Some Desultory Remarks on the Concept of “Universal Person”
This superior being, then, imagines himself a disembodied entity made of pure thought, and accordingly, where he positively defines his identity at all, defines it in terms of ideology. His loyalties and allegiances lie not with other people, but exclusively to the Ideal- namely, Universal Democracy, a very jealous master that doesn’t tolerate the smallest division of loyalty in its acolytes, and demands from them a seemingly total self-deracination:
Powerful…similar to my earlier post about how for the ‘left’, politics is more important then identity.
Universal Person is a nameless and anonymous entity who has no culture and no identity, and therefore subsumes all cultures and all identities in his ineffable mystical body. (Hence, according to Prime Minister Trudeau, Canada has a “pan-cultural heritage” with “no core identity”, an Ur-culture that cannot itself be a culture, in the same way that the mystical Tao, as the font of being, cannot be said to have being or named at all).
In other words, if Universal Person lives in a “multicultural” society that “celebrates diversity” but disdains and rejects his own cultural heritage and traditions, that is because his own beliefs and values, whatever they may be, are emanations of universal pure Reason that transcend all cultural and historical particularity, and can never be reduced to the mere customs and folkways of any particular people.
By ‘superior being’, maybe he is alluding to Nietzsche’s ‘Ubermensch’ concept, which is related to the so-called ‘Randian Hero’. Or a universalist, related to universalism and cosmopolitanism. And related philosophies positivism and scientism, which fall under ‘materialism’.
Or is ‘universal person’ the same as a ‘superior being’? That part is confusing.
Universal Person despises kings as despots not because their power is “absolute”, but precisely because it isn’t, and cannot possibly be; hence the invidious contrast, from roughly the Enlightenment onward, between the “arbitrary will” of the monarch and the “rule of law not men”, which designates the distinction between the local and bounded personal power of a particular man and a boundlessly totalizing universal power administered by Universal Persons who style themselves not as mere mortal men, but as ineffably transcendent pure Law.
Powerful stuff. ‘Divine law’ admits mistake, is provisional, and fallible; anthropic law cannot, is infallible like a mathematical proof but applied to man.
Sovereign power, whether exercised as the personal prerogative of flesh-and-blood men, or by those who claimed to have undergone a mystical transubstantiation of their corporeal being and become pure Law, is always going to involve plenty of inscrutable fiat and discretion involved in it either way- and yet, according to Liberalism only the personal prerogative counts as “arbitrary”. Universal Person cannot exercise “arbitrary” power by definition, since he has no particular will as such. His idiosyncratic wants, desires, tastes, whims, and pet preferences of the moment are categorical imperatives binding on every conceivable individual for all time.
The universal person imparts his power, as justified by a ‘categorical imperatives’ (duty) under the guise of ‘good intentions’. Kant wrote:
Nothing in the world—indeed nothing even beyond the world—can possibly be conceived which could be called good without qualification except a good will.
Related to Deontological ethics:
Kant then argues that the consequences of an act of willing cannot be used to determine that the person has a good will; good consequences could arise by accident from an action that was motivated by a desire to cause harm to an innocent person, and bad consequences could arise from an action that was well-motivated. Instead, he claims, a person has a good will when he ‘acts out of respect for the moral law’. People ‘act out of respect for the moral law’ when they act in some way because they have a duty to do so. So, the only thing that is truly good in itself is a good will, and a good will is only good when the willer chooses to do something because it is that person’s duty, i.e. out of “respect” for the law. He defines respect as “the concept of a worth which thwarts my self-love.”
The ‘duty’ in the Kantian sense is to apply scientism or positivism. Although deontological ethics and consequentialism are contrasted, for the positivist or ‘universal person’, they are melded. There is also the rejection of ‘natural law’ but also the rejection of ‘divine law’. This is related to the naturalistic fallacy:
According to G. E. Moore, “Goodness is a simple, undefinable, non-natural property.” To call goodness “non-natural” does not mean that it is supernatural or divine. It does mean, however, that goodness cannot be reduced to natural properties such as needs, wants or pleasures. Moore also stated that a reduction of ethical properties to a divine command would be the same as stating their naturalness. This would be an example of what he referred to as “the naturalistic fallacy.”
Juridical rights, by definition, are tied to political subjection to Sovereign authority, and the so-called “human rights” touted by Universal Person are no exception to the principle. If everybody enjoys rights by virtue of being human, that is because every human being has also been deemed an a priori citizen of Universal State and therefore subject to its jurisdiction,
The ‘universal man’ may or may not care about ‘human rights’, but it also depends on how you define him (as as ubermensch, a ‘model democratic citizen’, a Randian hero, a positivist, or just a generic do-gooder). The universal man can’t be both a positivist (materialist) and an idealist. The former adheres more to the ‘homo economicus’ model of humanity, which tends to reject charity and the concept of innate human intrinsic worth, because these are hard to quantify economically and or are economically inefficient. Some do-gooders don’t impart their will but rather just go about their personal business trying to ‘do good’. The positivist tends to be more overbearing are impelled to impart their views and values (the so-called ‘militant atheist’ comes to mind). Positivism may also be seen as dehumanizing.
Also, not sure if ‘democracy’ and ‘universal man’ are always mutually inclusive. Economists Bryan Caplad and Tyler Cowen are critical of democracy yet are anti-identitarian. Positivists tend to be critical of democracy and ‘identity’, seeing both as collectivist and possibly irrational, preferring scientific consensus, meritocracy, technocracy, or elitism.
Universal Democracy, a very jealous master that doesn’t tolerate the smallest division of loyalty in its acolytes, and demands from them a seemingly total self-deracination:
But ‘identity’ may also require biological and nationalistic purity and absolutism. The far-left often justify very undemocratic means of imposing their values. Regarding Kant, the demarcation between good and bad comes down to intent, not consequence. Moral absolutism can either work well or very poorly, depending on the values of whomever is in charge. Although rationalism (pure reason, a priori) and empiricism (posteriori, evidence-based) are opposed to each other, Kant advocated a synthesis of both pure reason and empiricism, where reason follows from empirical observations, which seems to be the best approach.
Another problem is that the word ‘democracy’ has two meanings: a set of values and or a system of government. In using the phrase ‘Universal Democracy’, the author may be referring to something different…here is what I found: A Theory of Universal Democracy, by L. Ali Khan:
Democracy is often associated with Western liberal values, such as free markets, individual rights and secularism. Some scholars assert that liberal democracy is the end of history. Disputing such claims, this work presents the concept of Universal Democracy to think beyond the values of Western democracy. A Theory of Universal Democracy empowers cultures and communities across the world to custom design democracy in consonance with their traditional values. For example, the book makes concrete proposals for Muslim countries to democratize their constitutions without accepting Western values and without violating the principles of Islamic law. More importantly, Universal Democracy further develops the idea of Free State, which the author first presented in his previous book, The Extinction of Nation-States. The proposed fusion of Universal Democracy and Free State is designed to revolutionize the classical theory of government and to offer a new paradigm that accommodates both universality and uniqueness.
Individualism is results-orientated and highlights the attributes individual–be it intellectual or financial, whereas ‘identity’ has elements of collectivism. Because democracy, as a political process, is inherently collectivist, individualism opposes it. If given a choice, many would probably choose to be individually successful than less successful but part of a collective, although the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. That’s why people seek socioeconomic advancement (such as by working, striving , going to college, etc.), to differentiate themselves from everyone else and to fight the entropy of mediocrity. A problem with identity is it gives you nothing or little to show for it, whereas individualism at least produces results. From the post Reaction, Pacifism, and Realism, “Happiness and fulfillment comes from ownership of one’s own labor and ingenuity as manifested by something (tangible or not) that one can claim their ‘own’” But ‘identity’ is still necessary for cohesion, for without it you have atomization and anomie. But individualism is what provides the drive to do something.