Cecil’s Law

What killed Cecil Lion?  Was it the weapons used or the power of money and cheapening of life?   

Do legalities make our morals or is it the converse?  How do we balance the morality and immorality of what we want?   Is it based upon what others will tolerate, and is tolerance a moral position?   Aren’t we meant to tolerate the freedom of others to do what is legal, or do we need to wait for the court of public opinion to change the law with protest and unrest – ultimately to apply Cecil’s law, to the wider law – whereby the ethical failures of the law reduce us to the law of the jungle?  


But in what jungle do we frame our laws?  Cecil may not be human, yet his natural nobility makes an ass of any law to legitimate our ignoble exploitations.  And what law of nature gives dominion over the beasts to an animal that is more deadly than the wild?  

Mike Laidler


The science paradox

Is science defined by scientists or is it the other way round?

Scientists proceed by trying to prove their hypotheses wrong and can be certain only when they know they are wrong: ‘ … we make measurements, we make models and we try and give some answers. The key thing to understand is science is never right. It’s the one discipline where you can be absolutely wrong, you can be shown to be wrong, but it’s just the best we can do given our current knowledge – that’s very important.’ (Interview on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme on 16th June with the scientist Brian Cox.)

So is science identifiable as the set of scientists who can never know for sure when they are right – and can those scientists be right in saying: ‘science is never right’? For like the barber who shaves everyone who doesn’t shave himself and therefore can and cannot shave himself, these scientists can and cannot be right.   But there is a deeper paradox at the heart of science, namely science does and doesn’t owe its presence to the work of scientists – being populated and popularised by scientists who do not know whether their current state of knowledge is right, yet who strive assiduously to prove that it is by doing the opposite.

Mike Laidler



Whose heaven?

There is something eternal about the power to exist that cannot be measured against existing possibilities.  There is something special about the existence of sentient being in the midst of an insensible universe.  But can there be a special place in which our personal being is exalted for eternity in a sublime mutuality?  Are we all that similar or is one person’s heaven another’s hell?  Surely something has to give.  We all share in the simple things in life but differ in the cultural expression of our needs, wants, preferences and desires.  So does a candidate have to be compatible with what’s on offer, or is what’s on offer variable to suit?  Can our beliefs take care of the details?  And what about degrees of sophistication?  Will it be a caveman’s heaven or more like an advanced civilisation?  How sophisticated does or doesn’t it need to be?  Sophistication may be imperious to the lesser mortal, so perhaps heaven has its hierarchy to accommodate different types.   And what about those we don’t get on with?  What must we gain and lose in order to qualify?  Where is the common humanity in which all these differences even out?  


It would seem that the main thing we need to loose is our expectation, including our view of ourselves as a fixed person.  There is nothing fixed or complete about us.  Individuality is but a sample of what is possible in the life that we claim as ours; but even that life is bigger than us – our faculties are more than our choosing and we remain incomplete in all things we might have been in a different time and place.  Nor do our beliefs take care of us.  And what about those we love?  Do we love because of love or because of them?   Is love an invention or something bigger than us?  Can we take from love, or is it relative to what we are prepared to give?   Is there anything spiritual in the love of another or one another?  How does love define us if it is not unique to us, and if it is unique to us, how does it define love?  Is its uniqueness merely a construct of the perceived uniqueness of our experiences and of ourselves as having experiences that are unique to us?  And what does it mean to love a thing or an idea?  Perhaps love is the means of surrendering ourselves to the ideal it gives to us – an ideal for which we will forsake all else.  Is that why we talk of the power of love?  


Love is special because it is important and it is important because it is transformative.  And though it may be subject to our inventions and interventions it is hard to think of a better subject.  It is also possible to think of love in its broadest sense, beyond all the things we love, to see it as more than we make of it in the particulars of our lives – a presence that we cannot own – the torment of those who want to manage it on their own terms, who seek possession.  Then the love of self, in all the constructions by which we claim to know ourselves, may be the first hurdle we need to overcome.  For what do we possess of ourselves that we do not acquire?  And does not every acquisition take possession of the owner?  Do we not delimit ourselves by self-definition, by what we take personally?   Perhaps all we are, all the good things, don’t belong to us, rather they are something we partake in, something we cannot personalise in terms of what we want, or to differentiate ourselves from others.  For if life and personal existence are things to share in, then perhaps the personal factor in existence is bigger than all we can make of it individually, personally – yet in the attempt we cannot see anything in it save ourselves – something we may realise as such only by letting go.

Mike Laidler

Forgive us our debts

Money can’t make money of itself, yet that’s just what we have come to expect of it, and to the extent that we have made it happen we have achieved the impossible – but there is a price to pay.

‘Usuary’ gives the impression that we can all be better off so long as we abide by the rules: A lends B some money and expects interest in return – because A could have spent that money on himself. But in a way that is just what A has done because he wants to see his money grow, and he starts living off the expectation of monies due. B is also living off money that is not his, so nobody is living within their means. The whole edifice of expectation is open to collapse, but our attention is diverted in the meantime by the rule of growth – as if money can increase itself indefinitely at no economic cost.

It is apparent that lending money creates growth and incentivises productivity. Industry borrows in order to further its enterprises and everyone benefits from the output. However an increasingly large proportion of that output goes to servicing the money providers and markets where everyone expects returns on their investments. The actual products of industry are the stuff of modern life, we all expect innovations and improvements in the form of cheaper and better products, but the investors want something more – they want improvements in the productivity of money. The output of industry translates into its profitability, but profit alone is no longer seen as enough – those profits need to keep growing – money profitability is now the main stay and industry can diversify into anything that makes money so long as it enables us to make money for money’s sake.

It seems that we expect two things from our labours – one is the product that we have laboured to produce for all the reasons we give to its utility and the other is a financial product expected to generate additional utility by making profit from profit – a profitability that demands of industry an ever-increasing capacity for growth because that’s what the money requires. This demand for profitability has taken a more sinister turn in the financial markets where interest rates, debt liabilities and the ups and downs of trading have become commodities that are expected to make yet more money from money – like a giant wave machine that can harness the natural resources of a financial ocean to replenish is energy.

It seems that with such natural resources waiting to be consumed that our debts will forgive themselves.

Mike Laidler


Proof is the presumption of presumption transcended.

What is proof in a universe that needs nothing of it?

There is no proof of anything without a mind to be convinced.

Objectivity doesn’t come into being until subjectivity comes into being.

Proof proposes to seal the fact of what must be the case on the presumption of what must stand as the evidence.

Every proof is construed of a selection of facts, perceived as if the facts had driven our selections.

There is no proof of an objective reality that does not rely upon a subjective realisation.

We are certain that we are conscious and yet we cannot discern its nature in any preconscious state of nature. Nor can we prove that such preconscious states relate to the fact of consciousness without relying implicitly on the very fact we are trying to establish explicitly in terms of those other facts.
(The consciousness uncertainty principle)

Proof idealises our ideas of reality, as if to elevate them above ourselves.

We offer proofs to the facts in the belief that the facts have offered us the proofs.

Proof reflects what we want to know in the belief that it shows us what we need to know.

No amount of proof proves that only the provable facts are worth knowing.

Our proof of causal relations relies on the assumption that causal relations provide the proofs.

Human agency introduces causal contingencies that no other facts can explain for us.

There is no proof that one fact belongs to another but for the fact that we believe it is so.

A proof gives the impression of having resolved implicitly the most irksome of all questions: What is a fact?

Proof represents the belief that we have dispensed with belief.

Every proof is an index of what is assumed in the understanding and what cannot be understood because of those assumptions.

Science validates its proofs by failed attempts at disproof.

No amount of proof can equate the fact of change to the fact of what was.

What can amount to the proof of subjective existence that is not satisfied by the subject being satisfied.

Every answer is a psychological construct of the psychology built into the question.

Everything we understand about the world is laced with anthropomorphisms because our understandings are anthropic.

Thinking is a fact of existence that cannot be made more real by recognising it as a fact of something else, as if the something else is the source of the thought, proving that our thoughts are not what they seem.

Mike Laidler


Reality is a paradox – the whole that is more than the sum of its parts, the ‘is’ that is greater than the was, the cause in the effect.  


It seems rational to understand how things change by looking to what there was beforehand, but this doesn’t tell us what might happen next.  And when we strip away the reality we know we see another kind of reality beneath so our interest and understanding naturally centre on its discovery.  However, the fact of the difference tends to be read as a sign that the action is really taking place at a primary level – that the familiar world is somewhat ancilliary, that our discovery of the fundamentals has ‘shown us’ the true state of affairs – that change is caused.  


We see change as caused instead of the cause.  Thus we claim to explain the fact of change as caused by something else – by putting it down to discernible causes showing that there is nothing more to it, and by mechanising the process to confirm that the whole is no more than the sum of its parts because there is nothing else to see.  Then we proceed to identify the changed facts with the unchanged facts, by seeing the manifest ‘change’ as a mere detail compared with things in their rudimentary forms.  And, for good measure, the change to complexity is seen as the cause of the thing we need to explain, as affirming that the difference between cause and effect comes down to the change at the level of the cause, revealing causal complexities hitherto unseen.  


Likewise we seek to explain ourselves by referencing our thoughts, intentions and beliefs to their physical causes – to understand our actions in terms of the activities of the brain, as if the consummate properties of one state of reality can be understood in terms of the vacant properties of another – as if everything is actually something else and therefore the fact of change, the one thing we cannot really explain, doesn’t stand apart from what we know of its causes in terms of something else.  So we end up identifying, defining and explaining the nature of change by the activity of its cause; but everything is active and effects instantiate a different kind of activity in addition to the activity of their perceived causes.  Hence change is the true cause, the active cause of causality, the efficacy of the effect.  In fact everything in existence adds up to the inexplicable fact of change instantiating itself, as it was at the beginning of the universe.  


Ultimately, the ‘environmental causes’ of change are merely accompanying factors of change that do not explain its instantiation in terms of things changed or changing any more than they explain those environmental changes, or indeed, the initiation of an environment.  And no amount of environmental feedback can equate to or explain for us the change to cognition and explanation – though this amounts to our best attempt at understanding a potential that defies explanation, an inexplicable potential that is inherent to all things.  For the potential in change cannot be explained incidentally by the properties of things that differ, or by the differing properties of things that remain stable.  

Mike Laidler