejudices in an attempt to become an
impartial observer. Saint Augustine had claimed that doubting is an act of
certainty because the person who is doubting knows that they are doubting, and
because of this they must exist. Descartes may have modified this into his
famous Cogito ergo sum - 'I think therefore I am' - which he believed was
an absolute truth that couldn't be doubted. He believed that this truth would
provide him with the starting point of a system of certain knowledge, and this
assumption illustrates clearly how easily a strong desire can lead to belief in a
false truth. False, because amongst other criticisms the word I, like any other
word, can only be established as a word by social consent, so the mere use
of the word itself implies that at least two or more people agreed on its
usage prior to its use.1 What Descartes believed he had done was to prove that
a mind that thinks, exists. However, this still didn't account for a persons
material body and in doing so he established the notion that the I, ego, or mind
that thinks, has a separate existence from the body. In other words, that there are
two separate entities, a spiritual and a material. There are insurmountable
problems with such a view, especially if we consider how such completely
different entities could possibly interact with each other, and over the next 250
years much of philosophy would be occupied with this apparent problem which
we shall deal with later in section 54.
Gottfried Leibniz (1646) was a mathematician who published his discovery of
calculus three years before Newton. He refined logic even further by introducing
the concept of verification, and the placing of a limitation on what could or
Refer to section 3 for the social consent necessary for language and section 32 for
social consent and its role in truth.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 183
couldn't be validly deduced. He distinguished between truths of fact and truths
of reason. According to him all truths of fact must first be verified or tested to
determine their truth. There must be a reason that makes them true or else they
could equally be false. Before this reason is found or the fact verified, truths of
fact are only contingent or potentially true. Furthermore, truths of fact can yield
no more information than is already contained in them. In other words, if you
have facts A and B then the information you can get from them is limited to the
information that is already contained in them.
At first glance this seemed obvious but was nevertheless necessary, because it
was a mistake that many highly respected philosophers had made in the past,
and would continue to make in the future. Consider the fallacious reasoning of
Plato that we are already familiar with: I have an Idea of something, therefore
it exists. The fact that we have an idea of something that we are able to
paint and describe in minute detail doesn't confer existence on it. In other
words, existence isn't a property of an idea and cannot be logically inferred
from it. 'I have an idea' only entitles one to claim 'I have an idea'. Nothing
else can be deduced from it.
This limitation might at first glance lead one to doubt whether new information
can be deduced from known facts. However, a simple example will illustrate
how this is possible. At election time Mr Smith goes to the local school to cast
his vote; when he gets there he approaches Mr Official to find out which room
he must go to. Mr Official knows that all people whose names start with S vote
in room 4 so this forms the first premise or statement of fact. Mr Smith tells Mr
Official that his name starts with an S, and this forms the second premise. Based
on these two premises Mr Smith and Mr Official are able to derive some further
information by concluding that Mr Smith votes in room 4.
The process of arriving at a deduction may be summarised as follows:
Premise 1 : Those whose names start with S vote in room 4.
Premise 2 : Mr Smith's name starts with an S.
Deduction : Therefore Mr Smith votes in room 4.
Hume's Law that you cannot derive how one ought to behave from what is, as
we saw in section 49, can now be stated in logical terminology - the information
© 1997 Allan Sztab 184
that we deduce must be included in the premises of our argument. As we can see
from the above example, no new information is acquired in the deduction that
wasn't already included in the premises.
We can never derive a moral conclusion, something that we ought to do,
based on matters of fact, or what is the case, because moral information is
not contained in matters of fact.
According to Leibniz, truths of reason are known purely by logic, and are tested
by the law of contradiction which could be done independently of any
experience. For example, if we denied that Miss G is single because she isn't
married this would be contradictory because single means someone who isn't
married. Similarly, if we deny that a triangle has three sides this leads to a
contradiction. To claim that a triangle has three sides is a tautology, a truth of
reason, because to deny its socially-agreed meaning would be contradictory.
Leibniz also held the view that all matter was formed of active forces or energy
which he called monads. These monads were constantly active because all life
requires movement. He anticipated what particle physicists are now discovering
in the laboratory: that what appears to us as matter is ultimately formed out of
matterless forces or energy.1
Leibniz and Descartes were rationalists. They believed that truths of reason
could be obtained by moving from one idea to another without any
experience at all. These ideas were deemed to be true provided they
satisfied the law of non-contradiction. However, if rationalism is accepted
then people are free to introduce any non-contradictory systems they can
intuit without a shred of evidence. This is precisely what Plato did as well as
many mystic philosophers after him. In fact, people often make rationalisations
to justify their behaviour, and we saw in section 46 how the desire for certainty
led some of the most brilliant minds to rationalise imaginary things into
existence.2 Rationalists often claim that the knowledge contained in
propositions, such as 'the shortest route between two points is a straight line', are
innate and require no experience. However, upon closer scrutiny they all break
down, and the example just cited is only an expression in language of how a
Refer to section 54 for more on the question of body versus mind.
Refer to section 58 for the error of imaginary causes and things.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 185
person would attempt to get from point A to point B. This could only occur by
keeping B in sight and walking towards it. The fact that our eyes see what is
directly in front of them is what gives the expression its truth status. The
concepts straight, shortest and line are human language constructs, based on
experience and common consent, which have then been applied to describe the
process of getting from A to B. It is our acceptance of these language constructs,
through years of learning and using them, that makes the proposition 'the
shortest route between two points is a straight line' seem innate, self-evident
and natural, without any requirement of experience. Mathematics was
developed out of necessity to make things calculable and to assist us in
describing them. There is nothing in nature that either requires or is bound to
any rule of mathematics. Language was also developed out of the necessity for
rapid communication and co-operation between people.
John Locke (1632) rejected the concept of innate truths. Plato claimed that
knowledge was accessible by intellectual intuition, but according to Locke this
type of thinking only encouraged prejudice, opinions and beliefs, not
knowledge. According to him the fact that 1 + 1 = 2 may seem self-evident and
intuitive is to ignore the fact that we are born with a mind that is initially blank
and is then filled with our own unique experiences. For this reason the statement
1 + 1 = 2 made no sense to anyone who hadn't already been taught arithmetic.
The lure of self-evident truths arises purely from the habituation to
mathematical rules and language concepts. Our knowledge is limited to
whatever sensory information we can obtain and truths of reason are deduced by
us from our interpretations of sensory experience. While he rejected innate
truths he nevertheless managed to arrive at many of the same conclusions as his
predecessors: god existed because things we experience always have a
beginning and an end and cannot come from nothing.
For Locke, a complete understanding of reality wasn't necessary, for moral
actions could rationally be determined by their relation to the sensations of
pleasure (good) and pain (bad), a conclusion shared by Epicurus. The law of
opinion is a community's judgement of what they consider good or bad
behaviour, and varies from culture to culture. It is conformity to this law that is

© 1997 Allan Sztab 186

called virtue. He believed that people were creatures of god and were all equal.
Even in their natural state the ability of humans to make use of reason allowed
them to recognise this equality, which would lead them to adopt the moral law
not to do any harm to each other. It was only by consent that people formed a
society and gave up their natural rights to those of the majority, whose decision
they agreed to obey. It was a lack of laws in society that led to conflicts between
According to Locke people were entitled to the products of their labour which
they then had a claim over. They were free to accumulate as much as they could
provided they never deprived anyone else of land to work. Religion was useful
in providing a code of moral conduct that would enable illiterate people to
obtain salvation. It could exist separately from civil law, which was based on the
natural and equal rights of everyone to 'life, health, liberty and possessions'.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 187

The philosophy of Locke is reflected in that of Rousseau and his notions of
equality and natural rights had a strong influence on the framers of the
American constitution. He believed that the legislature should be separate
from the administrators of the law to prevent unfair lawmaking.
Furthermore, the people were justified in rebelling if their trust was
betrayed and this is something we see more and more people electing to do
in response to biased, ineffective and hypocritical legislation despite an
independent legislature.1
David Hume (1711) was particularly interested in the way the mind processes
impressions. According to him, if our impression of an object appeared to be the
same now as it was 5 minutes earlier we would conclude that the object had
remained constant in-between the two impressions. The idea that one event
causes another is based purely on the association of two or more events and their
sequence, but there is nothing of necessity linking them.2 It is only our memory
that gives us the impression that we are the same person from one moment to the
next. Nobody could validly make assertions about the causality of the universe,
because not only was the question of what caused it speculation, but it was
unobservable as well.
According to Hume there was no way the mind could know anything
beyond what existed and had made impressions upon it. While mathematics
concerned abstract reasoning with numbers, any reasoning that didn't
concern matters of fact or things that exist were illusions. All scientific
knowledge was based on generalisations and impressions which left little
room for certainty. Reason could only make judgements concerning matters
of fact and their relationships. Reason couldn't judge moral propositions,
because these involved something other than matters of fact and their
relationships. For example, we can describe a circle and the relationships
between its radius and diameter, but if we applied the word beautiful to it this
judgement cannot be found anywhere in its lines - it is only an effect that is
produced in the mind. The same thing applied to judgements such as what
constitutes a good or a bad action, and Hume would ask someone to show him
Refer to section 67 for the role of the legislature in political change.
Refer to section 58 for the errors of imaginary and false causes.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 188
where a thing like vice was. According to Hume it was never possible to derive
what ought to be from what is. The only principle to base ethics on was that of
human sympathy, whereby certain actions such as caution and consideration
were generally approved and called good. These actions were useful and
contributed to the happiness of society. Morality was only convention and no
such thing as human rights existed. The sole foundation of justice was that
it served the public interest of everyone by its utility or usefulness in
protecting their person and property.1
The Philosophes were a group of French intellectuals devoted to the methods of
experimentation and reason. The most famous amongst them were Voltaire and
Diderot. After 20 years of research they published the Encyclopedia which
attempted to arrange knowledge from a strictly scientific and non-religious point
of view. It was banned twice, once in 1752 and again in 1759. The
Enlightenment is the term used to describe this new-found faith, that morals
and politics could progress by reason, in the same manner that science had done.
This faith contributed to the rise of Utilitarianism, which we shall cover in
section 52. The Baron d'Holbach was a member of the Philosophes and his
words are indicative of this spirit and are equally applicable today:
'To discover the true principles of morality, men have no need of theology,
of revelation, or of Gods; they need only common sense. They have only to
commune with themselves, to reflect upon their own nature, to consult their
visible interests, to consider the objects of society and the individuals who
compose it, and they will easily perceive that virtue is advantageous, and
vice disadvantageous, to such beings as themselves. Let us persuade men to
be just, beneficent, moderate, sociable, not because such conduct is
demanded by the gods, but because it is a pleasure to men. Let us advise
them to abstain from vice and crime, not because they will be punished in
the other world, but because they will suffer for it in this...'
The greatest critic of the Enlightenment was a man who had little formal
education, but whose far-reaching insights into human nature, the role of
language and the manner in which societies were originally formed, became an

Refer to section 60 for the notion of equality.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 189
influential source of inspiration for many. According to Jean Jacques Rousseau
(1712) reason could never be separated from the senses because reason was
merely the processing of sensations. All animals processed sensations and ideas
and humans only differed in the degree to which they did so. Language was the
instrument that accounted for this.1 What was unique about humans was the
range of choice they had, and their quest for self-perfection. Science only
looked after their material interests. Hobbes and Locke both assumed that
humans were capable of reasoning before they formed a society. According to
Rousseau humans in their natural state never had language and were therefore
not capable of reasoning and forming a society. To him humans were naturally
good and compassionate. It was society and progress that had made them
wicked and depraved. He thus advocated a return to as natural a state as
possible. This view of human nature was called romantic, because a return to
nature was regarded by some philosophers, such as Hume, as life that was
'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short'. In addition, spoken language isn't
necessary for social behaviour or co-operation, which is clearly evidenced by
many other species of animal and even insects such as bees and ants.
According to Rousseau humans in their original state lived in political and moral
equality and were almost totally self-sufficient. Nobody had consented to give
privileges to anyone else or were obliged to serve others - they were free and
equal and not born slaves, as Aristotle had claimed. It was the production of
material goods and agriculture that led to people depending on each other.
Material goods required an agreement between producers to respect each
other's rights to their goods. It was private property that led to the
development of a rich and a poor class, which the poor were obviously unhappy
with. However, the rich created a political society to enforce it. As more and
more people moved away from their natural conditions and grew to depend on
others, their natural compassion waned and was replaced with vanity, while
morals took second place to commercial gain and the rewards that society
provided. Even the practitioners of the arts and science were influenced by what
could sell in the marketplace, and this had the effect of lowering the standard of

Refer to section 65 for language and reason originating in social consent.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 190
their work. For Rousseau education was the solution, and he acknowledged the
important role that women could play in it. His words are echoed in the oft-
heard statement: 'If you want to educate one person educate a man but if you
want to educate a family educate a woman.'
According to Rousseau, to regain freedom and equality a social contract
was required. His book 'The Social Contract' commenced with the now
famous words: 'Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains'. Power
had no legitimate claim to moral authority and the only legitimate moral
authority was one based on the consent of everyone. This general consent he
called the peoples' will or the common will which, in relation to other people
or nations, would be regarded as an individual. According to Rousseau the
common will could only be achieved by direct participation in a democratic
government, and the delegation of law-making to representatives, even if
they were popularly elected, was to sacrifice self-rule for the sake of
convenience and efficiency. Rousseau realised that the establishment of such
a society would require the overcoming of special interest groups, and
believed the only way this could happen was through skilful legislation.1

A mediator between mysticism and science
Immanual Kant (1724) agreed with Hume that scientific knowledge based on
generalisations made from repeated observation was never absolutely certain.
On the other hand the rationalists couldn't arrive at any consensus at all because
when they ventured beyond what they could sense, they obtained equally
rational yet contradictory conclusions. He thus dismissed concepts such as god,
soul and immortality.
Even though he knew there was no certainty beyond what we could sense he
was equally convinced that we did have access to a knowledge that was
absolutely certain but that never required any experience. This knowledge
consisted of those rules of judgement that the mind used, judgements that united
our experience to produce an internal representation of the external world. He
classified these judgements into categories of space, time, quantity, quality (a
Refer to section 67 for the state of democracy today and the problem of domination by
special interest groups.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 191
positive or negative judgement), relation (cause and effect) and modality
(something is either possible or impossible). According to Kant the mind
imposes these judgements onto things and in this way colours our reality. That
the mind does have internal rules by which it translates sensory impressions is
now a scientific fact, although not many of these rules have been discovered.1
Kant wanted to discover what these rules of judgement were in order to obtain a
certain knowledge that science couldn't provide, and that would be free of the
contradictions that arose when thinkers ventured beyond the senses.
According to Kant judgements such as 'the shortest distance between two points
is a straight line' is the same as the scientific judgement that 'every change has a
cause'. Mathematics was to him a prime example of judgements that were
universal and independent of experience. What the rules involved in these
judgements were, how they could be independent of experience, and how we
could tell the difference between a valid judgement and an invalid one he never
satisfactorily demonstrated. As we saw in sections 47 and 50 these intuitive,
natural and self-evident feelings we have about things is the end result of a
complex subconscious test for recognition. We recognise the familiar features of
friends or enemies, mathematical formulae and times tables, and the right and
wrong behaviour that we have learnt so often that they have long since become
Kant made a few of these judgements himself and arrived at the existence of god
and immortality, which were the very mystical concepts he set out to get rid of
in the first place. According to Kant the test of a moral action was whether it
could be applied consistently and universally, a rule that became known as the
categorical imperative: 'act as if the maxim of thy action were to become a
universal law of nature'. He also believed that people should not be treated as
the means to an end and that in order for there to be morality it must be assumed
that humans are responsible for their actions.2 Kant believed he had discovered
a secret knowledge that was innate and independent of any experience. He
claimed it was the human mind that colours or prescribes what nature is by

Refer to section 9 for the short cuts taken by the brain in order to speed up the
processing of information.
Refer to section 58 and the error of freedom of will.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 192
imposing its rules upon it. However, he inadvertently gave mystics the
respectability of a pseudo-science within which they could dabble to their hearts'
content, and he didn't have long to wait.
Hegel (1770) has been called 'the father of modern totalitarianism' and is
without doubt the undisputed master of mystical thought and oracular
philosophy. Anyone who attempts to read a few pages of his writing would
easily be convinced of this. His most vociferous critic at the time was
Schopenhauer who had this advice for a dishonest guardian:
'Should you ever intend to dull the wits of a young man and to incapacitate
his brains for any kind of thought whatever, then you cannot do better than
give him Hegel to read.' (Popper)
Hegel is still taken seriously by some philosophers and a study of his works still
forms part of the philosophy curriculum at some universities. His influence is
evident in the works of philosophers such as Marx, Heidegger and Jaspers.
Whereas Kant said that our minds make judgements about our experiences,
Hegel said that everything we experience is a product of our minds and there is
nothing that is unknowable. An object is a relationship between all of the
universals or essences we know about it.1 The objects we experience and our
consciousness of them are identical as they are both thoughts. The judgements
or rules of mind have an independent existence in an Absolute Mind, which in
theological terms is God. The State is the collective spirit of the people. He
agreed with Plato that the state must be worshipped. He combined elements of
Kant, Heraclitus, and Aristotle to produce a universal formula for change which
he called dialectics. Here's how he did it:
Kant showed that when we leave the field of experience any opinion we have
can be countered by an opposite opinion. Heraclitus claimed that all change is
strife, a tension between opposites. Hegel now claimed that these contradictions
were in fact the way in which reason develops. He borrowed from Aristotle the
idea that change is progress towards the realisation of a things potential or end,
and concluded that in order to obtain knowledge of this potential it is necessary
to examine how it had developed in history. He had good examples to follow.

Refer to Socrates and Plato's concept of essences or universals in sections 38 and 39.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 193
The authors of the Old Testament had reinterpreted world history and the destiny
of the Jewish people in terms of the divine revelations of their god Yahweh.1
Plato interpreted political revolutions as being due to a clash of class interests.
Now Hegel had his turn.
According to Hegel, if there were no laws people would harm each other. This
would be irrational. Laws that prevent this are rational and it is only by
following the law that a person can be free. The state is therefore the expression
of the collective spirit and freedom of the people. The potential or end of
history is freedom. History will judge the national spirit by the success of its
actions to succeed in its struggle with other national spirits for world
domination. It is united by a common enemy and by the comradeship formed
through the wars it has fought. (Most political movements are united by having a
common enemy based on some trumped-up distinction such as class or race.)
According to Hegel, conflict is creative evolution, a so-called dialectic process,
whereby a thesis merges with its antithesis to form a new thesis. This evolution,
or three-step dialectic process, is progress towards what he called the Absolute
Idea and final cause of itself, which is expressed in nature and the way our
minds work. In short, the history of the world is a rational dialectic process and
what exists in the present is therefore the highest rational development to date.
Hegel's method was utilised to demonstrate that the existence of the Prussian
monarchy, for whom he worked, was the highest development of freedom. To
protect science from mere opinions, the state would determine what objective
truth was. Of course his dialectic process or devious play with words could be
used to demonstrate almost anything, and in page after page of gibberish and
senseless jargon he attempts to explain things like the position and movement of
the planets, magnetism and sound.
According to Hegel the dialectic process moves from the abstract to the
concrete. The most purely abstract universal idea we can have of anything is its
Being. As soon as anything is added to this pure Being it becomes something.
Therefore before it is something, Being is in some sense Not-Being.

Refer to the Old Testament reinterpretation of history in section 27.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 194
As Hegel himself says: 'the proposition that Being and Nothing are the
same is so paradoxical to the imagination or understanding, that it is
perhaps taken for a joke.. [but it] ... is one of the hardest things thought
expects itself to do'. The movement of the mind from Being to Nothing
gives rise to a third category - Becoming - 'the unity of Being and Nothing!'
By following this process it could be shown that any opposites are
identical. (Popper)
Schopenhauer (1788) summed up the philosophy of Hegel when he said that
out of every page of Hume's there was more to be learnt than out of the entire
philosophy of Hegel. His view of humanity and life has almost always been
considered pessimistic but in it you will recognise much that is already familiar.
According to Schopenhauer people are driven by motives which are already
determined and the overall objective is the will to live. There is nothing more to
life than what we experience. Humans are essentially not much different to
animals. Human reason is dictated to by the will to live and we only think we
are leading when in actual fact we are being driven. Nature is indifferent to the
individual and only places value on the species. Our actions aren't free
because in a situation we could never do other than what we do. There is no aim
or end to life and happiness is the temporary cessation of pain that is caused by
desires which cannot be fulfilled.
'... the life of every individual... is really always a tragedy, but gone through
in detail, it has the character of a comedy.'
According to Schopenhauer there were only two ways to escape from the will
and these were ascetic practices, or saying no to our passions and desires, and
the appreciation of artistic beauty which he believed was unrelated to passion
and desire.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 195

Chapter Ten
Utopian Ideals

The Utilitarians
Newtonian physics explained and unified vast amounts of information and the
extent to which it did so revealed clearly the mechanistic nature of the universe.
Scientific laws gave rise to the belief that human progress and behaviour could
also be explained in a material and mechanistic fashion. The first who attempted
to do this was Jacques Turgot (1727) who saw human history in terms of the
development of the mind. However, the word progress in a human context
implies that there is some objective or end towards which human behaviour is
directed. The problem was to determine what this end or objective was.
Claude Adrien Helvetius (1715) agreed with Locke that the human mind was
blank at birth and that everything we learn is based on sensory experience.
According to him it was pleasure and pain that were the greatest teachers and
motivators of human behaviour. People sought knowledge and power, not for
themselves, but for the pleasures they could provide. He concluded that human
behaviour could be engineered to reward people for socially beneficial actions,
and to punish them for harmful ones. By pursuing their own self-interest people
could benefit the community at large and this could be achieved by means of
education and proper legislation.1
The ethical concept of David Hume that moral actions be judged on their
usefulness, or utility to society, formed the basis of the Utilitarian philosophy of
Jeremy Bentham (1748), James Mill (1773) and his son John Stuart Mill
(1806). According to Bentham pleasure and pain was understood by
everyone, so the value or utility of our actions could be judged by reference
to them only. Actions had consequences and pleasure or pain were sufficient
to guide the moral behaviour of society without having to take into account
any spiritual or emotional considerations. The goal of society should be to
achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Because
politicians would abuse their power the people should rule. It was the role of
Refer to the Laissez Faire doctrine of Adam Smith in section 67.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 196
government to ensure the protection of people and their possessions and to
moderate extremes of wealth and poverty. No rights or duties existed in nature
and people only obeyed when threatened with pain. If there was no threat of
pain there would be no duty to obey and as a result there would be no rights.
Offences are those actions which are harmful to the happiness of the
community. Punishment should prevent further pain to society and
outweigh the benefit of the crime. To be effective punishment should be
cheap, serve as an effective deterrent, not be administered if compensation
was possible, and alternative punishments should be considered.
According to James Mill happiness increases to the extent that people have the
freedom to acquire as much wealth and pleasure as they wanted. To overcome
the abuse of politicians he advocated a representative government with
frequently-held elections so officials who didn't perform would lose their
John Stuart Mill followed the Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, by
ranking some pleasures as superior to others. He therefore based his model of
government on ideals as opposed to others like Machiavelli and Hobbes, who
based theirs on an analysis of human behaviour. According to Mill the
government should protect the freedom of individuals to criticise and challenge
public opinion. The only limits on individual freedom should be with respect to
those actions that effected others. Society had no interest in those actions that
only effected the individual even if it was for their own good. The government
shouldn't do things that individuals could do better or things that would
give it too much influence or power. He was concerned that demands for
equality would suppress the development of the individual genius who was
responsible for progress.1 True democracy didn't require that the people
govern as long as they could control those who did. He advocated
proportional representation in an elected assembly that would oversee an
elite of experts who would actually govern free from uninformed opinion.
Charles Peirce (1839) coined the word pragmatism from the Greek word
pragma, which means act or deed. According to Peirce people acted from beliefs
Refer to sections 60 and 67 for the modern notion that equality means a fair share for
© 1997 Allan Sztab 197
which were rooted in society. These beliefs may be held dogmatically, even
though they were contradicted by others that were equally valid. Beliefs could
also be adopted uncritically, or by accepting the authority of someone else. The
problem with all these ways of arriving at beliefs is that they precluded
argument and weren't related in a meaningful way to our experiences and
behaviour. To William James (1842) rival philosophical theories should be
determined according to their cash value, which was the practical difference
they made to our lives. It is the successful practical experience of a theory that
establishes its truth and verifies it. Ideas are only made true by experience. If we
don't put our ideas to the test we will never discover the truth. John Dewey
(1859) was the most influential pragmatist. According to him there was no
reliable knowledge besides that of collective experience.
The problem with Utilitarianism is that pleasure and pain are subjective
and one persons pleasure might be anothers pain. What would be good for
society as a whole might be bad for a minority, and this would be unfair.
Pragmatism makes the false assumption that what is useful or effective is
true, although it does have the merit of being a theory that places reliance
on action and positive results as opposed to pursuing consistently ineffective

Socialism and Marxism
Socialism arose under the influence of the Industrial and French Revolutions,
and was based on the acceptance of human equality. This influential idea can be
found in the philosophy of Locke and Rousseau. Socialism was a humanistic
movement dedicated to eradicate the poverty and suffering of the poor and to
achieve this it was perhaps inevitable that the early founders of socialism would
entertain the notion of ideal or utopian societies. These ideas had a great
influence on Karl Marx (1818) whose intentions were also sincere. The lack of
labour legislation in his day, coupled with an unregulated capitalism, led to the
most horrific suffering and exploitation of labourers, especially women and
children. Millions of workers all over the world who enjoy lunch and tea

Refer to section 48 for the trial and error of scientific progress and section 67 for the
lack of trial and error in the policies of government.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 198
breaks, sick leave, paid vacations and many other benefits, are indirectly
indebted to him for these improvements in their working conditions. Marx
was influenced by the philosophy of Saint Simon, Fourier, Owen and Feuerbach
whose philosophies are briefly outlined below.
Henri de Saint-Simon (1760) declared Catholicism and Protestantism heretical
versions of Christianity which was dedicated to 'loving thy neighbour'. He
identified three classes in society - workers, industrialists and scientists.
According to him poverty could be overcome by a centrally-planned economy
and the abolition of inheritance, so that only productive people could enjoy the
privileges of ownership. It was possible to understand the laws of social
existence and people could be governed according to scientific facts and not
moral and mystical speculation. This would enable politicians to become
administrators and not governors.1 Such a development would herald the end of
history which was marked by alternating periods of order and chaos.
Charles Fourier (1772) believed that humans were essentially good. According
to him morality must accept human passions and desires and find appropriate
ways of satisfying them instead of correcting or suppressing them.2 His utopia
consisted of small independent communes where women would be free and their
children raised communally. There would be free education for all and no
restrictions placed on sexual conduct.
Robert Owen (1771) worked his way up from poverty to become the owner of a
spinning mill. He experimented by reducing the working hours and maintaining
the same wages while improving the working conditions of his employees. To
his surprise productivity and profits increased, which proved to him that people
could be moulded by their social and working environment. Despite using this
as an example to promote reform, it was a lesson that was unfortunately
overlooked by both capitalists and the more idealistic utopian thinkers that
followed him. It was the failure to win reforms that led him to turn to organised
labour as a solution.

Refer to section 67 for the suggestion of changing the role of politicians from
legislators to watchdogs.
Refer to section 66 for the importance to freedom of controlling the desires.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 199
Ludwig Feuerbach (1804) was a follower of Hegel who exerted the most
influence on Marxist socialism. He believed that religion was based on emotion
and that the illusion of God led people to accept poverty and injustice in this life.
Marx would later refer to religion as the 'opium for the masses'. According to
Feuerbach it was by projecting their ideas of perfect goodness, justice and love
onto an imaginary god that people alienated or distanced themselves from these
very properties which now seemed imperfect by contrast. The solution was to
remove God so that humans could concentrate on achieving these properties
themselves. He disagreed with Hegel that everything was a product of mind and
believed that material things could be experienced while our ideas of them could
never represent them perfectly. As a result there would always be a difference
between ideas and reality. To Feuerbach history portrayed the struggle of
humanity to overcome its alienation.
Marx believed, like Hegel, that history developed by a three-step dialectic
process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.1 Scientists had discovered laws of
nature with which they could explain how things worked, and this led Marx to
believe he could do the same with social history. The certainty of science led
him, and even some distinguished scientists of his day to conclude that all events
were strictly determined. This assumption is one that quantum theory
specifically proves isn't correct.2 However, Marx was satisfied that all things
were determined, and in addition, that the progress of history was similarly
determined. With this belief he attempted to discover the conditions and the
laws that governed this historical process.3 Such a discovery would enable
him to explain the past and predict the future which was no doubt the secret
wish of every historical interpreter before and after him. According to him it was
the conflict between different classes that was responsible for the development
of history, and this would end when there was only one class left. According to
Marx this would be the working class and his utopia was dedicated towards
achieving this objective.

Refer to Hegels three-step dialectic in section 51.
Refer to quantum theory in section 48 and the error of imaginary and false causes in
section 58.
The issue of determinism vs inderminism is taken up later in section 58.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 200
Communism represented the culmination of an adaptation and
modification of ideas that commenced with Plato and gives added
credibility to the claim that 'the pen is mightier than the sword'.
According to Plato, change was created by a clash of class interests that led to
the decay of government. Marx agreed with him but, together with Aristotle and
Hegel, believed that change represented development and not decay. Unlike
Hegel, who saw progress as the development of spirit towards freedom, Marx
agreed with Feuerbach that spirit was only the representation of the material
world in the human mind. He rejected Plato's notion that there was another
world and turned Hegels philosophy 'the right way up' - from its head (ideas)
onto its feet (solid ground or material). Marx concluded that it was not our
minds or consciousness that determined the way we live but the material
conditions that we lived in which determined our consciousness.1 Historical
change was caused by conflicts in the material world and hence the name
dialectical materialism. According to Marx it was the private ownership of the
means of production that was the material cause of class conflicts. Those who
now owned the means of production, such as land and machinery, represented
the capitalist class while those who could only sell their labour made up the
working class. The workers were alienated from the means of production and
even the products they produced. Class conflict was inevitable because the
labourers got less than the true value of their labour - the difference or surplus
was kept by the capitalist. This conflict would create the next dialectic
movement or change of history towards socialism and finally, communism. By
abolishing private ownership he hoped to remove the cause of class conflict and
bring about this final change immediately. Marx believed this development was
inevitable and nothing could stop it - all one could do was to lessen the birth
Marx was wrong on a number of key assumptions in his theories. He assumed
that science and history were determined in a mechanistic sense and that social
history had developed due to a struggle between different classes. What he failed
to see was that class struggle isn't always between different classes but is often
Refer to section 10 for the role of the environment on the formation of a persons
© 1997 Allan Sztab 201
between members of the same class - capitalists and even workers compete with
each other. He also assumed that when the workers revolted there would be a
classless society. However, in any society, even a society of workers, there will
always be some workers who have special privileges and who therefore form a
class of their own. He also assumed that the value of a product was determined
by the number of labour hours necessary for its production, when it is in fact
determined by the supply and demand for the product.1 Predicting the future
based on the past is fraught with difficulties. In their prophesy the communists
failed to take into account the many concessions and improvements that the
capitalists made when faced with the demands of organised labour. These
concessions led to such an improvement in the conditions of workers that many
of them were no longer interested in revolutionary activities.
Marx foresaw a transitional stage between capitalism and socialism, during
which private property would be abolished and a workers dictatorship installed.
In mature communism workers would choose their occupation and work
according to their ability, for which they would receive all they required in
return. Society would be centrally planned and the government wouldn't
dominate. Besides these broad predictions he left no guidance for how such
large-scale changes to society could be achieved. Communism as it existed in
the Soviet Union or as it exists in China today bears only a superficial
resemblance to what Marx had in mind.

Refer to section 67 for the interference by governments in the supply and demand
© 1997 Allan Sztab 202
Analytical philosophy
'Let us beware of saying that there are laws in nature. There are only
necessities: there is nobody who commands, nobody who obeys, nobody
who trespasses. Once you know that there are no purposes, you also know
that there is no accident; for it is only beside a world of purposes that the
word "accident" has meaning. Let us beware of saying that death is
opposed to life. The living is merely a type of what is dead, and a very rare
type... There are no eternally enduring substances; matter is as much of an
error as God.' (Nietzsche)
Analytical philosophy arose due to the recognition that many philosophical
problems were created by the imprecise use of language. By carefully analysing
concepts or ideas it was hoped to logically clarify them and therefore prevent
their misuse. David Hume concluded that there is no way the mind could know
anything beyond what existed and could make impressions upon it - any
reasoning that didn't concern matters of fact or things that existed were illusions.
The attempt was now made by a group of analytical philosophers, who called
themselves the Vienna Circle, to apply these principles to the logic of language.
Their guiding principle is known as logical positivism. According to this
principle only those statements that could be verified or translated into
statements that could be verified had any meaning. Verification could only be
performed by observation or in other words, by sensual experience. Those
statements that couldn't be physically verified were simply emotive. Into this
category fell metaphysics or those things that are beyond the senses such as,
spirits, souls, god and heaven. However, logical positivism was problematic
because even if a statement could be verified the people doing the verification
could still interpret the results differently. In addition, it wasn't possible to verify
certain statements such as those that concerned future events or even a statement
such as the principle of verification itself. For these and other reasons logical
positivism was later toned down to include statements that could, in principle, be
verified by some degree of observation.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 203

The philosophy of Gilbert Ryle is a good example of what can be gained by the
philosophical analysis of language. Some philosophers had been aware that
many philosophical problems were created simply by the misleading use of
language. According to Francis Bacon nature had no purpose so it was out of
context to apply the word purpose to it. Hobbes claimed that the words of
ancient texts were used within the context and beliefs of their time and to apply
these same words to the context and beliefs of the present was to misinterpret
Ryle focused on what is known as the body-mind problem - the belief that a
person has both a body and a mind which exist independently of each other.
Because the activities of the mind cannot be seen, while those of the body can, it
is said that the mind exists inside the body - a ghost within a machine. Exactly
how the mind and body interact isn't known nor can it be seen. Nobody has ever
managed to answer the question how the mind influences the body or how the
body influences the mind, but that they do is beyond dispute. As Mark Twain
once asked, 'If the mind is spiritual and cannot be affected by physical
influences then does the mind remain sober when the body is drunk?'
According to Ryle this entire mystery is the result of what he called a category
mistake.2 This mistake arises because the word mind is used to express the
many different activities of a persons emotions and thinking - activities which
cannot be described in terms of physical processes. The mistake is to treat the
word 'mind' as if it really existed as an entity separate from all these processes,
and then to compound the mistake by applying characteristics like cause, effect,
state and substance to it. The error would be the same as that made by a person
who, after a tour of the laboratories, sports-fields, libraries and lecture theatres
of a university then asks 'so where is the university?' In other words, they have
failed to recognise that the word 'university' is a collective word that represents
all the facilities just visited and doesn't exist separately. They would further
compound this error if they now began to attribute characteristics such as
emotions or substance to the word 'university'. Similarly, when we talk of a
game of pool we might describe a ball that strikes another ball as causing it to
Refer to the philosophies of Bacon and Hobbes in sections 47 and 49.
Refer to section 50 for the dualistic views of Descartes.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 204
move, and if asked why we might say that one ball forces the other to move or
compels the other ball to move. Because we are making the assumption that
every action has something that caused it we are now prone to making
contextual errors. The words force or compel are words that only have a
meaning in a human context, such as one person being able to force or compel
another person to do, or not to do, something. When we talk of one ball forcing
another to move or compelling another ball to move we are therefore making a
category mistake.
The I that we talk of is merely the sum total of our hereditary character and our
individual experiences. An idea is the first step in response to an emotion or
desire. When we reflect or think about an action we are weighing up the
alternative desires and actions that are available to us. The emotions or desires
are produced by glandular secretions:
'... without adrenals we could not be angry; without proper thyroids we
become idiots... The mind in all its functions is a part of the body; it grows
with its growth and dies with its decay; it is no more outside of corporeal
(physical) nature than digestion, respiration, and excretion. It is merely the
highest function of the flesh.' (Durant)
The length of time that a society has come to accept a particular pattern of
thought or way of thinking is instrumental in the making of such errors. In other
words, a mind-set that has developed over a long period of time often makes it
difficult for even the greatest of thinkers to see through. The greater the
frequency and length of time a mind-set has existed the more ingrained the
habits of thought become.1 The desire to reduce fear and anxiety is the incentive
we have to accept beliefs that could easily distort our reality. When it came to
thinking about the body-mind problem a particular mind-set or belief concerning
material things had already existed for thousands of years. Many of the pre-
Socratic philosophers were materialists who believed that whatever exists is
composed of matter whether this was water, fire or air. The view of Democritus
that everything was composed of 'atoms and the void' still exerted an influence
on Newton some 2,000 years after him. When people began to speak of non-

Refer to appendix E for habits of thought.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 205
material entities it seemed common sense, intuitive, or self-evident to many
philosophers that there was no place for things which couldn't be sensed or
We are so accustomed to thinking like this that we find it difficult if not
impossible to conceive of something in a non-material form. The difficulty that
many people, even some scientists, experience concerning quantum theory is
precisely the fact that it is counter-intuitive. In other words, it goes against
everything that a person has come to expect.2 Scientists have now concluded
that the ultimate constituent of sub-atomic particles is not matter but energy.
What this means is that up until now whatever we have considered as being
lifeless, be it a rock, stone, or a piece of metal is actually alive in the sense that it
has been given form by matterless energy which operates either according to its
own devices or in accordance with quantum laws which we don't yet know or
fully understand. Life and matter are actually indistinguishable from one another
and it is no longer impossible to see how life as we know it began. Some people
still doubt whether inorganic (unorganised) compounds can be turned into
organic (organised) ones, despite the fact that this is accomplished every time a
plant converts the sun and chemicals in the soil into life-sustaining sap. Metals
are sensitive and react to extremely tiny variations in light and temperature.
Sensitivity to the environment such as that displayed along the perimeter of
single-celled organisms is the clue as to how nature breached the gap
between matter and life.3 If we speak of thought we should do so as a function
of the body which isn't matter but life which permeates every cell and atom.
The word 'mind' is merely a name we give to describe the process of thought; it
doesn't exist as an entity on its own in the same way that the word 'sight'
describes the process by which an organism sees things. When we say that there
is an interaction between body and mind we are not saying that two independent
entities are interacting but only that the nerve centre or brain interacts with the
other organs of the body.

Refer to section 58 for the errors of imaginary and false causes.
Refer to section 47 for feelings of intuition and section 48 for quantum theory.
Refer to section 2 and the role of the senses.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 206
'Truth is the kind of error without which a certain species of life could not
live. The value for life is ultimately decisive.' (Nietzsche)
Nietzsche (1844) never produced any formal system of his own but his works
continue to influence modern thinkers up to the present time. His books are now
experiencing a surge in popularity. This isn't surprising because they are easy to
read, something which distinguishes his writing from practically every
philosopher before or after him. He was especially critical of religion and of
Christianity in particular. He regarded Christianity as a false doctrine that
manipulated people and favoured values that were opposed to life instead of
those which affirmed life. He is most well known for his statement that 'God
is dead'. Many of the existentialist philosophers were influenced by him, and his
deeply penetrating and keen observations about the workings of the human
mind, consciousness, sub-consciousness and repression of memories influenced
Sigmund Freud. It was Freud who said that Nietzsche 'had a more penetrating
knowledge of himself than any other man who ever lived or was ever likely to
live'. His insights are a guiding light for anyone who wishes to obtain a greater
understanding of themselves and people in general. Nietzsche feared his work
would be misunderstood, and this proved prophetic. His sisters husband was a
German nationalist and together they interpreted his work to support nationalism
and later Nazism. The truth is that Nietzsche was not anti-Semitic. It is very easy
to misquote and misrepresent him because he wrote in short paragraphs or
Nietzsche realised that many of the traditional problems of philosophy could be
answered by enquiring first and foremost into the psychology of the human
mind. For him beliefs had their root in the primitive human desires which were
at one time essential for survival. Civilisation led to these desires being tamed
and channelled into socially acceptable outlets. The best one could do was to
give them form and style and by suppressing them unduly one was suppressing
life itself.1 His advice to a woman who found it difficult to be chaste was -

Refer to section 66 for the importance of controlling the desires to a persons quest for
freedom and happiness.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 207
'don't'. According to Nietzsche the desire for certainty led the superstitious to
believe in God and the scientist to believe in truth. 'Convictions are more
dangerous enemies of truth than lies'. Whatever proved useful was believed in,
but usefulness was no criterion of truth and this applied to religion, mathematics
and logic. Reason was a tool of the desires and emotions.1 For Nietzsche the
dominant human drive was power, and happiness was the feeling a person had
when their power was increasing. Victory was a recipe to restore or confirm
one's power, and if defeated there was a tendency to find someone to blame or
condemn in order to exercise what power one had left. According to him moral
actions had their origin in the rules that were imposed by the strong over the
weak. Resentment was a feeling that originated in the powerlessness of the weak
and led to the development of the religious articles of faith, love and hope.2
Those who couldn't exercise their power over others often turned on themselves
and tyrannised over their appetites by pursuing ascetic practices. He saw power
as the underlying drive behind many other actions - having pity for others gave
one a slight feeling of superiority, while on the other hand being able to evoke
pity was an exercise of the power to hurt; teasing others was a subtle display of
power; an expression of gratitude was a mild form of revenge as it was an
acknowledgement of a persons power to get someone to do something for them;
acquiring knowledge was to conquer the unknown and gave one a feeling of
strength and superiority; praising someone was to assume the power to judge
and dispense honours.

Refer to section 50 and the faith in reason.
Refer to section 63 for the role of faith, hope and love in manipulation.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 208
'We are all May flies, or more poetically, day flies, those dainty insects with
lacy wings and slender trailing tail, who live but for a day. The adult May
fly lives for only a few hours, just long enough to mate. He has neither
mouth nor stomach, but needs neither since he does not live long enough to
need to eat. The eggs the May fly leaves hatch after the parent has died.
What is it all about? What's the point? There is no point. That's just the way
it is. It is neither good nor bad. Life is mainly, simply, inevitable.' (Kopp)
Philosophy had tended to concentrate on the technical problems and difficulties
of ethics, politics and religion, while ignoring the individual whose concerns
were made even more urgent by the ever-increasing impersonal nature of work,
the disregard for human life in wars, the failure of human efforts to prevent
them, the doubt cast on religious faith by science, and the revelations of
evolution and rational thought. Religion provided moral guidance and some
sense of worth and meaning to an individuals life - something philosophy didn't
appear to do. Religious doubt now led many people to conclude that life was
worthless and meaningless.
Philosophers now began to ask what contribution they could make to the
individuals life. According to Albert Camus the only philosophical decision
one must make is whether to live or commit suicide. To choose to live means
to live a life full of absurdities. However, the fact that life is full of absurdities
doesn't mean that life is meaningless. What sometimes leads to such a
depressing conclusion is the confusion of objective meaning with subjective
meaning. It is only the subjective meaning that we give to our own lives that
can determine whether life is meaningless or not and this is borne out by the
fact that many people have created meaningful lives for themselves. If we look
at the world and the universe around us and ask the question, 'does it have any
meaning?' we are asking for an objective meaning which implies that there is
something out there that can have meaning independent of our minds and, more
importantly, independent of all those lives before and after us. Not surprisingly,
there is no answer to such a question, and it is the absence of any objective

© 1997 Allan Sztab 209

meaning that leads some of us to despair. However, the question should rather be
one of a subjective nature - 'what does it all mean to me?' - because this is a
question each one of us can answer.
The cornerstone of existentialism is that people exist first and are then
responsible for finding or creating a meaning or essence for their lives i.e.
existence precedes essence. In finding meaning the individual is faced with
many different systems of belief and almost the only common feature of the so-
called existentialist philosophers is their strong individualism and rejection of
these systems of belief as inadequate and superficial, primarily because they had
so little relevance to everyday life. Some existentialist philosophers turned to
atheism while others turned to religion. The following philosophers are
generally considered as exemplars of existentialist philosophy:
Soren Kierkegaard (1813) was influenced by the philosophy of Hegel.
According to him the knowledge a person has of their own mortality causes
anxiety which alienates them from their essential being. Their attempts to
overcome this anxiety only results in guilt and despair. It is only by their relation
to an infinite or everlasting God that their anxiety about their own mortality can
be overcome - a personal relationship that is unique to them and direct in the
sense that it isn't allied to other groups such as a church or state. According to
him there is a three-step dialectic process by which this can be achieved - the
last stage being the religious stage which requires 'a leap of faith'.
Although not an existentialist himself the methods of Edmund Husserl (1859)
were utilised by some existentialists. Husserl based his philosophy of
phenomenology on the fact that all the data from our surroundings are
interpreted in the mind; our consciousness is a unique representation of the
reality each one of us finds around ourselves - there is no objective reality. Our
interpretation is based on assumptions and prejudices that are derived from our
personal experiences, social and scientific backgrounds. Science gave the
impression that only what is physical has any importance and this precluded the
individual from developing a spiritual side to their being. By removing all these
prejudices from our thinking and withholding hasty judgements, a process he

© 1997 Allan Sztab 210

called bracketing, people would be able to examine and interpret the world
from their own unique point of view.1
According to Karl Jaspers (1883) it was the role of philosophy to distinguish
itself from the other sciences by concentrating on the unique inner experiences
of the individual because the truth is what the individual perceives it to be. Each
person has a unique Being and like Kierkegaard's three-step dialectic movement,
Jaspers believed that the individual moves through three stages on the way to
finally realising the uniqueness of their Being in the merging of all aspects of
their life - an awareness which he calls the Transcendent, and what theology
might call God.
According to Heidegger (1889) what distinguishes humans from other things is
the awareness of their own being; it is only humans who experience anxiety
about their own death and question the meaning of their existence. The essence
of humans is how they exist in a world to which they give a unique meaning and
interpretation. Humans are not separate from this world but form an integral part
of it. The way in which people approach life is how they experience it: if they
are sad their experiences will be sad - if they are joyful their experiences will be
joyful. Because of a fear of death - of nothing in particular - the dominant
human mood is one of anxiety which is aggravated by the knowledge that
people are personally responsible for their actions. As a result humans lose their
authentic selves and tend to become merely average people. In order to recover
their authentic selves people must acknowledge their limitations and overcome
the attempt to hide their fear of death.
According to Jean-Paul Sartre (1905) we are the sum of our actions and plans.
Being consciously aware of a world that exists apart from us differentiates us
from other animals. Because there is no God we are abandoned and must create
values for ourselves. The ability or freedom to do so makes us responsible for
our actions. This responsibility creates anxiety and the attempt to escape from it
by sheltering behind the idea of fate or the existence of mysterious forces leads
to self-deception.2

Refer to section 66 for the role of deferring judgement in eliminating prejudices.
Refer to section 11 for fear, belief and distortions of reality.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 211
© 1997 Allan Sztab 212


'Might is right' is the sole refrain of nature. In a

world without free will or certainty it is only the
consensus that underpins the achievements of
language, logic, mathematics and science that
affords us the opportunity to rise above nature. The
survival of any life form is based upon a faith in the
senses as the bearer of truth and in this faith lies our

© 1997 Allan Sztab 213

© 1997 Allan Sztab 214
Chapter Eleven
Freedom And Morality

The Origin of Morality
How and to what end is one to act? The easy wants can be satisfied but it is
precisely these questions to which we require clarity that the moral
authorities become uncertain. Their fear is that if we acted according to the
light, bright or dim of our own reason their right to be the only one's to
exercise their own arbitrariness and folly would be diminished. (Nietzsche)
To survive every organism has to be able to overcome any obstacles it faces. The
human emotions and desires are the agents with which we do so and the reward
of pleasure and the pain of failure are our guides. Every action we take is geared
towards the avoidance of pain or discomfort or the seeking of pleasure and to
this extent they are all innocent. When an eagle swoops down and picks up a
lamb it isn't evil on this account and the same applies to our actions. The power
that we have to influence or control the flow of events around us determines our
ability to survive and flourish and this principle applies to every living organism
be it a simple bacterium or the complexity of a human being. Morality doesn't
exist in nature at all - morality is a uniquely human creation. Our ability to
influence and control things and events around us is limited only by the forces
that oppose us, such as those of the environment, other animals, or other people.
This simple principle of nature is nothing other than the principle that
'might is right'. Whoever has sufficient power can enforce their will over
At some time in the distant past human conflict might have been easy to avoid
but as population density increased and competition for resources began this was
in many cases not possible. Through these conflicts, struggles and wars, a
victorious society was able to survive and freely determine for themselves those
actions that they believed were good or bad. Wars are fought only because two

Refer to the Sophist Thrasymachus in section 37 and the political suggestions of
Machiavelli in section 49.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 215
or more parties believe that they are right.1 From birth onwards we are moulded
by the principle that might is right; our parents and society are the first to
enforce their will on us by presenting us with a system of rewards and
punishments that encourage us to perform certain actions and to refrain from
performing others. Thus we are taught which behaviours are permissible and
those that aren't, those that are considered good and those that are considered
bad. We learn who to identify with, who it is acceptable for us to mix with and
those who are considered superior or inferior to us. Boys learn to behave like
boys and girls to behave like girls. Even our sexual preferences are guided by
the values of society, and in marked contrast with the heterosexual preferences
of modern society, in ancient Greece homosexuality was regarded as normal.2
As we grow up these commands or laws are given to us largely without
reasons as is the case with most laws. Once they have become habituated
they form the basis of our set of beliefs and expectations, and thereby our
moral conscience with which we later identify actions as being either good
or bad. To learn those behaviours that are perhaps vital to our survival we
conform to those around us. We are constantly absorbing repetitive information
from the media that we learn subconsciously. The result is that over time we
become habituated to obey in accordance with the opinions and beliefs of
others - our first opinion is seldom our own despite the strong attachment that
we may feel towards them. The behaviours we undertake have become
habituated through many years of force and psychological manipulation. We
have been taught by our parents and society how to think and how to perpetuate
both the social truths and errors of the past. As Rousseau stated so eloquently:
we are 'born free but are everywhere in chains'.3
History bears adequate testimony that from the earliest of times those who had
the power to enforce their will over others determined those actions which could
be undertaken and those that couldn't. Nothing has changed today except the
guise that it appears in. We see nature at work in any game park. The lion roars
Refer to section 32 for belief and truth and section 33 for the view of Heraclitus that
the outcome of war is always just.
Refer to section 10 for the formation of character and section 13 for the practical
considerations behind the beliefs of any particular society.
Refer to section 62 for the habit of obeying as an obstacle to freedom, and appendix
A6 for the learning theory of Albert Bandura.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 216
to appear frightening, a display of its power that is intended to subjugate the
weaker without a fight. The right of a dominant lion to impose its will is the
same as that of a government.
Under certain conditions a person might desire '... through his actions to
count as being more powerful than he is: when the fear he engenders
increases, his power increases. He soon notices that what bears him up or
throws him down is not that which he is but that which he counts as being:
here is the origin of vanity. The powerful man tries by every means to
augment belief in his power... And the degree of vanity will, moreover, be
the greater the more prudent and intelligent the individual is: because it is
easier to augment belief in power than to augment power itself, but is so
only for him who possesses spirit - or, as must be the case in these primeval
conditions, for him who is cunning and deceitful.' (Nietzsche)
It is only when two or more parties of equal power voluntarily agree to do
or not to do something and the terms of their agreement are deemed to be
fair and equitable between them that the notions of justice and morality
first make their appearance. The existence of unfair laws and social
obligations is prima facie evidence of a formal or informal agreement made
by parties of unequal power.
Even in the most modern democracies citizens have had their power usurped
from under their noses with the result that unbiased legislation is the exception.1
There is much to be gained by co-operating with others and numerous examples
of such co-operation exist. At a primitive level people might agree to share their
food so that a person who never managed to find any wouldn't go hungry. These
agreements were based on reciprocity.2 The same applies today. Being able to
give effect to the obligations one has voluntarily undertaken is a display of
personal power, confidence and the extent to which we can be trusted to
honour our words. Those who dishonour their obligations seek an unfair
advantage and display a lack of respect and fear towards those they have
promised. Revenge seeks to remove any advantage that might have been
unfairly gained and to restore honour and respect.
Refer to section 67 and the state of western democracy where minority interests rule.
Refer to section 60 for the power relationship in giving and receiving gifts.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 217
For many people morality is based not on the principle that might is right, but
on a belief in the truth of concepts such as intuition and divine revelation. Most
of these beliefs breach one or more of what the philosopher Nietzsche referred
to as errors of reason.

Errors of Reason
The errors of causality
It seems obvious from our own experience and observations of nature that every
event is caused by something. Although we don't think much about it all the
actions we take are based upon this assumption. When we hear a loud noise we
look up immediately to see what caused it and we would never accept that it just
happened on its own accord. If we believed that things could happen without
having a cause then we would give up looking for them. If things could happen
without a cause then nothing, including ourselves, could ever claim to be
responsible for causing them. The belief that every event has a cause is so
strongly held that even if we don't know what caused something we would
rather attribute this fact to our lack of information of the circumstances
surrounding the event than to accept that there was no cause for it. We require
certainty to alleviate fear and a consistent environment to survive.1
The memory recalls earlier states of a similar kind with our interpretation
as to what caused them. This tendency has become a habit and may even
postpone an investigation of the real cause. 'To trace something unknown
back to something known is alleviating, soothing, gratifying and gives a
feeling of power. Danger, disquiet and anxiety attend the unknown - the
first instinct is to eliminate these distressing states. First principle: any
explanation is better than none... The new, the unexperienced, the strange is
excluded from being cause... The banker thinks at once of business, the
Christian of 'sin', the girl of her love... The entire realm of morality and
religion falls under this concept of imaginary causes. [Unpleasant
feelings] ....arise from beings hostile to us (evil spirits: most celebrated case
- hysterics misunderstood as witches). They arise from actions we can't
approve of (the feeling of 'sin', of 'culpability'...) as punishments, as
payment for something we shouldn't have done...' (Nietzsche)
What cannot be known or understood is unpredictable and might carry with it
the potential for harm. If the desire to alleviate fear or anxiety is strong enough

Refer to section 7 for the consistency incentive and section 14 for fear of the uncertain
as the origin of superstitious belief.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 218
our reason may be motivated to distort reality by making guesses and
generalisations to reduce the fear or anxiety.1 Not surprisingly, these guesses
have often led to the assigning of false causes to events and to a confusion
between whether something is the cause or consequence of a particular event or
set of circumstances. For example, at one time it was believed that thunder
causes lightning when today we know that it is exactly the opposite. Similarly,
we might consider whether violent crime, drug abuse and corruption are the
cause or symptoms of a society that is sick.
That every event appears to have something that caused it is known as the
principle of universal causality or determinism. The belief that not everything
has a cause is known as indeterminism. It isn't possible to verify that every
event has a cause but by the same token there are no events that are known to
have had no cause. The fact that unknown factors have been discovered so often
in the past lends added support to the assigning of unknown factors to anything
that seems to have no cause. This makes it almost impossible to refute the
principle of universal causality. There are some scientists who refuse to accept
the uncertainty inherent in quantum physics by preferring to attribute this
to unknown factors although the majority of scientists acknowledge that
there is no certainty but only probability. When confronted with the pure
chance aspect of quantum physics Einstein made his now famous remark that '..
God does not play dice'. The concept that there are imaginary causes responsible
for otherwise inexplicable things like where, when and how the universe
originated are strongly associated with uncertainty and the unknown because the
desire to give at least some explanation provides comfort and the illusion of
Science explains events, processes and actions in terms of natural laws
which can only describe or explain actions - it cannot cause things to
happen. Scientific laws are based on limited observations. The belief that there
is a cause or a reason for everything that happens is borne out of the belief that
the I or ego we think of as a separate entity can will things to happen with
recourse only to our conscious minds, and independent of any underlying

Refer to section 11 for fear, belief and distortions of reality.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 219
subconscious motives. This ability we then project onto the outside world
where we look for agents or causes for everything. According to the
philosopher David Hume if our impressions of an object appeared the same now,
and then again 5 minutes later, we would conclude that the object had remained
constant in-between the two impressions despite the fact that we have no
evidence to suggest that this has in fact been the case. Furthermore, the idea
that one event causes another is based purely on the association of two or
more events and their sequence, but there is nothing of necessity linking
them - it is only our memory that gives us the impression that we are the same
person from one moment to the next despite the fact that we are constantly
changing. Our cells continually die and are replenished, new memories or
experiences are added and new associations formed. Similarly, if a person places
their hands above the inflamed joint of another and the next day the joint is
healed it doesn't mean that the two events are in any way causally related.
Scientists often make this error in interpreting the results of their experiments.1
Any conclusions that are based on limited observations can never provide
us with absolute truth because there is always the possibility that our future
observations might not be in accordance with them.2 Therefore there will
always be the possibility that an event without a cause could be found and this is
the reason that the debate between determinists and indeterminists has no
Some arguments, especially from the determinist camp might at first glance
appear convincing but don't bear up to closer scrutiny. Lets assume that the
principle of universal causality is true and all events are determined according to
scientific laws that were known. In such a case if we were given the state of the
universe at a particular time it should be possible to predict the rest of history
because events would unfold in a mechanistic cycle of cause and effect with one
effect being the cause of another effect and so on. Similarly, we should be able
to determine the conditions or causes that immediately preceded it and so on. If
we concluded that the universe is infinitely old then nothing could have caused
it as it would always have been there and this is nothing other than the principle
Refer to appendix F for eugenics as one example of jumping to conclusions.
Refer to section 48 for the generalisations or inductions that go to the heart of science.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 220
of indeterminism. If we concluded that there was a beginning of the universe we
would also require a first cause - something that itself wasn't caused - which
would bring us back to indeterminism once more.
From a scientific point of view all we have is probability and our experience
seems to conform equally well to the notion that we can never be sure that most
things we take for granted in our daily lives will happen with absolute certainty.
We often hear it said that 'the best laid plans of mice and men are often thwarted'
and this is in accordance with our own experiences. That things only have a
certain probability of happening is by no means an extreme point of view -
all it admits is uncertainty and chance.
Fatalism is the belief that we cannot alter the course of events which is pre-
ordained, a view which is contrary to almost everything we do. We drive
carefully to avoid accidents, go to schools to learn skills and exercise to
maintain good health. These are things we wouldn't do if we seriously held the
belief that we couldn't influence future events. People who say things like 'what
will be, will be' are really only looking for an excuse not to do something such
as giving up smoking or wearing a seat-belt in a motor vehicle. Sometimes it
appears as if circumstances leading up to an event are in some way pre-ordained
and the probability with which accidents and illnesses occur are so accurate that
the success of insurance companies are even based on it. However, the fact that
accidents, illnesses and deaths will occur with such predictability in no way
implies that the way in which they will occur is pre-ordained or that the series of
cause and effect carries on indefinitely. Probabilities are based on repeated
observations while pure chance accompanies the intricate details of the
majority of these events. When things happen to us without specifically
planning them then we may rightfully talk of chance. Meeting someone in
the street without planning to do so would be chance and it is never possible to
determine it.
Philosophers began to cast doubt over whether the world of appearances that our
senses portray is in accordance with how the real world actually is. They based
their arguments on optical illusions that we are all familiar with. For example, to
get an indication of the distance between ourselves and other objects they appear

© 1997 Allan Sztab 221

smaller when seen at a distance which we know isn't so. We also know that if we
place a stick into a bowl of water it looks like it is bent. However, it is only our
lack of knowledge about the inner workings of the human eye and the refraction
of light that leads us to denounce our faculty of sight. Despite this lack of
knowledge these optical illusions don't fool the senses because they work
together - it is easy to feel that a stick immersed in water isn't actually bent and
equally easy to realise that objects when seen at a distance aren't actually
The philosopher Zeno developed some paradoxes about two-and-a-half thousand
years ago which gave added strength to the illusory nature of motion while
conveniently ignoring the fact that he had no trouble in moving around. 1 Over
the years many other highly esteemed philosophers followed him in denouncing
appearances as illusions. The minds of philosophers have always been occupied
with understanding how the senses work and in particular, how we acquire our
knowledge of the world. These are intriguing and important questions but the
outright dismissal of the senses led to all sorts of mystical explanations and soon
other entities and worlds seemed possible.2 Soon morality was based not on the
reality of appearances but on mystical and superstitious concepts such as that of
divine revelation, immortality, reincarnation, astral travelling and witchcraft.
Then, as now, what is desired will be believed and reasons found to support
them. It is belief that creates reasons and not reasons that create belief.3
The mere fact that something isn't known or cannot be explained can never be
used as evidence either for or against the existence of imaginary entities that
cannot be sensed. When we go against our senses we lose the only standard by
which we can objectively measure reality. We know that without language
complex reasoning would be impossible. Language simplifies and helps us
to manipulate sensory information into a stable and ordered reality that we
can recognise. Because it was developed for quick communication between
people it is biased towards the collective survival of society. Language is an

Refer to the paradoxes of Zeno in section 34.
Refer to the real and unchanging world of Ideas believed in by Plato.
Refer to section 11 for reason as a tool of the emotions and our beliefs. Refer to section
66 for changing our beliefs and behaviour and appendix E for changing habits of
© 1997 Allan Sztab 222
agent of the desires and it is always about or for something external to us - there
is no language to describe something internal and private like pain. Because
language presupposes that external objects exist in some relation to the I we
call ourselves we are easily led to believe that what has a word for it
actually exists. However, existence is lacking in almost every mystical and
superstitious concept such as heaven, hell and a day of judgement. Not
surprisingly it isn't possible to determine the truth of a proposition that makes
reference to imaginary things.
Language, science, mathematics and logic are merely tools that furnish us not
with the truth but with a calculable environment.1 It is useful to speak of
identical things, familiar things, related things, space, time and motion;
concepts which are as problematical today as they have always been. The
process of selecting, ordering, simplifying and interpreting information is an act
of creation - it provides something intelligible out of a chaotic mass of
information. However, thinking in terms of opposites without giving due
consideration to the various shades in-between, has instilled the idea that there
are opposites for everything.2 If there is a complex world then there is a simple
world. If the world is full of contradictions then there is a world of no
contradictions. If there is a world of suffering then there is a world of no
suffering. If the world is full of changes where things change or become other
things then there is a world of no change where things are pure being and don't
change - concepts which found their way into the philosophy of Plato, Hegel and
some existentialist philosophers.
Our set of beliefs and expectations is the source of our moral conscience. Some
people are prepared to base their beliefs on the alleged experiences of others
while some base their beliefs on those of their own. However, if we interpret a
personal experience as being caused by something which has no evidence to
support it then it may be an imaginary cause, and if there is one imaginary cause
there is no limit to how many other imaginary causes there might be. Therefore,
our interpretation of the experience stands an excellent chance of being an error.

Refer to section 50 for the rationalist belief in obtaining knowledge independently of
Refer to appendix E for the error of thought in thinking in terms of opposites.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 223
Assumption is the mother of disaster and without evidence there is simply no
way we can ever know to what extent our assumptions are correct. We
compound our error even further if we are prepared to base our moral
conscience or behaviour on an imaginary or false cause, and open ourselves to
self-delusion and / or being manipulated by others.1
The error of Freedom of Will
'We feel most aggrieved at acts because of the mistaken belief that those
who have perpetrated them are capable of choosing to do otherwise - of
exercising free-will. It is this belief in choice that engenders hatred,
revengefulness, deceitfulness, all the degrading our imagination undergoes,
while we are far more forgiving towards an animal because we regard it as
unaccountable. To do injury not from the drive to preservation but as
requital is the consequence of a mistaken judgement and therefore likewise
innocent. Before the state we could act cruelly to frighten other creatures.
Now the state does. Morality is preceded by compulsion which one
suppresses in order to avoid the unpleasant consequences of our actions.
Later it becomes custom, then voluntary obedience, finally almost instinct;
then, like all that has for a long time been habitual and natural, it is
associated with pleasure and is now called virtue.' (Nietzsche)
We are a complex combination of needs and desires. Freedom is often taken to
mean a lack of constraint in the sense that there is nothing physically preventing
us from doing something. Of course we may not be capable of doing something
and some people are more capable than others. Accordingly, freedom varies
from person to person. Some people can control their desires through sheer self-
discipline and will-power, but some cannot. Once again language bewitches us
and abbreviates the entire complexity of our being to a single word - I - which
provides us with a permanent identity and a will of our own. Despite the fact
that we change from one moment to the next language misleads us to believe
that the I we call ourselves remains self-identical. No action, even those that we
perform, can be separated or isolated from the series of events and
Refer to section 14 for the development of superstition; to section 47 for the difficulties
in the process of interpretation; to section 48 for distinguishing between scientific and
pseudo-scientific claims; and to section 63 for the manipulation of behaviour according
to the morality of imaginary causes.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 224
circumstances that preceded it. There is no gap or space between events that
isolates them from one another and everything is in a constant process of
change. There are never any two identical situations or events. The assumption
that there are units of measurement and intervals of time might be useful for
mathematics but when we give them the status of truth then paradoxes and
confusion are bound to occur.1
The fact that we feel free to do things doesn't mean that our actions are
freely determined by us. It only feels as if we are responsible for it. And
feeling that something is true is no indication of its truth.
If we want a drink of water its seems that all we have to do is to will ourselves
to perform those actions necessary to acquire it. However, an idea is merely the
first step in response to an emotion or desire and we seldom consider that behind
the thought there is something else prompting us to think of drinking without
our conscious knowledge of it.2 When we feel hungry and crave for a pickled
cucumber or something salty we are happy to say we are hungry. Language
once again simplifies the entire process of obtaining nourishment and
abbreviates it into a single word - hunger. However, all the foods we have
eaten have been silently and subconsciously analysed in terms of the minerals,
proteins and vitamins that they contain, and an association formed between their
content and appearance. It is no coincidence that a pregnant woman craves
precisely those foods containing the nourishment that she requires. It is no
coincidence that a specific image of a particular food is conjured up by the mind
together with the memory of how it smells and tastes. Similarly, when we feel
amorous we are content in the belief that all we want is the pleasure that
accompanies sexual release. Once again language reduces this complex
process to one word - sex. Seldom are we aware of the stimuli that turned us
on and that the pleasure we look forward to is only the lure or reward that
encourages us to seek sexual contact.
Consider what would happen if we were administered a drug without our
knowledge. The drug could influence our behaviour and yet we would interpret
all our actions as being normal or freely determined by ourselves. On the other
Refer to the paradoxes of Zeno in section 34.
Refer to section 54 and the dualism of body and mind.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 225
hand, criminals are permitted to claim lack of responsibility due to the
consumption of alcohol or some other drug, when many more potent and less
understood drugs and hormones are active in our bodies at any specific moment.
It is now commonly accepted that as we age the production of certain hormones
varies and leads to changes in behaviour that are now referred to as the change
of life or menopause. Hormone replacement therapies are now common, and
from the reports of recipients, have a marked effect on their mood, vitality and
attitude towards life. Their experiences are testimony to the silent, subconscious,
yet powerful force these hormones have on our lives. The latest research
indicates that the role of hormones in creating an increased sensitivity towards
specific stimuli such as sexual stimuli during puberty and even sexual desire at
various stages of a woman's fertility cycle is far greater than previously
There are lots of circumstances beyond our control. We had no say in choosing
our sex and men and women each have certain unique characteristics. We have,
as yet, no say in the workings of our genetic development program. Some
powerful chemicals, enzymes and proteins still remain unknown and even when
known their precise functions often remain elusive. Many of the drugs that play
a role in the body's chemical reward systems are related to drugs such as the
opiates which give us a high or a feeling of euphoria that helps remove pain.
Without adequate knowledge it isn't possible to deny that kleptomaniacs may be
acting under the influence of certain factors over which they have no control.
The same may be said of alcoholics who cannot stop drinking once they have
started. We know that our behaviour is guided by subconscious interpretations
based on a lifetime of experiences and the meanings we have given them,
meanings which in certain circumstances were made while we were still in
diapers.1 Every decision we make is both consciously and subconsciously
determined. The conscious mind is a tool of the emotions and we never know
the extent to which our decisions are influenced by our subconscious
preferences. It is a lack of knowledge about the mysterious workings of the
many hormones and drugs within our bodies, and of the influence of the

Refer to section 9 for the role of defence mechanisms in tying us to the past.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 226
subconscious mind, that lures us into accepting the belief that we exercise our
will freely.
We are clearly not masters in our own homes and if we analyse any action
of ours that on the face of it seems to be the product of our own free will we
get to a point where our conscious self can no longer be held responsible for
it. Those who believe we have freedom of will do not accept this.
A belief in freedom of will has three major consequences. Firstly, if we believe
we are completely in control of our actions and are therefore fully responsible
for them we would be far more likely to suffer from feelings of guilt and
remorse over certain of our actions. These feelings tie us to the events of the past
which gave rise to them and make us vulnerable to being manipulated.1 Feelings
of guilt and remorse favour the development of a low sense of self-esteem which
makes it far more difficult to obtain a realistic understanding of our own
capabilities and limitations. We are sometimes surprised at the way in which we
react to certain unique situations that confront us and this should make us aware
that there are powerful desires within us that we are not always capable of
controlling. By acknowledging this fact we are taking the first step towards
discovering what these desires are and how we may channel them into actions
that will bring us the happiness or success that we might be seeking.
Secondly, the belief that other people are always responsible for their actions
leads to the belief that they could have done other than they did and this nurtures
the desire for punishment and revenge. 2 Accepting that people are not always
responsible for their actions opens the door to greater understanding,
empathising, forgiving and loving.3
Thirdly, if we believe that people in positions of public trust are responsible for
their actions then proper steps won't be taken to ensure that they place the
interests of those they serve above those of their own. This permits them to
make unfair inroads into our freedom.4

Refer to section 63 and the role of guilt in manipulation.
Refer to section 59 for the role of freedom of will in the concepts of punishment, guilt,
revenge and deserving of punishment.
Refer to section 66 and the role of deferring judgement and empathy.
Refer to section 67 and the corruption that is rife in governments that treat officials as
if they had freedom of will.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 227
Moral Relativity, guilt, justice and punishment
It is only by voluntary agreement that moral obligations are incurred. Such
agreements may be between individuals or between individuals and society or
government. It is these morals that determine our moral conscience which is the
source of our guilt and our sense of justice and fair play in relation to others.
According to Rousseau it was by means of a contractual agreement that the first
social obligations were established and although correct in principle there is no
evidence to support such a contract. The obligations and benefits of citizenship
are reflected in the system of laws and regulations of society. The Sophists
concluded that morality was relative based on their experience with people of
different cultural backgrounds - actions that were considered immoral by one
tribe were often morally acceptable to another tribe. They concluded that no
human behaviour is right or wrong but has consequences that are perceived to be
good or bad. If you were to take all the moral actions of a particular society
and deduct from it those actions that were prohibited by other societies you
would soon have nothing left.1 The fact that the moral consciousness of
societies and individuals varies is entirely consistent with what we find.
The fact that morality is relative isn't obvious because for most of our lives we
tend to associate with people who share the same views as ourselves. We go to
the same schools, stay in the same neighbourhoods and work in the same firms.
We are often encouraged and coerced into associating with people of a particular
group depending on our religious and cultural upbringing. Sometimes the
maintenance of separate groups is even encouraged by government - under the
legislative system of Apartheid in South Africa people from different races were
prevented from mixing with each other.
The division of people into groups who believe dogmatically in the truth of
their opinions is the single greatest obstacle in the prevention of inter-group
conflict, irrespective of whether the groupings are based on religious,
cultural, racial, geographical or other grounds.

Refer to the views of Locke on the role of pleasure, and Hume on the role of useful
actions in the determination of morals in society.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 228
Some people believe that if one accepts the fact that morality is relative then
anything goes. However, there is much to be gained by co-operating with others
and many different moral systems can be designed to reap such benefits. It is
clear that not all of these moral systems will be of equal merit.
It is mostly with punishment that we have come to associate justice. A person
who breaks a law is asked to plead guilty or not guilty. Finding someone guilty
is merely another way of saying that they are responsible or accountable for
their actions. This being the case it is assumed that they therefore deserve to be
punished - that justice be done. Thus most legal systems are based on the
erroneous belief that we have an unrestricted freedom of will.
'We kill things like insects intentionally if they cause us displeasure. The
state intentionally punishes and does harm to criminals. Any moral system
permits people to intentionally do harm to others in self-defence or self-
preservation. Yet almost all evil actions performed by one person against
another can be explained in terms of self-preservation or the avoidance of
displeasure. "Socrates and Plato are right; whatever man does he always
does the good, that is to say, that which seems to him good (useful)
according to the relative degree of his intellect, the measure of his
rationality."' (Nietzsche)

© 1997 Allan Sztab 229

The application of a one-word label such as responsible, accountable, or guilty
to a person is a punishment in itself.1 These labels are powerful psychological
weapons which often carry punishments to unreasonable extremes. Guilt is
simply an emotion, something that we feel, not something that we are.
Punishment is the intentional commitment of harm and suffering for the
breaking of a law, not something that we deserve. Laws and punishments are
necessary for the maintenance of order in society but any law that is made by an
illegitimate authority or that is unfair cannot reasonably confer a moral
obligation on people to obey it.2
It is generally held that a punishment should be fair and in line with past
punishments and customs and in proportion to the crime. The severity of a penal
code is generally an indication of the strength or weakness of a society because a
strong society can afford to be merciful towards criminals whereas a weak
society cannot. There is always the danger that a penal code is out of step with
social conditions and violent criminals are often afforded more protection than
their victims with the result that some people live in continual fear of violence.
The severity of penal codes has varied considerably in the past and while the
merits of capital punishment are still debated it has been estimated that in as
many as 80% of primitive societies murderers were often punished by the
imposition of fines. In some cases the fine was paid by the murderer providing
the family of the deceased with children or slaves in an effort to compensate
At one time punishments were so disproportional that they justified the
claim that the Old Testament 'law of talio, the law of eye for eye, tooth for
tooth... belongs with the great and decisive advances of humanity..' (Paul
There certainly was no sense of proportion when it came to the Christian notion
of eternal damnation and the most horrific punishments were meted out to save
peoples souls. The history of the Inquisition bears adequate testimony to the
extent of this religious fervour.

Refer to section 11 for the habituation to following orders and the dehumanising of
enemies to allay guilt feelings. Refer to section 63 for the use of guilt feelings in
Refer to the philosophy of Locke in section 50.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 230
Leaving aside the psychological punishment that accompanies feelings of guilt
and responsibility the calculation of a just and proportional punishment is
fraught with problems. The facts and circumstances surrounding each case
are different and it would be unfair to punish people without the full facts
relating to a crime because any extenuating circumstances could be overlooked.
However, the full facts are often impossible to determine and in many cases the
possibility of a person discovering them is in many societies largely dependent
on the quality of the legal defence experts they can afford to pay. On the one
hand the more evidence one is allowed to bring from the past the less the
responsibility for the crime, while on the other hand it might be unfair to take
into account any past offences of a similar nature as this would in effect be
punishing a persons past. We can take as an example the general hostility
displayed by society towards child molesters. Consider the case of young first-
time offenders who have been continually molested by their own family to such
an extent that they have come to accept adult-child sex as normal.
How does one determine a just or deserved punishment in such a case,
especially if no intentional violence or physical damage accompanies the
crime? The answer is simple - we cannot. Punishments cannot be
proportional either. How is punishment to be apportioned when a person is
convicted of killing one other person whilst another is convicted of killing a
family of four? The answer is simple - we cannot.1

Equality, reciprocity, prestige and redistribution
The benefits and obligations of citizenship are reflected in the laws of a society.
Any law that is made by an illegitimate authority or that is unfair cannot
reasonably confer an obligation on people to obey it. Fairness in this context
implies equal treatment before the law so that each person bears the same
burden of citizenship with no preferential treatment being given to anyone. This
concept of fairness includes that of equal opportunity in that each person is free
to pursue their own interests and utilise their abilities to reap the rewards of their
labour. 'To each according to his needs, from each according to his ability' was a
humanitarian ideal that Karl Marx strove for. It was only in the twentieth century
Refer to section 67 for an alternative to basing punishment on responsibility.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 231
that this ideal was replaced with the notion that equality means a 'fair share for
all' - that every citizen should have an equal share of the productive efforts of
society irrespective of their contribution towards earning it.
From the earliest of times the obligations that a person voluntarily accepted were
based on the notion of reciprocity. All parties to an agreement stood to benefit
provided they honoured their obligations. Reciprocity is based on the notion of a
fair and equal exchange. To receive more than your fair share carried the danger
that you might not be able to reciprocate and therefore feel indebted to the giver.
This would shift the balance of power in favour of the giver until such time as
you could reciprocate. A person who has many people indebted to them would
be able to grow in power and might even rise to a position where they could
exercise control over a community. Such a person might begin to feel in some
way superior to those who were indebted to them and it is largely for this reason
that status seeking is frowned upon in egalitarian societies such as that of the
Bushmen and Eskimos. The Eskimos even have a proverb that 'gifts make slaves
just as whips make dogs'. Status-seeking and greed does have the potential to
raise productivity by stimulating competition amongst people to work harder,
but some societies simply don't want to work harder despite the efforts of
Westerners to tempt them to do so. Like most of natures' creatures they place far
more importance on their leisure time and for this they are sometimes called
stupid.1 Many of these primitive societies also realise that unrestrained
competition between their members might place a strain on the resources that
are available to them whilst most Western societies are seemingly oblivious to
this danger.2
The resources that are available to production represent a key factor in the
determination of the productivity of a society. Wherever resources were
available a society could benefit by increasing its productivity which in many
cases enabled it to feed rapidly-growing populations. Some people were
naturally better or harder workers than others and stood to accumulate a greater

The story is told about a primitive fisherman who goes out to fish and when he catches
two fish he doesn't come to work the next day. Some would call him lazy or stupid but
others might consider him wise.
Refer to section 67 for the failure of political systems to address real problems and
appendix H for the possible results.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 232
surplus. It was possibly in an effort to distribute this wealth amongst society that
some primitive societies encouraged the voluntary distribution or the giving
of gifts to society at large in exchange for admiration and approval. The
greater their gifts to the community the greater was their prestige. This was
the practice of some primitive American Indian tribes such as those of the
Kwakiutl who were aboriginal inhabitants of Vancouver island. Those who gave
were known as 'big men'. Today, in contrast, a persons prestige is measured by
their ability to accumulate and hold onto their fortunes, which is sometimes
accompanied by conspicuous consumption amongst themselves to see who has
the finest homes, art and other prestigious collections. Governments now
attempt to redistribute their income involuntarily by means of taxation and this,
if anything, only serves to reinforce the desire of people to hold onto their
However, when it comes to the involuntary redistribution of income by
taxation we encounter the same problems as with punishment - how to
make a just and proportional distribution. Not surprisingly we come to the
same conclusion - we cannot.1 In order to calculate such a distribution one
would have to take into account things like a persons sex, ethnic group and
citizenship; what they have by way of wealth, family and abilities; what they
need for themselves and their dependants; how they choose to spend or invest
their income; and what they have committed themselves to. This would be an
impossible task especially since all this information is constantly changing.
There are simply no objective criteria to determine who has too much and who
has too little and even if this could be calculated then by taking from those who
have too much and giving it to those who have too little the incentive for anyone
to exploit the full potential of their abilities would fall away. People would have
to be forced to perform skilled work. Aristotle was correct when he claimed that
it is 'the desire of equality, when men think they are equal to others who have
more than themselves' that causes revolutionary feelings. The misplaced attempt
by humanitarians to perpetuate this notion of 'a fair share for all' by supporting
the involuntary distribution of societies' income by means of taxation might be

Refer to section 59 for the impossibility of a just and proportional punishment.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 233
well intentioned but it carries within it the seeds of revolution. There is naturally
nothing to stop any humanitarian from calculating what a fair share is so that
they can donate the excess of their earnings to a charity of their choice.

Three Laws for The new millennium
The moral obligations that we accept require us to do or not to do something and
this imposes a limitation on our freedom. There are nevertheless certain
obligations that are beneficial to us and are thus worthy of pursuing purely on
this account. Freedom is a paradox - if we have the absolute freedom to do
whatever we wanted then this would include the freedom to kill or harm others.
At the same time we could be killed or harmed by them.
The value we place on our freedom will ultimately determine the extent to
which we are prepared to sacrifice it on the altar of morality.
Our actions can be broken up into three distinct types. The first is to act on
impulse. In this case the rational and thinking part of the brain is bypassed and
we rely on the inner workings of the subconscious mind which interprets a
suitable response based on our past experiences. Whenever we are required to
act quickly this mode of action will be the preferred one and afterwards we may
often be surprised at the specific responses we made - it isn't uncommon for the
unlikeliest of people to become heroes in moments of danger.1 In some cases
hesitation means death. In such situations we are likely to perform those habitual
actions which proved beneficial to us in the past. Actions which proved so useful
would naturally be valued as good or moral actions and because they work there
is the temptation to believe that the assumptions on which they are based are
true. This is how certain actions and the beliefs that accompanied them were
passed down from generation to generation. Yet the irony is that many of these
beliefs and assumptions are false despite their usefulness.
'Those, for example, who did not know how to find often enough what is
'equal' as regards both nourishment and hostile animals - those, in other
words, who subsumed things too slowly and cautiously - were favoured
with a lesser probability of survival than those who guessed immediately

Refer to section 8 and the ability of the emotions to bypass the conscious mind.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 234
upon encountering similar instances that they must be equal. The dominant
tendency, however, to treat as equal what is merely similar - an illogical
tendency, for nothing is really equal - is what first created any basis for
logic... for a long time one did not see nor perceive the changes in things.
The beings that did not see so precisely had an advantage over those that
saw everything 'in flux'. At bottom, every high degree of caution in making
inferences and every sceptical tendency constitute a great danger for life.
No living beings would have survived if the opposite tendency - to affirm
rather than suspend judgement, to err and make up things rather than wait,
to assent rather than negate, to pass judgement rather than be just - had not
been bred to the point where it became extraordinarily strong. The course
of logical ideas and inferences in our brain today corresponds to a process
and a struggle among impulses that are, taken singly, very illogical and
unjust. We generally experience only the result of this struggle because this
primeval mechanism now runs its course so quickly and is so well
concealed.' (Nietzsche)
In the second type of action, impulses or habitual actions can be controlled by
conscious intervention and either the same or another response made according
to our capacity for critical rational thought. In the third type of action we
respond on impulse but this time in accordance with an action performed as a
result of critical rational thinking which has now become habituated. It is only
the second and third types of actions that may be regarded as moral
provided they have been made in accordance with obligations that have
been voluntarily accepted.
Obligations constrain our actions and thereby limit our freedom so it seems
obvious that our first duty is to develop a basic principle upon which to base
them and this principle is a simple one: any restriction that we impose on our
freedom should be beneficial to us. The following limitations are only
guidelines which give effect to this principle, and each person is capable of
developing their own.

Unless we choose to live in a society where we are in constant fear of coming

to harm at the hands of others it is in our own interests to voluntarily accept
© 1997 Allan Sztab 235
some limitation on our personal freedom with regard to them. We could
reasonably agree to limit our freedom to intentionally kill or harm others
without their consent unless in self-defence. Without such a limitation the
conditions that favour our protection and security would be forfeited and we
would be placed on a path that leads towards conflict, anarchy and nihilism.1
Prior to living in settled communities there wasn't much to own. The ownership
of private property developed when people commenced living in settled
communities. It was based on the principle that if someone had cleared a piece
of land, planted and tended its crops, then they were entitled to the fruits of their
labour. There are still communities that share both land and its produce but
in most societies today the ownership of private property is a fait accompli.
Even if it were possible to redistribute private property fairly the accumulation
into fewer and fewer hands would commence immediately thereafter. People
would trade and speculate in land, debts would be incurred and inheritances
received. The inheritance of wealth has always been resented but who is to say
that a person should consume their money and not save it for their children?
Without an interest in property there would be no incentive to work it and the
failed communist experiment bears adequate testimony to this. Unless we
choose to live in a society where we are in constant fear of being robbed of
our possessions by others it is in our own interests to voluntarily agree to
impose a limitation on our freedom to steal from them. One could
reasonably agree to limit our freedom to intentionally steal from others.
Even a thief must sooner or later come to realise that if ever they want to keep
the things that they steal they too must abide by this principle.
The above obligations limit or restrict our freedom to intentionally kill or
do harm to others unless in self-defence or to steal their personal property.
These are the first two laws. If we abide by the limitations that we have
voluntarily accepted then any other actions we perform are non-moral. Our
moral duty isn't to 'do unto others as we would like them to do unto us' but
to do unto others as we have agreed to do to unto them. 2 This is the third
Although the restraints we may accept are reasonable there will always be those
who require absolute freedom because it represents a short cut to the

Refer to section 65 for the determination of obstacles to our freedom.
Refer to sections 66 for non-moral actions and section 67 for its application towards
© 1997 Allan Sztab 236
unrestrained satisfaction of their desires for wealth, power and prestige. There
are also those who have chosen not to accept any restraints simply because their
reason dictates so. More troubling today is a fast-growing sector of many
populations who reject these restraints and they come mainly from the poor who
have no education and no prospects of finding suitable work to enable them to
earn a living. The expression 'if you have nothing, you have nothing to lose'
applies to them. In some cases they are motivated purely by greed but in certain
instances they are up against economic, political and legal systems that hardly
give them any choice because they are designed to favour and serve certain
vested interests whose beneficiaries form what may be referred to as a ruling
The failure of penal codes in many parts of the world to prevent ever-increasing
levels of violent crime and corruption provides evidence that the decision not to
abide by these voluntary limitations has filtered down from the ruling elite to a
rapidly-growing class of the poor. The legislation of the ruling elite often keeps
people poor because it robs them of their economic and political freedoms
without conferring any benefits on them. Rising levels of violent and non-
violent crime, corruption and the large discrepancies between rich and poor are
symptoms of a society that is sick. Ironically, many of the crimes committed by
the poor are against their fellow sufferers. Most governments attempt to treat
these symptoms not by restoring economic and political freedoms but by
redistributing the income or rewards of society at large. They do so because
this gives them additional powers and access to a steady cash flow. They are
supported by a humanitarian sentiment that in the modern welfare state removes
the incentive for people to support themselves and the incentive for those who

The Greatest Obstacles to Freedom
'The need for belief, for some unconditional Yes and No is a requirement of
those who are weak and dependent. They require others who use them and
selflessness and self-alienation is their morality. In order to exist the person
of faith chooses not to see many things, not to be impartial in anything, and
Refer to section 67 for the dangers of humanitarianism to democracy.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 237
to view all values only from a strict and necessary perspective. They are the
antagonist and antithesis of those who are truthful and their conviction in
unconditionality makes them fanatics.' (Nietzsche)
It has been said that humans are 'condemned to be free' yet many people are
reluctant to exercise what freedom they have and it is easy to understand why.
From the very outset our survival depends on our ability to conform in
accordance with the dictates of our parents and society. As an infant a fear of
death for disobedience is a very real one. Being totally dependent on our parents
we have little option because without any knowledge or experience of our own
conforming to the behaviours of those around us is the key to our survival.
We are taught to obey our parents and certain figures of authority, and
when we don't we may be punished or coerced into doing so. The pain or
discomfort of punishment is feared. It isn't surprising that after a few years
we become habituated to obeying.1 Choosing a course of action means the
willingness to accept the risk of its success or failure.
The fact that we make lots of small decisions often blinds us to the fact that we
allow major decisions to be taken for us. Because we have become habituated to
obeying others we have also become habituated to avoid taking risks. We do so
by following the decisions of someone else whom we regard as an authority.
This authority could be that of a religious group, husband, wife, political party,
or a particular movement or organisation whose general point of view is agreed
with. In some cases we might blindly follow a popular trend or lifestyle that is
avidly portrayed by the media and desired by society at large. In other cases we
might blindly follow the paid advice of a doctor, psychologist, lawyer,
accountant, or mechanic. Following the advice or actions of others is often
accomplished without knowing what assumptions they are making and then
subjecting them to critical appraisal. This is how both the truths and errors of
society are perpetuated and by taking the advice of so-called experts or
authorities uncritically we take the risk of perpetuating these errors.
The uncritical obedience to, and the acceptance of the beliefs of others, is
thus an obstacle to our freedom. It is natural for us to fear the pain or

Refer to section 11 for the habit of uncritical obedience.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 238
discomfort that is sure to accompany the inability to satisfy our needs for food,
warmth, love and shelter. The behaviours that we adopt from our parents and
society are those that have proved beneficial in satisfying these needs in ways
that are not harmful to society. Within the framework of these guidelines we
have developed individual behavioural preferences that are based on our unique
experiences and the meanings we have given to them. Underlying every one of
our behaviours is a belief that it is in some way beneficial to us. Society
expresses the collective beliefs of the many individuals in it. The customs of
society have been passed down from generation to generation and were
arrived at due to circumstances which are not always known and which
may no longer prevail.1 The meanings that ancient societies attributed to their
experiences could only be based on the knowledge that they had at that time.
Some of these customs were held in such high regard that they became sacred
and any changes to them were fiercely resisted. In a world where trial and error
experience sometimes meant the difference between life and death it paid to
keep to the same successful recipe. In a similar way the meanings we give to our
personal experiences can only be based on our prior experiences and therefore
on the knowledge we had at the time we made them. As children we don't have
much knowledge yet this is when many of these meanings are determined. The
defence mechanisms of the mind keep painful experiences out of our conscious
mind and this makes it difficult to reinterpret the past in accordance with the
constantly-expanding base of knowledge that we accumulate. This accounts for
the many juvenile responses and behaviours of adults. In many cases our present
and future actions are directed by the painful experiences of the past and when
we avoid certain situations or relationships we do so out of fear. A reluctance to
question traditional customs that are revered by society has the same effect.
Individuals and society are in many ways habitually tied to the past and this
prevents actions from being determined according to the requirements of the
present. Projecting the fears of the past into the present and future is
another obstacle to our freedom.2

Refer to section 13 for the practicalities behind customs. Refer to section 19 for an
example of the ritual cycle of war of the Maring tribe and section 60 for the system of
redistribution of some primitive societies.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 239
What cannot be known or understood carries with it the potential for harm and
to this extent it is feared. Reason is a tool of the emotions and when faced with
fear it attempts to eradicate or avoid it. In doing so any explanation is better
than none, and when the unfamiliar cannot be easily understood then reason can
easily distort our reality by providing erroneous explanations which are believed
to be true. Any actions that could possibly be linked to a favourable outcome
form the foundation for most mystical and superstitious beliefs. To make the
unknown familiar and thereby eliminate fear and anxiety, imaginary causes
are given to whatever cannot be understood. Hence the belief in imaginary
rewards and punishments. Once these ideas or beliefs are accepted new ideas
that challenge them are resisted. What once might have proved useful was
considered good but after a few generations the belief in them could became
sacred. This is the ground on which all mysticism, superstition, custom and
morality has grown.1 The strong desire to avoid fear and the errors of reason we
are capable of making leave us open to manipulation and to indoctrinating our
children into the acceptance of such manipulation.2
It is not only fear but discomfort or suffering in general that opens us to
manipulation. We may suffer as a result of things such as ill health, drug
addiction, personal misfortune, poverty and unemployment. The degree to
which we suffer varies from person to person and with it the desire to
overcome such suffering. A remedy which consists in the following of a
prescribed set of rules and regulations is offered by mystic, superstitious,
religious and political leaders as a cure for our fear and suffering. All
people have to do is to believe they will be cured. Many of these rules and
regulations are unfair or intrude into areas of non-moral concern.3
Mysticism, superstition and manipulation
Many of the prescribed rules and regulations of society, mystical and
superstitious preachers intrude into areas of non-moral concern. Even without
the knowledge of physiology and human behaviour that we have today, thinkers
have always been unanimous in recognising the major role played by our
emotions and desires, for they define what we are, our relationships with other
people and the world.

Refer to the physiological and behavioural mechanisms that tie us to the past. Refer to
appendix C and section 66 for fear as obstacles to our freedom.
Refer to section 14 for a fear of the forces of nature and section 15 for the mythical
explanations of the unknown. Refer to section 58 for imaginary and false causes.
Refer to section 63 for the use of fear to manipulate people.
Refer to section 61 for moral and non-moral obligations.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 240
With the freedom to roam in the wild in competition with other animals for food
and shelter, every emotion was useful for the preservation of the human species.
When unrestrained aggression was required it was there. When the need to kill
arose the will was there. In times of shortage greed was there. When someone
had something you desired, jealousy and envy were there. Every emotion served
a need. With the power of language humans became masters of their
environment in a relatively short period of time, and these same primitive
emotions were now unleashed onto the world with an ever increasing force.
History bears adequate testimony to this and whether we look to the past or the
present it is inescapable to avoid the same conclusion: it is the primitive
emotions that define the relationships between individuals, societies and nations.
Moreover, there are no built-in limitations to emotions such as fear, power and
It isn't surprising that many thinkers regarded the emotions as the cause of evil
and from this idea it was a short step for them to conclude that morality was
linked to the expression of the emotions. We saw how Plato gave recognition to
the emotions by incorporating them into the other world of his Ideas. The
concept of reincarnation or the transmigration of souls was well known in
Greece, and he was familiar with the Orphic concept of the soul being trapped in
the human body until it could be freed from its cycle of rebirth by paying for a
prior transgression.2 According to Plato the human soul had fallen to earth
because of conflicts between its reasoning ability, the various drives to action
and the appetites or passions. Like Socrates, Plato claimed that ignorance was
the source of error. In Plato's scenario it was ignorance that enabled the appetites
to outwit reason. This led to unhappiness as the soul would seek pleasure in
doing the wrong things. According to him the emotions and desires created lust
which disturbed the harmony of the soul, and it was the irrationality of the
passions that pulled the soul towards earth.
In the forests of the Ganges Valley almost the same conclusions were drawn
from an interpretation of the Vedas. God, or in Platonic language, another
world, became the only reality - all else in the world was an illusion due to
Refer to section 8 for emotions that have no limits to their expression.
Refer to the Christian doctrine of Paul in section 30.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 241
ignorance.1 The body was trapped in a continuous cycle of birth, death and
reincarnation due to the inheritance of the sins of our previous lives. These sins
or moral shortcomings prevented us from obtaining enlightenment or knowledge
of the illusions of this world. To break out of this endless cycle the prescribed
cure of preventing the body from satisfying one or more of its normal desires
such as those for food, excitement, music, sex or human contact, makes it clear
that the sins are the emotions, passions or desires.2
Manipulation almost always commences with the threat of certain
punishments or the offer of certain rewards in return for uncritical
obedience. This manipulation commences from our infancy and the rewards that
are offered vary considerably. Plato was witness to the turmoil and suffering that
accompanied the political change to democracy and this is probably why he
concluded that the route to happiness lay in his authoritarian utopia. According
to Plato, if people strictly adhered to their allotted roles then they would attain
the moral virtue of temperance by moderating their appetites, courage by
moderating their reactions, and wisdom by reason continuing to see the true
ideals. Justice, the fourth moral virtue, would flow from the harmony of all
three. Similar formulae are proposed by almost every government, society and
mystical or superstitious preacher. Happiness and contentment are offered as
rewards, as the consequences of following specific customs or laws. Faith in
a day of judgement serves as a threat to those who disobey and offers the weak
the hope of revenge on the strong and more fortunate which they don't have the
power or strength to achieve here on earth. Immortality offers them the hope
that they will fare better in another life. Heaven offers them an eternal life in
a paradise of resentment where according to Saint Thomas Aquinas believers
will witness the punishments of the damned. For damned we can read those who
are more fortunate, stronger, talented and those who refuse to be manipulated or
Hope works by lifting a person out of their suffering into a state of
anticipation. This movement from a state of suffering to a state of
anticipation is the immediate cure, and the degree of movement away from
Refer to section 58 and the error of imaginary or false causes.
Refer to Hinduism in appendices B1-3 and section 66 for the control of the emotions.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 242
suffering represents the degree to which a state of pleasure or happiness is
The emotion of love is utilised for its ability to distort reality.
When in love a person can see things in the object of their affection which aren't
there whilst ignoring some of the perhaps less savoury things that are. People
have even been known to sacrifice their lives for love. Love is so powerful that
most people are oblivious to its effects when in its grasp and are seldom swayed
by the objective advice of anybody else concerning the objects of their love.
Love is most effective if the love object is another human and this is the primary
reason that many imaginary causes such as deities are represented in human
form and with human characteristics. When a person believes they are in love
with a deity the emotions they feel might be the same as those felt when being in
love with another person, especially if the desire to love something is strong.
However, unlike being in love with someone, the unrequited love of an
imaginary deity or idol never dies.
We distinguish between love that is genuine and love that is manipulative by the
fact that genuine love is unconditional - there are no strings attached to it. In
contrast, the love that is offered by those who aim to manipulate is never
unconditional but is tied to the performance of rules and regulations that are
often of non-moral concern.1
Mystics and superstitious priests often wage war on the emotions by
advocating the ascetic practices of denying the body satisfaction of its
emotions which are referred to as sins. Some people are said to be 'born in
sin' whilst others are said to have inherited it. Because it isn't possible for
anyone to overcome their emotions or to strictly observe the rules that
regulate them they will be kept forever in a state of sin.
By placing prohibitions on non-moral activities such as masturbation, listening
to certain music or sex before marriage, the committing of sins is assured. When
these sins are broken they create feelings of guilt which then require the grace
and redemption of a priest. These requirements enhance the hold of the priests

Refer to section 10 and the effect of conditional love on character formation.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 243
over the individual. Being 'born in sin' a person is made to feel guilty right from
the outset.
'From a psychological point of view ''sins" are indispensable in any society
organised [or influenced] by priests: they are the actual levers of power, the
priest lives on sins, he needs "the commission of sins"... Supreme law:
"God forgives him who repents" - in plain language: who subjects himself
to the priest.' (Nietzsche)
A fear of guilt is one of the most effective means of controlling,
manipulating and punishing people. Eradicating guilt would deliver a serious
blow to political, mystical, superstitious, parental and social coercion. Guilt is so
powerful that we feel it even if we break self-imposed rules; we assume that we
have an unrestricted freedom of will and are therefore responsible for our
actions.1 Thus a student who breaks their own study schedule by spending too
much time socialising might suffer from guilt feelings. Guilt may be suffered
consciously or subconsciously and could even be related to imaginary actions of
the past. Survivors of wars and atrocities who have lost family and friends may
feel that they don't deserve to live. Some people even suffer guilt feelings by
comparing their situation to those less fortunate than themselves and conclude
that they don't deserve their standard of living. By being indecisive or failing to
make our position on something absolutely clear we may also open ourselves to
the manipulation of others who will attempt to instil guilt in us by exploiting our
indecisiveness at some later date. Their opening lines are normally something
like '... but you said x' or 'you gave the impression that..' or ' you shouldn't have
said or done x'. This form of manipulation is often a key strategy of certain
people and if we find ourselves surrounded by people like this then the best
option is to avoid them. Guilt is a feeling concerning past actions or deeds which
cannot be undone, and tie us to the past. Guilt feelings are often accompanied by
a negative sense of self-worth or a low sense of self-esteem and are often
instrumental in depression and neurotic behaviour.
Provided a person can be made to believe there is some way out of their
suffering the actual receipt of the promised rewards aren't even necessary.

Refer to section 58 and the error of freedom of will.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 244
In fact, this isn't desirable either because to last a lifetime the promises
should never be capable of being fulfilled. Nothing better exists to ensure
this than to prevent a person from satisfying their natural emotions and
desires for food, warmth, love, comfort and shelter.
It isn't surprising to find that believers in these mystical and superstitious cures
have a vastly different approach to dealing with their emotions because their
eyes are directed away from the daily concerns of their present life towards
another life. The hope of a day of judgement and a life hereafter are hopes that
one can never attain in this life and nobody has ever returned from their final
journey to tell us what lies ahead.1 This hope in that which is unattainable is
what led Marx to proclaim that religion is the 'opium of the masses'.
Amongst the remedies that are suggested to alleviate suffering we find 'the
blessing of work' to keep the mind off one's suffering, and other easily obtained
pleasures such as that of helping others, because in doing so one feels the
pleasure of a slight sense of superiority over them. To ward off the feeling of
suffering alone the keeping together with other sufferers is promoted because
this has the effect of shutting out different ideas. Religious control does have the
merit of keeping the poor and oppressed from rising against the wealthy and it
often happens that in increasing times of hardship and suffering there is a larger
than normal increase in religious sentiment and membership.
Many of the laws enforced by government are made in accordance with the
morality of religious groups.2 These laws are often of non-moral concern,
unfair, difficult to comply with and created so as to manipulate the
population at large.
Politicians, like all gurus and priests, have as their main objective a receptive
audience to whom they can make false promises, particularly to those who are
suffering. And almost without exception they offer faith, the illusion of equality
and hope, and in some cases love. Politicians will work hand in hand with any
influential group if doing so enables them to gain favour with their members,
always heeding the advice of Pareto 'not to resist a sentiment but to use it to
one's advantage'. Politicians, like any leaders, get their power from a large base
Refer to section 24 and the dawn of scepticism.
Refer to section 45 and the marriage of religion and politics.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 245
of followers and to win elections they will manipulate electoral boundaries and
even move people from one region to another. It is said that 'those who breed
most win' and this perverse dictum could well be a consideration of those who
oppose abortion and birth control.
Manipulation isn't confined to authority figures such as priests, mystics and
politicians; every day we are constantly being manipulated by advertising which
is nothing other than the promise of rewards for the purchasing of a particular
product. Through high quality and repetitive advertisements successful
marketers manage to create an association between their product and one or
more of the desires such as those for sexual prowess, masculinity, femininity,
sophistication, a long and healthy life or prestige. These are the myths that are
propagated in order to form an association between a desire and the means of
satisfying it. The result is that a positive attitude or belief is formed in the ability
of the product to satisfy the desire and in the case of commercial products the
remedy or cure is achieved simply by purchasing the particular product. In the
case of prestige products this might not be easy and the amount of effort
required to do so could easily exceed the alleged benefits (if any) of the product.
It often takes people an entire lifetime to pay for them. However, once
purchased a person will tend to justify their purchase and this enhances their
belief in the particular product even further while at the same time perpetuating
the myth. The particular lifestyle a person chooses to live is justified in the same
Unlike the choice of a particular lifestyle there is often a direct correlation
between a particular product and its harmful effects. When the product is a drug
such as that of nicotine, alcohol, or a tranquilliser, a person might begin to suffer
withdrawal symptoms or some level of discomfort as its effects wear off. The
relief, relaxation, or pleasure that the drug then provides tends to encourage the
belief that these feelings are actually benefits of the drug itself. Thus a smoker
will often go to any lengths to defend such mistaken beliefs despite the
knowledge that smoking is harmful. The tobacco industry is a powerful special
interest group that continually lobbies to combat legislation that would be
detrimental to their profits in favour of legislation that would benefit them, with

© 1997 Allan Sztab 246

the result that they are still able to actively promote their harmful products to an
unwary public.
However, manipulation by priests and politicians has no boundaries. It is not
uncommon for them to scrutinise present or past grievances or wrong doings in
order to find anybody or anything that could possibly be to blame for the
suffering or misfortune of a person, group or nation. They do so despite the fact
that it isn't possible to accurately describe or recollect past events or to do so
impartially.1 However, dredging up past grievances and opening old wounds is
so easy that they are the most common pretext for justifying or rationalising war
and unlimited aggression against other people.2
A politician or priest might say it is the Jews or some other scapegoat who are to
blame. In the case of the Jews this commenced with the Gospel of St. Mark and
the same ploy was utilised by Hitler and led to his attempt to annihilate them.3
A priest might say that a persons suffering or misfortune is a punishment for
their own sins and that it is they themselves who are to blame.
The only difference is that in the one case anger, hatred and resentment is
focused on somebody or something else, while in the other it is directed
backwards onto the person themselves. Directing anger, hatred and resentment
onto oneself is by far the most subtle of all punishments. Being told that a death,
trauma, or misfortune is a punishment for disobeying a law or ritual is horrific
and the guilt feelings that it engenders may sometimes be crippling.

Refer to the reinterpretation of history in section 26 and history as the clash between
different classes in sections 39 and 53.
Refer to sections 32 and 47 for the role of interpretation in our system of beliefs.
Refer to the Gospel of Mark in section 30.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 247
Chapter Twelve
Towards Freedom With A Clear Concscience

'The only critique of a philosophy that is possible and that proves

something is trying to see whether one can live in accordance with it.'

Pitfalls on the road to freedom
Because we are habituated to obeying others, independent thought and action
doesn't come naturally. In the distant past those who behaved differently to
others may have constituted a threat to the safety and security of their society.
The punishment for independent actions was isolation and in a hostile
environment this could often mean death. Although independent actions today
no longer constitute the same threat to society, they signal to others that we are
different and throughout history those who have chosen to see things differently
have almost always been shunned.1 A fear of isolation, alienation or rejection
often compels people to resist change by remaining in their present situation
and/or conforming to the restrictions of freedom that are imposed upon them.2
In order to change and begin making decisions for ourselves we have to
critically examine all our beliefs and expectations.3 Our entire support system or
frame of orientation might change as a result, and the effects could be very
difficult to accept. Lets say that a person questions whether there is life after
death. They might believe all their deceased relatives or loved one's are waiting
for their arrival in heaven. Such a belief might have helped them to overcome
some guilt feeling towards them for failing to make amends for an argument
prior to their death or for failing to ask or give forgiveness for some
wrongdoing. To give up a mystical or superstitious belief in things such as
immortality or heaven would mean the acceptance that those who have already
died will never be seen again and this might permit these guilt feelings to

In section 48 we saw how Copernicus had to circulate his model of the planetary
system anonymously as the church often resisted new theories.
Refer to appendix G and the modifications that Freud made to his theories out of a fear
of rejection.
Refer to section 65 for the determination of the obstacles to our freedom.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 248
resurface once more. Similarly, if a person believes that there is a reason and
hidden meaning behind everything, according to the Judaeo-Christian belief that
'God works in mysterious ways', they might have reconciled themselves to the
death, illness, or misfortune of themselves, their children, relatives or friends.
By rejecting imaginary causes and the notion of fate a person would now
have to embrace the pure chance aspect of life and the uncertainty that
accompanies it. And what is unknown might easily lead to fear and
However, to become something new we have to give up something old and this
applies to any change. This is the reason why the transition from childhood to
sexual maturity and that from single to married life are often accompanied by
initiation rites that are intended to guide people through them. In each case
something old has been lost and something new gained. To become who we
want to be we have to give up the person we have been told to be and doing the
things we have been told to do. Change has always been feared as change by its
very nature implies the risk of upsetting the status quo. This fear was justified to
a large extent in earlier times when our very survival and that of society
depended on the conformity to tried and tested actions. However, there are
limitations which we are willing to accept that would leave scope for both
conformity and individuality.1
The greatest fear we face when we change is that we no longer conform to
the expectations that others have of us and as a result they might reject or
isolate us.
Personal relationships are either informal or formal agreements between two or
more parties whereby certain obligations and benefits are established. These
agreements also reflect the power sharing relationship between the parties. As
we change, these agreements might have to be modified in order to take these
changes into account. Some people who see us change might resist it as they
could perceive it as losing their control over us. Many people are quick to pass
judgement and when we express any doubts or give support to anything which
remotely challenges the norms of behaviour or opinions that they subscribe to,
Refer to section 61 for the voluntary acceptance of limitations to our freedom and
section 67 for the problem we face when governments don't uphold their obligations.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 249
we stand the risk of being given a one-word label which might not be easy to
erase and could seriously effect our reputation and standing in our community or
workplace.1 We might also begin to look at our present activities and
relationships in a new light and conclude that some or even all of them fall short
of our new-found selves. Given the constraints of time and the practicalities of
our situation we have to choose our activities and relationships carefully. We
might only be able to successfully pursue one career at a time so to pursue a new
career will of necessity mean losing our old one. We might only be able to have
one wife, partner or lover at a time so obtaining a new wife, partner or lover
could lead to the loss of our present one.
The risk of isolation and alienation isn't reserved solely for independent thinkers
- making unreasonable demands on others also leads to alienation. For many
people the risks of change are well worth taking because in many ways they are
already suffering from isolation and alienation due to disappointment or
disillusionment with society and its institutions. This may be due to suffering as
a result of a failed marriage or relationship, violent crime, or the breakdown of a
sense of community with fellow workers who are often regarded as competitors.
In many cases disappointment or disillusionment is clearly linked to the
building up by society of unrealistic expectations with regard to career and
personal relationships, marriage, material comforts and high-tech living.
These expectations are fuelled by a media that informs us as to what type of car
we should be driving, the style of hair and clothes we should be wearing, the
body shape we should have, the image we should project, the places where we
should eat and be seen at, where we should go on vacation, who we should vote
for in elections, what we should drink and the medicines we should use. The
media have an inordinate influence over almost every aspect of our lives. Even
the music we listen to conveys messages as to how we should feel and react to
life's fortunes and misfortunes, and the messages they give are often far from

The following anecdotes illustrate the bias inherent in attaching labels to people and of
passing quick judgements. Question: 'What is the definition of promiscuity?' Answer-
'Anyone who does it more than you do'. A European woman is visiting a grave at a
cemetery and takes with her a bunch of flowers which she places on top of it. At the
same time a Chinese man is visiting another grave nearby and he sprinkles rice over it.
They both notice each other and the woman thinks to herself 'that's so silly, does he
think the dead can eat?' while the man thinks to himself 'that's so silly, does she think
the dead can smell?'
© 1997 Allan Sztab 250
encouraging - lyrics such as 'I can't live without your love', 'I would rather die
than lose your love' or 'Lie to me and I'll believe you but please don't go' all
reinforce the belief that life ceases when a loved one walks out of our lives.1
The media also select various role models who are continually paraded in front
of us to persuade us they are worthy of emulation. These role models are used
mainly because of their popularity and skill in a particular sport or activity,
sometimes even merely for their good looks and as admirable as these qualities
might be they are certainly no yardstick by which other more serious choices
should be measured. The failure to meet extravagant expectations is often the
cause of a low sense of self-esteem which tends to encourage people not to take
risks. However, it is only by taking risks that obstacles can be overcome and
with this the enhancement of self-esteem. It is often disappointment and
disillusion that prompts us to think of ourselves and our role in a society which
now appears to be strange or alienated from us. It is this sense of alienation that
is often responsible for the belief that things were much better in the past.

Determining the obstacles to our freedom
Our emotions and desires play a major role in our lives for they define what we
are, our relationships with other people, and the world. Our moral conscience
and the reasons we have created to justify it are determined by the set of
beliefs and expectations that we have.2 It is the way in which we behave that
ultimately determines our happiness and success. If we are unhappy or
dissatisfied with any aspect of our lives then by examining our set of beliefs and
expectations and the obligations we have accepted we should be able to
determine the specific obstacles that rob us of the freedom we require to rectify

Refer to the learning theory of Albert Bandura in appendix A6.
Refer to section 57 for the moral view that might is right and section 58 for the
reasons why many people adopt alternative views.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 251
We do so by adopting a rational approach. That is, to adopt an attitude
which is only superior to an irrational approach if we are willing to learn
from the criticism and arguments of others and to accept that we might be
mistaken. Critical appraisal is in step with freedom because we don't have
to bring any moral principles into discussion at all. We can always choose to
be amoral and not to incur, accept, or honour any obligations or limitations
to our freedom.
There are some irrationalists who claim that humans are not rational because
they base their decisions upon their emotions and desires. They are correct on
two counts: firstly, reason is a tool of the emotions and secondly, any principle
or value we adopt is irrational to some degree simply because there is no
absolute truth upon which to base it. Thus the very decision to adopt a rational
approach is itself irrational and requires a faith in the ability of reason. However,
this is a faith that every one of us, including the irrationalist, already accepts and
practices because without social consensus as to the meanings of each word and
the rational rules for their use language, intelligent thought and argumentation
wouldn't be possible at all.1 It is only rational thought that permits us to
recognise the long-term benefits that arise from doing or not doing certain things
even if this means the foregoing of pleasure, freedom, or the making of certain
sacrifices.2 Critical rationality and social consensus are the only hope we have
of living in a free, ordered, and moral society as opposed to the slavery, disorder
and nihilism which flows from irrationalism.3
It is only socially consistent sensation that bears the objectivity upon which
language, science, logic and mathematics grew. It is our senses that convey to us
the truths that we require for our survival even if the quest for life itself is
irrational.4 However, when we forego socially consistent sensation we lose the
only standard by which we can objectively measure reality. Science is based
upon observation but everyone can see and feel it work. Critical rationality
draws us towards the objectivity of socially consistent sensation as opposed to
Refer to section 3 for the necessity of social consensus in language and section 50 for
the views of Leibniz, Locke, Hume and Rousseau on language and reason.
Refer to section 66 where the attempt is made to give a shape or form to our desires.
Refer to the basing of morality on errors of reason in section 58, the acceptance of
moral obligations in section 61 and unfair legislation in section 67.
Refer to the existentialist philosophy on meaning of life in section 56.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 252
the subjectivity of intuition that is the bearer of mysticism, superstition and
It is our senses that tell us might is right - that there are mightier forces
than us and that it is perhaps beneficial to us to come to some agreement
with them, even at the expense of restricting our freedom. This is a rational
and logical progress of thought that is in accordance with the lessons we first
learn in confrontation with our parents, a lesson that is repeated on the school
playground, and later in all the relationships we have with other people and
organisations. This is a lesson that is in accordance with political and social
history and one that we can see working around us every day. The entire realm
of morality flows from the adoption of this one principle, for self-interest is
the cog on which our survival turns. Those behaviours we undertake that
do not fall within the scope of the moral obligations or moral duties we have
accepted are non-moral. It also follows that if others don't honour the
obligations they have with us then we have no moral duty to honour the
obligations we have with them.

1. We can examine all the behaviours we have adopted that stem from
legislative obligations we have accepted and free ourselves from those that are
unfair, not reciprocated, or confer no benefit to us.2
We have become so habituated to behaving in conformity with such legislation
that for the most part we are never consciously aware of its bias except when we
are directly effected. We should examine legislation such as those which rob us
of economic freedom by the imposition of taxation, customs, tariffs and levies
which redistribute the financial rewards of our labour and confer unfair
advantages to others, or legislation which distorts free-market prices such as
those that impose false constraints on the prices of certain goods, commodities,
or wages. The introduction of tariffs raises the prices of certain products and
allows inefficient industries to prosper at the expense of consumers who are now
unable to purchase products at the lowest price.
We should examine legislation such as that which prevents us from terminating
our own lives or that of a loved one. It is only if we have witnessed a loved one
Refer to the Ideal world conjured up by Plato in section 39. Refer to the views of De
Montaigne in section 47 that this kind of speculation leads to fanaticism and dogmatism.
Refer to the moral obligations arrived at in section 61.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 253
in the final stages of terminal cancer, which is often a slow, painful and lingering
death, that a person realises the despicable nature of such legislation whose sole
justification for having it is that 'life is sacred'. This is nothing but the imposition
of a fallacious and manipulative morality that is based on a belief in imaginary
We should examine legislation such as that which prevents a person from
terminating an unwanted pregnancy. It is only when we have witnessed the
despair and anguish of women who stand to have their lives and that of their
families irrevocably changed and limited by the constraints imposed by having
to take care of an unwanted child, that we come to realise the despicable nature
of such legislation. This feeling of repulsion grows even further when we
examine the aftermath of desperate women who risk their lives by resorting to
back-street abortionists and the devastating effects on children who are resented
before they are even born. Here again the sole justification for such legislation is
that 'life is sacred'.
We should examine legislation such as that which prevents us from doing things
that we feel could be beneficial to us such as laws which prevent us from
consuming a variety of medicinal and potentially life-saving drugs that are in
many cases less hazardous, addictive and costly to society than many freely
available drugs such as nicotine, alcohol, sedatives and tranquillisers; or the
costly yet ineffective legislation and its enforcement that compels many drug-
dependent people into a life of crime or prostitution. It is only when we have
witnessed a loved one such as a family member or a child addicted to a drug,
such as heroin or cocaine, having to prostitute themselves, or destroy their lives
and family, or turn to a life of crime, that one first becomes repulsed by such
legislation. Drug addiction is a symptom and not the cause of social
problems. It is only when one witnesses the suffering of patients who are denied
recourse to a drug which does more good for them than any potential harm it
may cause, that we can feel repulsed at such legislation. Here the sole
justification of legislation is often that of government taking over the role of
protector, for which it requires additional taxation, in the hopeless quest of
stamping out an entire industry that is now made so lucrative and so easy to
enter that it is virtually irresistible to innocent youngsters and more
organised criminals.
We should examine legislation such as that which fails to effectively enforce the
protection we require from those who fail to reciprocate the reasonable and

© 1997 Allan Sztab 254

mutually beneficial moral obligations that we are prepared to accept.
Governments have always attempted to justify their existence by protecting their
citizens from coming to harm at the hands of any other people. We have seen
that this justification originates from the benefits that conquerors gained by not
destroying those who they had conquered, but by collecting taxation from them
instead - a quid pro quo.1 Yet many governments cannot even do this any longer
and many honest businessmen are forced into insolvency by white collar
criminals who utilise the protection that is afforded to them by the limited
liability of legal entities such as corporations and companies - not to mention the
harm done to many hundreds and sometimes thousands of innocent consumers.
Today many thousands of people have no choice but to hire private security
firms in an attempt to protect themselves. Those who cannot afford such
protection are often at the mercy of violent criminals and often live in continual
fear. The power of the Mafia and other organised criminals is partly attributable
to the fact that many people utilise their services in order to obtain a speedy
settlement to moral and legal disputes, a method which is often vastly cheaper
and more effective than using a legal system that has in many cases been
designed by the same legal professionals who stand to benefit from its
ineffective and time-consuming legislative procedures.2
2. We can examine all our social and cultural obligations that intrude into non-
moral areas of our lives such as those that dictate the rituals we should perform
at birth, puberty, marriage and death; customs that dictate what the roles and
rights of men and women are; what, when and how we should eat; when and
with whom we can associate and the range and scope of these associations;
when we should work and when we should rest; when, how and with whom we
should satisfy our sexual desires; when, how and where we should congregate
with our family and friends; the occasions we should commemorate; and the
welfare groups, political parties and the causes we should finance.
Many of these rules and regulations are designed without the moral
improvement of the individual in mind but in order to control and manipulate us

Refer to the quid pro quo of taxation and protection in section 20.
Refer to section 67 and the problem of unfair legislation.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 255
with guilt feelings that are felt whenever these rules are broken.1 Each time a
prescribed ritual is performed it encourages and reinforces the habitual
obedience of the participants towards the commands of the authorities who are
in charge of the proceedings. This signals to all those in attendance that the
participants consider this authority to be legitimate and that they are in
agreement with the system of beliefs that underlie such a claim. Because all
those who are in attendance at these gatherings don't object to the proceedings
they silently signal their approval of this arrangement to everyone else who is
present. If we don't attend Satanistic rituals it is primarily because we don't
agree with the beliefs upon which it is based and the same applies to our
attendance at any other ritual.
3. We can examine our behaviours to determine those desires that have come to
dominate us and the beliefs and/or fears that underlie them. It is our beliefs and
fears that are the single greatest obstacle to our success and happiness. While it
may not be within our power to modify unfair legislation or legislation that
intrudes into non-moral areas of our lives, it is well within our power to control
and give form and shape to our desires. However, unlike other restraints to our
freedom, dominant desires are often more difficult to discern even though they
might rule our lives like a tyrant.2
Underlying any behaviour is a belief that it is beneficial to us, whether or not the
belief is true. We will tend to believe that which we desire to be true and
disbelieve that which we desire to be false.3 Many of our opinions are based on
subconscious desires or fears, and in general those things that will enhance our
wealth and thereby reduce our fear of poverty will be believed in while those
that threaten to reduce it will be disbelieved. It is almost a universal law that
those who have will want to maintain the existing order whilst those who don't
have will be revolutionaries.
A fear of pain or discomfort could give rise to emotional responses that are
similar to paranoid actions in that they are a gross over-reaction to a stimulus or
situation. It could be a fear of losing love, food, warmth, shelter or anything that
Refer to the system of rewards and punishment, hope, faith and love in section 63.
Refer to section 10 and the formation of character concerns.
Refer to the question of truth in section 32 concerning fear, uncertaintly, belief and
useful errors.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 256
is required to satisfy our basic requirements. Any desire that is fuelled by
unrealistic expectations can easily become tyrannical.1 If a persons life is
dominated by a desire such as that for sex they might place this before
everything else and by devoting all their energy to this single-minded pursuit
deny themselves the opportunity to channel their energy into other areas which
might need attention, such as their family, career, or health. The same applies to
any other desire. The single-minded pursuit of money or power can lead to the
unfair treatment of others which might arouse their anger, jealousy or desire for
revenge. The desire to impress others with achievements and prestige
possessions can lead to being shunned and even to open displays of hostility. 2 It
is fear or insecurity that leads us to covet the possessions of others, to lust for
sex and power, to demand more than we need, and to become envious of others
who seem to be more fortunate than us. It is a fear of deciding for ourselves that
leads to an over-dependence on others for protection or guidance.3 Desires that
dominate us often lead to irresponsible and reckless actions which may later
create feelings of guilt, a loss of self-esteem, frustration and outbursts of anger
which are bound to have an effect on those around us. When we demand too
much love, protection, or attention from others they are sure to either isolate or
shun us. The state of our relationships with other people is therefore a prime
indicator of desires that have come to dominate us.
A dominant desire is also evident when we are continually having to justify
our actions or words to ourselves or to other people. Once we have managed
to justify them the path is cleared for us to perform the same actions again.
Suffering from guilt or the frustration of failure often leads to the apportionment
of blame onto others so as to maintain a false sense of pride. Having done so
once the tendency to continue apportioning blame will remain until it too
becomes habituated. Continual justification of our actions or the apportionment
of blame onto others prevents us from uncovering the tyrants within us.

Refer to appendix C on fears, phobias and paranoia and section 64 for the feeling of
alienation caused by unrealistic expectations.
Refer to section 60 and the primitive means of redistributing income as well as the
obligations created by giving gifts.
Refer to obeying others as an obstacle to freedom in section 62.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 257
By critically appraising the legal and social obligations we have accepted we
can identify those that are unfair or not reciprocated and those that attempt
to regulate non-moral aspects of our behaviour. By critically appraising our
behaviours we can identify any domineering desires.
The critical appraisal of our set of beliefs and expectations would be pointless
unless there was some objective or goal with which to do so. The word
happiness would probably come to the lips of the majority of people if asked
what they most desire and it was with this in mind that the pursuit of happiness
is specifically mentioned in the American Constitution. There are many routes to
take on the road towards happiness and not all of them may be suitable to us.
Some of them are based on mystical and superstitious beliefs that open us to
manipulation and exploitation at the expense of our personal freedom.1
However, there is plenty of scope for individual and natural solutions that flow
from the morality we have created and we now turn our attention to them.

Refer to the offer of happiness and comfort in return for obedience in section 63.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 258
Freedom and the Individual
'I formulate a principle. All naturalism in morality, that is, all healthy
morality, is dominated by an instinct of life - some commandment of life is
fulfilled through a certain canon of 'shall' and 'shall not', some hindrance
and hostile element on life's road is thereby removed. Anti-natural morality,
that is, virtually every morality that has hitherto been taught, reverenced
and preached, turns on the contrary precisely against the instincts of life - it
is a now secret, now loud and impudent condemnation of these instincts.'
It is only when two or more parties reach a voluntary agreement that is
deemed to be fair and equitable between them that the notion of justice and
morality first makes an appearance.1 Benefits and obligations flow from any
moral agreement. Obligations impose a limitation on our freedom and the extent
to which we value our freedom will ultimately determine the extent to which we
are prepared to sacrifice it on the altar of morality. Any limitation to our
freedom should confer some benefit to us and the safety and security of
ourselves and our possessions are prerequisites in order to avoid conflicts
with others.2
According to our senses pain is bad and pleasure good. Seeking pleasure is
natural and nobody has to be encouraged or urged to do so.3 Seeking pleasure or
minimising displeasure is often equated with the somewhat derogatory term
hedonism which conjures up a vision of perpetual feasts and orgies. Seeking
pleasure and minimising displeasure is merely the choice between a life that
is dominated by pleasure or an absence of suffering as opposed to one that
is dominated by suffering. Seeking pleasure and minimising displeasure is
the natural path to happiness. What is clear is that the happiness that many
search for today isn't the same happiness that Montesquieu and Voltaire spoke
about or what Jefferson had in mind when he framed the American constitution.
Happiness to them meant material sufficiency, freedom from despotic
Refer to the creation of moral obligations in section 57.
Refer to section 61 and the voluntary acceptance of limitations to our freedom.
Refer to section 7 on the natural incentives and the chemical reward system of the
© 1997 Allan Sztab 259
control, and equal opportunity. By way of contrast we find today the widely
held belief that the route to happiness and freedom is via the acquisition of
personal wealth which has now become a faith that has taken on religious
proportions. The single-minded quest for financial rewards permeates almost
every aspect of modern life including that of art, music and sport.
It is clear that a perpetual state of pleasure isn't possible. Our bodies are geared
more towards states of continual hardship than of pleasure.1 Unlike pain which
can persist indefinitely, pleasures are relatively short-lived and are followed by
an absence of pleasure. Thus the greater the pleasure the greater the
discomfort that may accompany its loss.2 This is perhaps the reason that
Buddha referred to life as one of suffering. Pleasures may be derived from
people and things and this leads to the desire to attach ourselves to them in order
to repeat the pleasurable experiences. However, nothing is permanent and if we
lose these attachments due to changes beyond our control we may suffer. The
discomfort or suffering that follows the loss or withdrawal of pleasure or the
loss of our attachments may be feared and for some the remedy is the avoidance
of pleasurable activities or the attachment to those people or things that are the
source of pleasure. If we are not attached to others we won't suffer should they
die or abandon us; if we aren't attached to material things then we won't suffer at
their loss; if we aren't attached to youth and health we won't suffer if we lose
There are varying degrees to which the pleasures of life can be denied. At one
extreme is the ascetic who is dominated by an uncontrollable desire for power
which reigns over their other desires. Their inability to obtain power over
external things leads them to play the tyrant over themselves in the hope of
gaining fear and respect from others. The result is to achieve varying states of
inaction or hibernation which is often referred to as liberation from illusion,
knowledge, truth or enlightenment.

Refer to the ordeal of the Andes survivors in section 5 with special regard to the
change in belief that was necessary for them to survive and the speed with which it
Refer to section 8 and the alternating states of pleasure and pain or discomfort and to
section 63 for how hope and faith can alter these states.
Refer to appendix B3 for Buddhism.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 260
By denying expression to our desires we give up the joys and pleasures that
life has to offer, of all that makes life worth living. Self-denial isn't a
demonstration of power but of weakness - an inability to control a desire. It
is fear, domineering desires or unrealistic expectations that lead to excessive
behaviours that often have a negative influence on the course of our lives. 1 Fear
or suffering opens us to the manipulation of mystical and superstitious priests
with remedies that are in many cases based on the unnatural suppression of the
The natural solution is based upon the acceptance of change and learning
how to moderate, control, satisfy and harmonise our desires according to
moral principles of our own.3 Such a state of harmony is an act of creation
and a more deserving candidate for the title of Nirvana or heaven, a state
that can be achieved within ourselves here on earth.
Happiness is a subjective state that can only be determined by each one of us.
The first obstacle that we must overcome is the commonly-held belief that
altruism, or the performing of actions that are beneficial to others, is a virtue,
while looking after one's own interests is selfish.
'A persons virtues are called good if they serve the interests of the
community, notwithstanding the fact that they may be bad for themselves.
A virtue that fails to listen to instinct and reason has its victim firmly in its
grasp. We are praised for our virtues because they are good not for us but
for the community. Reason is shocked and the instinct for self-preservation
horrified. Yet we are taught that virtue and our own self-interest are related!
... If this education succeeds then every virtue of an individual is a public
utility. Consider the virtues of obedience, chastity, filial piety and justice.
Praise of the selfless, self-sacrificed and virtuous didn't arise out of
selflessness. The neighbour praises selflessness because it brings him
advantages. If he was selfless in his thinking he would repudiate this
mutilation for his benefit and above all by not calling it good...' (Nietzsche)
Individual actions have always been a threat to a state, group or sect of
people whose leaders require the blind obedience of all their members. To
achieve this the attempt is often made to identify individual actions as
Refer to the role of domineering desires as an obstacle to our freedom in section 65.
Refer to section 63 for the assurance that sins will be committed if the satisfaction of
natural desires are deemed to be sins.
Refer to section 61 for the creation of moral obligations based on self-interest and
© 1997 Allan Sztab 261
selfish actions. However, this identification is fallacious and is merely a
cunning play on words because it is selfish actions that are opposed to altruistic
actions and individual actions that are opposed to group or collective actions. In
other words, when people act as individuals all they are doing is acting contrary
to the actions of a specific group of people and this has nothing whatsoever to
do with selfishness or altruism1 .
Contrary to what many profess to do, every human action is ultimately
performed in the belief that there is something to be gained thereby and not
surprisingly people have never stopped performing them - some do so by
deceiving themselves that there is nothing in it for them, some do so
hypocritically and some do so with a guilty conscience. Even martyrs who are
prepared to sacrifice their lives do so in order to satisfy some desire of their
own. We can certainly be manipulated into benefiting others at our expense in
the belief that a reward or punishment awaits us in some imaginary place like
heaven or hell.
Selfishness is a virtue and not a vice. Moreover, there are certain selfish actions
that can benefit others such as the voluntary distributions to society made by big
men in return for approval and prestige2 . There is also a benefit that flows to
others when people act selfishly in a system of free-enterprise. It is only the
individual who can understand, control and master their own desires and thereby
achieve happiness. It is only individuals who can determine for themselves the
limitations to their freedom that are required for them to achieve happiness. The
only moral obligations we should have are therefore those that originate out of
It is only when we honour obligations that are beneficial to ourselves that we
can achieve happiness. When we honour obligations that are not beneficial to us
we achieve not our own happiness but that of others. By critically appraising the
legal and social obligations we have accepted we can identify those that are
unfair or not reciprocated and those that attempt to regulate non-moral aspects of
our behaviour.3 When we dishonour them we should do so with a clear

Plato was the first to attempt such an identification - refer to section 39.
Refer to the Kwakiutl Indians in section 60.
Refer to section 65 for the determination of obstacles to our freedom.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 262
conscience because there is no moral duty to honour obligations with any other
party who directly or indirectly dishonour their obligations with us. We should
do so to preserve our freedom and to avoid the build-up of impotent resentment
and anger that may harm us even further by adversely affecting our health and
relationships with others.
There are often considerable risks of punishment when laws are disobeyed.
Wherever possible one should work within the framework of existing laws but
in many cases this isn't possible. Under certain forms of government some
people don't have many options available to them. When we fail to comply with
religious or social customs the punishment usually takes the form of being
shunned or isolated and this could lead to financial ruin due to the loss of a job
or the termination of business relationships. In every case one has to weigh up
the risks, costs and consequences involved and the worries that such actions
might hold for us. The creation of worries is a penalty that often isn't worth the
price for it prevents us from attaining peace of mind.
In many cases where we have incurred obligations that prove too onerous we are
always free to re-negotiate them particularly if they are unreasonable or
incapable of being fulfilled. The right to re-negotiate any obligation should
never be forfeited. We should resist making unrealistic promises such as the
marriage vow 'to love and cherish each other, in sickness or in health, in good
times and in bad' or of using words like forever that commit us to lifetime
obligations that are often impossible to fulfil. We cannot make promises that are
based on the future state of our emotions or desires because we cannot fake
emotions - we either have them or we don't. Any obligation we have made in
the past that we cannot comply with should be re-negotiated with a clear
conscience. We don't have to tolerate unsatisfying relationships with other
people, family and acquaintances that are based on unrealistic obligations which
paralyse us with a fear of guilt.
Many people accept onerous obligations to behave in a particular manner purely
in order to maintain a false image of themselves. Thus they might find it difficult
to avoid being financially generous to others so as to maintain the image of
being wealthy even if this means depriving themselves or their families. Not all

© 1997 Allan Sztab 263

obligations are equally onerous but we should be aware of the acquisition of any
obligation irrespective of how trivial it may seem. For example, whenever we
ask someone else for a favour we incur the obligation to return one in the future
and this gives them a certain degree of power or influence over us. This loss of
independence is often worth far more than the favour.
Wisdom is the ability to determine through experience and self-knowledge
those things that will reward us with pleasure and those that will bring us
pain, discomfort, or suffering. On the one hand the physical pleasures obtained
from the chemical rewards of the body are short-lived and cannot be sustained.
This limitation to the endurance of pleasure applies to the use of all drugs
including those of nicotine, alcohol and tranquillisers. The body quickly builds
up a tolerance to the pleasure giving qualities of most drugs and sends pleasure
seekers on a desperate but hopeless quest to experience that initial high or
intense state of pleasure once more. Sensual pleasures like sex are also short-
lived and not even all the sexual gadgets in the world can enhance them. On the
other hand, certain pleasures might include some level of initial discomfort. To
maintain our health we must have the self-discipline to control what we eat and
the activities we perform. Learning how to play a musical instrument can be
frustrating at first but extremely pleasurable later. Students must sacrifice their
leisure time to study in order to obtain a qualification. Great achievements have
often been preceded by great suffering. However, because there is usually
something to be learnt from suffering doesn't imply that suffering is good in
itself. The relationships we have with our friends often require the sacrifice of
our time, resources and in some cases possibly even our lives. However, it is in
our own self-interest to have friends because they can protect, help and
comfort us if we should require it. We might need friends to look after our
families or possessions or to administer our estates in the event of our death, or
even to terminate our lives if we are suffering and cannot do so ourselves.
Although friendship is in our self-interest it doesn't imply that it cannot develop
into an unselfish love for its own sake. Because friendships are based on loyalty
and trust, friends have the capacity to betray and cause us harm and for this
reason friends should be chosen with the utmost care.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 264

We can avoid most suffering or discomfort by obtaining the basic necessities of
food, shelter and love. It is only in perfect health that we are free of pain and
there is an art to eating and drinking as pleasure, health and ill-health can be
derived from them. The more desires we have the more difficult it will be to
satisfy and harmonise them. Unrealistic expectations and desires such as those
for fame, glory, prestige and riches need to be controlled or else they could
easily come to dominate us. The exercise of power may be pleasurable in itself
but having power over others could lead to them fearing or resenting us and with
it the danger that they might one day turn on us. This is a danger that
accompanies many high-profile and powerful positions. However:
We must take care not to establish our life on too narrow an area of desires:
for if we renounce the joys that position, honours, companionship, sensual
pleasure, comforts, and the arts afford, the day may come when we
discover that through doing without these things we have acquired for a
neighbour, not wisdom, but boredom with life. (Nietzsche)

Freedom from fear is equally as important as satisfying our basic needs. The
suffering that accompanies fears and worries can often be far greater than
physical discomfort. The ideal pleasures are those that are distinguished by the
absence of both physical and mental suffering and here again we must carefully
weigh up the anticipated pleasure and pain that can be derived from any
pleasurable activity. The greatest sources of fear and worry are those associated
with physical pain or discomfort and death. Because there is no pain after death
we have no need to fear it - we are no different to any other creature of nature in
this respect. However, we might never overcome the fear of death while we
continue to maintain a belief in imaginary concepts such as immortality and a
day of judgement.1 Basing our beliefs upon imaginary things or future events
such as a day of judgement open us to being manipulated with imaginary
punishments and rewards that burden us with unnecessary fears and obligations
in the only certain life we have - the one we are living today. The ill-fortune
that sometimes accompanies chance events isn't a punishment that is being
meted out by an imaginary cause. Moreover, we never deserve this
punishment for failing to abide by the imaginary rules of an imaginary

Refer to the fear of death in section 4, superstitious belief in section 14, mystical and
superstitious myth in section 15 and the afterlife myths in section 22.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 265
cause. Events do not unfold according to ancient prophesies that can only be
deciphered with hindsight, because imaginary causes can always be found for
any chance event. History can always be reinterpreted so as to alleviate suffering
while opening the door to manipulation.1 Basing the decisions of the present on
a belief in imaginary events which may or may not occur shifts our eyes and
ears away from the truth of the present that our senses convey to us. It isn't
necessary for our minds and actions to be manipulated and paralysed by fear,
guilt, remorse, jealousy, envy and hatred.2
Fear is the single biggest obstacle that we face on the path towards happiness.
Fear paralyses us with inaction and avoidance, which is why ascetics are
distinguished by their lack of action. Behind many of the actions we claim we
cannot do is a fear of losing things that are important to us and not a lack of
ability.3 Whenever we are in a state of indecision and are in effect paralysed into
inaction, then fear is the most likely cause. This may apply to our reluctance to
break off, terminate, or modify a bad relationship because of the fear of facing
an uncertain future and of the possibility of doing so alone. We may notice that a
string of disappointments or failures have come about because we have been
ignoring our own inner feelings when negotiating with others, and making bad
deals because we are scared to lose their companionship, business or some other
reward we believe they have to offer us. We may be refusing to make important
career moves because we fear losing the security or benefits of our present jobs.
Throughout history we see that significant change tends to occur in response to
events which are beyond control and often in response to much suffering. Thus,
it was change in climatic conditions which forced people with different customs
to converge alongside rivers where it was necessary to modify their customs in
order to avoid conflict. Conquest by other tribes had the same effect. Change
almost always followed great upheavals and suffering, and most of the worlds'
major religions developed in reaction to the suffering that accompanied such
changes. Change is possible but our task is to make the change towards
happiness without waiting for uncontrollable events or suffering to befall us.
The overriding tendency is that of inaction - to wait until events force us to
Refer to section 26 for the reinterpretation of history in the Old Testament.
Refer to manipulation in section 63.
Refer to fears, phobias and paranoia in appendix C.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 266
face up to our worst fears, and we do so simply because we are comfortable
with the familiar and fear the unfamiliar. We have become habituated to
obeying and acting in conformity with the expectations of others and are afraid
of making our own decisions. A fear of being alone or of losing some perceived
reward is often the reason that many people waste precious time and
opportunities while they wait for their spouse, business partners, or employer to
abandon them.
Fear is a very powerful emotion and the actions of a society may also reflect the
fears of an individual. Politicians fear taking positive steps to tackle problems
such as over-population and violent crime because they might become
unpopular with voters - a failure to win the forthcoming elections could lead to
their loss of power and prestige. Hesitation can sometimes have disastrous
It is possible that the fear of another defeat by Germany played a large role
in the defeat of France in World War II, a defeat which allowed the war to
continue for a further five years at a cost of upwards of 30 million lives.
The construction by the French of a set of fortifications known as the
Maginot line was an attempt to reduce the fear of a German attack. It
proved to be a false sense of security yet what was even more alarming was
the fact that the French generals repeatedly dismissed intelligence reports
of an impending German attack through the Ardennes which wasn't
fortified. (Norman Dixon)
We don't have to wait until events force us to face up to our fears and the fact
that we have survived and even prospered after being forced to face some of the
worst fears we have harboured, along with all the other mishaps that might have
befallen us, is evidence that it is within the power of every one of us to do so.
Fear and suffering leads us to distort reality and to the commission of errors of
reason. We are geared towards making speedy judgements as our lives often
depend on them. However, in the majority of situations we can afford to take the
time to defer our judgements of other people or things and this allows us to
make rational, moral and just judgements.1 The uncontrollable urge to pass
The moral obligations we determined in section 61 were arrived at by critical rational
thought which takes time.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 267
judgement is often the mask of weak, stubborn, narrow-minded, suffering, or
vengeful people who seek to blame somebody for some alleged wrongdoing in
order to raise themselves up at someone else's expense and there is seldom any
better victim than one who is more fortunate or happy than themselves. When
we assume the right to judge others we are in effect claiming to be superior to
them and to have earned the right to judge.
Deferring our judgement is the ability to avoid making an immediate response to
a particular stimulus by exercising control over our desires. Our judgement
consists of a mixture of our personal likes, dislikes and prejudices, good and bad
experiences, and the state of our desires or mood at a particular time. Until we
can create our own moral conscience our sense of right and wrong is often that
which we have accepted and been taught from others. Suspending our
judgement enables us the time to overcome errors of reason such as a belief that
there are identical things and situations. There are only similar situations and not
taking the time and patience to comprehend all the particular facts of a case
leads us to make hasty judgements that are both unfair and illogical, and
reinforces prejudicial beliefs. Hasty judgements bear the irrational imprint of the
emotions and unless our lives depend on it we should never make decisions
when our emotions have clouded our eyes. Many a fortune, career and love-life
have been torn apart by emotional responses.
We should take into account that nobody, including ourselves, is entirely
responsible for their actions. Dispensing with the notion of responsibility
enables us to forgive ourselves for our actions and the guilt that we may be
suffering from. Suspending judgement allows us the time to empathise with
others and to realise that often the only thing that distinguishes their behaviours
from ours might be weakness or merely a lack of opportunity; some people are
good only because they cannot be bad or haven't had the opportunity to be bad.
The implications of a natural solution is clear. If we are free from pain and have
provided for the basic necessities of food, shelter and love, it is only our minds
that can disturb our tranquillity - minds that may be occupied with satisfying
domineering desires such as those for power, sex, fame, riches and glory; or
minds that are occupied with fear, guilt, envy, worry, hatred, self-pity and greed.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 268

Fear and guilt are emotions that commit us to the past. Undue worries about
events that might or might not take place prevents us from enjoying the present.
The pursuit and exercise of power may be pleasurable but it isn't necessary to
dominate or rule others to boost our sense of self-importance. We can lead by
example and not by displays of power. Tranquillity comes from the leading of a
moral life with a clear conscience, one that is simple and easy to maintain, one
that is free from undue worries. Our task is to determine for ourselves those
activities that will bring us happiness in accordance with the system of beliefs
and moral guidelines we have furnished ourselves with. These are the
foundations upon which we can move towards freedom and happiness. Our
experience and knowledge will provide us with the wisdom to distinguish
between those activities which bring us pleasure and those that bring us pain.
We are tied to the past by the physiological and psychological mechanisms that
are inherent in us. Our set of beliefs and expectations and the behaviours they
commit us to have been determined by our parents, society and the experiences
of our past. Over many years our behaviours have become habituated and our
success in finding happiness and maximising our freedom will often depend on
our ability to modify or control them. Other people, society and social
institutions are similarly tied to their past. It is difficult enough for us to
willingly modify certain aspects of our own behaviour and immeasurably more
difficult if not impossible to change other people or the institutions whose laws
and regulations they adhere to. We are not responsible for the state of affairs of
the world and should therefore resist feeling guilty or being manipulated into
feeling guilty for them. Attempting to change things we cannot change is often
the cause of much friction, frustration and suffering, and wherever possible we
should resist making the attempt to do so. If people and institutions are
unacceptable to us the way they happen to be now then it is far easier and less
traumatic to avoid them in favour of others that are more acceptable to us.
The best chance we have of making any meaningful change to our lives is to
change ourselves. However, it is often difficult to change lifestyles and habitual
behaviours or to face up to fears. The ability to do so alone will vary from
person to person depending upon their emotional capabilities and the particular

© 1997 Allan Sztab 269

aspect of behaviour that is to be modified. It helps to have somebody to confide
in, preferably someone whom we trust and respect. Discussing our beliefs with
others is fraught with danger and we should be very careful with whom we do
so.1 In certain cases we might need professional help, especially where the
actions leading to fear or guilt feelings have been suppressed.2 We should
always subject anyone's opinions to critical appraisal and appendix G highlights
the potential dangers that we face if we don't. Fortunately there are many
organisations and support groups which might be available whose participants
have made similar changes to their lives. Confiding in others reduces any
feelings of isolation and loneliness since they might be able to identify and
empathise with us. Others who are more experienced than ourselves will be able
to recommend suitable reference books which are also a great help in reducing
feelings of isolation - 'some people read to know they aren't alone'. Admitting
that we desire to modify certain aspects of our behaviour leads us towards a
greater acceptance of ourselves and the recognition that we have certain
strengths, weaknesses and limitations concerning the things we have the power
to control. In many support groups no specific advice is given; people merely
discuss their own personal experiences and participants are free to accept or
reject any information they believe is applicable or inapplicable to their specific
case. Any actions a person might choose to take are thus left to themselves to
A brief overview of fears, phobias and paranoia can be found in Appendix C
whilst Appendix D is a brief guide to modifying behaviours and controlling
desires. The beliefs underlying our behaviours are also expressed by us
whenever we think and communicate with others. In the same way that our
behaviours are reinforced each time we repeat them, our beliefs are
reinforced each time we think and speak them - we have developed habits of
thought. Breaking these habits of thought and speech cannot be separated
from the modification of our behaviours. The importance of modifying our
habits of thought is also extremely rewarding because communication is the
principle means of persuading others: what we hear or read often enough we
Refer to section 64 and the pitfalls that accompany individual actions.
Refer to section 9 and appendix A1 and the defence mechanism of repression.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 270
will come to believe. By becoming aware of our habits of thought and speech
we become less susceptible to the persuasion and suggestions of others and
appendix E is a brief guide to some of the tricks and traps of language.

Freedom and Society
'Voltaire preferred monarchy to democracy, on the ground that in a
monarchy it was only necessary to educate one man; in a democracy you
must educate millions... We hardly realise what pranks the birth rate plays
with our theories and arguments. The minority acquire education and have
small families; the majority have no time for education, and have large
families..' (Will Durant)
There is no morality in nature and whoever has the power to enforce their will
over others will determine what is right and what is wrong.1 Freedom from the
coercion of others has to be fought for and once obtained protected. If
continual conflict is to be avoided then it is in the interests of society to agree to
accept certain obligations that place limits on the freedom of individuals in order
to reap the security and peace that an absence of conflict brings. The obligations
not to intentionally kill or do harm to others without their consent, unless in self-
defence, and not to steal the personal property of others, are basic limitations to
our freedom that are essential for the security of our person and property.2
However, it is necessary for these obligations to be enforced in order to protect
citizens from each other or from any external society and this is the primary role
of government. To this extent governments are usually granted the power of
operating and maintaining a military and police force.
Democratic forms of government evolved independently in many primitive
nomadic tribes based on an equal distribution of power which arose due to
factors such as a plentiful supply of land and access to cheap weapons of
similar capabilities. A unique combination of geographical and military factors
led to the demand of the middle class for a say in government which finally led
to democracy in ancient Greece.3 Democracy in ancient Greece provided a
Refer to the conclusion that might is right in section 57.
Refer to section 61 and the creation of basic moral principles.
Refer to sections 20 and 21 for the consolidation of power and the development of
democracy in Greece.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 271
forum whereby well-informed people of equal power could meet to discuss
and make political decisions and these are the conditions required by any
free society. However, these conditions no longer exist. Many favourable
conditions led to democracy in America. Key amongst these was a heritage of
British law which defended its citizens against the state, and Protestantism
which offered religious freedom. America also had vast areas of land which
were widely held. Initially this land was free and families played a large role in
the determination of their children's education and other conditions under which
they lived and worked. Then the supply of free land dried up and
industrialisation arrived which replaced labour with machines. Producer,
distributor and consumer then became dependent on each other.1 Inventions,
inheritance and differences in abilities led inevitably to the concentration of
wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands. Soon people began to rely on
government to provide what they had formerly provided for themselves, and as
these demands grew so too did the power of government.
According to Plato it was conflicts between different classes of society which
led to decay and the change to inferior forms of government, and in this he was
correct. However, he incorrectly identified the pursuit of self-interest as its
principal cause.2 Today in America there is a rapidly growing number of poor, a
shrinking middle class and an ever-increasing disparity between rich and poor
with the result that the top 20% own half of the country's wealth. America is
rapidly being divided into a rich and a poor, those who have power and those
who don't.
In 'The Rise and Fall of Elites' the sociologist Vilfredo Pareto looked back
on history and concluded that 'when an elite declines, we can generally
observe two signs which manifest themselves simultaneously: 1. The
declining elite becomes softer, milder, more humane and less apt to defend
its own power. 2. On the other hand it doesn't lose its rapacity and greed for
the goods of others, but rather tends as much as possible to increase its

Refer to sections 17, 18 and 19 for the change from a nomadic to a settled existence,
the development of private ownership and the commencement of war and conquest.
Refer to the philosophy of Plato in section 39 and the error of imaginary causes in
section 58.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 272
unlawful appropriations and to indulge in major usurpation of the national
According to Pareto the fulfilment of both these conditions causes an elite to
perish but if one is missing it could prosper. In other words, an increase in their
power would permit an increase in their appropriations. On the other hand if
their appropriations decreased they could make do with less power.
'Thus the Romans and the English elites could, by yielding where this was
called for, maintain their power. The French aristocracy on the other hand,
eager to maintain its own privileges, and perhaps also to increase them,
while its force to defend them was diminishing, provoked the violent
revolution of the end of the eighteenth century. In short, there must be a
certain equilibrium between the power a social class possesses and the
force at its disposal to defend it. Domination without that force cannot last.'
Western democracies are characterised by a ruling elite of politicians,
government officials, influential lobbyists and professional advisers who
prefer to use the system to their own advantage. Democracies no longer
respond to the needs of the public. The competence of the ruling elite lies in
manipulation and the system the public votes for rewards them for it. Many
governments have failed in their primary duty to provide security and safety for
its citizens and this is clear from the escalating rate of crime and the rapid
growth of privately paid security firms. In fact, it is no longer certain that
conventional military forces are capable of dealing with small guerrilla armies
who have access to cheap and effective weapons. This issue is ignored by
military bureaucrats who seldom have any genius, individual professionalism or
flair, as these are qualities politicians fear. Occasional victories over much
weaker opponents are glorified and provide a false sense of comfort. It is easy to
forget what happened to America in Vietnam and Russia in Afghanistan. All
around the world governments are increasingly giving in to gangs of armed
thugs. To compound this problem even further is the failure of governments to
properly address a world population explosion and the conflicts over ever
increasingly scarce resources that are sure to follow. For example, China has
20% of the worlds' population but only 2% of its resources. Like many other

© 1997 Allan Sztab 273

Asian countries it is now industrialising and its citizens are fast becoming
voracious consumers in true western style.1
History makes it clear that without adequate safeguards the ruling elite
reserve for themselves the right to lie, steal and kill, and to do so with a
clear conscience. It is the handing over of vast amounts of power to
individuals or groups of individuals within government wherein a dominant
personality or leader can come to represent the desires and wishes of an
entire nation that is the major obstacle towards peace and order and the
attempt to raise ourselves above the morality of nature. People will follow
orders and when vast amounts of power are vested in men such as Hitler, Lenin,
Stalin, Idi Amin and Pol Pot, then peace and order remain only dreams.
Democratic governments aren't exempt from this form of abuse and America in
the twentieth century alone has seen its power and influence recklessly
abused by small groups of individuals in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia,
Angola, Yugoslavia and East Timor to name only a few. President Nixon
demonstrated clearly how corruption of power could infiltrate even this bastion
of democracy. The most tragic thing about his impeachment was the fact that
despite disgracing the American nation he never once apologised or openly
recognised the fact that he had done anything wrong. He serves as a prime
example of how an educated man of intelligence and drive can become the
president of the most powerful nation on earth without the ability to understand
and comply with the fundamental moral obligations that we have outlined above
- a man who justified his behaviour on the fact that his predecessors might have
done the same things; a man who hadn't learnt that 'two wrongs only make a
greater wrong'.2 And when the rot and corruption starts at the top it seldom takes
long for its example to percolate down to the lowest rank of civil servant.
The idea that a government should be exempt from the obligations of society is
ludicrous but it isn't easy in practice to ensure that a government doesn't abuse
the powers of coercion that are given to it. The failure of the Constitution of the
United States of America illustrates this well. It was intended to limit

Refer to appendix H for a case study of over-population.
Refer to the formation of character concerns in section 10 especially the characteristics
of people who have strong power concerns.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 274
government power by keeping it decentralised so that individuals would be free
to make their own decisions and thereby control their own lives. Its Bill of
Rights made this intention even clearer by specifically prohibiting the American
Congress from establishing a state religion or preventing anyone from practising
any religion they chose. Congress was also specifically prohibited from passing
any laws that impinged on the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press and
the right of every American to keep and bear arms. Those powers not
specifically delegated to the United States were to be reserved for the individual
states or their citizens. Questions relating to interpretations of the Bill of Rights
are now settled in American courts which removes the responsibility for political
change from the democratic process. The courts have in effect become a law
unto themselves and must wait until questions reach them before changes can
occur - a process that can take up to 10 years. Judges who are mere mortals have
now become powerful policy-makers who struggle to compose fair and clear
judgements. Not surprisingly laws have proliferated together with the number of
loopholes that can be found to circumvent them.
One of the greatest threats to freedom is the widely-held belief in majority rule
because a majority could decide that a tyrant or non-democratic government
should rule. It was one of the primary intentions of the framers of the American
Constitution that the majority should never be able to impose its will on a
minority. They were equally determined that the special interests of minorities
shouldn't dominate yet uninformed voters will vote almost equally and this
makes it possible for a small concentrated minority who vote on one side to win
an election - 'a united minority acting against a divided majority'. It is majority
decisions such as these that often lead to arbitrariness and a swing away from
the clear intentions of a Constitution. It is always possible to make a good case
for an exception which breaks solid principles upon which the moral obligations
of a democratic and free society are based. As Nietzsche correctly pointed out:
'Exceptions are the greatest danger'. It might not be difficult to persuade a
majority to legislate against outlawing the speech of Nazis or some other fascist
group while forgetting that at some time or another we will also be in a minority.
The opposite also applies and it isn't uncommon for rival minorities and groups

© 1997 Allan Sztab 275

to dredge up some prior discrimination of the past in order to back their claim
for affirmative action. Democracy as it stands today is really a contest between
organised minorities who are further strengthened by the cunning manipulation
of electoral districts. Election issues disguise the fundamental problems.
'Elections become a contest in fraud and noise; and as sound arguments
make the least sound, truth is lost in the confusion.' (Will Durant)
Today debate between people is largely confined to specific social groups or
private clubs where everyone shares the same interests and prejudices. The
participation of citizens in democracy is virtually limited to the election of
government which is little more than a popularity contest between various party
candidates that is repeated every four, five or seven years. At one time
candidates were supposed to present their views so the public could decide
whether to vote for them but today candidates tailor their views according to the
preferences of their electorate. Not surprisingly, candidates are chosen for their
ability to get themselves nominated, advertised and elected, qualities which are
free from originality or genius. They need have no other professional
qualifications, yet when in duty they are given almost unlimited powers. Not
surprisingly they are out of their depth and can only vote according to the
recommendations of advisors and committees. There is a marked lack of any
public participation and the results are evidenced by ever-rising levels of
corruption. It has even been suggested that democracy is offered to other
countries so as to make them weak.
Conflicts can only be avoided provided the moral obligations of society are
strictly adhered to in accordance with clear and precise principles. This is
possible provided we can break away from the errors of the past.1 Firstly, as
long as systems of government are based on the belief that humans have
freedom of will and are responsible for their actions the notions of justice and
morality will remain illusions.2 It is vain, ludicrous and delusory to believe
that any leader, or group of leaders, can step out of themselves and assume
a lofty position from which they will somehow no longer be subject to the
subconscious desires which course through the veins of us mere mortals;
Refer to the moral obligations created in section 61.
Refer to the error of freedom of will in section 58.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 276
that once in power they will somehow be able to resist giving reign to the
emotions of greed, jealousy, anger, cruelty and hatred; that once in power
they will suddenly and mysteriously begin to place the interests of others
before those of their own, and those whom they identify with. It should
come as no surprise to anyone that they don't simply because they cannot. It
is only possible to rise above nature by absorbing a dose of humility that
beckons to us from every page of human history - that no human being is
entirely responsible for their actions. It is only humility that will point the way
towards systems of government that are not geared towards harbouring illusory
beings but beings who will, given the opportunity, dishonour their moral
obligations towards those they serve. Corruption can only be curtailed by
severely limiting the range and scope of the powers that we permit any leader or
government to have without impinging unfairly on the freedom of others.
History has shown clearly that the best the average citizen can hope for in a
revolution is that the ruling elite changes without wide-scale bloodshed and
disruption. History proves more than adequately that the change of an elite leads
not to a cessation of corruption but to the continued or intensified use of the very
same methods that were deplored by the revolutionaries themselves. For
example, the Russian revolution of 1917 which was supposed to liberate the
worker led instead to the systematic murder of 30 million Russians of all walks
of life over a period of 70 years. It is simply not possible to change overnight
from the role of liberation fighters, who are trained in unacceptable social
behaviour and succeed to the extent that they excel therein, to that of well-
disciplined and socialised leaders.
Secondly, it is the severity with which criminals are punished for acts of
violence and crime against other members of society that is a direct expression
of the values of society.1 However, the failure of government to adequately
perform its moral duty of protection is due largely to the pressures of special
interest groups whose erroneous and hypocritical morality gains expression in
the form of a misguided humanitarianism. It is these humanitarians who direct
the misery and violence of society back onto itself as they judge society to be

Refer to the views of Bentham in section 52.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 277
responsible for it. They then ask society to forgive the innocent perpetrators of
crime, to turn the other cheek and to violate itself even further by burdening
itself with the cost of housing, feeding, protecting, training, educating and
rehabilitating criminals while their mangled victims, if still alive, are offered
nothing.1 What humanitarians forget is that we are all innocent.
Society must punish people not because they are guilty and deserve to be
punished but because they have dishonoured their moral obligations with
society.2 People must be punished effectively and efficiently in order to deter
them from harming society again, as their ability to continue doing so
undermines the efforts of society to raise itself above nature. By dishonouring
their moral obligations people forfeit the benefits that those obligations entitle
them to and accordingly the form and severity of punishment is free from any
moral restraints and to this extent is natural. A failure to protect people leads
only to impotent resentment, hatred and suffering which open people to
There is nonetheless plenty of scope for humane, efficient and cost effective
punishments which could be combined with efforts to compensate victims.
Many perpetrators of violence can be treated with hormones that either eliminate
or reduce their violent urges. Failing that, preventive surgical procedures such as
castration for sexual violations and the removal of limbs for other violent actions
should be considered. The efficiency and cost effectiveness of some of these
punishments have been demonstrated for ages in the Middle East and although
there is no necessity to utilise the same delivery methods, a good case could be
made for its deterrence. There have even been cases where convicted child
molesters have requested that they be castrated prior to their release from prison
so that they will not be tempted to kill their victims in order to avoid the
identification that probably led to their arrest in the first instance.
Humanitarians sow the seeds of revolution by encouraging the belief that
equality means 'a fair share for all', a belief that harbours false hopes and
unrealistic expectations. Biased legislation and corruption is the inevitable result
as government only too willingly accepts and attempts to implement yet another
Refer to section 63 and the manipulation by promises that cannot be fulfilled.
Refer to section 59 and the punishment of people based on the error of freedom of will.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 278
impossible task. The words peace and protection flow unhesitatingly from the
lips of almost every person as soon as they are old enough to comprehend them.
However, unless the obligations of society are enforced equitably between all
citizens and between citizen and government, no citizen can be expected to
honour and uphold them. Moreover, those who revolt against biased legislation
can easily justify their actions on moral grounds.1
Protection means making our leaders accountable by limiting the scope of their
activities and powers to those that are absolutely necessary to give effect to the
moral obligations that have been accepted by society. Protection means making
our leaders accountable for their decisions, and for the taxpayers money which
they spend by subjecting them to independent and ongoing audits that rely on
sound methods of verification which deny them the accomplice of secrecy.
Protection can be achieved by setting up independent legal, economic and social
institutions working according to clear and precise principles, so that long-term
decisions can be made and executed publicly and fairly by suitably qualified
people in their respective fields, with the power to ensure that ineffective and
inefficient projects are modified or abandoned, and that real problems such as
over-population in the face of diminishing resources and a declining job market
are meaningfully addressed; that domestic and foreign policy are based on the
present and future needs of society and not in misguided attempts to undo the
inequities of the past; that all unfair, ineffective, inefficient and non-moral
legislation is eliminated, such as that which unnecessarily restricts the freedom
of the markets, attempts to make people equal, gives legality to professional and
industrial cartels, and ensures that only the wealthy get a fair trail. Protection
means converting the role of politicians from that of policy making to being the
eyes and ears of the public they serve.2
It is ironic that people who are fortunate to live in democratic nations today
give away the very freedoms that were won for them on the battlefield by
countless millions of people who fought and died after enduring long
periods of unimaginable suffering, degradation and deprivation. Having
freedom is being able to choose for ourselves what is in our own best interests,
Refer to the views of Locke in section 50 that rebellion is justified for a breach of trust.
Refer to section 52 and 53 for views on the role of government.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 279
and to willingly accept the risks that these decisions entail. As soon as we allow
others to determine what is in our own best interests we sacrifice the freedom to
do so and enhance the range and scope of power that is exercised over us. The
more that is asked of government the greater its powers, revenue requirements
and the temptation for corruption. When a civil servant is given somebody else's
money to give to somebody else, as happens in all welfare programs, they are
given a god-like power over the recipients, whose self-esteem is eroded even
further. By allowing the government to provide basic services such as housing,
education and health care it shelters the consumer from the real cost of doing so
which also removes the incentive for people to regulate the size of their families
or to fend for themselves. In many cases civil servants are beneficiaries of the
very programs they administer and are therefore tempted to manipulate
regulations to favour themselves. This is often the reason that certain welfare
programs tend to favour the middle and upper classes instead of the poor, who
lack the skills to fend for themselves. With the vested interests of beneficiaries,
and the anonymity of the taxpayer who foots the bill, the tendency is for
government-sponsored programs to grow irrespective of their efficiency.
People are capable of taking care of themselves by voluntary co-operation and
the success of many privately run charities is a good example of this. The
primary reason we turn continuously to the government to cure our ills is
because we have become habituated to obeying others and to avoiding making
our own decisions. Acting in our own self-interest is the cog on which our
survival turns and nobody can cater to our interests or spend our money
with the care and diligence that we can.1 Selfishness is a virtue and not a vice.
Selfishness is compatible with the freedom and peace that most people seek. It
was the genius of Adam Smith to recognise that a system of free trade or
voluntary exchange could silently co-ordinate the activities of millions of people
in a way that improved all their positions. He called this the power of 'the
invisible hand' which communicates by means of the price of goods and
services. Another example of the 'invisible hand' at work is that of language,
mathematics, logic and science, which arose from the voluntary co-operation of
Refer to section 62 and the obstacle to freedom of relying on others to make decisions
for us.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 280
people all pursuing their own self-interests to the benefit of everyone. All of this
was achieved without government intervention.
One of the most important functions of freely-determined prices is that they
make it possible to distribute the income of society fairly and equitably.1 It
is only a free market that can efficiently determine what should be produced,
where and when it should be produced and the quantity, quality and wages of the
people required to produce it. Prices are determined by supply and demand
which guides investors and entrepreneurs to utilise the resources available to
them in the most efficient way possible. Their success leads to the creation and
distribution of wealth amongst themselves, the people they employ and their
suppliers. Governments distort the price mechanism and with it the equitable
distribution of income by imposing tariffs, duties, customs, quotas and wage
restrictions that are biased in favour of special interest groups. Wage restrictions
provide a good example of how this is accomplished. The easiest way to ensure
a high wage rate is to get the government to do it by enforcing minimum wage
laws which discriminate against the unskilled who are precluded from obtaining
low paid but on-the-job training. Governments also enforce the licensing
requirements that are necessary in order for people to practice specific
professions or skills such as those in the fields of medicine, law, engineering,
accounting, plumbing etc. These methods vary from lengthy training or
apprenticeships to unwarranted academic standards and in many cases the
licensing boards that determine them consist of the practitioners themselves. The
wider the definition of a specific occupation in the legislation the greater the
demand for its services.2
Any first-year economics student knows that the price of any resource such as
that for labour is determined by supply and demand. With over-population in the
face of a declining job market real wages are set to decline for all but the most
highly skilled workers. In the factory of the future, which is already in small-
scale operation today, parts are designed and developed by a single skilled
computer operator. These parts are then produced by machines that are in fact
printers, except that they don't melt tiny ink particles but tiny metal particles. By
Refer to the simple means of redistributing income by primitive societies in section 60.
Refer to the obstacle to freedom of biased legislation.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 281
a process of continual re-printing a part can be built up layer by layer to
standards of complexity and accuracy which are in many cases not even possible
by traditional methods of manufacture. Reducing the population is the surest
means of increasing wages, decreasing poverty, maintaining a high quality of
life and preserving global resources for everyone's benefit - the alternative of
growth at all costs can easily be contemplated if we turn to history.1
The same economic principle of supply and demand lies behind the failure of
prohibition to eradicate the demand for a wide range of products and services.
Prohibition by government serves to increase the requirements and powers of
government even further, and upsets the pricing mechanism so that prices soar.
This encourages black market entrepreneurs, and in the case of drugs forces
many users into a life of crime and/or prostitution. The only difference between
these victims of prohibition and the millions of legal nicotine, alcohol, caffeine,
tranquilliser and other drug addicts is the price of their drug. Drug enforcement
and prosecution clogs up the legal system with innocent and harmless drug users
whose only crime is that they decided to choose an illegal substance to become
addicted to. Imprisoning people who don't harm or steal from others turns them
into hardened criminals by the time they leave. Most prostitutes or drug addicts
are morally upstanding people who have been turned into criminals by non-
moral legislation.2
In his book 'Free to Choose' the economist Milton Friedman provides a good
example of how a commitment to a principle such as that of free trade could be
enshrined in the American constitution so as to prevent its abuse:
'... the Constitution could be reworded from: "No State shall, without the
consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports,
except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws"
to "Congress shall not lay any imports or duties on imports or exports..."
For wages and price controls a counterpart of the First Amendment is
required such as "Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of
sellers of goods or labour to price their products or services..." These
amendments could be replaced by a single amendment patterned after the
Refer to appendix H on over-population.
Refer to section 61 for non-moral obligations.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 282
Second Amendment to our Constitution... "The right of the people to buy
and sell legitimate goods and services at mutually acceptable terms shall
not be infringed by Congress or any of the States."'
Education has the power to open the eyes and ears of the public so that they can
demand and work towards reversing the erosion of our freedoms, but parents
have little choice as to what their children are taught because they have handed
over this function to an army of professionals and administrators who have a
vested interest in keeping themselves employed. As soon as somebody else
determines what should be taught many of the benefits of education are
forfeited.1 Children are as clever or as stupid as they are taught to be and an
excellent case can be made that children are actually taught to be stupid, first by
their parents and then at school. A child has to be taught not to trust its senses. A
child has to be taught the morality of mysticism and superstition, racialism and
prejudice, instead of being taught the benefits that voluntary moral obligations
can provide for them in a free and democratic society. So all-encompassing are
the prejudices of society that even without the spoken word children learn
quickly from gestures, the tone of voices and other clues. Thus an African-
American child defends her choice of a white doll because she has already learnt
that 'blacks are bad'. A child has to be taught and tricked into believing in
imaginary entities such as Santa Claus who brings them gifts, tooth fairies who
bring them money and Easter bunnies who bring them chocolate. A child has to
be taught to pray to an imaginary being who will grant them personal favours.
Children are naturally inquisitive and intelligent. They ask questions such as:
'Dear god, are you really invisible or is that just a trick?',
God, Its O.K that you made different religions but don't you get mixed up
some times?',
'Dear God, What does it mean you are a jealous God. I thought you had
'Dear God, How come you did all those miracles in the old days and don't do
any now?'
'Dear God, I wish that there was no such thing of sin. I wish that there was no
such thing of war.' (Hample and Marshall)
Questions such as these show clearly the natural intelligence and critical
faculties of children and the dubious quality of the education they are receiving.
Refer to the education policy advocated by Plato in section 39.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 283
A child has to be taught to obey its parents and other figures of authority such as
priests, teachers and policemen unconditionally. Children are seldom taught that
their bodies are their own personal property and that nobody may touch them
without their consent, especially their parents, immediate family and other
figures of authority. A child has to be taught that pre-marital sex is bad and that
celibacy is their only option instead of being taught the role of sex in their lives,
the dangers of sexually-transmitted diseases, the risks of single parenthood and
the potential risks to their self-esteem. Children are seldom taught about the
advantages and disadvantages of all drugs such as those of nicotine, alcohol,
cannabis, caffeine and tranquillisers, together with the scientific evidence, lack
of scientific evidence and prejudice that is instrumental in the determination of
their legal status. Children seldom have a suitably qualified person whom they
can confide in without any fear of recrimination if they need to talk about any
personal violation, their home life, sex, drugs, or peer pressure.
Children should be taught the skills required for argumentation but these
have been kept out of education together with a study of the arts and
humanities. Most schools only produce graduates who have obtained skills that
will assist in satisfying the demands of business and industry who have an
inordinate influence on education. Compounding this problem is the fact that a
liberal education is so expensive it is limited to a minority who can afford the
high tuition fees of glamorous schools; however, a free society requires the
education of the majority. Any education that isn't specialised is shunned and has
come about largely as a direct result of the division of labour required by today's
highly complex and dependent society. However, a growth in specialisation
leads to a decrease in general knowledge and a loss of total perspective. The
greater a persons expertise the more they are relied upon by other professionals
and vice versa. Eventually they become confined to their area of expertise.
Specialisation thus serves to undermine the individual who now has no influence
on the workings of the whole. Because experts are trapped in their areas of
expertise they don't criticise each other and are often expressly prohibited from
doing so in codes of professional conduct. In fact, those experts who are
employed by others are forbidden to work or discuss work outside of working

© 1997 Allan Sztab 284

hours. Those who don't conform might be regarded as irresponsible and
unprofessional and would soon find it difficult to gain alternative employment.
This fear serves to eliminate public debate even amongst intelligent, educated
and skilled citizens.1
The quality of information people have at their disposal is crucial to decision-
making. However, the reality that is channelled to us by the media is based on
pockets of expertise wielded by the ruling elite who control the information we
need to make responsible decisions. This information consists largely of political
and corporate public relations announcements. The balance of our daily news
consists of sensational murders, rapes, kidnappings, hijackings, freak weather
and a never-ending flow of information regarding celebrities. The press has
become a glorified transmitter of junk-mail. The over-riding tendency of both
government and corporations is to withhold important information from the
public on the grounds that their failure to understand it will lead to panic. In this
way important information such as that regarding nuclear accidents, radioactive
contamination and industrial pollution are routinely withheld from the public.
Most of the investigations that are brought about by public pressure, due to the
chance leak of information, are held in secret under the guise that secrecy is in
the public interest, while it is only required to protect the careers and reputations
of those involved. In fact, almost everything is regarded as a secret, and because
governments have access to teams of advisors and researchers they can always
produce large quantities of information to back their claims and drown any
opposition in a sea of facts.
Critical and well-informed debate amongst educated people is an essential
requirement of a free democratic society and words are therefore the enemy
of authorities who use obscure language to serve their ends. Technical jargon
is used not only by authorities and experts but has infiltrated most academic
subjects. Even commentaries on older texts that were written in clear and precise
language are difficult to understand. In this way authorities, experts,
professionals and academics turn what is simple into something that can only be
understood by themselves. They all have a vested interest in protecting their

Refer to the pressure on Freud to conform in appendix G.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 285
own information and dressing up the simplicity of their expertise to make it
seem more worthy of their attention.1

Refer to the tricks and traps of language in appendix E.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 286
In A Nutshell

If our patterns of behaviour aren't producing the results we desire then

we can change them by modifying our beliefs or overcoming the
underlying fear or uncertainty upon which they are based.

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© 1997 Allan Sztab 288
Sigmund Freud
Philosophers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had theorised about the
influence of subconscious processes on human behaviour, and Sigmund Freud
developed a complete theory that described the innermost workings of the
human mind which were not only performed on a subconscious level but
intentionally kept out of consciousness by specific defence mechanisms.
According to Freud human behaviour is determined subconsciously by inner
drives, which he called instincts. These instincts ensured that the physiological
needs of a person were met by creating a tension which was only released after
being satisfied by an appropriate action. He grouped these instincts into two
basic groups called the life and death instincts. The life instincts were dedicated
to maintaining life and propagating the species and the sex instincts were the
most influential determinants of personality development. Eating was an activity
that was necessary for maintaining life, but also involved acts of biting and
chewing which in effect destroyed the food. It was the role of the death instincts
to maintain this harmony, and they were responsible for all acts of aggression
and destruction.
In his explanations Freud made use of three now-famous but imaginary
constructs - the id, ego and super-ego. The id was the home of the instincts and
obeyed no rules whatsoever in satisfying them. The ego ensured that the
demands of the id were met in safety by considering the advantages and
disadvantages of certain behaviours. This it did by referring to the super-ego
which drew distinctions between those behaviours that were socially acceptable
and those that were not.
To satisfy the instincts some object was required to do so and this object could
either be part of an individuals body or some external object. If the original
object couldn't be obtained then the instinct could be displaced and focused on
another object. Throughout a persons life the sex and aggression instincts are
satisfied by choosing socially-acceptable objects with which to do so and a
© 1997 Allan Sztab 289
persons personality was determined by their early childhood experiences as they
moved through four stages of psycho-sexual development. These stages are the
oral, anal, phallic and genital, and are based on those parts of the body whose
stimulation will release sexual and aggressive tension. For Freud pleasure and
sexuality are closely knit and the way a persons personality develops will briefly
be discussed below.
In the first year of its life the first object with which an infant attempts to satisfy
its sexual and aggressive instincts is the mouth, and sexual pleasure is derived
from sucking and playing with it. If something unpleasant is introduced into the
mouth the infant will spit it out and close its mouth. According to Freud the
mouth can either take in, hold on, bite, spit out and close, and these means of
dealing with its early experiences become models for the way in which a person
will deal with similar situations in later life. If taking things into its mouth is
pleasurable, as it is when hungry, then a person might enjoy a hunger for
knowledge, love, or power in later life. Thus, taking in becomes a model for
acquisitiveness; holding on to things a model for determination; biting for
destruction; spitting for rejection and closing for refusal. How they develop
depends on the infants experience and if an infant is deprived of food or love it
might become greedy and acquisitive in later life. A mother can withhold food
for disobedience and provide food for obedience. In this way oral gratification
might become associated with approval and oral deprivation with disapproval.
If an infant suffers anxiety due to pain or discomfort and its mother attempts to
provide comfort by giving it food, the infant can form an association between
anxiety and its satisfaction by the intake of food, and hence to an eating disorder
in adult life. Traces of oral behaviour can be seen in the biting of nails, chewing
of gum, smoking and kissing. Anxiety suffered due to hunger could also lead to
a person becoming dependent on its mother or on other people. If a person is
ashamed of their dependency they might react by becoming strongly
independent or in seeking ways of helping others. When the infant acquires teeth
during the second half of its first year, biting and chewing become the means for
expressing frustration due to delayed gratification, and fixation at this stage is
seen in adults who are argumentative or sarcastic. Oral aggressiveness serves as

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a model for many different kinds of displaced and disguised aggressions. A
person could react to aggressive urges by only saying good things about other
people, and in order to defend their aggression a person might project their
aggressive desires onto others who will then be regarded as the aggressors.
During the second and third years of life the focus of sexual gratification shifts
from the mouth to the anus. The digestive process finally results in the
elimination of faeces, and an infant experiences this as a build-up and release of
tension. The retention and elimination of waste is pleasurable and the infant
learns how to control this as it wishes. However, when toilet training
commences the infant must learn self-discipline by delaying the pleasure of
immediate defecation and conforming to the constrains imposed by the external
authority of its parents. If training is too strict the infant could retaliate by
intentionally soiling itself, and this could manifest itself in later life in attempts
to frustrate authority by being messy, irresponsible and extravagant. The child
may also withhold its faeces and this tendency to hold back could lead to the
development of a personality characterised by stinginess, obstinacy, punctuality
and extreme cleanliness. If mother pleads with the child and praises it for correct
bowel performances, then the child might develop a personality characterised by
creating things to please others, and generosity. If the child believes its faeces is
highly valued then it could develop a personality characterised by being thrifty,
economical and a collector of objects. A reaction formation to this could
manifest itself in the tendency to give things away, gambling, or making reckless
During the fourth and fifth years of life the focus of sexual gratification shifts
from the anus to the genitals - the phallic stage. Children will examine and play
with their sexual organs, masturbate and express interest in sexual matters.
Freud identified what he called the Oedipus complex, which he named after a
Greek tragedy based on the theme of incest. According to Freud a male child
develops subconscious desires to possess his mother but is scared his father will
punish him by castrating him; this fear he called castration anxiety. Between
the ages of 5 and 7 the male child represses his desires as he begins to identify

© 1997 Allan Sztab 291

with his father.1 The Oedipus complex for girls takes the form of penis envy
and girls blame their mothers for depriving them of a penis while desiring their
fathers who have one. Girls look to penis substitutes for sexual pleasure which is
then focused on the clitoris. Later the resentment towards the mother and the
desire for the father are modified as the girl begins to identify more with her
mother. Fixation at this stage of development may result in men who are vain,
boastful and strive for success, and in women who are seductive, promiscuous
and assertive.
Between the phallic and the genital stage of development the six to seven year
old child sublimates or channels their sexual energy into other activities such as
sports and school work. The genital stage commences with the physiological
changes that accompany puberty. According to Freud all children go through a
homosexual phase where they prefer the company of their own sex, but their
sexual attention then changes towards the opposite sex.
Freud believed that sex allowed the discharge of the instinctual energies that was
necessary for the development of a healthy social attitude. A failure to
accomplish this at any stage of a persons development led to what he called
anxiety neuroses. A persons inability to control both their internal and external
stimuli and especially their external environment creates a sense of imminent
danger which he called anxiety. He identified three types of anxiety - realistic
anxiety which was a response to external threats and dangers; neurotic anxiety
which was a fear of being unable to control one's impulses; and moral anxiety
which was caused by guilt feelings or shame at the entertainment of immoral
thoughts. According to Freud the purpose of anxiety was to control the
instinctual urges and in order to do so the mind had certain defence mechanisms
that operated subconsciously and could therefore distort a persons perception of
reality. He identified seven mechanisms -
sublimation whereby impulses are channelled into socially-acceptable ways
of expression;

The Royal Swedish Air Force have a Defence Mechanism test which is given to aspiring
pilots that is designed to detect subconscious castration anxiety. This subconscious fear
is believed to manifest itself in the reaction speed of pilots when faced with a dangerous
or fearful situation, resulting in accidents and the loss of valuable aircraft. Since its
implementation during recruitment their safety record has improved considerably.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 292
repression whereby any terrifying past experiences and unacceptable sexual
or aggressive impulses are prevented from entering the conscious mind;
projection whereby a persons unacceptable impulses are attributed to others;
displacement whereby a persons impulses are directed towards a less harmful
object; rationalisation whereby a persons activities are justified by wishful
thinking and self-deception;
reaction formation whereby forbidden impulses are repressed and the
opposite behaviour is then adopted and taken to extremes;
and regression whereby anxiety is reduced by reverting to an earlier stage of
development where things were more secure, and is evidenced by childlike
behaviour such as temper tantrums, rebelling against authority and reckless

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Alfred Adler
According to Adler infants are entirely dependent on others and thus develop
inferiority complexes based on the weaknesses they perceive themselves to
have. They then attempt to overcome these weaknesses by an innate striving for
superiority and perfection according to goals that each person has the freedom
to determine. These goals or life-styles are formed between the ages of four and
five and are difficult to change thereafter. A persons goals are based on fictions
or assumptions that might be true or false but are believed to be true. A belief
that hard work leads to prosperity could lead people to become hard workers.
However, for many people hard work doesn't bring them prosperity so the belief
isn't always true.
A persons lifestyle constitutes the framework upon which all their behaviour is
based and the early formative years thus play a crucial role. Although a person
developed a lifestyle at such an early stage of life they nevertheless had a
creative capacity to give a unique expression to it. Adler believed it was
possible to classify a persons lifestyle by their attitude to career, friendship and
marriage which all reveal a persons social interest. To Adler social interest was
the yardstick by which to measure a persons mental health, and healthy people
have an interest in improving humankind. He claimed that there are four basic
types of lifestyle attitudes but because each person is unique it isn't possible to
fit them into any one. The ruling type are assertive, aggressive and have little
social interest; the getting type are more concerned with what they can get from
others; the avoiding type fear failure and shy away from problems, while the
socially useful type who is socially oriented and willing to co-operate with
others is the most healthy. A persons earliest memories, pleasant or unpleasant,
were clues to their psychological type as were their reactions when under
Adler considered humans as social animals by nature, and a persons mother
played a large role in the development of social interest, co-operation and
comradeship in the child who looks to her as a role model in social situations. It
is the mother who shows the child that caring for her husband and other people

© 1997 Allan Sztab 294

doesn't mean being neglected. The father was next in importance and if he was
authoritarian this would stifle the development of the child's social interest in
favour of personal power. As a family grew the family social environment
changed and would be different for the first-born and each child thereafter.
According to Adler this would have an important influence on the social
development of the children. The first-born would receive the undivided
attention of its parents until the arrival of a second child, whereupon the first-
born is 'dethroned' and forced to learn how to be independent. The second-born
has an older sibling and is therefore challenged to 'catch up' with the older child,
and as a result might learn to speak or walk earlier than the first-born. The
second-born might therefore become competitive and ambitious. The last-born
was in a unique position as it would be showered with affection by everyone and
would never be 'dethroned'. In addition, the last-born had to strive harder to keep
up with its siblings. The only child would tend to be spoilt and without
competition from other children, and might compete with the father for
affection. The only child could come to expect attention and become dependent
and self-centred.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 295

Erik Ericson
According to Ericson humans evolve through a series of stages that are part of a
persons genetic development program. At each stage a person faces a crisis and
in the process of resolving it their personality is formed. He identified eight
stages in a persons development.
In the first year or infancy stage which corresponds to Freud's oral stage, the
infant must learn what and who to trust or mistrust, and resolving this conflict
will depend to a large extent on the maternal care that it receives. If such care is
inadequate the infant might develop a general attitude of apprehension or fear
towards the world.
In the second and third years the child enters the second stage, which
corresponds to Freud's anal stage. Here the child develops a basic sense of
autonomy and self-control versus shame or doubt. During this stage children
learn how to control their bowel movements and begin to explore the world. The
freedom or restrictions, encouragement or disapproval which parents give will
determine the infants sense of self-esteem and will also add to the infants sense
of trust or mistrust.
The third stage, called the initiative versus guilt stage, corresponds to Freud's
phallic stage, and here the child begins to initiate new activities. Parents who
encourage these activities will tend to reinforce their initiative, while parents
who ridicule or prohibit them will reinforce guilt or feelings of unworthiness.
During the fourth stage of industry, between ages 6 to 11, the child develops a
sense of competence or incompetence in relation to cultural activities such as
reading, writing and partaking in social activities according to rules. Here the
child learns what societies criteria for success is.
The fifth stage of development, from the age of 12 to about 20, was particularly
important to Erikson as it was during this stage that a person develops a personal
identity, a sense of who they are, by integrating what they have learnt in the
past, including their sexual orientation and social grouping, in order to gain a
vision of where they are going in the future. Erikson interprets delinquent
behaviour as the result of an 'identity crisis' where a negative identity opposite to

© 1997 Allan Sztab 296

that of their parents is adopted. It might also be indicated in an inability to
choose a career. During this stage a person also develops a sense of fidelity or
loyalty to the rules and values of their society. It is at this stage that people could
choose to identify with certain ideologies that challenge the established norms of
During the sixth stage of development, from about age 20 to 24, a person
develops a sense of intimacy or isolation as they become involved in intimate
relationships with others. According to Erikson it is only when a person doesn't
fear losing their identity by merging it with that of another, that a meaningful
relationship can be established. It is during this stage that a person might choose
to avoid interpersonal relationships that require an intimacy which may be
regarded as a threat to their identity.
The seventh stage, between the ages of 25 to 65, a person develops either a
sense of concern or stagnation regarding their fellow humans. Humans need to
be taught everything and this stage determines whether a person concerns
themselves with the needs of society or that of their own. Children must be
taught almost everything from their parents and society, and if life can be said to
have any purpose then this could be it. According to Erikson, without
developing concern a person becomes impoverished and life might appear to be
In the eighth and final stage of development a person looks back on their life
and evaluates the seven stages of their development in terms of satisfaction or
despair. Satisfaction is felt by a person who has integrated all seven stages and
can say 'I am satisfied'. Such people no longer fear death as they see their own
existence continuing in that of their children or in their accomplishments. Those
who haven't integrated all seven stages might have regrets and despair that it is
no longer possible to change their lives. This could be evidenced by attempts to
change old memories and the display of bitterness, spite and paranoia.

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Henry Murray
According to Murray peoples emotions, memories, beliefs and fears are located
within their brains and together constitute their personalities. A person is
motivated by physiological or primary needs such as those for food, water and
urination, and other secondary needs such as those for achievement, affiliation
and play. He identified twelve primary needs and twenty-eight secondary needs.
It was possible for a secondary need to take precedence over a primary need
and, for example, a businessman could ruin his health in order to achieve
These needs were 'turned-on' either by internal processes or by environmental
stimuli - the 'turn-on' for sex could be due to deprivation or at the sight of a
sexy-looking man or woman. Certain needs could be expressed freely in society
while others had to be suppressed and were only evidenced in fantasies and
dreams. There was a constant interaction and conflict of needs and if a need
wasn't satisfied it would gradually come to dominate other needs. An action or
activity could also satisfy two or more needs simultaneously - a specific job
might satisfy needs for security and for affiliation.
The actions required to satisfy a particular need depended on the subjective
interpretation people make of their environment and delusions due to paranoiac
thinking are possible. The environment may also be conducive or counter
productive to the satisfaction of a persons needs. For example, if one was
surrounded by hostile or overly-critical people then this could hamper the need
to achieve. There was thus a constant and highly-complex interaction between
the satisfaction of peoples needs and the environmental conditions surrounding
them. It was possible to determine the ways in which people could be expected
to behave in a specific situation based on previous observations of them. It was
also possible to determine what peoples basic needs or dominant concerns were
as these were formed during their early childhood.
According to Murray people were products of their past and, following Freud,
theorised that they went through five developmental stages which shaped their
personalities in the form of complexes. These complexes were determined

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according to the individuals unique experiences and the associations they
attached to them. Cultural influences played a large role in their determination.
These five stages or complexes were the claustral which was determined in the
womb, the others being determined according to the pleasures relating to the
activities of sucking (oral), defecation (anal), urination (urethral), and playing
with the genitals (castration).
Murray and a colleague developed The Thematic Apperception Test or TAT
which is still widely used today as a method of exploring a persons
subconscious mind. The test consists of a series of individual pictures which are
non-related and intentionally ambiguous and a person is required to provide
each one with a story having a past, present and future. The theory is that people
project their subconscious desires into their stories from which it is possible to
determine whether they are active or passive and how they react to obstacles in
their environment.

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B.F. Skinner
According to Skinner human behaviour was determined by environmental
circumstances that could be measured objectively. He regarded humans as
nothing other than complex machines whose behaviours were fully determined
and could therefore be understood and controlled without looking into their
minds or genetic makeup. Human behaviour was learnt and specific behaviours
became habituated or extinguished depending on their frequency and whether
they were met with rewards or punishment. Each time a behaviour was
performed in response to a stimulus the greater the chance of it becoming
habituated and vice versa. To prevent the extinction of a specific behaviour it
was only necessary to provide encouragement at infrequent intervals. Thus to
encourage a child to study it was only necessary to praise the child at random in
order for it to continue doing so.
Skinner also observed that certain behaviours, like chanting when gambling,
were linked to the favourable outcome of chance events even though there was
no causal link between them. He called such behaviour superstition and noted
that it wasn't necessary for an individual to learn superstition from their own
experiences, as much of it is passed down from one generation to the next in the
form of myth, custom and magic.
Skinner developed a technique called shaping whereby a desired response could
be obtained by first rewarding a seemingly unrelated response and then
modifying the reward in a step-by-step fashion according to responses that were
progressively closer to the desired response. Praising and encouraging a child's
first utterances is a similar process which assists in shaping their language until
it is perfected.
Skinner distinguished between primary and secondary reinforcers. A primary
reinforcer was something like food which was directly related to hunger, while a
secondary reinforcer could be almost anything provided that an association has
been formed between it and a primary reinforcer. In his famous experiment Ivan
Pavlov made a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell and in this instance the bell
was a secondary reinforcer that was associated with the primary reinforcer of

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food. It is in this way that money achieves its motivating powers because it is
associated with the satisfaction of many other drives. There are many 'social
reinforcers' which people actively seek from others such as attention, approval
and submission. Once a behaviour has become habituated it will also become
generalised and its performance will tend to occur in similar situations. In this
way learning to tip waiters in your home town in order to get good service is
likely to be applied in out-of-town restaurants too, when it isn't likely they will
ever be frequented again. Pain or discomfort are negative reinforcers and people
will tend to avoid the actions or objects associated with them. 1 Avoidance
actions will also be generalised and applied to other situations that are similar in
nature. According to Skinner a once-off punishment will not modify socially
unacceptable behaviour permanently. To achieve permanence, acceptable
behaviours need to be continually reinforced by a system of rewards or positive
reinforcements in order for them to become habituated.

Refer to appendix C for fear, phobias and paranoia.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 301
Albert Bandura
According to Bandura it was from observing behaviours, such as those of
aggression and achievement, that led theorists to conclude that they were the
result of a drive or motive. It was clear that there were other forces at work, such
as the environment, and this was exploited by behaviourists but they never
considered the capability of the human mind to determine behaviour. Behaviour
for Bandura is an interaction between drives, environment and the reasoning
mind. Whereas Skinner would say that a response was reinforced or
extinguished by its reward or punishment, Bandura recognised that certain
actions were also conditioned by their anticipated results. Humans had the
capacity to imagine and plan new responses as well as being able to learn from
the experiences of others. In addition, humans were able to regulate and control
their environment.
Because people learnt by observation it was natural that they would learn from
those whose company they kept and from role models considered worthy of
emulation. The media exploit this idea to its fullest potential by using various
celebrities to endorse their products. A person learns by memorising visual
representations and/or verbal descriptions of skills or behaviours which are then
practised until they are perfected. To gain the freedom to travel around at will, a
teenager could learn how to drive a motor vehicle by observing the driving skills
and techniques of experienced drivers. Although learning was enhanced if there
was an incentive or reward for doing so this wasn't necessary, and learning
occurs without a person even being consciously aware of it. The mere
observation of the consequences of other peoples behaviours in terms of the
rewards or punishments that accompanied them had a great influence on
conditioning the likely response of the observer if ever placed in a similar
People regulated and evaluated their behaviour in terms of self-imposed
standards and it was common for people to reward or punish themselves for
behaviours that exceeded or fell short of their expectations. People tended to
refrain from rewarding themselves undeservedly as this might result in self-

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inflicted guilt feelings. According to Bandura people punish themselves to put
an end to their own 'thought-created anguish' concerning past actions but there
was always the danger that these punishments could be taken to extremes which
could lead to a state of depression and a loss of self-esteem.1 This was evident in
people who refused to adjust their standards to account for things like the effects
of ageing on their reaction speed and agility. Conversely, people can have a high
sense of self-esteem only because their standards are low. The more people
evaluate themselves positively the greater their chances of continuing to do so
and the converse applies as well.
By observing one's own behaviour in detail it is possible to determine the stimuli
or situations that give rise to a particular response or behaviour. Once these are
known an effort can be made either to modify the environment or to avoid
certain situations so as to reinforce or extinguish a particular response. This
approach is used successfully by people who wish to give up smoking, reduce
their weight, or even to study or work more efficiently. A system of self-imposed
rewards and punishments can also be employed. Changes to the environment
can be as simple as re-decorating a room in order to make it more pleasant to
work or study in. Dieters claim that eating off a smaller plate helps because
smaller portions look bigger on a small plate.
(There has always been much controversy about the effects on viewers of
violence in television and movie shows, and there is no doubt that people are
affected by what they observe. However, there is a large gap between having
learnt how to do something and actually doing it.)

Refer to guilt as a punishment in itself in section 59.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 303
Gordon Allport
According to Allport people possess definite traits or dispositions to behave in a
specific way. They may have a specific action in response to a variety of
different stimuli. These traits or dispositions are interrelated and together form a
persons personality. If a trait is so marked that it characterises almost all of a
persons behaviour it is referred to as a cardinal trait. For example a hermit might
have the cardinal trait of reclusiveness. Most people could be characterised by a
small number of specific traits or attributes which is particularly evident if one
was asked to describe a person in terms of their over-riding traits or
characteristics. However, unless a person was known quiet well their specific
traits would be less noticeable and other less dominant or secondary traits used
to describe them. Members of a specific cultural group would tend to share
many of the same traits. All of a persons traits were unified to form a unique and
consistent whole which could be described as their soul.
A persons soul was formed over seven stages during which a child develops a
sense of :
self-awareness of its body;
a sense of self-identity or 'I' that is known by the name 'Jack' or 'Brian';
a sense of self-esteem or self-worth during which it attempts to do everything
for itself;
a sense of jealous possessiveness of things that are external to itself;
a sense of self-image depending on how other people view them (good, bad,
a sense of rationality that they can think for themselves;
and the striving for a goal in life.
The cornerstone of Allports theory is that people develop continually and their
past wasn't as important when compared to their present conditions.
Furthermore, the complexity of motivation could best be understood from a
persons long range goals which revealed their present motivations and not their
past one's. However, he never explained how a childhood motive could change
or evolve from childhood through to adulthood or what the relationship between

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childhood experiences and their motivations as adults was. He found that there
was no definition or grounds upon which to decide whether a person was
healthy or not and the fact that a person never consulted a therapist might only
indicate that they were not overly neurotic or couldn't afford one. He set about
providing some guidelines as to what constituted 'positive mental health'.
According to Allport there were some definite characteristics of mental health. A
person should be able to see beyond their own needs so as to be able to care
about others. With some family and close friends a person should be able to love
on a level that was free from jealousy or possessiveness. A person should have a
positive sense of self-esteem and self-control sufficient to distinguish between
the alternative views and values of others and real threats. On maturing a person
should obtain a sense of realism concerning their needs and abilities. A healthy
adult was one who managed to develop a consistent world-view that would
provide the foundations for both their values and meaning in life.

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George Kelly
According to Kelly human behaviour is relative and depends on how people
interpret things. There is thus no such thing as absolute objectivity or truth and it
is always possible for people to modify their perceptions. People are like
scientists in that they attempt to understand the world around them and
continually develop hypotheses or theories in an attempt to anticipate and
understand it. This desire is so strong that it is normal for people to judge and
form opinions of others within minutes of meeting them. This might be done by
stereotyping people in terms of one's own prejudices. People test their
assumptions and if they prove successful, regard this as proof of their original
assumption. There is a tendency in people to view things in terms of black and
white so that other people might appear to be good or bad with nothing in-
between.1 It is also sometimes the case that a person chooses to see things only
in terms of black or white by concluding that there is no such thing as a good
person. While it might seem better to keep an open mind and not make snap
judgements there is very often simply not enough time in which to do so, and
both snap judgements and being open to change were important.
In Kelly's experience it makes no difference in practice whether a person has a
motive for their actions or not and he claimed that people were active simply
because they are alive. They behave in a particular fashion because of the way
they anticipate the future. If risk-taking proved beneficial in the past for a person
then the chances were good that it would form part of their future behaviour.
Confidence lends itself to the acceptance and willingness to embrace change
while insecurity leads to attempts to define things rigidly.2 A persons unique
experiences provide the basis for their judgements and they will be reluctant to
change opinions that would call for a radical re-assessment of their beliefs.
People tend to maintain a hierarchical system of beliefs which are ranked in
order of importance as much of their behaviour is based on them. Minor beliefs
could be changed without much resistance but changes to major parts of their

Refer to the influence of Zarathustra on opposite forces of light and dark in section 31
and the language trap of thinking in terms of black and white in appendix E.
Refer to the attempt by Socrates to define concepts such as right in section 38.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 306
belief system are difficult and alternate views which would necessitate such a
change could be viewed as a threat. People therefore tended to acquire new
beliefs which fit in with or clarify their existing system of beliefs. A relationship
with others is normally based on a mutual understanding of each others views
and expectations.
According to Kelly if a persons system of beliefs are unable to deal with a
particular situation then they will become anxious. If they deviated from their
system they would suffer guilt, and if they were reluctant to accept a belief as
being incorrect they could display hostility in order to get others to respond to
their beliefs. A healthy person is one who is open to change and actually
encourages it while being able to interact with people who hold different views.
An unhealthy person is one who persists with their beliefs despite their practical

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Abraham Maslow
According to Maslow the most distinguishing feature of humans was their
creative ability. While other psychologists focused on the neurotic or sick human
he decided to concentrate on the healthy person. He believed that human desires
were structured in a hierarchy with the lower needs at the bottom and the higher
needs at the top. Once a person had satisfied the lower needs they would then
desire to fulfil their higher order needs. A person could also at any time fall back
to satisfy needs that were lower on the scale due to changes in their personal
On the lowest level are those basic needs a person must fulfil in order to live,
which included food, water, air, sex, sleep and shelter. We have seen in section 5
how strong these needs can be. Once these needs have been met a person will
move onto the next higher level of desire being that for safety or security which
is obtained in a stable, predictable environment. This desire is the driving force
behind many religious and philosophical systems of belief.1 The next level of
desires is that for love or belongingness. Maslow saw the urgency of this need
in the high degree of alienation faced by many Americans due to their ever-
increasing mobility which tended to make them insensitive to community needs
and to form shallow and meaningless relationships.2 For Maslow love and
affection was more than mere sex and involved trust and mutual respect. The
next higher desire was that for self-esteem and recognition. Self-esteem
stemmed from confidence and ability whilst recognition originated from the
acknowledgement or appreciation of others. Deficiencies could lead to feelings
of inferiority and worthlessness. There was also the danger that false praise from
others could easily set a person up for an unpleasant fall when reality intruded.
The next higher desire was that for self-actualisation which meant the
realisation of a persons full potential. To Maslow this drive towards self-
actualisation was inborn but not everyone could achieve it because there were
many obstacles in their path. The most serious obstacle was never knowing what
this potential was because they had been raised and educated according to social
Refer to the philosophy of Plato in section 39.
Refer to the concept of alienation in section 64 and the lack of community spirit in
section 67.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 308
stereotypes such as that relating to one's gender. There was also the tendency to
avoid the risk that change necessitates by opting for the safety and security of
the familiar or what is already known.
According to Maslow those who had achieved self-realisation tended to take an
objective view of reality and were more accepting of uncertainty, their own
strengths and weaknesses, and those of humanity in general. They were not
concerned with trivia and while being more open to change could nevertheless
tolerate and respect social customs and laws while at the same time living
according to their own moral standards. They tended to be more autonomous,
creative and appreciative of the smaller pleasures in life. Although they formed
deeper relationships with friends they also attracted admirers or disciples.
Despite all these positive traits Maslow never regarded actualisers as a super
race because they were first and foremost human and also had their fair share of
depression, bursts of anger, irrationality, guilt and prejudices.

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Carl Rogers
According to Rogers human behaviour was determined according to the unique
experiences and the meanings given to them by each individual. From many
years of experience in dealing with people he came to believe that humans were
essentially good and could live peacefully with each other. He was aware of the
human capability for destruction but attributed these actions to be defensive or
borne of fear. His view was therefore fundamentally opposed to the Christian
view that humans were evil and born in sin. He saw the same interpretation in
the theory of Freud who claimed that without social control human actions
would be destructive and harmful.
For Rogers the guiding force behind all forms of life was that towards self-
actualisation and all the other needs of the organism were regarded as forming
part of this force.1 Thus the satisfaction of physiological requirements, such as
those for food and water, were necessary to maintain the organism in order for it
to achieve self-actualisation. Human behaviour was determined according to the
values placed on them. Those behaviours that were satisfying would be
positively valued whilst those that were unpleasant would be negatively valued.
Research has shown that value preferences for a specific food or foods are based
on a subconscious assessment of nutritional requirements.2
Because all individuals interpreted their unique experiences differently their
concept of reality would also be unique. For this reason it was only possible to
understand people by getting to know their internal frame of orientation of life
and the experiences that lay behind them. Once this was known it would be
possible to explain their behaviour. Where Rogers departed from theorists such
as Freud was his insistence that it wasn't necessary to trace a persons childhood
history because it was the way that they perceived and interpreted things today
and how they saw their future that was of major importance. To him the stages
of a childs development were less significant than the way they were evaluated
by others, as this was instrumental in the formation of their self-image or self-
worth. People developed value preferences based on their own experiences and
Refer to Maslow's hierarchy of needs in appendix A9.
Refer to the error of freedom of will in section 58.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 310
the evaluations of others. People needed to be admired, loved and well-regarded
by people who played an important part in their lives but there was the danger
that these needs would only be satisfied conditionally. 1 For example, parents
might offer rewards to children in order to encourage behaviour that would
please them. Thus a persons self-esteem may become dependent on
complying with the demands of others while ignoring the discovery and
fulfillment of their own needs and ultimately their self-actualisation. For
this reason Rogers stressed the importance of giving and receiving
unconditional love, respect and admiration in order that people could
develop their own valuation preferences. At the same time he made it clear
that it was also possible to combine discipline and control by avoiding the use of
admonishments such as 'bad girl' or 'bad boy', which are negative personal
evaluations in favour of providing sound reasons why particular behaviours
shouldn't be performed and why punishments would be administered if they
According to Rogers people develop a self-concept based on their experiences
and perceptions, and behave in accordance with it. Behaviours which conflicted
with it would be resisted. However, if conflicting behaviours were undertaken
people would experience anxiety and confusion which they might not even be
consciously aware of. There were two methods of defence - to rationalise
their behaviour if they were aware of it, or by purposefully ignoring or
denying what they were doing. There were varying degrees in which people
could infringe their self-concept and serious infringements could lead to high
level of anxiety and confusion sufficient to seek out professional help. In severe
cases a persons self-concept might be shattered and their defences could become
inoperable. In such cases they might become psychotic and behave irrationally,
and even engage in activities which they denied were part of their self-concept.
For example, if a persons self-concept forbade sex with prostitutes and their
self-concept was shattered they might visit a brothel.

Refer to the role of conditional love in the formation of character concerns in section
10, its role in manipulation in section 63 and obeying as an obstacle to freedom in
section 65.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 311
According to Rogers people who were 'fully functioning' and achieving self-
actualisation would be able to accept their feelings and control their impulses; be
able to enjoy each moment by realising its uniqueness; behave according to their
own valuations; have the power and confidence to accept responsibility for their
actions; and be able to live creatively and constructively amidst change.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 312


At roughly the same time as the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilisations
developed, the Indus civilisation arose alongside the Indus river of North West
India. These civilisations used to trade with each other from as early as
2,500BC. The Indus civilisation had the skills to write and used bronze and
copper, but scholars are still unable to read their script so not much is known
about their history or religious development. From the little that is known it
appears that they were more concerned with material comforts than religion.
Their capital cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were well planned and
uniformly constructed, suggesting the existence of a centralised and unified
administration. There is evidence that the cities were rebuilt many times,
possibly as a result of recurrent flood damage. That they were rebuilt to inferior
standards suggests that a steady decline in social standards had set in, probably
due to political upheavals. Unlike the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilisations
that managed to survive invasions, the Indus civilisation was eventually
destroyed by Aryan invaders from the hill country to their North and West.
These Aryan invaders shared a common ancestry with those Aryans who
migrated down into Iran.
The Aryans were pastoralists or wandering nomads whose chieftains were called
'rajahs'. They worshipped many nature gods, and being nomads used to worship
and make sacrifices in the open. In other respects the civilisation that now took
root in the fertile valleys of the Indus and later the Ganges rivers would
experience the same adaptations that the older Egyptian and Mesopotamian
civilisations had experienced before them. There was the change from nomadic
pastoralists to settled agriculturists, the struggle for power and wealth between
rival tribes leading to the establishment of powerful kingdoms, the mixing of
cultures with diverse customs, and the worship of different gods - changes that
would have a marked affect on their religious development.

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The religious beliefs, traditions and mythology of the Aryans were called Veda
or 'knowledge' and was transmitted from generation to generation by the
spoken word. This accounts for the fact that hardly any of their history exists.
Over time it is also likely that much of the original Veda was lost. To facilitate
the memorising of the Veda they devised ways of combining words to form
verses or 'mantras' and collections of verses into hymns. The composition of
these mantras continued throughout the period of their settlement and through
numerous contacts with the varied traditions of the original inhabitants of these
valleys. These contacts and the influence they exerted placed considerable strain
on the old Vedic religion. It was only after settling in the Indus and later the
Ganges valleys that the oral traditions, mythology and history of the Veda, were
first collected and edited to form a collection or samhita of over 1,000 hymns to
the gods, known as the Rig-Veda. The Rig-Veda was composed over many
centuries by many different priests, poets and philosophers, and reflects much
that was certainly derived from non-Aryan or pre-Aryan cultures.
Priests came from the priestly Brahman class while the poets and philosophers
were mainly from the Kshatriyas or warrior class. As such, the Rig-Veda was
mostly a reflection of their aristocratic views. In addition to the Rig-Veda there
are three other Vedic commentaries that contain much of the same material.
These are the Yajur-Veda or 'knowledge of ritual', the Sama-Veda or 'knowledge
of chants', and the Atharva-Veda or 'knowledge given by the sage Atharva'. The
oldest parts of each book are the Mantras or hymns to the gods. Indra, the god
of the thunderbolt who takes the wealth of those who don't perform sacrifice and
gives it to those who do, has over 250 hymns dedicated to him. Agni, the god of
fire who brings burnt sacrifices to the gods is mentioned in over 200 hymns.
Other gods of particular interest are Varuna, the god of the universe who
forgives sins, Shiva, the god of destruction, death, rebirth and fertility, and
Vishnu, the god who comes to earth at various times and in various forms to
assist humans in their struggles.
The Brahmans were a select class of priests who, because the Vedas were
communicated orally, were active in their interpretation. Their interpretation
therefore reflected the views of a privileged class and encouraged much

© 1997 Allan Sztab 314

speculation. The Vedas were originally suited to the unsettled life of wandering
nomads and a settled life now provided the opportunity for fresh interpretation
and commentary which formed the second oldest part of the Vedas known as the
'Brahmanas' or 'instructions for ritual and sacrifice'. The Brahmanas divided
society into four castes. Not surprisingly, the first were the priests or Brahmans.
They were followed by the chieftains and warriors or Kshatriyas, the merchants
and commoners or Vaisyas, and lastly, the dark skinned non-Aryans or Sudras
who were looked down on and became their slaves and servants. The
Brahmanas also claimed that by the correct performance of rituals a person
might obtain reincarnation. The Brahmans claimed special privileges for
themselves, such as exemption from the common law and taxation, and expected
gifts and fees for their services in performing rituals.
The power and feeling of superiority that a class system gives has always proved
attractive throughout the ages and has the effect of keeping old cultural
groupings together, especially during periods when people of different cultures
began to mix and form permanent settlements. The Sudras or non-Aryans
included the native Dravidians, who were possibly early settlers from the
Caspian Sea area. Membership of castes was hereditary but over the years new
castes were formed while some were split into two. Today there are many castes
with some of them merely representing occupational groupings. Allegiance to
one's caste would make allegiance to a government or state in later years far
more difficult than was the case elsewhere. Ultimately it would be religion that
provided the common ground that binds Indian society.

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Rival interpretations of the Veda
The interpretation of the Vedas by the Brahman priests didn't go unchallenged
and rival schools sprung up in the forests where pupils hoped to achieve
religious enlightenment by ascetic practices which prevent the body from
satisfying one or more of its normal desires such as those for food, excitement,
sex or human contact. The warm climate of the Ganges Valley made such
practices possible. Another device used was the attempt to alter or escape from
self-consciousness by means of meditation. In meditation the attempt is made to
suspend all thinking, or the linking of meanings by way of language. If this
could be achieved the person would reduce the extent of their consciousness.
It is likely that the establishment of kingdoms with bureaucratic
administrations led to social upheavals. The loss of one's status, power and
prestige were prime motivating factors for the philosophising that now took
place. Another factor could have been the strain of adapting to an urban life.
Many of the pupils were from noble families and many were intellectuals. The
forests provided a secure retreat for all of them, where they could philosophise
about the mysteries of life. These schools sought to give a fresh and
philosophical interpretation to the Vedas and are known as the Upanishads,
which form the third part of the Vedas.
While the rest of the Vedas were intended for the worship of many gods, the
Upanishads now proposed the existence of only one reality - the god Brahman.
Brahman is sexless, eternal, infinite and timeless. Other beings were merely
expressions of Brahman and all else in this world was an illusion due to
ignorance. They also prescribed meditation, ascetic practices and self discipline
as a means of worship. The aim is to achieve knowledge of the illusions of this
world. Such knowledge leads to 'enlightenment' and the unity of Atman, the
human soul or breath, with Brahman, the spiritual reality behind all sensory
experiences. Once unified again the endless cycle of birth, death and re-birth
would cease. The obstacle for Atman to overcome is Karma, or our moral
shortcomings, acts or sins. Karma is inherited from our previous lives due to
reincarnation and therefore confines us to a material body. Once again we find

© 1997 Allan Sztab 316

the notion of being trapped in a body due to some sin or action which
requires enlightenment to escape, without any explanation as to the sin or
The Upanishads were absorbed by the Brahmans who modified it so that the
ascetic pursuit would take place towards the end of a mans natural life, when it
would undoubtedly be far easier and considerably more practical, as most of the
passions of youth would now have waned. It was this ongoing process of
religious development that gave rise to the varied and complex practices that
make up what is today known as Hinduism. Later, for possibly the same
motivations that led to the creation of the Upanishads, two men who were
already practising ascetics would make rival interpretations of the Upanishads,
which in turn would be modified to form the religions of Buddhism and Jainism,
elements of which would also be absorbed into the Hindu religious system.
The doctrine of the Vedas has always intrigued scholars for ages due to the
emergence of a pessimistic outlook on life, which seemed to grow more marked
as Hinduism developed, despite the fact that the Aryan conquerors were fierce
warriors who had an essentially optimistic outlook. In the oldest part of the Rig-
Veda (the hymns that describe the early beliefs of the Aryan invaders) no
reference can be found concerning ascetic practices at all, so it is possible that
this was an influence derived from the original inhabitants of the land. The
doctrine that now emerged from the Upanishads was intended as an explanation
for the fact that some humans were better off than others whether this was due to
the class they were born into or their position and wealth in society. These
inequalities were probably fresh in the minds of their philosopher creators who
had escaped to their forest retreats.
Human suffering was now seen as justified due to the inheritance of bad
Karma, as was the inferior position of certain members of the caste system and
that of women. It wasn't totally pessimistic in that salvation or enlightenment
was possible. In the Code of Manu, the caste divisions are seen as being the
word of god. The first three classes, the Brahman, Kshatriyas and Vaishvas are
said to be 'second born' while the fourth class, the Sudras, are said to be 'first

Refer to the Christian doctrine of Paul in section 30.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 317
born'. The duty of the Sudras are to serve and obey the 'second born' and thus
move from life to life up the caste hierarchy until they come to the rank of
The 'Mahabharata', a poem that evolved over a long period and consists of
over 220,000 lines, relates the stories of great Indian heroes, myths and gods. It
tells the story of two prominent Indian families which culminates in the battle of
Kurukshetra some time between 850BC and 650BC. Before this battle the
warrior Arjuna speaks to his charioteer Krishna about the problems of life and
the folly of war. This dialogue forms the most famous section, known as the
'Bhagavad-Gita'. Krishna claims to be the reincarnation of Vishnu and has
come to help him. The dialogue is said to be a reflection of the philosophy of the
Upanishads and the basic teaching is to do the duties of one's caste religiously to
avoid Karma. The Gita also specifies a number of ways to achieve salvation -
asceticism, meditation, performing the duties of one's caste, or the devotion and
worship of the gods. Another way to achieve enlightenment is 'the way of
knowledge' which refers to one of the six systems of philosophy, all based on
different interpretations of the Vedas but all accepting the concept of
rebirth and salvation, liberation or enlightenment as a means of escaping
therefrom - Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Vaisheshika and Nyana.
The Samkhya system was influenced by the development of Buddhism and
Jainism, and is essentially atheistic as it doesn't recognise any personal gods.
The Yoga (to yoke or join) system, with its many variations, basically follows
the same views but stresses mental and spiritual development, especially
meditation, to purge the mind of desires such as lust, anger and greed. The
Vedanta system believes there is only one god and true essence that exists -
Brahman. Everything else is an illusion due to ignorance with liberation coming
through knowledge.
Hinduism thus offers many ways to achieve salvation, and although there are
thousands of gods to worship, two of the most popular gods are Shiva and
Vishnu. Shiva, the god of destruction, death and disease, is also the god of
fertility as death comes before rebirth. The consort of Shiva is the goddess Kali
who is considered even more terrifying. A cult known as the thugs used to

© 1997 Allan Sztab 318

strangle victims while calling out for Kali to witness the struggle. Vishnu, the
god of love and forgiveness is supposed to have already appeared nine times on
earth to help humankind. His tenth appearance is supposed to herald the end of
the world.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 319

Buddhism and Jainism
Buddhism and Jainism were stricter, purist interpretations of the Upanishads.
One of the followers of Buddhism was the emperor of India, Asoka. He was
convinced that Buddhism was for the masses and attempted to spread it to other
countries in similar fashion to Christian missionaries. It was lucky for Buddhism
that he did because it was eventually absorbed into Hinduism on the pretext that
Buddha was a reincarnation of Vishnu. Buddhism then ceased to exist in India.
Buddhism was founded by a man called Siddhartha Gautama who was born
about 560BC, while Jainism was founded by Mahavira who was born about
599BC. What is known about 'the enlightened one' or Buddha, is constructed
from the legends and stories of his disciples. Because their lives were so similar
it is possible that the details of Mahavira were taken from Buddhism. Both were
born to parents of the Kshatriya or warrior caste and came from wealthy homes.
Both were dissatisfied with their lives and turned to extreme ascetic practices in
the hope of finding personal salvation. Both rejected all present forms of
religion with their many gods and developed faiths that had much in common.
Salvation was now open to all castes without the necessity of priests or
sacrifices. The doctrine of reincarnation was adopted and escape from the circle
of birth, death and rebirth was possible through correct knowledge and conduct.
In all other respects they differ markedly.
Jainism divides the world into soul, which is life, and matter which is uncreated,
evil and eternal. It is the flesh as matter that corrupts the soul and can only be
released by ascetic practices undertaken by the individual. As such no god, if
any exists at all, can help. It is activities or change of any sort that build up
Karma, and the ideal would be to do nothing at all. Monks take five vows while
householders or more liberal followers attempt to follow the first three of them
only. These are: 1. the non-injury of all forms of life; 2. to speak the truth; 3. not
to steal; 4. not to have sex and 5. not to have any attachments to or love for
anything. The objective is to free the soul from matter. It isn't clear what
happens to the soul once it is free from the endless cycle of birth, death and

© 1997 Allan Sztab 320

By contrast, Buddha practised an extreme form of asceticism for five years but
failed to find personal salvation through it. Finally, after a long period of
meditation he found salvation and went on to derive a unique conception of
human nature. Buddha rejected the existence of a soul or Atman. According to
Buddha it is our sensations of the world, together with our memory and
instincts, that produced our consciousness. Because our instincts were
ignorant of the true nature of the world they caused us to desire things
which led to suffering.1 Accordingly, salvation lay in freeing ourselves from
our instincts and thereby from our desires. His doctrine is summarised as
'The Four Noble Truths' - 1) existence means suffering; 2) the cause of suffering
is our desire or craving for things; 3) suffering can be stopped by eliminating
desires and 4); this can be achieved by following the eight-fold path of truth by
avoiding extremes of indulgence and ascetic practices. This eight-fold path is
that of right conduct, speech, aspirations, livelihood, view, effort, mindfulness
and meditation. The objective of meditation is to achieve an altered state of
consciousness. It is up to the individual to pursue a path that leads to their
personal salvation or Nirvana, and thereby freedom from the cycle of birth,
death and rebirth. Having achieved Nirvana they would be called arahat
which means a worthy or respectable person. As Buddha rejected the idea
of a soul or Atman it isn't clear precisely what is meant by Nirvana.
Nirvana may be a state that exists only while still alive. Some have
interpreted it as meaning annihilation at death, while others have claimed
that Nirvana is the same as Atman. In fact, indecision as to the true
teaching of Buddha has been the hallmark of the disciples of Buddha ever
since his death. It was clear that not everyone could leave society and detach
themselves completely, so the idea arose that achieving merit in this life would
ensure a better lot in the next life.

Refer to the similar role of ignorance in Plato's philosophy in section 39 and in
Hinduism in appendix B1.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 321
Interpretations have been made concerning literally 'every conceivable
aspect of existence'. For example, 'coming into existence' has been
explained 'in a way curiously reminiscent of the Christian theory of the
transmission of Original Sin, that the passage from one existence to another
was actually effected in conception and not by physical birth - through the
union of mother and father at the seasonal concourse, the seed of
consciousness, fettered by enjoyment and arising here or there, produces in
the mother's womb the germ of mind and body.' (Brandon)
Today there are hundreds of different Buddhist sects but most of them fall into
one of two major camps - Theravada Buddhism, 'the tradition of the elders', or
as it is known to the opposing camp, 'the smaller vehicle', and Mahayana
Buddhism or 'the larger vehicle'. Theravada Buddhism is the more conservative
of the Buddhist sects and is supposed to follow closely the original teachings of
the Buddha. Accordingly, each person is free to find their own salvation, and
teachings, scriptures or other gods are of little importance in this quest. This
simplicity has never had a wide appeal and it has only a small following.
In contrast, Mahayana Buddhism opened the way for the introduction of many
new principles, based on the assumption that these had been taught by Buddha
to some of his followers in secret. In addition, Buddha is believed to be one of
many saviours that have come and will continue to come to earth to assist
humanity in their quest for salvation. Around these saviours temples could now
be built and ritual systems of worship and sacrifice developed. The gods of other
religions could now be absorbed into Buddhism on the pretext that they were
also saviours. This widened its appeal and was a major factor in its spread into
China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia and Tibet, amongst others. Probably one of the
most well-known sects of Buddhism in the western world is that of the
meditation or intuitive sect which takes its name from the Japanese word for
meditation - Zen. According to Zen Buddhism enlightenment is achieved by the
individual through meditation or by accident. No scriptures, temples or anything
else is required to do so. Rational thought or reason is to be distrusted and their
riddles are specially designed to be non-sensical. Riddles such as 'You have
heard the sound of the clapping of two hands, but what is the sound of one hand

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clapping?' are designed so as to confuse reason in order that one can by
meditation go beyond reason where enlightenment will be found. Art that is
created by accident and not by design or reason is also valued more highly.
What is meant by enlightenment and beyond reason are not clearly
explained. By contrast, the Tendai sect recommend the pursuit of rational
thought and the study of scriptures in addition to meditation.
Tibetan Buddhism or Tantric Buddhism makes uses of words, phrases and
hymns which are supposed to achieve something similar to that of religious
incantations. The phrase 'Om mani padmi hum', for example, is supposed to
'ward off evil and bring good fortune'. Its monastic followers are known as
lamas or 'the superior one's'. It has two main orders, the Red Hat school which
is the smaller of the two, and the Yellow Hat school whose leader is known as
the Dalai Lama. On the death of the Dalai a search is made for his reincarnation
in a child who appears to have his characteristics.

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The Arabian religion known as Islam was founded by Muhammed who was born
in Mecca about 570AD and belonged to the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe. In
Arabia at the time of his birth many different gods and spirits were worshipped
and blood sacrifices made in the ancient hope of gaining practical advantages in
this lifetime - benefits such as the fertility of the soil, women and animals,
protection from disease and good fortune in war. Archaeological evidence
indicates that their dead were carefully buried with artefacts such as cups and
jewellery, which suggests a primitive belief in an afterlife that was available to
everyone. This afterlife was probably in the tomb and could be influenced by the
mortuary rituals and offerings made by relatives. The Meccans used to worship a
meteoric stone that, according to legend, fell to earth during the time of Adam
and Eve. The temple built around it was called the Kaaba and the legend claims
it was built by Abraham, the first Jewish family head, and his son Ishmael.
Pilgrims used to travel to Mecca to worship at this shrine and a truce was made
between rival tribes for a few months each year so they could do so in safety. It
was Muhammeds tribe that used to control the Kaaba.
Muhammed was illiterate and when young became a caravan worker. Later he
became a camel driver for his wealthy wife Khadijah. Wealth and travel gave
him the opportunity of meeting Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, and the time
to delve into religious questions. Many desert tribes were Jews who had
probably fled from Jerusalem during the revolution that led to their defeat at the
hands of the Romans in 70AD. What impressed him in particular was that the
Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians all had one god who promised prosperity in
this life and immortality hereafter in return for obedience, and a day of
judgement when evil disbelievers would be punished. Zarathustra also
encouraged his followers to fight if necessary against the Lie and the evil
practices of other religions.
Muhammed feared for the fate of his people on the final day of judgement. He
used to take his family to a mountain cave in the hills not far from Mecca during
the hottest month of Ramadan where he used to meditate. It was here while in a

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trance-like state that he first claimed to have heard the voice of the Judaic angel
Gabriel bringing him a message from Allah, the god of his people. He was now
about forty years old and over a period of time the words he heard while in these
trances were memorised and then dictated by him to his secretary, Zayd, who
committed them to writing. These Islamic scriptures are called the Quran which
is organised into chapters called surahs. His own words and interpretations
spoken when not in a trance are known as the Hadith or tradition of the prophet
Muhammed. There was only one god and Muhammed claimed that although
other religions knew him by other names they were actually referring to the
same god - Allah. He was a prophet of Allah as was Abraham, Moses and Jesus
before him, but unlike them his inspiration was a complete and final one.
His duty was to spread the word of the supreme god Allah, but he encountered
much resistance as he forbade the worship of other gods and idols such as those
at the Kaaba, around which a lucrative trade had grown. The people he was
preaching to had also adopted a fatalistic attitude to life and displayed a healthy
scepticism not unlike that expressed by the Egyptians over 2,500 years ago.
According to Muhammed they believed it was time that destroyed people, and in
response to his preaching requested that he produce their deceased fathers to
prove that there was life after death.
Those who refused to be persuaded by Muhammed led him to conclude that
Allah had created both those who would follow and were therefore good,
and those who wouldn't and were therefore evil. The plight of each person,
including the term of their lives, was predestined by Allah. This scheme of
predestination presents a logical conflict with his promises of forgiveness and
salvation offered to people if they became followers by their own choice. In
addition, by levying punishments for not following his laws he implied that
people were responsible for their actions. It is a question that is still debated
today. What is clear is his belief in the inferiority of women who must be
obedient to men. In this he seems to have accepted the traditional Semitic
evaluation of women. His preaching created many enemies but they fell short of
killing him for fear of retribution from his tribe. His followers were mainly from

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the young and poorer classes and some of them sought exile in Abyssinia and
were known as Muslims or submitters.
In 622AD he and his followers travelled to Medina to settle a dispute between
feuding Arab farmers. This journey was known as the Hegira or migration.
There were many Jewish people in Medina but his expectation that they would
recognise him as a messenger of their god were soon dashed. However, they
were accepted as one clan amongst others. Here he continued to preach and
make rules for his followers who soon grew in number. These rules or the way
of Islam, which all good Muslims must obey, are known as 'the five pillars of
1) Repetition as often as possible of the creed of Islam known as the
Shahadah - 'There is no God but Allah; Muhammed is the messenger of
2) Prayers five times daily: at dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, sunset, and at
3) Fasting during the daylight for the month of Ramadan.
4) Almsgiving or the sharing of their possessions with the poor.
5) The pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a persons life.
To be a follower of Allah was to serve without question and this meant
obedience to his messenger Muhammed. Medina was an oasis and his followers
had no means of supporting themselves. Despite almsgiving there wasn't enough
to go around so Muhammed sent his followers to raid caravans passing on their
way to and from Mecca. The Meccans were divided and they failed to prevent
the Muslims from harassing them; but these raids led to even larger battles. The
religious conviction of the Muslims and their hostility towards non-believers
made them a force to be reckoned with; and the Jewish non-believing farmers of
Medina were evicted and their land given to Muslims whose following now
began to grow, a growth which soon required territorial expansion beyond
Soon another Jewish oasis was conquered but this time only a tribute was levied
and distributed amongst the followers, a practice that would serve as a model for
future expansion. With every new conquest the Muslim following grew. Their

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victories in battle led followers to believe that god really was on their side. The
intolerance of other religions that required their conquest attracted those who
were more interested in the rewards of conquest; this militancy would prove to
be a decisive factor in the rapid spread of Islam, especially amongst the
Nomadic tribes. In addition, Islam was attractive as it was a universal religion
open to anyone and it was simple to follow 'the five pillars of Islam'.
Raiding and plundering caravans had the blessing of Muhammed. Muslim
soldiers who fought and were killed in a religious holy war against non-
believers, a war that is known as a Jihad, were promised an immediate
entrance to paradise. This call to war was heard often during the expansion
of Islam. A special reward for dead soldiers in paradise accords with
Muhammeds vision of an afterlife that requires a physical body, as did his
description of hell. His conception of a soul was that of a force which lived with
the body. For those who never died in a holy war there would be a long
unconscious sleep until the day of Judgement when their body would be
resurrected and the faithful rewarded. This simple belief wasn't good enough for
some later believers who enhanced it to include the idea that a person remained
conscious in their graves, where they were visited by two angels who
interrogated them about their religious faith.
After numerous successes Muhammed entered Mecca with 10,000 armed men in
630AD, and was unopposed. He destroyed all the idols at the Kaaba with the
exception of the black stone. Territorial expansion continued and before
Muhammeds death in 632AD much of the Arabian peninsula was conquered and
united. After his death a friend of his, Abu Bakr, was recognised as his first
deputy or caliph, but spiritual guidance was left to the Quran. Not everyone
accepted this and it was necessary for Muhammeds followers from Medina to
fight against rebel tribes to achieve unity once more. After Abu Bakr's death in
634AD his successor was Omar, under whose command the first Moslem
conquests outside of Arabia occurred; Syria fell in 636, Iraq in 637,
Mesopotamia in 641, Egypt in 642 and Iran in 651. In time the whole Middle
East was conquered and Islam moved into India, China and Spain. The spread
into North Africa was slower since the Muslims never had any prohibition

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against slavery, and the conversion to Islam of potential slaves wasn't good for
the slave trade. Since the slave trade ended towards the end of the nineteenth
century Islamic missionaries proved to be very successful. (Their spread as a
warring religion didn't go unopposed and the Christian Crusades were organised
to recover Holy Land. They commenced in 1096 and drew to a close in 1291
having failed to achieve this objective.)
Eighty five percent of Muslims belong to the orthodox Sunnis who follow many
different schools of thought that vary according to the weight placed on the
Quran and the traditions and interpretations of Muslims known as the Hadith.
The Shiites are the second largest sect and are mainly found in Iran and Iraq.
They are followers of Ali, the fourth caliph, whose descendants or Imams are
recognised as their leaders. The last descendant never left an heir and is
expected to return once more as a messiah known as the Mahdi. Within the
Shiites there are many sects; the most notorious were known as the Assassins
whose members would smoke hashish and murder selected victims for promises
of paradise. Today Islam is one of the largest and fastest-growing religions in the

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Confucianism And Taoism
The ancient Chinese worshipped many gods and spirits who were believed to
control the universe. They held a belief in some form of existence beyond the
grave, which is indicated by the discovery of tombs containing the bodies of
servants or slaves. The aged were sometimes buried within their homes and their
planting seeds were stored in the same location. The fertility of the earth in
bringing forth new life probably led to the idea that the newly-born were
reincarnations of these dead ancestors. The ancient Chinese were always
impressed by the balance of forces in the universe and the unity of heaven
and earth. They referred to these forces as the yin and yang. The yin
represented the feminine force of the earth, darkness, coolness, fertility,
irrationality and the material soul or kwei. The yang represented the male force
of the heavens, light, warmth, brightness, rationality and the heavenly breath or
soul, the shen. Neither of these two forces was better than the other and
harmony existed when they were in balance. The Chinese never felt the need for
spiritual salvation or a divine saviour, and their concerns for future survival were
seen in terms of that of their families and not of individuals. All humans were a
unity of these two forces and differed from other animals because they were
capable of creating a perfect balance or equilibrium between the forces of the
heaven and earth.
This was the conception of Chinese religion up until the feudal period of the
Chou dynasty in the eleventh century BC. The Chou had overthrown the Shang
but never had the power to rule that the Sheng had. To gain support for their rule
they claimed that it was the immoral behaviour of the Shang that had led to their
overthrow. Furthermore, they claimed that the Chou had been appointed by the
supreme god Shang Ti, and it was their duty to rule according to moral and
virtuous principles. Political power was divided amongst a number of Chinese
states ruled by princes. However, during the sixth century BC this balance of
power was disrupted due to the territorial expansion of the frontier states who
managed to conquer and absorb barbarian tribes around them. Four of these

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frontier states now vied for power and some of the smaller states were
repeatedly invaded.
During this period of political upheaval and turmoil the ancestors were no longer
respected - traditional morality and aristocratic rule had broken down. This
chaos provided fertile ground for fresh ideas and it was out of this turmoil that
the philosophy of Lao-tzu and Confucius arose. It was particularly a nostalgia
for the past - an imperial past where the rulers were appointed by the Heavens
that inspired the philosopher Confucius: 'I for my part am not one of those who
have innate knowledge. I am simply one who loves the past and who is diligent
in investigating it'. In contrast the Taoists wanted as small a government as
possible. The teachings of both Confucius and Lao-tzu were philosophical as
opposed to religious and it is only because their teachings were later modified
by their followers to include religious concepts that their philosophies have been
considered here.

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Confucius was born in 551BC to an aristocratic family who had lost their wealth
and status due to the political upheavals of this time. He was brought up in
humble circumstances by his widowed mother. During his twenties he began
teaching and his main interest was in good and equitable government. His
teachings were compiled after his death over a long period of time by different
authors so it is hard to tell precisely what his teachings were. They are known as
The Analects of Confucius which means 'The classics of the Way and its power
and virtue'. He often used the word Tao which means a road, path or way of
doing something, particularly in the spheres of morality, conduct and truth. To
him the Way was that of the ancients who had respect for their parents and
elders. The word Li refers to the correct rituals that people were to perform
in society, especially to those above and below one's social standing. In the
times of kingship the Li or rituals of the king were especially significant as their
correct performance was believed to have a direct bearing on the welfare of the
state, the fertility of its women, crops and animals.
A good government for Confucius was that of a feudal monarchy. It was the
duty of the ruler to bring out the good which was inherent in everyone by setting
an example. He never deemed it necessary to offer rewards or punishments. In
this he departed from the Christian belief that people are born in sin. He rejected
violence or force in favour of ruling by the observance of rituals and 'giving way
to others' in accordance with traditional values. It was bad government that
caused people to behave badly. Nobility was acquired from education and proper
conduct, not by birth. A true gentleman practised what he preached, kept his
word, was unbiased, genuine, courteous, well-versed in ritual and took the time
to discover what was right as opposed to what paid. Being good brought
happiness. He placed more emphasis on the concerns of this life as opposed to
spiritual matters and the ultimate destiny of the individual.
Confucius never managed to get appointed to a ministerial position where he
could put his principles into practice. Confucians were eventually appointed as
administers of the civil service during the Han dynasty (202BC) and their

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influence permeated government well into the twentieth century AD. In 136BC
they were entrusted with the education of the young, and the teachings of
Confucius continued up until 1905AD. His followers modified his doctrine over
the years, and the most famous of his disciples was Mencius, whose teachings
reinforced those of Confucius and are found in the Book of Mencius. The
disciple Hsun Tsu held a different view - humans were evil and hated each other
by nature but could be trained to be good. He believed strongly in ritual practice
as a device to teach people. The Han rulers revered Confucius and built shrines
for him and offered sacrifices. By 600AD some considered him a god, but no
popular religion arose around him and today he is considered as the ancestor of
the Chinese scholar.

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Not much is known about Lao-tzu and according to legend he was born about
fifty years earlier than Confucius. His teachings are contained in his book the
Tao Te Ching which is only second in terms of influence to that of the
Confucian Analects. It was reputedly written in the sixth century BC but
developed into its present form around the third century BC, possibly as a
criticism directed against the Confucians. The Taoists held the belief in an
impersonal force or First Cause of the universe, which united everything in it.
Humans were therefore a part of nature and it was civilisation that had led them
astray and was the cause of all their problems. Accordingly, all the trappings of
civilisation were to be shunned in favour of a simple and humble life. This
meant the rejection of fame, glory and the attempt to raise oneself above others.
Life itself was deemed to be the most precious possession of all and there was a
great concern for the quality of life. Death was seen as a natural part of nature. It
was only later that the quest for extending life took root amongst a group of
Taoists. Initially they attempted to achieve longevity through diet and fasting,
but this desire soon led to the quest for immortality by mystical or magical
practices, then by sacrifices to the gods and the establishment of temples.
Taoism became a very popular religion and in time borrowed much from
Buddhism. It was still practised in China as late as the twentieth century.

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Fear is a response to a perceived threat that is associated with pain. Fear, like
most emotions, prepares the body for action. The natural response to fear is to
fight or flee. Conscious physical manifestations of fear range from a simple
dryness in the mouth and a sinking feeling in the stomach to crying and the urge
to urinate or defecate. Subconscious manifestations include fatigue, depression,
loss of appetite, insomnia and nightmares.
Pain provides us with a powerful motivation for learning how to avoid it.
Driving carefully is rewarded by avoiding potentially painful accidents.
Similarly, studying diligently serves as a reward by reducing the fear of failing
an examination. Fear is learnt by avoiding any stimulus that is associated with
discomfort or pain whether or not the stimulus is the actual cause of it, as long
as it is believed or perceived to be.
Fear is believed to arise in three ways - by being innate, dependent on physical
maturity and by learning. Because humans are primarily learning animals we
have very few innate fears. There seems to be incentives to avoid unfamiliar
objects, depths, startling sounds or rapid movements - a fear of snakes is
believed to develop because of their movement. Our learning experiences
modify the specific reactions to these incentives and certain phobias are related
to our age. Fear of loud noises is common in infants, followed by a fear of
strangers in older infants, animals at pre-school age and open spaces and social
situations between adolescence and middle age. In many cases phobias are the
result of new social situations encountered as the person develops. Such a
change might be a move from a primary school to a secondary school, while
others are related to mechanisms which become prominent after puberty.
Phobias are common in children but subside as quickly as they arise and most
may be considered normal. Common fears are those of darkness, storms and of
school which could be related to separation anxiety. The most common phobia
in adults is agoraphobia which refers to a class of fears such as that of crowds,
open spaces, going out alone or various combinations of these. Interestingly,
phobias occur twice as often in women as they do in men.

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Fear can be learnt from the experiences of others and while this is advantageous
it also carries with it the ever-present danger of being deceived. Language makes
possible complex thoughts or ideas which are represented or symbolised by
words. The mere use of some words such as 'fire' or 'police' are enough to create
fear.1 Humans are also unique in their use of symbols and the sight of a Nazi
Swastika painted on a wall could easily create fear within a community. Cultural
factors also play a role and fears vary from age to age - in the 16th century fears
of demons and witches were common while today we have fears of cancer and
nuclear war.
A phobia is an uncontrollable, illogical fear created by an over-reaction to a
specific situation or thing. Some external things or objects, such as a mouse,
can be avoided. However, when the phobia relates to something internal such as
disease and death they cannot be avoided and this places the body under stress.
Obsessive phobias are not directed towards any object or situation but towards
the imagined consequences arising from them. These obsessions may concern
fears of killing people, swallowing pins or being contaminated by animals; but
the fears are seldom warranted. Obsessive avoidance rituals, such as the
repeated washing of hands, are often undertaken.
Avoidance will obviously be successful but the underlying fear will always
remain. However, avoidance might be inconvenient and could interfere with the
normal activities of a persons life. What has really happened in all these types
of fear is that a person has become over-sensitised to a particular stimulus,
whether this is external or internal. Any action that appears to reduce the
discomfort will be repeated whether or not the action actually reduces it, as long
as it is believed or perceived to do so. A feeling of helplessness intensifies the
fear while eating, anger, sexual arousal, the presence of a friend or familiar
surroundings helps to alleviate it.
Sudden traumas or accidents can lead to a phobia of the object involved such as
a fear of dogs after a dog attack and a fear of motor vehicles after a motor
accident. Sometimes a phobia can develop as a result of one trauma or event
whilst others require a number of events. The avoidance actions are not easy to

Refer to the tricks and traps of language in appendix E.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 335
extinguish even when the stimulus isn't present. For example, if a person avoids
cinemas because of a fear of crowds they will tend to do so even when they are
empty. Sometimes the cause of a fear or phobia is more subtle and relates to
certain actions that create feelings of guilt. Guilt feelings arise after an action
because it conflicts with a personal belief.1 While it isn't necessary to know how
a belief arose in order to extinguish it a phobia might be related to a past action
or trauma that has been repressed and is no longer capable of being recalled.2
Paranoiac actions are those actions prompted by an unwarranted fear and worry
about what is perceived to be an imminent threat, persecution, or vulnerability.
These fears are generally directed towards something that we care about or fear
losing. This could be a job, lover, an image we have of ourselves, or some aspect
of our frame of orientation, expectations, or system of beliefs.3 The motivation
could be related to what we perceive to be our requirements for power, prestige,
self-esteem or popularity and to satisfy them we are easily tempted to entertain
superstitious fears, and taboos which open us to manipulation.4
In some cases fears, phobias and paranoia are extremely difficult to eradicate.
By a process known as desensitisation a person can expose themselves to fear-
creating stimuli in graduated measures while exposing themselves to another
pleasurable stimulus in the hope of creating an association between the
pleasurable and fear-creating stimuli.5 Avoidance actions are much easier to
extinguish if they can become associated with pleasure. If a person is able to
relax properly then they can attempt to imagine or visualise fear-producing
stimuli in graduations from the least to the most feared and in this manner build
up the courage to face the phobic situation in reality. The use of drugs to relax
isn't effective as this sometimes lessens the desensitisation process. Closely
allied to this is a technique called logotherapy where people are urged to create
anxious states and anxious situations, imaginary or real, until they cease to have
any effect. In other cases people are asked to tolerate and accept anxiety until

Refer to section 59 with respect to guilt and punishment.
Refer to section 9 and appendix A1 for the defence mechanism of repression.
Refer to the consistency incentive in section 7.
Refer to section 63 for the role of the desires in manipulation and to section 66 for the
desires as an obstacle to our freedom.
Refer to the role of learning and association in section 6.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 336
they resign themselves to their fear of losing someone or something etc. It also
helps phobics to watch other people in phobic situations in order to gain the
courage to attempt the real situation themselves.
Prevention is always better than cure and where possible any potential phobia or
fear should be treated before it has time to develop. After a motor vehicle
accident a person should attempt to drive again as soon as possible before the
fear can be enhanced by the person repeating the drama in their minds and then
reinforcing it by avoiding similar situations. The same would apply to any
situation where anxiety arises even where the reason for it isn't known.

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The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the pioneers into the inner
workings of the human mind and in one aphorism he captured the essential
methods of modifying behaviours and controlling desires. Aphorism 109 from
his book 'Daybreak - Thoughts on the prejudices of morality' is quoted here
in full. For the word drive we could equally insert the words desire, habit,
or addiction.
'I find no more than six essentially different methods of combating the
vehemence of a drive. First, one can avoid opportunities for gratification of
the drive, and through long and ever longer periods of non-gratification
weaken it and make it wither away. Then, one can impose upon oneself
strict regularity in its gratification: by thus imposing a rule upon the drive
itself and enclosing its ebb and flood within firm time-boundaries, one has
then gained intervals during which one is no longer troubled by it - and
from there one can perhaps go over to the first method. Thirdly, one can
deliberately give oneself over to the wild and unrestrained gratification of a
drive in order to generate disgust with it and with disgust to acquire a
power over the drive: always supposing one does not do like the rider who
rode his horse to death and broke his own neck in the process - which,
unfortunately, is the rule when this method is attempted. Fourthly, there is
the intellectual artifice of associating its gratification in general so firmly
with some very painful thought that, after a little practise, the thought of its
gratification is itself at once felt as very painful (as, for example, when the
Christian accustoms himself to associating the proximity and mockery of
the Devil with sexual enjoyment or everlasting punishment in Hell with a
murder for revenge, or even when he thinks merely of the contempt which
those he most respects would feel for him if he, for example, stole money;
or, as many have done a hundred times, a person sets against a violent
desire to commit suicide a vision of the grief and self-reproach of his
friends and relations and therewith keeps himself suspended in life:-
henceforth these ideas within him succeed one another as cause and effect).
© 1997 Allan Sztab 338
The same method is also being employed when a man's pride, as for
example in the case of Lord Byron or Napoleon, rises up and feels the
domination of his whole bearing and the ordering of his reason by a single
affect as an affront: from where there then arises the habit and desire to
tyrannise over the drive and make it as it were gnash its teeth. ('I refuse to
be the slave of any appetite', Byron wrote in his diary.) Fifthly, one brings
about a dislocation of one's quanta of strength by imposing on oneself a
particularly difficult and strenuous labour, or by deliberately subjecting
oneself to a new stimulus and pleasure and thus directing one's thoughts
and plays of physical forces into other channels. It comes to the same thing
if one for the time being favours another drive, gives it ample opportunity
for gratification and thus makes it squander that energy otherwise available
to the drive which through its vehemence has grown burdensome. Some
few will no doubt also understand how to keep in check the individual
drive that wanted to play the master by giving all the other drives he knows
of a temporary encouragement and festival and letting them eat up all the
food the tyrant wants to have for himself alone. Finally, sixth: he who can
endure it and finds it reasonable to weaken and depress his entire bodily
and physical organisation will naturally thereby also attain the goal of
weakening an individual violent drive: as he does, for example, who, like
the ascetic, starves his sensuality and thereby also starves and ruins his
vigour and not seldom his reason as well. Thus: avoiding opportunities,
implanting regularity into the drive, engendering satiety and disgust with it
and associating it with a painful idea (such as that of disgrace, evil
consequences or offended pride), then dislocation of forces and finally a
general weakening and exhaustion - these are the six methods: that one
desires to combat the vehemence of a drive at all, however, does not stand
within our own power; nor does the choice of any particular method; nor
does the success or failure of this method. What is clearly the case is that in
this entire procedure our intellect is only the blind instrument of another
drive which is a rival of the drive whose vehemence is tormenting us:
whether it be the drive to restfulness, or the fear of disgrace and other evil

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consequences, or love. While 'we' believe we are complaining about the
vehemence of a drive, at bottom it is one drive which is complaining
about another; that is to say: for us to become aware that we are suffering
from the vehemence of a drive presupposes the existence of another
equally vehement or even more vehement drive, and that a struggle is in
prospect in which our intellect is going to have to take sides.'
We can only control our desires or modify our behaviours provided we have the
opposing desire to do so. We need to consider those actions or behaviours which
are now available to us in terms of the new set of beliefs and obligations we
have forged for ourselves.1 To create a new future with a clear conscience we
should attempt to put the past to rest. We need to heal any emotional wounds
which could still be affecting us both on a conscious and subconscious level. We
may still be suffering from guilt feelings and we can now review the past based
on those moral obligations which we have now accepted. If we still have any
guilt feelings towards other people for dishonouring any moral obligations that
we had towards them then we can ask them for forgiveness. More importantly,
once we have accepted that we too don't have an unrestricted freedom of
will we can forgive ourselves. The same applies to other people, and if we
harbour any anger or resentment towards others for their actions towards us then
we can forgive them as well. While there is no possibility of changing the past it
may nevertheless be possible to make certain amends such as the repayment of
any outstanding debts. In some cases bringing up the past could do further harm
and it might be inadvisable to do so e.g. the admission of previously unknown
discretion's to a former spouse, present spouse or employer.
We are habituated to our old or customary ways of behaving and we tend to
perform them subconsciously so it is important to try and maintain a
constant awareness of them. All the specific stimuli, situations and
associations that trigger them should be identified. In the case of those
behaviours that are repeated frequently there will be many activities or situations
that have become associated with them and it is effective to plan ahead for any
stimuli or associations that we might encounter in future situations such as

Refer to section 65 and the determination of obstacles to our freedom.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 340
seasonal activities or vacations. We have to overcome the habitual response to
each stimulus in order to break the association between them. The more stimuli
there are the longer it will take and the longer we will have to maintain a
conscious awareness of them. Thus in the case of habits like smoking and
drinking, which have extremely high numbers of associations, ex-smokers and
drinkers must remain on their guard for years after breaking the habit. However,
what this implies is that we shouldn't attempt to modify our behavioural
responses simultaneously unless we are prepared to devote the majority of our
conscious awareness towards doing so. This is simply not possible and the lack
of success that will follow is sure to lead to despondency.
It helps considerably if we develop new behavioural responses that in effect take
the place of our old one's so that over time we will become habituated to them
and thereby reduce the level of conscious awareness that is required. We must
find alternative actions or behaviours that will allow us to satisfy our
desires in a manner that is more acceptable to ourselves and that won't
result in further guilt feelings or in the acceptance of unnecessary
obligations. Bottling up our desires doesn't remove them and in many cases
only makes them more persistent. We must find new outlets for them. To ward
off an urge to perform a particular action a suitable distraction or non-related
action could be substituted which might range from the taking of a slow, deep
breath to the playing of sport or any other form of physical activity such as
going for a walk or having a swim.
In many cases we can make major improvements simply by doing nothing.
Resisting the urge to do something can often demonstrate the unworthiness
of a fear, belief or expectation, and this leads to the development of self-
confidence and self-reliance. This demonstration is made more effective by
looking back on the futility of our past actions. Doing nothing means not
projecting a false image of ourselves or we are likely to develop an obligation to
support it; not harbouring unrealistic expectations concerning other people or
things as this can easily lead to disappointment; not asking for reassurance from
others regarding our appearance or sexual prowess or we will intensify our
personal fears; not seeking reasons for chance events which are beyond our

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control; not making hasty accusations, judgements or impulsive actions without
thinking critically of their repercussions both now and in the future.
We should adopt a positive attitude to criticism and whether we perceive it
as an attack or not the urge to counter attack should be resisted. We should
welcome feedback from others as we could be making changes that have an
impact on relationships that we value. It is particularly positive feedback that
serves to encourage our efforts even more. We should listen to constructive
criticism carefully as we cannot always see things objectively when our
emotions are involved. We have become so used to rationalising our actions that
the objective criticism of others is invaluable in pointing this out. The moment
we respond to criticism with anger or counter-criticism we lose all sense of
objectivity and fair play. Sometimes all it takes to lose a confidant or destroy a
relationship is one unfair judgement. On the other hand some people will be
determined to resist our efforts to change and might even attempt to induce us to
continue with our old habits out of spite. People who put us down or who try to
saddle us with guilt should be avoided whenever possible. They might see our
new-found independence as a change to the status quo or even as a direct threat
to their authority over us. We should strive to keep the company of energetic and
positive people whom we feel comfortable with.
Every time we manage to successfully control a desire or channel an impulse
into a more acceptable response we reinforce the belief that underlies it and take
one step closer towards habituating ourselves to it. Change takes time and if we
suffer a minor setback we should avoid self-recrimination. Any failings along
the way should rather serve to strengthen our resolve to do better in future. As
we learn more about our emotions and desires and the beliefs or fears that
underlie them, it will become easier for us to identify the same behaviours in
others and to empathise with and understand them. Seeing others behaving or
speaking in the same way that we used to can also help reinforce our
commitment to change, while the visual picture of someone behaving
unreasonably makes it far easier to abhor the same habits in ourselves.
We should achieve the changes we desire by breaking them down into small
easily-achievable steps. The success we have with every small step we take will

© 1997 Allan Sztab 342

give us a sense of accomplishment and a boost to our self-confidence. We
should always reserve the right to change our minds at any time and this will
make it easier to take well calculated risks. Many of the things we secretly
desire mightn't bring us the pleasure we anticipated and vice versa, and only our
experience of them will tell. However, if we don't try we will never know.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 343

Language is a tool of the emotions and is capable of conveying these emotions
to others. The tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures that accompany
words are all stimuli that need to be interpreted. Emotive words like good,
bad, ugly, obstinate, foolhardy, stupid and bigot, convey the opinions,
judgements, attitudes and beliefs of the speaker which may or may not be
true. Besides expressing the attitudes and beliefs of the speaker the use of
emotive words conveys little factual information so we should remove them
from all arguments in order to enable us to concentrate purely on the facts. This
is largely the reason that scientific language has been stripped of all emotive
words. Emotive words complicate our language and might make it more difficult
for others to understand us and for us to understand them. As with any
repetitious behaviour the more we use emotive words the more we reinforce
the belief that underlies them until they become an integral part of our
thinking - they become habits of thought. By listening carefully to what we
say and how we say it we can uncover many of our own beliefs and prejudices
and learn how to detect them in the speech of others.
The language we use conveys information about us. Often this information is
available merely by our identification with a particular group or by the company
we keep and is the primary reason why it makes sense to find out as much as
possible about an audience or person before addressing them. If our beliefs are
known we may be told things that we are sure to agree with. This has the
tendency to lull us into a false sense of security and makes us vulnerable to
accepting suggestions or conclusions without critically appraising them. When
we reveal to others the things that we desire or fear, we have revealed our
weaknesses and this makes it far easier for someone to manipulate, hurt or
irritate us. This is the reason that the people closest to us are often the one's who
hurt us most. If our desires are known they make us vulnerable to accepting the
first suggestion that might satisfy them. This can be used dishonestly by
someone who will suggest a course of action that might not be the best
alternative available to us.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 344
Because emotive words are able to evoke emotions in others they are commonly
used by politicians and marketers whose prime objective is to persuade. They
succeed by offering us specific rewards that are geared towards satisfying our
desires. When it comes to elections politicians will promise different rewards to
different interest groups based on whatever they believe will be most desired by
them. If a politician addresses businessmen they might offer them tax incentives
or import protection, but when addressing the needy will offer them increased
welfare - two promises which are very likely contradictory. What makes it
particularly easy to detect contradictions in the speech of politicians is that they
always attempt to do everything for everyone. Sometimes they might even
attempt to make such contradictory statements in the same sentence or speech.
Not surprisingly their actions are often contradictory and they seldom admit to
their errors or inconsistencies. Of course what politicians are gambling on is the
poor memories of voters and when their promises are not carried out it is of
course too late. By the time the next elections arrive they will find other desires
with which to fade old memories and raise false hopes of future rewards once
again.1 Like all marketing one of the most effective means of persuasion is
repetition, and politicians often repeat statements in a confident and insistent
manner. Repetition is usually accompanied by slight variation. For example, 'We
will fight for our country. We will fight for our homes. We will fight for our
loved one's. We will fight for what we have worked for'. What is actually being
said is 'We will fight for the things we value' yet virtually the same words are
repeated four times and could easily be extended. Naturally this is something
politicians are highly proficient at doing and they can sometimes ramble on for
hours without saying much at all. By learning some of the tricks and traps of
language we can prevent being persuaded by faulty arguments which are
presented to us either innocently or with ill intent.
Any argument is only as good as the reasons we have to support it and this in
turn depends on the information and theories we have available at any given
time. For any argument to be sound the statements or premises that support it
must provide good grounds for the conclusion, be logically acceptable and

Refer to the promise of rewards and manipulation in section 63.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 345
include all the relevant information. Because the rational mind is a tool of the
emotions we can easily be led to distort reality and accept fallacious reasoning if
we have a strong desire to believe that something is true. This is nothing other
than wishful thinking. We may also accept fallacious reasoning if our
knowledge on a particular subject is exceeded, presented in a complex fashion,
or confused with a valid reasoning process. Sometimes we might accept a false
principle, such as a roulette player who believes that if a number comes up more
than once in a row the probability of it coming up again is diminished - the fact
is that the probability never changes irrespective of how many times it has come
up before.
Generally speaking, most of the errors made in arguments breach one or more of
these requirements, so it is useful to keep them in mind when confronted with an
argument as the following simple examples illustrate:
1. 'If you see a falling star you will have good luck. Mr A saw a falling star.
Therefore Mr A will have good luck'. There is no evidence that seeing a falling
star will bring anyone luck so the first premise or statement is unacceptable - it
is based purely on wishful thinking or speculation.
2. 'If it rains then the garden will get wet. The garden is wet. Therefore it rained'.
From the premises alone we cannot validly deduce that it rained, because the
gardener might have watered it. This is therefore a logically invalid deduction
because the premise only says 'If it rains then the garden will get wet' and not 'If
the garden is wet then it rained'.
3. 'Mr A prayed and was cured. Mr B, C, & D prayed and were cured. Therefore
if anyone prays they will be cured'. The argument is false because it doesn't
mention the fact that Mr F, G and H prayed and weren't cured.
Wishful thinking is nothing other than imagination or speculation driven by
a desire. Whenever strong desires are combined with our ability to imagine, we
can easily be persuaded or convinced we are facing non-existent or imaginary
things, threats, or situations.1 Example 1 above is typical of wishful thinking
albeit of the harmless variety. All the fallacies, tricks and traps that are
mentioned here apply equally well to ourselves as they do to others. Whenever
Refer to the error of imaginary and false causes in section 58 and manipulation in
section 63.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 346
we are in an emotional state we are most vulnerable and under these conditions
it pays to avoid making any hasty decisions or judgements.
The most important requirement for convincing language is that of
consistency which is a natural incentive that is part of our genetic inheritance
program. Anything that is inconsistent or contradicts what we have come to
expect represents a potential threat to our survival. We feel comfortable with the
old and familiar and the desire for consistency is so strong that in order to make
things familiar many people submit to the temptation of holding mystical and
superstitious beliefs. On a personal level, the more people think they know us,
the more familiar we seem to them to be. From the information we have
provided them they determine whether they can trust us or not and develop an
expectation of how we are to behave, especially if we have promised them
something or made any particular claims.1 Any statements or actions we make
that are inconsistent or contradict any other statements or actions we have
made could make people nervous and distrustful and in the majority of
cases this mistrust is justified. It is terribly difficult to defend inconsistent
statements and/or actions. When we deal with other people our reputation for
being a person of integrity is of deep concern to us. Being known as someone
who is inconsistent is tantamount to being known as someone who cannot be
trusted, someone who lacks integrity. It is therefore highly beneficial to us to be
as consistent and non-contradictory as possible. As with any behaviour the more
we practice it the more we enforce it until it becomes habituated. It is common
for many people to continue giving tips for service in areas, cities, or countries
they are unlikely ever to frequent again. They do so not because they have given
it any thought but out of habit, and this has the benefit of ensuring consistent
behaviour. It is important to note that as with obligations, we reserve the right
to change our minds but if we do so we should inform or make it clear to all
those concerned that we have done so, even if this means admitting that we were
mistaken over a particular issue or action. When we do so we avoid being
accused of inconsistency. Being aware of inconsistencies in our speech and/or

Refer to the consistency incentive in section 7 and the re-negotiation of obligations we
have accepted that are too onerous.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 347
actions makes us more likely to spot the inconsistencies and contradictions in
the language and actions of others.
One of the most common fallacies in argumentation is that of generalisations.
We saw earlier that scientific observations lead to a special class of
generalisations called inductions. However, they have the social consensus of
the scientific community and their results may be detected by the senses.1 A
common fallacy in language is to make generalisations based on limited
observations and these usually take the form 'All x's are liars' or 'All x's are
murderers' where x usually represents a nation, race, religious or other group of
people. Without valid scientific research such statements are meaningless and
impossible to prove.2 What they do is to give us a distorted sense of reality
which is reinforced when we repeat them in our speech. What is usually
meant is 'Some x's are liars' or 'Some x's are murderers' which is far closer to the
truth. Whenever we hear an argument with the word 'all' we should replace it
with the word 'some'. Sometimes the word 'All' is missing from the statement
but is implied in it - for example, 'Men are x', 'Women are x', where x represents
some alleged characteristic. In these cases we should add the word 'some'.
Defending a generalisation is difficult and should be avoided because all it
takes to disprove it is one instance or counter example where it doesn't apply.
Some people try to get around a counter example by claiming that it is 'the
exception which proves the rule'. However, any exception proves the
generalisation is false and not true.
Reasoning with generalisations often appears to be logically correct but the
conclusions drawn from them are false. They usually take the form:
All A's are B,
C is a B,
therefore, C is an A.
For example,
All cats are four-legged animals,
A dog is a four-legged animal,
Refer to socially consistent sensation and the truth in section 32 and the methods of
science in section 48.
Refer to appendix F for researchers jumping to unfounded conclusions.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 348
therefore, a dog is a cat.
The fact that two members of a class or group are equal in some respects doesn't
allow us to conclude that they are equal in all respects. This applies equally to
human beings.1 It is also a fallacy to claim that because each member of a class
share something in common that this applies to the entire class or group as a
whole eg 'each part of this machine is light, therefore the machine is light'. It is
also incorrect to claim that because a class or group of things has a certain
property that this property is shared by its individual members eg 'this is a large
car so the engine is large'.
The temptation to make this error is made even more acute when people use
analogies to explain things. Despite the usefulness of analogies in helping
people to visualise things in terms they can understand, they can be used to
arrive at faulty conclusions. When broken down analogies usually take the form:
B is like C.
B has properties x and y.
C has properties x, y, and z.
Therefore B has property z as well.
Sometimes analogies are expressed in the form of a metaphor such as 'he is as
cold as ice'. If other conclusions are drawn based on this metaphor, such as 'if
things get too hot he melts' then it becomes an argument from analogy. The
best way to refute an inappropriate analogy is to introduce an instance where it
breaks down, or to replace it with another analogy with which it may become
easily apparent that it is inappropriate.
Words can be used ambiguously in order for us to intentionally draw faulty
conclusions based on them. An advertisement making the claim that 'sugar is
an essential material for the body' should actually be using the word 'glucose'. It
would be false to conclude that table sugar was essential to a persons diet.
Words can also be used with two different meanings in the same argument. For
example, the name of a country like 'South Africa' could be used to blur the
distinction between a government that is in power today and one that was in
power during the era of racial discrimination - two very different governments.
Refer to Aristotles views on equality in section 40.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 349
We should ask precisely who is meant when somebody says 'in the interests of
X' or 'X did this'. We should ask for clarification when people refer to things like
'high temperatures' or 'whiter than white'. Definitions are useful specifically
when people choose to see things in absolute or extreme terms such as
something that is either black or white and make the assumption that there are
no shades in-between. In section 32 we saw this assumption being made in
the religious development of the idea of forces of light and dark, good and
evil. This assumption is still very common and a person is often regarded as
being against something if they aren't for it. By thinking in absolute terms or of
opposites such as 'either you are sane or insane' the odds are weighted so heavily
in one direction that it seems there is no choice left when in reality there are
many states in-between the two extremes. For example, countries of the world
cannot be divided into communist or non-communist, pro-west or anti-west, as
there may be some that are neutral. We must always consider that there are
more possibilities than those presented. Often complicated issues are reduced
to slogans that are simple and easy to use but the danger is that the beliefs
underlying them are easily accepted by an uncritical audience. During times of
war it might be necessary to portray the enemy as 'totally evil' to motivate
soldiers on the battlefield. However, in everyday life slogans lead people to
making faulty judgements and encourage prejudicial thinking.
While it is always possible to define things more accurately we should avoid the
temptation to make or be lured into making precise definitions because
sometimes this is very difficult.1 It isn't possible to determine how many hairs
constitutes a beard. In some cases it is even alleged that because there is no
precise dividing line there is no difference. However, because it isn't known how
many hairs constitute a beard doesn't mean there is no difference between a
beard and a face with 40 hairs on it. We should use words as they are used with
their normal everyday meanings and be on the alert for words that are used out
of their context.2 Statements such as 'intelligence is a state of mind' are out of
context as 'intelligence' is a quality of mind and not a 'state' of mind. An entire
statement can be meaningless until it is placed in the correct context. For
Refer to the failure of Socrates to make any definition of right or wrong.
Refer to section 54 for errors of context.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 350
example the question 'what town is closest?' is meaningless without being placed
in the context of running out of gasoline while on a trip. Whenever we fail to ask
for clarification, definitions, or explanations we allow speakers to gain an unfair
advantage over us and in many cases this is their sole objective. When arguing it
is important to remain emotionally detached or else we could be tempted by our
opponent to react to anger with anger, or to make concessions by appealing to
our sense of pity or sympathy.
A common trick is to deny the falsity of a statement by changing the
meaning of a word. For example, Mr A argues that all Christians are well-
behaved and Mr B then points out a number of people who are Christian but
maltreat their spouse and children. Mr A might then attempt to avoid the
refutation be claiming that they aren't 'really Christians'.
Another common trick is that of circular reasoning which is also known as
begging the question. Here the attempt is made to assume something that is
being disputed in order to prove it. For example, 'God exists because it says so
in the Bible' is circular reasoning because a 'Bible' is by definition a religious
scripture that is in turn inspired by God. In a debate over abortion someone who
argues that abortion is wrong because a baby shouldn't be made to suffer from
the actions of its mother, is using circular reasoning because the word baby
assumes that a foetus is already a human being and this is often an important
issue in an abortion dispute.
A person might attempt to extend or modify our argument in order to make
it more difficult to defend. For example an opponent might say 'you ought
logically to say that all x's are y if you claim that some x's are y'. They might
even attempt to modify their position in order to make it easier to defend and in
both cases such tricks should be averted simply by repeating our original
position or their original position as the case might be.
A person can ask for a 'Yes/No' reply to a question that follows an assertion with
the result that either reply confirms the assertion. For example, 'Lowering
interest rates will reduce inflation - is this good?' makes a 'Yes' or 'No' reply
confirm or deny the assertion that 'Lowering interest rates will reduce inflation'.
If the assertion isn't correct then the only remedy is to deny the accuracy of the
© 1997 Allan Sztab 351
assertion. Similarly, two or more questions can be asked in one statement and
the remedy is to reply to each question individually.
A person might attempt to present their position as being a compromise
between two extremes in order to take advantage of the tendency people
have to accept compromise. However, any point of view can be made to appear
as a compromise and the best way to avoid it is to show that our position can
also be regarded as a compromise. An opponent might try to weaken an
argument by pointing out that some greater evil is more worthy of attention than
what is being discussed. However, all this means is that the greater evil should
also be addressed. Similar to this is the false reasoning that two wrongs make a
right and often opponents will attempt to justify their position or actions based
on what other people have done before them. President Nixon attempted to
justify illegal phone tapping based on the activities of prior administrations.
Wartime atrocities are often justified on this basis but with every case the fact
remains that two wrongs only make a greater wrong.
A person might attempt to create a diversion in order to evade answering a
question. A company spokesman might reply to the allegation that his factory is
responsible for polluting a particular river by replying that 'this isn't so because
we have the most modern state of the art anti-pollution equipment'. The reply
might be true but is irrelevant to the particular accusation. A person could also
fasten onto some irrelevant detail in an argument such as the date of a particular
event and attempt to give the impression of victory by refuting or correcting it.
Another common diversion is known as 'playing the man and not the ball'.
Here an opponent might attempt to reduce the argument to one concerning the
credentials or qualifications of the debater. This might however be valid if it is
of relevance to the argument, as credentials can be faked. A similar diversion is
known as the straw man and here a person concentrates their attack on
their weakest opponent or on their opponents weakest arguments in order
to make their case look good. The straw man diversion often goes hand in hand
with the suppression of evidence and an opponent will almost always suppress
information that might be harmful to their argument or cause. It is thus always
useful to know where their interest lies so that one can read between the lines.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 352

Figures are often given to support claims but when they are added up don't make
any sense. A disk drive manufacturer might claim that the mean time to failure
of their products is 150,000 hours. Dividing this by an average of eight hours in
a working day and taking two hundred and twenty working days in a year would
give an estimated life expectancy of eighty-five years, which is hardly likely,
and not surprisingly the majority of them aren't prepared to guarantee their
products for longer than one or two years. Figures like these clearly fail to
mention a host of other conditions which have a bearing on the claim. Many
manufacturers attempt to justify higher prices for their products by claiming that
they are 'produced under hygienic conditions' or 'contain vital minerals and
vitamins' when these claims apply equally well to their competitors products. A
common trick is for a person to make an appeal to an authority and we might
be tempted to accept a statement because of the reputation of such an authority.
However, experts often disagree amongst themselves as the various
psychological theories in appendix A illustrates. It is often assumed that because
a person is an authority in one field their opinion in another unrelated field is
equally authoritative while it is at best no more than an intelligent opinion.
Sometimes the statements of a well-respected authority or politician are
accepted purely out of a sense of loyalty and even in the face of evidence to the
contrary. Supporters of president Nixon accepted his innocence in the Watergate
affair despite mounting evidence against him.
People are also tempted to accept a statement based purely on their
identification with a particular group and this fallacy is known as
provincialism. For example, many Americans refused to believe that American
forces could commit atrocities in Vietnam because 'our boys would never do
such things'. Relying on figures of authority for guidance is a means of avoiding
personal responsibility and an obstacle to individual freedom.
Statistics are figures which when quoted seem authoritative but can be
manipulated to show almost anything1 . A common fallacy is that of making
faulty comparisons. For example, 'more people have died of x disease today than
at any other time in history' could probably be faulty because while the numbers

Refer to the eugenic research of Galton in appendix F.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 353
might indeed show an increase it ignores the fact that the population has
increased substantially over that period - it would clearly be more appropriate to
make use of percentages. Another faulty comparison is made by concluding that
because a specific percentage of people using product x develop cancer or some
other disease that this percentage applies to all people when no proper
comparison with people who don't use the product have been made. Statistics
can also be biased because of using population samples that are not
indicative of the general population or are so small that they don't permit
any conclusions to be made. Sometimes statistics are quoted which give the
impression of accuracy. For example, the statement 'there have been 14,523 wars
during the last 5,000 years' suggests that some historian has compiled an
accurate list of every war over that period which is not true - at best many
figures quoted are estimates which could vary substantially depending on who is
making them. Sometimes statistics induce us to derive the incorrect conclusions.
If a report claimed that the yen had depreciated from $1= 85¥ to $1=125¥ we
might calculate the depreciation as (85-125)/85 = -40/85 = -47% and if we did
so we would be incorrect. In order to calculate the depreciation we must first
calculate how many dollars to a yen at both periods. This would be 1/85 =
0.0118 to 1/125 = 0.0080 and the depreciation (.0118 - .0080)/.0018 =-
0.0038/0.0018 = 2.11%! (This example courtesy of the Economist(19-26 April
When people quote statistics they are prone to drawing false conclusions
such as that of attributing false causes1 .. Besides the many superstitions that
have had a terrific impact on society there are others which lead to prejudicial
thinking, as the following example illustrates: Based on IQ tests during World
Wars I and II black servicemen scored lower than white servicemen and this was
considered proof that whites are naturally more intelligent than blacks - in other
words that there was a causal correlation between a persons race and their
intelligence. However, IQ tests ignore many other factors such as environmental
conditions which could easily account for the difference. At the same time other
evidence of the tests was suppressed that could equally have led to the

Refer to the error of imaginary and false causes in section 58.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 354
conclusion that both blacks and whites from northern states were more
intelligent than whites from southern states. Today both Jewish and Asian people
score higher than most Americans on average but no hasty conclusions are being
Finally we come to simple hypocrisy or special pleading where someone will
use an argument against an opponent in one set of circumstances but not in
others. For example, pay rises for civil servants might be resisted by politicians
on the basis that they are inflationary but not when their own pay rises are in
question. The best way of getting around this is to get the person to agree to the
general principle and then apply it to an instance they have ignored.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 355

Appendix F
The Myths Of Racial Prejudice And The Eugenic Experiment
The notion of equality and the cry for freedom probably commenced with the
exploitation of conquered peoples at the hands of their conquerors. Might is
right and laws were imposed and enforced by the strong over the weak. On a
more basic level all morality is imposed by the strong over the weak whether the
strong are called parents or conquerors, society or government. Since the earliest
of times the notion or desire to be treated equally grew in almost direct
proportion to the maltreatment suffered at the hands of conquerors. However,
the desire for equal treatment fades in comparison with the desire to believe
that one nation or class is superior to another. This belief imparts to an
individual or nation an immediate boost to their self-esteem and it is only
the weak and those with a lack of self-esteem who desire this most of all.
Human competition for environmental resources is inevitable and the
willingness and ability to kill is natural. People will always agree with experts
in the same way that soldiers blindly accept orders to commit atrocities. A very
important role that all animals must learn early on is to be able to identify who is
friend and who is foe. Not being able to do so would make survival impossible.
With many animals the identification mechanisms are fixed within their genetic
inheritance program but humans have to learn how to do so from their parents
and society. It is with identity that we find the source of most small and large-
scale conflicts because without being able to identify who the enemy is no large
scale conflicts or wars could ever take place.1 It stands to reason that all
attempts to promote or maintain group identities are perhaps unwittingly
laying the foundations for conflict. Mystical, superstitious and political leaders
are at the forefront of these attempts at fashioning and maintaining specific
group identities based on things like religious belief, geographic location,
language and race. However, it isn't possible to define with any degree of
precision exactly who should be included or excluded from membership of any
specific group because the definitions are for the most part arbitrary and the
exceptions so great and diverse that they don't hold up to close scrutiny.

Refer to section 11 and the failure to identify with other humans that removes a
fundamental natural barrier towards killing our own kind.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 356
It is obvious that some people will be naturally stronger or swifter of foot than
others and their natural abilities would be praised by their family or tribe
especially if this talent was in some way beneficial to them. A strong man would
be better able to protect and a fast runner better able to hunt. Today we can trace
the desire to do things progressively better to the consistency incentive, and
when combined with competition for natural resources it is easy to perceive how
claims to superiority might first have arisen. From the evidence we have it is
clear that some tribes or races always considered themselves superior to others
and the Hindu Vedas and its interpretation, the Upanishads, were the
precursors for the caste system in India which is by far the longest living
and most institutionalised form of discrimination known1 .
Possibly the greatest tragedy of human history commenced with Plato's
interpretation of history as the struggle between different classes. This gave way
to the conclusion that some people were superior to others. According to him it
was the intellectual class of philosophers who were top of the heap and provided
they received the correct education (indoctrination) they would be able to
obtain by intuition a knowledge of the perfect 'Ideas'.2 The thought occurred to
Plato that if one could breed superior strains of wheat and other crops by
selecting and breeding those specimens which displayed sought-after qualities,
then the same could be done with humans. He advocated the selective breeding
of people according to strict marriage laws, and Plato could probably lay claim
to being the first eugenicist. Combined with racial prejudice the popularity of his
ideas had its climax in the concentration camps and gas ovens of Auschwitz and
Buchenwald less than sixty years ago.
Aristotle was the first intellectual supporter off the mark. He declared 'that
some men are by nature free, and others slaves; and for the latter, slavery is
fitting as well as just. The slave is totally devoid of any faculty of reasoning'.
According to him democracy was based on the assumption that because people
are equal in some respects they are equal in all respects. Similarly, oligarchy or
the rule by few is based on the assumption that because people are different in

Unlike their zeal to dismantle Apartheid humanitarians are silent on this issue. Makes one
think doesn't it?
Refer to Plato in section 39.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 357
some respects they are different in all respects. It is 'the desire of equality, when
men think they are equal to others who have more than themselves' that causes
revolutionary feelings - an acute and accurate observation that would later be
echoed by Karl Marx whose impractical and failed communistic solution was to
avoid class conflict by abolishing all classes in favour of one class - the working
Democracy was resisted by both Plato and Aristotle because democracy
permitted everyone's opinion to be considered, and they were of the opinion
that some knew better than others. The attempt by supporters of democracy to
equate democracy with 'a fair share for all' gives its enemies a stick to beat it
with because the attempt to redistribute the income of society to make everyone
equal is unfair and can only be done at the expense of anothers freedom.
Equality is an enemy of personal freedom and is the prime reason that such
attempts must be resisted. It was no doubt the misery of the conquered, or those
who were poor, that motivated men like Rousseau to declare that before settled
societies, wars and conquest, all people were free and equal before nature -
errors on both counts and the French Revolution made it abundantly clear that
unlimited freedom leads not to freedom but to barbarism. The ongoing
democratic attempt to make people equal is one of the greatest dangers
facing democracy and is of particular concern to those who appreciate all
the other freedoms that only a free society can provide.

The idea that people do inherit characteristics from their parents is in principle
correct but jumping from a principle to its practical implementation without
proper scientific research and evidence is almost destined to a tragic ending. The
practical side of eugenics is a lot more complex than even scientists today would
care to admit. That it is correct in principle is clear because the susceptibility to
certain diseases is without doubt hereditary and many medical tests are
conducted in safety and with success in order to avoid them. However, when
sound principles are mixed with social prejudices and wishful thinking,
great harm can be done not only to valid and much needed genetic research,
but to efforts to eliminate prejudice itself.
Modern eugenics commenced with the publication in 1865 of a series of articles
by Francis Galton which was an attempt to 'investigate the origins of 'natural

© 1997 Allan Sztab 358

ability''. He was influenced by Darwin's theory of evolution but it was the
heredity of mental characteristics that most interested him. He held the belief
that success was hereditary and in a fashion similar to that of Plato he arrived at
the conclusion that the professional classes were endowed with 'ability and civic
virtue'. He believed it was possible to eliminate the barbarism in people and
accelerate the growth in quality of the human race. He began research into the
infant science of statistics and tried to deduce or arrive at conclusions based on
the correlations (or relationships) between data. This method is widely used by
scientists and researchers today but it has the unfortunate tendency of
encouraging the reaching of false conclusions - especially if the conclusion is
one that a researcher consciously or subconsciously desires.1 For example,
because there is a positive correlation between the amount of food a person eats
and their weight doesn't mean that people who eat a lot of food will be fat
because there are lots of other factors involved such as a persons metabolic rate,
the type of food consumed, and the amount and quality of exercise they perform.
Positive correlations often lead scientists or those working with statistics, to
make wide-sweeping generalisations and to reach unfounded conclusions based
on them.2
It was largely through Galton's work that the idea that genius or talent was
hereditary gained ground. Over the years this idea attracted many supporters and
research sponsors who probably believed that they possessed these highly
esteemed qualities. Many unsubstantiated stories abounded and were no doubt
believed by many. There were myths that sex during pregnancy sowed the seeds
of sensuality in the unborn; that divorcees were more prone to mental disease
and sterility; and that 'the characteristics of offspring were shaped by the
experiences of the pregnant mother' so that a beautiful child could be produced
if a pregnant mother looked for a long time at the picture of a beautiful child!
Social workers and other professionals who believed in the heredity of
social deficiency soon came to believe that only government intervention
could assist them. Eugenicists were particularly concerned with the marriage of
the feebleminded, insane and especially those with venereal diseases. Since the
Refer to the error of imaginary and false causes in section 58.
Refer to tricks and traps of language in appendix E.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 359
eighteen eighties officials at state institutions had been calling for a policy of
sterilisation, and they found support in prominent politicians such as Theodore
Roosevelt in America and Winston Churchill in Britain. Eugenics support came
from all quarters of the political spectrum and this soon gave way to the
Platonistic idea that certain couplings between people should be encouraged and
others discouraged.
'Britain passed no sweeping law preventing the marriage of the mentally
deficient, but in America, by 1914, some thirty states had enacted new
marriage laws or amended old one's. Three-quarters of the statutes declared
voidable the marriages of idiots and of the insane, and the rest restricted
marriage among the unfit of various types, including the feebleminded and
persons afflicted with venereal disease'. The grounds for most of them were
supposedly based on the inability of these people to bind themselves
contractually but in the state of Indiana a statute was passed in 1905 that
'forbade the marriage of the mentally deficient, persons having a
'transmissible disease', and habitual drunkards; required a health certificate
of all persons released from institutions, and declared void all marriages
contracted in another state in an effort to avoid the Indiana law... By the
nineteen twenties, many states had enacted measures forcing a delay
between licence application and the actual wedding, a policy that
eugenicists advocated in the interest of discouraging hasty and ill-
considered unions.' (Kevles)
Criticism was also levelled against Capitalism on the grounds that it attracted
cheap immigrant labourers who were below the standards of society, a view
which fomented prejudice against immigrants. In 1924 the Immigration Act was
passed to 'keep America for Americans' and the number of immigrants from
European countries was limited according to their proportion in the 1890 census.
Welfare spending came under the spotlight and the view gained ground that
welfare given to the children of incapable adults bred only more
'unemployables, degenerates, and physical and mental weaklings'. It was even
believed by many that the cause of prostitution was due to an 'innate eroticism'
and not economic circumstances. It is possible that many people were confused

© 1997 Allan Sztab 360

between the effects of sterilisation and castration and erroneously believed that a
decline in the sex drive would follow from sterilisation. By 1917 sixteen states
in America had sterilisation laws that enabled officials to sterilise 'habitual
or confirmed criminals, or persons guilty of some particular offence like
rape', while the scope of that of Iowa in 1911 was so wide that it included
drug addicts and epileptics.
In the late 1920's 'Fitter family' contests were held at fairs across America
and Britain and contestants had to undergo medical examinations and
intelligence tests. At one such fair a chart declared: 'Unfit human traits such
as feeblemindedness, epilepsy, criminality, insanity, alcoholism, pauperism
and many others run in families and are inherited in exactly the same way
as color in guinea pigs'... [an] American Eugenics Society exhibit included
a board which... revealed with flashing lights that every fifteen seconds a
hundred dollars of your money went for the care of persons with bad
heredity, that every forty-eight seconds a mentally deficient person was
born in the United States, and that only every seven and a half minutes did
the United States enjoy the birth of a 'high grade person.. who will have
ability to do creative work and be fit for leadership'... An exhibit placard
asked, 'How long are we Americans to be so careful for the pedigree of our
pigs and chickens and cattle - and then leave the ancestry of our children
to chance or to 'blind' sentiment?' (Kevles)

It wasn't long before immoral behaviour, or behaviour that was different to

that considered normal, was considered evidence of feeblemindedness and
featured explicitly in the grounds for the sterilisation laws themselves. Soon
the prophetic fear was expressed that any class of person could be targeted
indiscriminately and it was no coincidence that most advocates of
sterilisation were always keen to apply it to those of a different class to their
own. A study concluded in 1933 even reached the conclusion that the poor
were a defective biological class that was perpetuated by marriage.
German legislators thanked their American counterparts for showing them the
way, and their first sterilisation laws passed in 1933 made sterilisation
compulsory for all people who had hereditary disabilities which included
physical handicaps that were considered grossly offensive, feeblemindedness,

© 1997 Allan Sztab 361

epilepsy, blindness and drug or alcohol addiction. With typical German
enthusiasm and efficiency it took only three years for the German authorities to
sterilise 'some two hundred and twenty-five thousand people, almost ten times
the number so treated in the previous thirty years in America'. Against this
background of Platonic ideas, hasty legislation based on dubious scientific
research, political fervour, and a large dose of popular prejudice, it is perhaps
easier to comprehend how German eugenic law finally came to merge with Nazi
racial policy. In 1935 marriages between Germans and people of different
race groups were prohibited and in 1939 euthanasia was advocated for all
mentally diseased or disabled which included all Jewish people irrespective
of their mental status.
The horrors of the Nazi holocaust are always capable of being perpetrated as
long as racial prejudice and hatred is bred. The classification of the world into
four different geographical groups of people was first made by Carolus Linnaeus
in 1758 and each group was described according to their colour, humour and
posture but without any ranking of superiority. Being a European it was clear
that Linnaeus considered Europeans superior, followed by Asians and
Americans, and then Africans. It was Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in 1781
whose classifications were most influential. Although based on those of
Linnaeus he changed the focus to one of superiority based on his idea of
superior beauty. According to him the most beautiful were the light-skinned
people found along the southern slopes of the Caucasian mountain range in
Russia and hence the name Caucasian. Based on this personal assessment he
decided the human species originated in this same area and then spread to other
parts of the world. The other groups were seen as Platonic degeneration's or
movements away from this idea of beauty, and were designated as Mongolian,
Ethiopian, American and Malay. He stressed that racial differences were due to
adaptations to differences in climate and habitat.
The fact is that 94 percent of the genetic variation between people is random. In
addition, the variation isn't necessarily based on racial divisions. This means that
a patient who needed an organ transplant could find an even better tissue match
with a person from a different racial group. More importantly, there is more

© 1997 Allan Sztab 362

genetic variation between people of the same racial group than there is between
different racial groups themselves. It is only because a persons colour is so
visible that it has become identified with racial prejudice. However, humans
possess a mechanism which regulates the amount of pigment that is produced so
as to enable us to adapt should environmental conditions require it. It has even
been suggested that we have changed colour many times during our
evolutionary development.
'The Negritos of the islands of Luzon and Mindanao in the Philippines, for
instance, superficially resemble other dark-skinned groups in Africa and
Australia. Yet their overall genetic affinities turn out to be far stronger to
the lighter-skinned Asian peoples who surround them. This suggests that
the Negritos ancestors may once have been lighter and that they
independently evolved features that are somewhat reminiscent of black
Africans, or that the Asian peoples surrounding them were also once much
darker and evolved toward lighter skin - or possibly both.' (Discover - The
Science of Race - November 1994)
There are many adaptations to environmental conditions which are known.
40 percent of Africans in malaria regions carry the sickle-cell gene which
makes them more resistant to the disease. This gene is also common in
certain areas of the Arabian Peninsula and southern India. If people were
classified according to variations of this gene Swedes would be grouped
with the South African Xhosa but not with Italians or Greeks. After the
agricultural revolution people began to drink milk long after being weaned
and the human body adapted by retaining the lactase enzyme necessary to
digest it. If we classified humans by this gene Swedes would be paired with
the West African Fulani, while most other African 'blacks' would be paired
with the Japanese and American Indians.
Due to the climate body shapes vary as well. Eskimos have compact bodies and
relatively short arms and legs which reduces the surface area of skin and thereby
minimises heat loss. In hot dry areas the problem is how to maximise heat loss
and East Africa is host to some of the tallest and most long-limbed people in the

© 1997 Allan Sztab 363

world such as the Dinka's. Despite this there is still variation within any group of
people. Body shape has also evolved due to sexual selection.
'Women with very large buttocks are a turn-on, or at least acceptable, to
Khoisan (Bushmen) and Andaman men but look freakish to many men
from other parts of the world. Bearded and hairy men readily find mates in
Europe but fare worse in Southeast Asia. The geographic variation of these
traits, however, is as arbitrary as the geographic variation in the colour of a
lion's mane.' (Discover - The Science of Race - November 1994)
Some genetic characteristics and body variations such as blood groups and
fingerprints have no known function at all. Fingerprints vary geographically and
the fingerprints of a European tend to have many loops while the aboriginal
Australians have many whorls. If we classified people by fingerprints most
Europeans and black Africans would form one race, Jews and some
Indonesians another, and aboriginal Australians yet another.
It used to be thought that skin, hair and eye-colour varied to protect against the
sun but this theory doesn't stand up to scrutiny because some people who live in
similar climates have different colour skins such as the African blacks and the
Southeast Asians. Believers who cling to this theory have proposed about seven
other functions of skin colour such as protection against rickets, frostbite, folic
acid deficiency, beryllium poisoning, over-heating and over-cooling. It seems
that skin, eye and hair colour are better accounted for in terms of the aesthetic
role they play in the selection of sexual partners.
Based on all the scientific evidence produced thus far it is clear that there is
no scientific basis for racial classification.
It is known that the chemical serotonin plays an important role in regulating
sleep, sexual behaviour, appetite and impulsiveness. Although many factors can
influence serotonin levels a persons race isn't one of them. The levels are 20-30
percent lower in men than they are in women. Low levels are thought to be
related to violence but it isn't known exactly how. Research offers the prospect
of identifying individuals who may be predisposed towards violent behaviour
and the social conditions and stimuli that could trigger these responses.
However, researchers are finding it very difficult to conduct investigations
© 1997 Allan Sztab 364
because of a fear that such investigations will be racially biased. So sensitive are
people to racial slurs that the tendency to be misunderstood is very high and has
in fact permeated the entire effort to do so. Of course there are very good
reasons why such research should be feared especially if one looks back on early
eugenic research and legislation. However, the errors of the past should be
utilised not to prevent further important research but towards the creation of
sufficient safeguards to ensure that research continues without their repetition.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 365

Appendix G
The Danger Of Surrendering to Popular Opinion
A persons system of beliefs guides their interpretation or perception of events.
As a result it isn't possible for anyone to be an impartial observer. We tend to see
in things precisely what we want to see in them and the overriding tendency is to
judge people and attribute characteristics to them which conforms to our system
of beliefs. Accepting the opinions of anyone, be it a doctor, plumber, or street
sweeper, without subjecting them to critical appraisal, is to surrender our
freedom to them and we do so at our own risk. 1 This willingness to sacrifice our
freedom is dangerous and because the role of change in our lives is so important
we can learn a lot be taking an example from those professionals who are
experts in the field of human behaviour - the psychiatrists, psychotherapists and
the many different counsellors who offer guidance on things ranging from
marriage and child rearing to that of sex and bereavement. (We may also draw
numerous other examples from our own experiences, those of our family and
friends, the countless number of law suits that are reported and the multitude of
others that don't even get to court.)
Every therapist has undertaken some training and many of them believe that
they have the knowledge not only to identify what problem a person has but also
how to cure it. Some therapists even believe it is possible to accurately identify
the course of events that are responsible for their clients problems. These are
very big assumptions that are based on the acceptance of one or more theories.
In Appendix A we covered briefly the main thrust of some of these theories and
in section six and seven we noted that because of the difficulty involved in
scientifically measuring the human drives it isn't possible to test them against
rival theories with the result that there isn't sufficient research to confirm any
one of them.
In many cases therapists deal with people who are classified as insane or
mentally disturbed and some of them have even been committed to mental
hospitals or rehabilitation centres against their will. It is in these institutions that
patients are sometimes repeatedly beaten, subjected to shock therapy,
emotionally manipulated and administered powerful mind-altering drugs.
Refer to section 62 for the obstacles to our freedom.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 366
However, there is no definition or standard by which to judge sanity or
insanity and it is possible to be classified as mentally insane merely by
behaving differently to others. One person who behaves irregularly might
be called a lunatic while a group of people behaving in the same way would
perhaps be accepted as belonging to a sane community or sect. This is one
of the dangers of alienation we dealt with in section sixty four. We also saw
in Appendix F how sterilisation legislation was passed based on prejudicial and
grossly uninformed definitions of what it meant to be feebleminded, immoral,
or socially deficient. Sadly we also know the horrors that this kind of thinking or
rationalisation can lead to.1 However, the imposition onto others of the
standards, prejudices and moral evaluations that have been adopted by
another person, group of people, class of people, or political party, is also
inherent in the very concept of advice itself.
In most cases a person visits a therapist or councillor because they have a
personal crisis or behavioural problem that they feel unable to deal with on their
own. A person might have a phobia they wish to treat or be suffering from
distress caused by a career dilemma, divorce, death, illness, unemployment,
personal violation, rape, suicidal feelings, drug addiction, or a general
unhappiness with a life that might appear to them to be without meaning, to
mention only a few. In severe cases a person might be traumatised by events and
realisations that threaten their entire system of beliefs or frame of orientation.
Unable to cope on their own they feel isolated and are exceptionally vulnerable.
It is in this state of mind that they surrender themselves to a therapist who is
now in a position of great power and, like all forms of power, it can be either
used or abused and here is only one example of the scope and scale with which
it can happen irrespective of the good intentions of the therapist.
It isn't widely known but Freud once subscribed to what is known as the
seduction theory. According to him many of his patients were suffering as a
result of having been sexually violated when they were young. The term
seduction itself is misleading as it gives the false impression that the person

Refer to the danger and difficulty of making definitions in appendix E, the attempt to
bridge the gap between what is and what ought to be in section 49 and the horrors that
such faulty thinking are capable of in appendix F.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 367
seduced is a willing partner when in the vast majority of cases this isn't so. The
term rape is a far better description, because the sexual abuse and aggression
was sometimes so violent that the children often died. According to Freud it was
young girls who were most at risk from their fathers, brothers and other family
members. Not only that, the results of this type of violent sexual abuse had been
available in forensic reports since the early eighteen hundreds and Freud had
even surmised that people had chosen not to see it. His suspicions were
confirmed shortly after he delivered a ground-breaking paper to his colleagues at
the 'Society for Psychiatry and Neurology in Vienna' in 1896 which dealt with
the reality of child rape and abuse. His colleagues were faced with a truth that
was so hard to bear and so contrary to their present frame of orientation that they
felt threatened by it and for very good reason - research indicated that these
violent abuses were common even amongst educated, prominent and puritanical
families. To gain some idea of the horror that must have accompanied the mere
entertainment of the idea of an otherwise distinguished father violently raping
his own three year old daughter, we should remember that at that time people
were still dealing with severe feelings of shame and guilt for masturbating. Not
only that, it also went against the commonly-held belief of the time that mental
illness was hereditary and not influenced by family, environmental or social
conditions. So it isn't surprising that they rejected his paper and began to
ostracise him. In section 48 we noted how Copernicus had to circulate his
revolutionary model of the planetary system for fear of being branded a heretic
by the Church. Such examples are common in history and alienation is often the
price that is paid for independent thinking.
Well it was no different for Freud. However, for someone who had chosen
psychiatry as a career, largely because it was an area that was relatively new and
one in which he was sure he could make a name for himself, the pressure was
too much to bear: 'I felt as though I was despised and universally shunned'. So
he rejected his theory and in its place these sexual abuses became nothing
other than childhood 'fantasies'. According to Freuds new theory it was during
the genital stage of their development that girls fantasised about possessing their
fathers and boys fantasised about possessing their mothers and this he called the

© 1997 Allan Sztab 368

Oedipus Complex.1 However, fantasising about something and actually doing it
are worlds apart yet Freud now claimed that it made no difference to the
psychological effects on a person whether they had fantasised or really
experienced the trauma, something which even a person who has a rudimentary
dose of common sense would find hard to believe. Yet this is the very heart of
the psychoanalytic therapy that people might obtain if they should frequent
someone who is practising it.
Lets say that a woman or man who has been traumatised like this in their
childhood and is now suffering. Perhaps they are being subjected to social
pressures to get married and settle down but they cannot do so because they find
they are unable to have sexual contact with other people. The memories of these
repressed events might break to the surface of consciousness as a result of such
pressures or could even be flushed out by a therapist. However, a psychoanalyst
might tell them that they have fabricated the entire event. This carries with it the
implication that not only are they totally divorced from reality but are solely
responsible for their own suffering! This has distinctive parallels with the
concept of sin and the guilt feelings that are sure to accompany it.2 In addition
to the personal trauma and further damage such therapy imposes on those who
receive it, psychoanalysis has delayed efforts to prevent child abuse by almost a
century. The cost of this in terms of human suffering and misery is inestimable.
Interestingly, it was a pupil and friend of Freuds by the name of Sandor Ferenczi
who first broke with Freud and accepted that the sexual traumas of children
were indeed real. He went further and explained that the adult aggressor doesn't
accept any guilt or responsibility and should the child dare to say anything the
parent would admonish them for dreaming or being crazy. In certain cases this
denial was even encouraged by the other parent. Because the adult aggressor
refuses to accept any guilt the child accepts it and comes to identify sex with
violence which could later develop into severe depression or a perverted
sexuality. Ferenczi also identified these childhood traumas with the well-noted
phenomena of accelerated emotional and intellectual development of children in

Refer to Freuds theory in appendix A1.
Refer to the Christian doctrine of Paul in section 30 and the role of guilt in manipulation
in section 63.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 369
an effort to protect themselves. However, like Freuds original theory, the paper
in which he outlined his theory received a hostile reception from his colleagues
and his death shortly afterwards led to successful attempts by them to prevent
the scope of its circulation.
It is thus of vital importance when going to a therapist, or seeking advice from
anyone, to critically appraise it because the advice or judgement that is given is
made by someone who has been trained to see things from a particular
perspective or point of view. Their opinion, irrespective of who they are and
what they know, might be right but it also might be wrong. This applies to
advice given by anybody and especially from people who are paid to give it.
We have seen above the great harm that can be done with good intentions and
without malice. We should also be aware that many therapists regard
themselves as superior to their clients and adopt the role of teacher and moral
legislator. Many of them cannot resist abusing this power they have over their
clients who come to them in a most vulnerable state and who surrender
themselves to their control.
It isn't possible for anyone to be an impartial observer and any information
we have must first be interpreted.1 We have likes and dislikes and are bound
to find these in other people no matter how hard we might try not to. No
therapist can develop an unrestrained emotion of genuine care, empathy and
love towards their paying clientele who they see on a professional basis for
perhaps only one hour a week. Therapists, like the large majority of people who
express an interest in psychology, may do so to solve their own problems, and
we may feel encouraged or more kindly disposed towards advice that comes
from someone who has experienced similar problems. However, people learn
different lessons from their experiences. Lets take the example of a therapist
who has themselves suffered from emotional abuse at the hands of their parents.
Such a person might easily learn to be abusive as this is what they have
experienced during their formative years. On the other hand, another therapist
with a similar background might have learnt to empathise with abusive people
who have suffered like themselves. It is therefore possible for someone who is

Refer to the myth of impartial observation in section 47.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 370
experiencing abuse in a marriage or family situation to be given advice that
might vary considerably from one therapist to another.
We see a similar divergence of approach in many spheres of our lives. Many
people have struggled to gain membership of professional associations that have
managed to unfairly restrict the performance of certain activities such as those
relating to auditing, medicine, law and engineering. The reason they do so is
simple - the smaller the number of people who can practice these activities the
greater their earnings potential. Limitations to the number of members is mostly
achieved by the imposition of lengthy periods of apprenticeship, unnecessarily
high academic admission and final examination requirements. Most people who
have managed to obtain membership will sit back and reap the rewards. They
might attempt to make membership requirements even more stringent or actively
promote legislation that would bring them further rewards. There will be very
few of these practitioners who would see the unfairness of the system they form
part of and be prepared to promote reforms which might be to their financial
disadvantage. The fact is that those who are diligent and hard working seldom
require the unfair advantages of these associations. It is the same with political
parties and freedom fighters who are quick to decry the harsh methods
used by a government that is in power but continue to utilise the same
methods when they form a government.1

Refer to the ruling elite in section 67.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 371
Appendix H
The danger of over-population
To forecast where we are now headed it isn't necessary to look into a crystal ball
or even to have much talent as a science fiction writer. As we have already done
so many times before we can turn to history. In the August 1995 edition of
Discover magazine Professor Jared Diamond tells the interesting story of Easter
Island. This isolated island of about 160 square kilometres posed a puzzle to
early European explorers because they found the remains of gigantic statues that
were carved out of various stones which were carried from other parts of the
island. There were over 900 statues with some weighing up to 270 tons. They
could only have been built with considerable manpower and materials, yet
despite being extremely fertile the island was desolate and had only a small
Scientists finally managed, after painstaking research, to piece together the
Islands history. The inhabitants were Polynesian and first arrived on the island
about 400AD. That they managed to cross the oceans was demonstrated by the
primitive raft-sailing experiments of Thor Heyerdahl's 'Kon-Tiki' voyage. From
archaeological sites it was estimated that the population density ranged from
between 7,000 to 20,000 which is well within the restraints imposed by the
fertility of the island and the living room available. Statue-building experiments
with islanders led to the conclusion that only a few hundred people could have
built, transported and erected a statue within a year provided they had sufficient
timber for rollers and ropes. However, there were no suitable trees available in
the quantities required.
A column of sediment was bored out of a swamp by the scientists to reveal layer
upon layer of material that had been deposited over the life of the island. Each
layer was radiocarbon-dated and pollen analysts were able to identify the pollen
grains in each layer with that from known species of plants. From the bones in
ancient garbage heaps they were also able to determine the kinds of food the
islanders ate in different periods. From these scientific studies a chilling picture

© 1997 Allan Sztab 372

Thirty thousand years before human settlers arrived the island was covered with
a subtropical forest of trees, bushes, ferns and grasses. When the first settlers
arrived from Polynesia with a few rats as stowaways they found a fertile island
with plenty food, space and timber for building materials. There was the hauhau
tree from which rope can be made and an abundance of large palm trees. In the
next few centuries they prospered and multiplied. They then began to construct
statues and, as with the pyramids in ancient Egypt, the homes of Hollywood
moguls and the rush by businessmen to build the highest building, each new
statue was an attempt to outdo the previous one in size and splendour. (A
headline in a March 1996 edition of the Guardian read 'The giddy height of
humiliation' and went on to explain that 'In an act of economic and cultural
humiliation, Malaysia has ousted the US as home of the world's tallest
The palm trees on Easter Island were ideal for making canoes and rollers as they
had no branches. From the garbage heaps of archaeological sites it was
ascertained that one third of their diet during the period 900 - 1300 consisted of
porpoises which could only be harpooned offshore from big canoes. The
islanders also ate birds such as albatross, petrels and frigates. The lack of
predators on the island suggested that it was a popular breeding site for a rich
variety of sea birds. In addition, they also ate land birds such as parrots and
According to the pollen records the forests were already being destroyed and
replaced by grasses by the year 800 to supply the growing demand for fuel,
houses, canoes and rollers for statues. The demand simply exceeded the rate at
which the forests could regenerate. The forests slowly began to disappear and by
the fifteenth century they were totally destroyed. The destruction was due not
only to logging but to the rats which devoured seeds and prevented them from
germinating. It is estimated that statue construction peaked during the period
1200 - 1500 and during this same period the porpoise bones disappeared from
the garbage sites along with those of the islands animals. Deforestation was also
accompanied by declining crop yields due to soil erosion. Without big canoes to

© 1997 Allan Sztab 373

catch porpoises they replaced their meat supply with chicken and then human
remains appeared in garbage sites.
'The overall picture is among the most extreme examples of forest
destruction anywhere in the world: the whole forest gone, and most of its
tree species extinct... The colonies of more than half of the seabird species
breeding on Easter or on its offshore islets were wiped out... Intensified
chicken production and cannibalism replaced only part of all those lost
foods. Preserved statuettes with sunken cheeks and visible ribs suggest that
people were starving... Surviving islanders described to early European
visitors how local chaos replaced central government and a warrior class
took over from the hereditary chiefs... By around 1700 the population
began to crash toward between one-quarter and one-tenth of its former
number. People took to living in caves for protection against their
It is hard not to draw parallels between Easter Island and the global situation
facing us now except that, with the potential for destruction that small and cheap
armaments are capable of, the horrors that might unfold cannot even be
imagined. And cannibalism isn't far removed from modern civilisation. In recent
clashes between rival gangs in Liberia dead bodies were cut open and the hearts
cooked in palm oil and eaten in the belief that the power of the deceased would
be absorbed. In South Africa young children are murdered from time to time so
specific body parts such as the genitals and eyes may be used to create magic
potions or muti. These are the same kind of irrational beliefs that are driving
many animals such as the rhinoceros to extinction. During the last 80 years the
human population has grown from 1.6 to 8 billion and is set to double early in
the next century, even if draconian population control measures were
implemented today. On our present course most of the earths resources of fish,
tropical rain forests and soil will be depleted - we too, have nowhere else to go.
Big businessmen no longer have roots or loyalties to any particular
neighbourhood or even country as they become increasingly mobile. Clashes
between big business and environmental groups are now the norm with the all

© 1997 Allan Sztab 374

too familiar and repetitive rallying cry in support of destruction being the
provision of jobs.
'Every day newspapers report details of famished countries - Afghanistan,
Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Zaire -
where people have appropriated the wealth or where central government is
yielding to local gangs of thugs. With the risk of nuclear war receding, the
threat of ending with a bang no longer has a chance of galvanising us to
halt our course.'
Ever since Malthus drew the world's attention to over-population more than a
century ago the mere ability to fill bellies was seen as a victory over his
warnings. Today even this ability is becoming strained but the danger is for the
most part still being ignored, despite the exponentially increasing population
growth; the inability of governments world-wide to provide even basic housing,
sanitation and health care for its people; the rapidly increasing levels of both
violent crime and corruption amongst politicians and white collar criminals; the
decline in quality of life for all but the wealthy; the increase of unemployment
in the face of an internationally decreasing job market; the increasing
inability of governments to resist local gangs of thugs; and the ever dwindling
supply of natural resources. Economic growth, which is regarded as a cure for
all ills, is doomed to failure simply because there are limits to resources. Cutting
the population has the real potential to double or treble real incomes while
simultaneously increasing the quality of life and preserving natures bounty.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 375

References to accompany the detailed bibliography
Part One
Chapter One
In section 2 the statistics on the weight of the brain in different species is found
on page 48 of 'The Pleasures of Philosophy' by Will Durant.
Chapters one to eight of 'The Making Of Memory' by Stephen Rose contains
loads of interesting information on the workings of memory without too many
technical details. The quote concerning the typography of memory in section 2
may be found on page 202; the quote dealing with the brain and meaning on
page 91; the process of habituation and sensitisation is discussed on pages 170-
The elegant quote in section 2 on the difference between brain and mind comes
from 'The Myth of the Machine' by Lewis Mumford and can be found on page
27. The book also traces in considerable length the evolution of language
depicted in section 3 and transports one back to the early days of human
The technical particulars relating to the evolution of the human brain may be
found on page 119 of 'A Criminal History Of Mankind' by Collin Wilson.
The theory of love as the merging of identities can be found on pages 84 to 87 of
'The Road Less Travelled' by M. Scott Peck.

Chapters Two and Three

The story of the aircraft survivors comes from the book 'Alive' by Piers Paul
Read and is also available on video.
The source for the role of the natural incentives in human motivation comes
from 'Human Motivation' by David McClelland. For a detailed discussion of the
various incentives refer to chapter 5, and for the formation of character concerns
refer to chapters 7 to 9. For the evidence that pleasure is often followed by pain
and vice versa see page 113; for the limited amount of basic emotions see page
119; for the presence of hormones in anger-aggression and also the possibility of
a link to pleasure see page 151; for the ability of the emotions to bypass the
thinking part of the brain see page 155; for the Asch experiment see page 163;
© 1997 Allan Sztab 376
for the interaction of incentives see page 165; for power oriented persons and
their choice of occupation and friends see pages 282 to 285; for the quote
regarding Nixon see page 318; for the test on justifying actions after shocking
someone see page 487; and for the quote concerning the cultural influences on
power concerns see page 597.
The story relating to pilots attempting to please passengers can be found on
pages 65-66 of 'Our Own Worst Enemy' by Norman F. Dixon. The concern for
approval displayed by the ill-fated British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
is outlined on pages 98-101; the quote from Millgram may be found on page
112; the dangers of boredom and the story about the DC10 airliner can be found
on page 217.
The quote on the short cuts taken by the brain during visual processing comes
from a special issue of the Discover magazine of June 1993 titled 'The Mystery
of Sense'.
The famous quote by N. Tinbergen can be found in his article 'On War and
Peace in Animals and Man' in Science, Vol 160, page 1412.
The quote on the artistic flair we have to stay with the familiar is from aphorism
192 of the book 'Beyond Good And Evil' by Friedrich Nietzsche and may be
found on page 115. All of Nietzsche's books are essential reading. They are easy
to read, highly enjoyable and as Nietzsche rightfully claimed, 'say in ten lines
what others cannot even say in an entire book'.

Part Two
Chapter Four and Five
The story concerning the mummies in the Chinese museum comes from an
article in the Schools Project section of the You Magazine of 9 June 1994.
The quote concerning the dimorphism of apes and early man comes from an
article in the Science and Technology section of The Economist of 23rd April
The quote concerning the spreading of genetic material comes from an article in
the Science and Technology section of The Economist of 13th April 1991.
For a detailed discussion of the rise, fall and role of women in ancient society
see the 'Goddess Mother of Living Nature' by Adele Getty. The quote
© 1997 Allan Sztab 377
concerning goddesses may be found on page 12; for the quote concerning the
role of men in conception see pages 15 to 16.
The quote on cannibalism in Liberia is from an article by Philip van Niekerk in
the Weekly Mail & Guardian of 25 April 1996.
For a detailed discussion of various cultures, customs and taboos see 'Man in the
Primitive World' by E.A Hoebel. For marriage and sexual relations see chapter
16; for the quote about Cleopatra see page 289; for the quote concerning the
practice of marrying the wife or husband of a deceased brother or sister see page
295; for a detailed discussion of communal and private property see chapter 25;
for the regulation of combat amongst certain Australian aborigines see pages
For the role of climatic changes in the transition from an existence as nomadic
wanderers to that in settled communities see the book 'Cannibals and Kings' by
Marvin Harris. For a detailed discussion of the transition and ancient methods of
population control see chapters 1 to 3; for the possible advantages of matrilineal
lineages for warfare and hunting see page 69; for the evidence of societies where
the value of power and prestige exists in what a person could give away see
pages 80-81;
The ritual cycle of pig feast, war and peace of the Maring tribe may be found in
'Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches', also by Marvin Harris. Further details may be
found in the chapter 'Primitive War'. The author also explores myths such as
those behind the 'sacred cow' of India and the taboo on pork. The quote
concerning warfare and the environment may be found on page 67.
The history of settled communities and the continuous cycle of incursions by
nomadic warriors is well portrayed in 'The Rise Of The West' by William H.
McNeill. The book provides a large scale picture of human development that
includes the influence of weapons technology on the ability and effectiveness of
waging warfare throughout the centuries. For the diffusion of human
populations see page 5; for the role of geography in the formation and stability
of central governments see page 41; for the development of ancient Greek
civilisation, democracy, and the leading role of the phalanx see pages 188-205;
and for the breakdown of the 'concert of princess' in ancient China see page 228.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 378
Chapter Six
For the history of ancient Egypt see 'The Dawn of Human Consciousness' by
James Henry Breastred. For the code of Hammurapi which dispensed justice
according to the social class of the litigants see page 13; for the development of
the notion of a judgement after death see page 21; for the role of the sun god in
human affairs see pages 23-28; for the notion of a persons resurrection after
death and the reconstitution of their soul see pages 47-50; for the ancient yet
unlearnt lesson that not even well-paid officials are guaranteed to be impartial
see the story of the Eloquent Peasant which starts on page 183; for the
Admonitions of Ipuwer see pages 195-196; for details of the industry that grew
out of the belief in an afterlife see pages 235-241 of the chapter titled the
'Growth Of Magic'; for a detailed description of the judgement process see pages
255-257; for a list of actions considered sins see pages 257-258; for the priestly
corruption of afterlife rituals see pages 263-266; the elegant quote 'Monotheism
was but imperialism in religion' and details of the first religious revolution can
be found on page 275; the Egyptian and Persian influences on the Old Testament
is detailed in the chapter 'Sources of our Moral Heritage' and the quote
concerning the Book of Proverbs may be found on page 371.
For a detailed history and comparative discussion of religious belief see 'Man
and his Destiny in the Great Religions' by S.G.F Brandon.
Chapter Seven
For a detailed criticism of Plato see 'The Open Society And Its Enemies' by K.R.
Popper, Volume I. This book and its companion Volume II are highly
recommended. The quote on the influence of Plato on education may be found
on page 136 and the quote concerning his political program may be found on
page 137. The description of the theory of the Inquisition as purely Platonic may
be found on page 24 of Volume II.
For a detailed examination of the history of philosophy see 'From Socrates To
Sartre' by Samuel Enoch Stumpf. The integrity and ease of comprehension with
which such highly complex subject matter is rendered is unrivalled. The quote
attributed to Aristotle concerning slavery may be found on page 104 and that
concerning the cause of revolutionary feelings on page 105.
© 1997 Allan Sztab 379
The quote in section 42 from The Cynic commences on page 68 of 'Political
Philosophy, a history of the search for order' by James L. Wiser.
Part Three
Chapter Eight, Nine and Ten
The quote in section 50 from the Baron d'Holbach may be found on page 239 of
'Political Philosophy, a history of the search for order' by James L. Wiser. The
quote from Rousseau may be found on page 263.
For a detailed criticism of Hegel see 'The Open Society And Its Enemies' by
K.R. Popper, Volume II. For Hegel as the father of modern totalitarianism see
page 22; for the quote from Schopenhauer about a dishonest guardian see page
77; for the quote concerning the fallibility of science see pages 374 and 375.
For the quote on Hegel concerning Being and Nothing see pages 331-332 of
'From Socrates To Sartre' by Samuel Enoch Stumpf. The quote from
Schopenhauer about the tragedy of life can be found on page 350.
The introductory quote for section 54 is from aphorism number 109 of 'The Gay
Science' by Friedrich Nietzsche.
For a full discussion on the body-mind problem see chapter three of 'The
Pleasures of Philosophy' by Will Durant titled 'Matter, Life and Mind'. The quote
from Mark Twain may be found on page 48 while the quote concerning the
importance of glandular secretions can be found on page 49.
The introductory quote for section 55 is aphorism number 492 of 'The Will to
Power' by Friedrich Nietzsche.
'Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies' is aphorism number
483 of 'Human All Too Human' by Friedrich Nietzsche.
The quote that introduces section 56 may be found on page 30 of the book 'If
You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!' by Sheldon Kopp.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 380

Part Four
Chapter eleven
For the great influence on behaviour of hormones see page 602 of 'Human
Motivation' by David McClelland.
The opening quote to section 57 is from aphorism 107 of 'Daybreak' by
Friedrich Nietzsche.
The quote 'the best laid plans of mice and men are often thwarted and leave us
nothing but grief and pain for promised joy' is by Robert Burns.
The quote on the desire to augment a belief in one's power is from 'Human all
too Human' in the section 'The Wanderer And His Shadow' aphorism 181 by
Friedrich Nietzsche. The introductory paragraph from section 58 on the error of
Freedom of Will is an interpretation, extract and rewording of aphorism 99. The
quote concerning the killing of things that cause us displeasure is from aphorism
The quote regarding the law of talio as an advance for society may be found on
page 44 of 'Society and its Criminals' by Paul Reiwald.
The quote on tracing something unknown back to something that is familiar is
from the section 'The Four Great Errors' from 'Twilight of the Idols / The Anti-
Christ', by Friedrich Nietzsche. The opening paragraph of section 62 is taken
from section 54 of 'The Anti-Christ'. The quote in section 63 concerning the
requirement for sins may be found in section 26.
In section 60 the information relating to the forms of distributing income in
primitive societies is from the chapter 'Potlatch' in the book 'Cows, Pigs, Wars
and Witches' by Marvin Harris.
Chapter Twelve
The opening quote for chapter 12 may be found on page 187 of 'Untimely
Meditations' by Friedrich Nietzsche.
The opening quote from section 66 may be found on page 55 of 'Twilight of the
Idols / The Anti-Christ', by Friedrich Nietzsche.
The quote concerning the virtue of selfishness is from aphorism number 21 of
'The Gay Science' by Friedrich Nietzsche.

© 1997 Allan Sztab 381

The fear of the French and their construction of the Maginot Line in World War
II is recounted in chapter four and the quote may be found on page 45 of 'Our
Own Worst Enemy' by Norman F. Dixon.
The quotes from 'The Rise and Fall of Elites' by Vilfredo Pareto may be found
on pages 59 and 60 respectively.
The quote on Voltaire's preference for monarchy and on the noise that clouds
election issues may be found on pages 293 and 295 of 'The Pleasures of
Philosophy' by Will Durant.
The quote from Nietzsche on not having too few desires is aphorism 337 titled
'Danger in renunciation' and may be found on page 290 of 'Human All Too
The paraphrase from Milton and Rose Friedman about the suggested rewording
of the Amercian Constitution can be found on pages 354-355 of 'Free to
Appendix B3
The quote concerning the many interpretations of Buddha is from 'Man and his
Destiny in the Great Religions' by G.W.F. Brandon and may be found on page

© 1997 Allan Sztab 382

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© 1997 Allan Sztab 387

Aborigines Appearance cont. Behaviour
conflict resolution, S19 illusion, desire, belief mechanism, S5
Absolute Plato's perfect world of association, pain or
truth - the Sophists, S37 Ideas, S39 discomfort, S6
truth – Socrates, S38 and reason, S58 dispositions, concerns,
power, S39 Aristotle desires, S10
truth – Science, S48 metaphysics, essences, social interpretations, sin,
truth – Descartes, S50 change as progress, taboo, S13
Abstract concepts potential or fate, S40 radical change, S17
language, S3 stationary earth, S48 modification, S66
Achievement logic, S50 Being
variety incentive, S7 Asceticism and Non-Being, S51
strong concerns, S10 escaping desires, S51 Belief
Adam and Eve and power, S55 psychology, fear, reason,
myth, snake, S14 and sin, S63 distortions of reality, S11
punishment, S27 and pleasure, S66 and superstition, S14
original sin, S30 and enlightenment, B2 truth & opinion, S32
Adler, Alfred and Buddhism, B3 uncertainty & fear, S63
dominant drive, S7 controlling desires, D change & fear, S64
theory, A2 Associations threat of change - theory of
Adrenaline language, S3 Kelly, A8
chemical rewards, S7 behaviour, S6 Maslows hierarchy of
Affiliation defence mechanisms, S9 needs, A9
sexual incentive, S7 recognition & Beliefs
Affirmative action interpretation, S47 critical appraisal of S65
special interests, S67 and Freuds theory, A1 Bells Theorem
Aggression Assumptions quantum theory, hidden
impact incentive, role of vision, S9 variables, faster than light
identity, S7 customs, S11 communication, S48
role of identity, S8 Zeno's paradoxes, S34 Bentham, Jeremy
power concerns, S10 equality & democracy, S40 pleasure & pain, S52
Agriculture absolute rest, S48 Bhagavad-Gita
history, S16 human nature & morality, Hindu poem, B2
American Constitution politics S49 Body
influence of Locke, S50 logical rules, S50 modifications, superstitions,
Jefferson & happiness, S66 Authority cannibalism, S14
Anarchy fatal flaw, S11 and mind problem,
limits to freedom, S61 authoritarianism - Plato, S39 Descartes, S50
Anaxagoras religion & politics, S45 and mind problem -
body & mind, S35 church vs state, category mistake, S54
Ancient Texts Reformation, S46 Book of Job
Egyptian, Mesopotamian, above the law, S49 origins, scepticism, S24
S12 obstacle to freedom, S62 Old Testament, S27
Old Testament, S26 Avoidance Boredom
Gathas, Avestas, S31 of pain, S8 variety incentive, S7
Upanishads, Vedas, Rig- theory of Skinner, A5 variety concerns, DC10
Veda, B1,B2 and fear, C airliner, S10
Andes Bacon, Francis Brain
drives & power S5 impartial observation, capabilities, S2
Anxiety scientific verification, S47 capacity, growth &
and Freuds theory, A1 Barbarians language, S3
fear & phobias, C and civilisation, S17 tripartite nature, S8
Appearance invasions, S19 source of emotions,
and truth, S32 cycle of conquest, S20 interpretation, recognition
Zenos paradoxes, S34 & bias, S11

© 1997 Allan Sztab 388

Buddha Change cont. Consciousness
similarity to Cynics, S41 Book of Job, influence of internal representation, S2
Buddhism pessimism, S27 memory & recall, S6
notion of trapped soul, S30 Heraclitus, S33 Consistency
philosophy & religion, B3 as evil - Plato, S39 incentive, expectations,
Bushmen as progress - Aristotle, S40 superstition & belief in
lifestyle, S12 and development of major causation, S7
equality, reciprocity & status facing fear, suffering, and language use, E
seeking, S60 happiness, S66 Contact
Camus, Albert religions, B1 approval, fear of rejection,
meaning in life, S56 Character concerns natural incentive, S10
Cannibalism formation & measure, S10 Contradiction
hunger drive, S5 Children truths of reason, S50
superstition, reports S14 education, letters to God, dialectic formula for
Caste sex & drugs, S67 change, opposites, S51
Hinduism, B1 Christianity Control
Catholic rival doctrine of Paul, emotions & stimuli, S7
universal religion, S45 Gospel of Mark, S30 regulating behaviour, gods
church as supreme marriage with politics, will, S14
authority, Protestant missionaries, S45 Copernicus
Reformation, S46 church & state, S46 scientific progress, S48
Catholics Churchill, Winston Corruption
marriage regulations, S13 sterilisation laws, F ancient roots, S22
Cave Civilisation politics, lack of trial &
allegory of Plato, S39 ancient Mesopotamian & error, S49
Censorship Egyptian, S12 Bentham - the people
Platonic roots, S39 first agricultural should rule, S52
Certainty settlements, S16 Cosmopolitanism
beliefs & expectations, S11 Indus, Aryan invaders, B1 Cynics & self-sufficiency,
and religion, S14 Clan freedom from tradition, S41
Old Testament, S27 ancestry myth, S13 Cults
quest for truth, S32 Classes Orphism, S30
relativity & insecurity, S37 administrators, artisans, Gnoticism, Mithraism, S31
Socratic definitions, S38 soldiers and centralised Curiosity
suffering, belief & hope, S44 control, S19 variety incentive, S7
science, quantum physics conflict - Plato, S39 Customs
and probability, S48 Co-operation beliefs, identity, stability,
politics & Hobbes, S49 language, S3 reluctance to change, S11
Descartes & rationalism, Communication Cynics
Hume & uncertainty, S50 between cells, S2 self-sufficiency, freedom
probability & chance, S58 Complexes from tradition, S41
Chamberlain, Neville defence mechanisms, S9 d'Holbach, Baron
concern for approval, S10 and Freuds theory, A1 Philosophes, science &
Chance Concerns reason, S50
determinism, fatalism, S58 character formation, S10 Dalai Lama
Change Conflict Tantric Buddhism, B3
environment & survival, S2 and creative evolution, S51 De Montaigne, Michel
consistency, variety and private ownership, S53 scepticism, fanaticism,
incentive, S7 groups as facilitator, S59 dogmatism, S47
pleasure & pain, degree, S8 Conformity de Saint-Simon
Egypt, drought, S23 and obedience, a fatal socialist, identification of
scepticism, questioning human flaw, S11 social classes, centrally-
established beliefs, Confucianism planned economy, S53
pessimism, new ideas, S24 Confucius, forces of yin &
Jewish experience, S26 yang, B5

© 1997 Allan Sztab 389

Death Disease Empiricism
inactivity, S2 identified with specific principle of verification, S47
dreams, S4 cultural groups, S13 Empiricus, Sextus
necessity for, S9 domestication of animals, S17 scepticism, S42
property ownership, S18 Disorders Energy
Defence mechanisms anorexia, bulimia, S6 materialism, S54
and Freuds theory, A1 Division Enlightenment
rationalisation & denial - two schools of thought, S32 faith in reason, S50
theory of Rogers, A10 units, points, moments, Environment
Definitions Zeno's paradoxes, S34 information, S2
Socrates, general ideas, Dreams source of stimuli,
debating strategy, S38 as a tool, interpretation, interaction, S5
morality, science, language revelations, S4 consistency incentive, S7
trap, S49 Drives limit for emotions, S8
of mentally deficient, G their power, S5 character formation, S10
Democracy acquisition by association, regularities, S11
origin, balance of power, measurement, S6 changes, S12
spread of ideas, S21 Drugs ritual warfare, S19
assumption of equality, S40 chemical reward system, S7 interaction & Murrays'
religion & power,S45 use in war, S11 theory, A4
conditions for, dangers, lack of knowledge & Epic of Gilgamesh
value of freedom, role of freedom of will, S58 quest for immortality, S24
education, S67 non-moral concern, Epicurus
Democritus prejudice, S65 pleasure seeking & pain
atoms & space, materialism, limit to pleasure giving avoidance, S42
idealism, S36 properties, S66 Epistemology
Descartes, Rene evils of prohibition, non- knowledge & materialism,
impartial observer, Cogito moral concerns, government Democritus, S36
ergo sum, S50 ineptitude, children's Equality
Desires education, S67 as an error, Aristotle S40
character formation, S10 Education Locke & natural rights, S50
fear, reason, distortion of and influence of Plato, S39 Error
reality, S11 as a solution to social ills - division into units of space
domineering, obstacle to Rousseau, S50 & moments of time, Zeno's
freedom, S65 freedom & democracy, paradoxes, S34
happiness & pleasure, argumentation, debate, due to ignorance, S38
harmony, S66 specialisation, S67 going beyond senses, S47
Maslows hierarchy of needs Egypt of freedom of will & false
& interactions, A4 afterlife myths, vegetation causes, S58
needs, A9 god Osiris, sun god Re, S22 Eskimos
Determinism Einstein, Albert regulation of sex drive, S13
and causality, S58 dual nature of light, theory equality, reciprocity &
Dewey, John of relativity, theory, S48 status seeking, S60
collective experience, S52 Elephant Essences
Dialectic and memory, S9 Heraclitus, S33
argument, Socrates, S38 Eloquent Peasant Socrates, S38
three-step formula for Egyptian story, S24 Euclidean geometry
change, S51 Emotions see Truth, S50
Dictators language, S3 Eugenics
Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Idi incest taboo, S13 myth of racial purity - Plato,
Amin, Pol Pot, S67 cunning of vanity, S14 S39
Diderot as sinful, love & as cause of heredity, F
Philosophes, science & evil, manipulation, S63 Euphrates river
reason, S50 fear & happiness, S66 first agricultural
Discomfort - see Pain settlements, S16

© 1997 Allan Sztab 390

Evidence Ferenczi, Sandor Galton, Francis
and personality theories, S5 and Freud, G pioneer of eugenics, F
for natural incentives, S7 Fertility Generalisations
from ancient texts, immortality, re-birth, and speech, E
archaeology, S12 vegetation-god, S14 Genetic development
and punishment, S59 Feuerbach, Ludwig program
Evil socialist, belief & poverty, see Responses - fixed, S2
forces or spirits, S31 alienation & history, S53 God
and darkness, S46 First Cause / First Mover agricultural revolution &
harm or pain, S49 proof of Gods existence, S46 attempt to control with
non-followers of Islam, B4 Food sacrifices, S14
Existentialism surplus and population new deities, S17
Aristotelian roots, S40 growth, S17 rulers as appointed
Expectations Forgetting representatives, change of
consistency, S7 defence mechanism, S9 gender, S20
beliefs, suffering & Fourier, Charles afterlife myth, day of
formation of, S10 socialist, communes, S53 judgement, resurrection,
change, S11 Freedom ritual assimilation, Osiris,
disillusionment, media, S64 and conquest, S20 Re, S22
Experience Jewish rebellion, S28 universal god, good & evil
formation of character Plato - censorship, spirits, S31
concerns, S10 authoritarian rule, control of Heraclitus & universal
Failure education, S39 substance, S33
fear of, S10 self-sufficiency, freedom no need for, S43
Fair from tradition, S41 Roman emperors, S45
and equal treatment, as the aim of history, S51 Indra, Agni, Varuna, Shiva,
obligations, S60 and abilities, S58 Vishnu, B1
Faith paradox, limitations, Shang Ti, B5
a requirement for scientific sacrifice for morality, S61 Goddess
belief, S48 uncritical obedience & Kali, B2
logical rules, S50 acceptance of beliefs as of creation, S14
in reason, S65 obstacles, S62 Golden Rule
Fatalism reason and critical categorical imperative, S51
determinism & chance, S58 appraisal, S65 Good
Fate and the individual, S66 parents & society as role
predestination, Islam, B4 role & scope of models of, S10
realising ones potential, S40 government, won at great useful behaviour, S11
Fear cost & given away, S67 ancient notions of, S22
of the unknown, money & Freedom of Will suffering, scepticism, S24
poverty, S11 impartial observation, S47 forces or spirits, S31
recognition & and Schopenhauer, S51 as unified with evil, S33
interpretation, S47 responsibility, forgiving as pleasure, S43, S50
Fear cont. others & ourselves, S66 identified with light, S46
memory of pain as an punishment & systems of as values or preference, S47
obstacle to freedom, government, S67 produced in the mind,
uncertainty & erroneous Freedom of will pleasurable things, S49
belief, S62 errors of reason and the humans naturally good -
change, individual actions over-simplification of Rousseau, S50
and morality, S64 concepts, S58 as a follower of Islam, B4
critical appraisal of Freud, Sigmund Government
behaviour, S65 dream interpretation, S4 origin & protection, S20
of attachment, imaginary learning & association, S6 Plato's authoritarian
things & change, S66 sexual incentive, S7 aristocracy, selection of
Feedback defence mechanisms, S9 leaders, theory of change,
and character formation, S10 seduction theory, G control of education, S39

© 1997 Allan Sztab 391

Government cont. History cont. Illusion cont.
Rousseau & the social Marx - class conflict & of precise definitions as a
contract, S50 alienation of means of basis for truth, S38
Mill & proportional production, S53 and ignorance, S39
representation, democracy, Hobbes, Thomas and abstract concepts, S50
& control of rulers, role as politics, scientific method, God, poverty & injustice,
protector, S52 morality & religion, S49 S53
socialism, centrally Honour explanations, uncertainty,
planned-economy, S53 value, S6 real & apparent world, S58
redistribution of income by Hope of equality & hope, world of
taxation, S60 and manipulation, S63 appearance & ignorance, S63
biased legislation, failure to Hoplites Imagination
provide protection, S65 equality of power & memory, S2
abuse of democracy, democracy, S21 imaginary threats &
corruption, interference, S67 Hormones aggression, S11
Guilt behavioural function, S5 Immortality
source of, S11 and freedom of will, S58 origins, S14
responsibility, punishment Human Rights Pyramids, scepticism, quest
& justice, S59 no such thing - Hume, for, Epic of Gilgamesh, S24
and manipulation, freedom Locke & natural rights, S50 Impact
of will & responsibility, S63 Humanitarianism natural incentive, S7
Habituation morality, vested interests Independence
and language, S3 and redistribution, S61 isolation, alienation, S64
learning, S6 punishment, crime, harm to Information
and moral actions, S61 democracy, S67 collection, nerves, S2
obedience & morality, S62 Humanitarians processing