A Fruitful Exploration of the Core

by Marie Snyder

Maybe there are seeds of potential deep within ourselves, but maybe there’s nothing there but a collection of signals. Regardless the outcome, we need to dig in to see what we can find.

In several classes I took last term, the idea of a core self that’s fluid came through discussions of the postmodernist view of the self. But I’m not convinced we’re still living the pomo life, and I’m not sure we want to be.

Taking liberally from Charles Taylor, and others, it appears that we once had some communal ideals, then flipped from seeking answers from God to proving them with science, then realized some pretty major problems with glorifying any kind of authority and renounced all of them, but now, drawing on the types of films being made and the stories told, it feels like we’re readjusting back to a place with more solid values and truths. I hope so, anyway.

In the pre-modern time, when God was truth and miracles could happen, there was no need for individual identities. We were all divine through our very creation. Modernism reacted against random beliefs with a scientific method that began to be embraced to find the real truths out there. Suddenly individual identity became interesting. What even are we? In 1641 Descartes deduced we have proof that we exist whenever we consider our own existence because something must be there to be thinking about what we are, and we call that something “I”. That was a big deal. Read more »

The oldest injustice

by Emrys Westacott

Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations begins with this claim:

The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually consumes….[1]

In other words, labour is the ultimate source of a society’s wealth. In feudal times it had been common to view land in this way since it was the basis for all agricultural produce, and the 18th century French physiocrats still championed that view. But Smith agreed with John Locke’s observation that a loaf of bread is not just produced by a baker but also, indirectly, by the work of the ploughman, the reaper, the thresher, the miller, the people who trained the oxen, mined iron for the plough, quarried stones for the mill, and so on. In fact, Locke argues,

if we rightly estimate things as they come to our use, and cast up the several expences about them, what in them is purely owing to nature, and what to labour, we shall find, that in most of them ninety-nine hundredths are wholly to be put on the account of labour.[2]

The idea that labour is the ultimate source of a nation’s wealth would seem to bolster the argument that that those who perform the labour should enjoy an appropriate share in the wealth that they create. This idea was certainly alive at the time of the English Revolution in the mid 17th century. The Digger leader Gerard Winstanley, claiming biblical authority for his position, denounced the enclosures of common land by the rich, arguing that God intended the Earth to be “a common store-house for all” and was dishonored by the idea that He approved of the current distribution of wealth, “delighting in the comfortable Livelihoods of some, and rejoicing in the miserable poverty and straits of others.”[3] Read more »