Monday 24 June 2019

Justice (by William Arkle - section 1)

Another subject to be studied in the light of this theory is one of justice. This is not the sort of justice which is instituted in our systems of law. It is the idea and sense of justice which we relate to ourselves in the circumstances we are born into and the fortune and luck we experience in our lives.

Because the theory indicates that we are already individuals before birth, this individual nature is not sown at random into any situation on earth. It is not fortuitous the way that some are born to good parents and others to bad parents, and this is not some Divine blank spot.

We must clarify our ideas concerning the nature of the working of justice as it affects the structure of our lives and the experiences that come our way.

It must be decided if we are in a purely mechanical system of reciprocal effect, or whether we are in a system which combines both.

The first section of Justice - Chapter 12 from A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle, 1974 p 169. 

Notes: I intend to go through the entirety of this chapter, because it is probably my favourite in Arkle's most concentrated distillation of insights: A Geography of Consciousness.

Arkle begins with the assumption, which I share, that we 'begin as individuals' - that is, when we incarnate in this earthly life, we are already unique individuals - unique souls. Then he observes that each unique soul is born into a different circumstance - time, place, parents, social circumstances etc. Arkle is also assuming that there is a loving creator God, who made this earth and and therefore designed our lives for our ultimate benefit.

He then observes that it is not conceivable that a loving creator God would simply scatter our souls 'at random' into this world without taking any account of the extremely varied circumstances here that soul might land.

And if not randomly, then God must have placed each soul into the specific circumstances in which it was born, and with regard to the likely future development of these circumstances of time, place, parents etc.

To believe otherwise is to assume that there is a Divine blank spot, by which God designs the world with all its variety, and creates our unique selves, but then (at the last moment!) makes zero attempt to match up the soul with the best place for its development...

So, if we believe in a loving creator God; we can infer that we were placed in circumstances that we conducive to our personal needs. These 'needs' being related primarily to our ultimate and eternal development after biological death - not to our needs during this mortal life (which for most people is extremely brief, since many have died in the womb and many others at birth, or shortly after).

Secondly, Arkle sets up another dichotomy concerning justice.

There seem to be two possibilities: one is that we inhabit a 'purely mechanical system of reciprocal effect' in which so-called-justice is simply the playing-out of this causality. Justice would then simply be our temporary and purely-personal feelings about the current and local workings of this deterministic causal system (and indeed these feelings would simply be determined in the same way as everything else).

On the other hand, there might be a system of 'conscious intelligent effect' - in which justice relates to matters such as our personal evaluation of the intentions of conscious beings.

A third possibility is that we inhabit some combination of rigid-mechanical and conscious-intelligent - one system primary and the other secondary - one within the other; or both operating in parallel perhaps.

Arkle's way is not really to 'argue' about which of these is true (a logically-impossible thing, since both are assumptions upon which the validity of any specific argument depends); but to state the possibilities, and invite us to reflect deeply on which we personally really believe; on the basis that primary intuition is the basis of all knowledge.

One who believes in a deterministic system need read no further. One who believes that we are unique souls that were were  'placed' in our circumstances by a loving creator God may then proceed to reflect on the nature of Justice as this chapter continues...


Jared said...

I really like how this post makes me think about God. Not only about that, but about how actions lead to consequences, and I really like that Dr. Charlton not only quoted Arkle, but discussed the writing.
I've been working on the fact that life is something that you have to think about and sometimes discuss, but there seems to be helpful discussion and there seems to be discussion where people are thinking you are just questioning things that shouldn't be questioned. Which is right, they shouldn't be questioned, so there is kind of an educated way to talk about life which I think Dr. Charlton's blog helps with.
I thought it was good how it was recognized in this post that assumptions about how justice functions affect how we think about the world.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jared - Thanks - I'm glad you found it useful.