The Philosophy of Insanity

Reduced to clinical psychology, but placed on a rampart apart from the rest of society, the mentally ill are at the same time feared, cherished, disenfranchised, and confusingly misidentified. Without a doubt the effects of society on those who are mentally ill are telling. Beyond the opioid epidemic, the crisis of substance abuse continues to proliferate to young people and those who are already well into adulthood. One of the main markers of a diagnosis, substance abuse comes in second behind genetics as a cause of illnesses such as bipolar, schizophrenia, and depression. 

But given a diagnosis, a person’s life prospects are immediately abridged. No longer can they live a normal life because the stigma of an illness can block access to education, jobs, health benefits, and social capital. Indeed, stigma is one of the primary problems a mentally ill person faces today. Because of stigma, a person can be afraid to reach out the the social support systems which are crucial to recovery. As the determiner of our actions, our speech, and our disposition, our mind’s health is crucial for social functioning. And in turn it depends on it. Therefore, leaving those with a diagnosis without community, care, and social supports can exacerbate symptoms, and lead to negative outcomes. 

Without realizing it, our youth are increasingly putting themselves at risk of cognitive disabilities by engaging in risky behaviors including the use of alcohol and drugs. Combined with an escalation in the gateway of social media, and heightened peer pressure, many young people are finding themselves in the midst of a mental health crisis that affects not just themselves, but their peers as well. Often taken to be self inflicted, all to often the blame for the development of a mental illness is placed on the individual who is sick. While this view is widespread, it is inherently wrong. Let me explain why. 

There is a difference in a choice to engage in risky behaviors and a compulsion to. While these types of behaviors can lead to the development of a mental illness, they are not always chosen by an individual’s free will. Indeed many people who use substances are addicted, and hence even if they want to stop use of the drug, have no choice but to continue. And like a cigarette, the choice to begin using marijuana, alcohol, or heroin, can lead to addiction, removing the choice that the user has whether or not to continue use of the drug. Psychologically, the choice to begin use of a drug may not be a choice at all, depending on the circumstances a person is in. 

For instance, in a clear example of a gateway to increased dependence, the prescription of opioid painkillers can lead to addiction and dependence on other drugs similarly derived but sometimes cheaper to acquire, such as heroin. The effects of this on the question of free will and choice, are clear. In many instances one does not have a choice but to continue use of a drug that they are addicted to. Coincidentally, this is reflective of the seeming stigma of genetically inherited susceptibility of mental illness. A person does not have a choice of who they inherit their genes from, and so cannot have a choice in any genetically predetermined traits that they may exhibit in life. 

The US Needs Stricter Gun Laws.

As an individual with mental illness, I see people in the news, on TV, and in high profile court cases who have the same diagnosis as me. What I see is disturbing, violent, and quite frankly, outrageous in a democratic society. A society that glorifies violence in the media, video games, and on television is far from democratic. What happened to the principle that government was the only body to have a monopoly on the use of force? Clearly something is not right here when I, as an individual with mental illness, cannot see any role models in society for myself but those who are violent, criminals, and to use the outdated term: truly ‘insane’.

Since my diagnosis in 2017 I have set the goal for myself to be the most high functioning, normal, and lucid individual with schizophrenia. I don’t want to be ‘crazy’. I have gone through a number of recovery programs, been in and out of the hospital on inpatient units, and am currently in a long term rehabilitation program. All this so that I can continue my education virtually, and pray that I can find a job flexible enough to be able to accommodate my needs. 

Yet this is not the case for most people with schizophrenia. Since the 1970s when modern antipsychotics became widely available the outlook has brightened for most people with serious mental illness. Yet, we still have a long ways to go. If I tell anyone outside of my immediate family about my illness, I am immediately cast under suspicion: what might I do? Beyond the embarrassment of sending a poorly thought out email; a transgression which I think we all have been party to, Schizophrenics have a much more dangerous side to them which is often poorly interpreted. 

This is the reason for this article. When I see people like Kyle Rittenhouse, who does not have schizophrenia, vindicated in the media, and others who have done violence on the news and in the media, I question my path. I say, if this is what others with mental illness are capable of, what hope is there for me, or anyone with my illness to be normal. This is the reason why the US needs stricter gun laws. For schizophrenics, we are highly susceptible to the tide of current events and the stresses of the world stage. Seemingly innocuous news can make a big impact on our delicate psyches and damage any relationships and security we have built around ourselves. 

We need role models. We need a country that will take care of us, not make us murderers. The inhospitable environment that the US presents today for individuals with mental illness has been around since Deleuze and Guattari wrote Capitalism and Schizophrenia. The hectic, fast paced, global competition for more money, stuff, and achievement, pushes people with mental illness to the extremes. It hurts us when all we need is to be loved. It makes us feared, hated, and criminalized. When one group of individuals cannot find a safe space in the republic, something has gone wrong. 

The return of violence to the public sphere does not bode well for people like me. It hurts our chances of living a normal life. It hurts our reputation, and it hurts our ability to find new treatments and maybe even a cure. Schizophrenia kills. Just like other mental illnesses. Once we wake up and realize just how crazy our American society has become, we might stop, think, and take proper care of those individuals who are capable of both great but terrible things, who just want to have a home. 

The Legacy of Divine Law in Plato’s Laws

Drawing on contemporary scholarship in legal theory and adjudication, I show that Plato’s Laws stands up to these sources, being both enduring and modern in its interpretations. Moving from an understanding of the nature of divine intervention in the Laws, both from a political and a theological perspective, to a comparative analysis of thinkers such as Augustine and Aquinas, I show that Plato’s last work is as influential and important now than ever. Exploring specifically the relationship between Magnesia’s citizens and the gods, this paper allows for a deeper understanding of Plato’s intentional treatment of religion in his dialogue, Laws.

Introduction

The Laws, commonly thought to be Plato’s last work, and certainly his longest, is a monumental tackling of the problem of the organization of a practical republic, or state. Opposed to the Republic’s idealized utopia; Magnesia is the city outlined in the Laws. It can be thought of as the second best state behind Kallipolis of the Republic. In recent years there has been an increase in the scholarship dedicated to the Laws, most notably, Morrow (1960), Saunders (2004), and Moore (2012), among others. Many of these authors have put forth theses regarding Plato’s thoughts, writing, and motivations behind the political philosophy found in the works we are going to talk about. In much of the canon, the differences between an idealized utopia versus a practical polity as a governing ideology of Magnesia in the Laws is heavily debated. I want to draw our attention to an important caveat of the Laws’ actual text, and that is the system of divine ritual and practice upheld in the courts, in the preambles, and in the laws themselves.

The motivation for my exegesis of this work is that the Laws presents an important stepping stone between divine and human law. In particular, I am interested in the question: does divine law stand the test of time? This question lays the foundation for the analysis of Plato’s legislative structure. Beyond the questions of human virtue, vice, and justice, Plato must ensure, in the Laws, that his ideal regime is compatible with the gods. Ensuring that the people in Magnesia do not fall from grace, alignment with religion and ritual is key to the flourishing of the city. Without proper guidance from the gods, the laws; as in the Laws, or the philosopher-king; as in the Republic, cannot succeed. As argued in Fraistat (2015), the Laws should be understood as an extension of the political ideal presented in the Republic. Notably important here is that the difference between the Republic and the Laws rests in the reference to a kingly ruler (Republic) as opposed to inscribed teachings of philosophy (Laws), as guidance for the city. These teachings of philosophy, the laws, are ordained by the gods themselves. 

Indeed, the scene is set in the first sentence of the Laws in Book One when the Athenian Stranger asks “is it a god, my friends, who in your view should take the credit for your legal arrangements?” (Laws 624a). The pages to follow expand on the role of the gods in human affairs. Through worship, divine ritual, expressions of dance and the arts, as well as the questions of fate and free will, the gods’ choices and actions are expressed in human affairs (Laws 644d). Explicit in the first three books of the Laws is a discussion of the virtues and behavior required of citizens in the city (Laws 633c-d). Plato places limits on the consumption of wine, the enjoyment of pleasures, and the bearing of bodily pain (Laws 674b). Moreover, in the early books, Plato speaks about the education of citizens, especially children, who are to be guided towards correct reason as defined by law (Laws 659c-d). 

Moving past the discussion of vice and the excesses of the “mob of humanity” (Laws 734b), Plato begins to write about the ideal leadership of the city. Making analogies to weaving, medicine, and animal husbandry, Plato synthesizes a personality and disposition of the ideal lawgiver (Laws 734a- 736a). The Laws is roughly broken into two categories of teachings; the preambles, which give a basis for the laws to follow, and the laws themselves, which outline the rules all citizens must follow. The preambles given throughout the first three books aim to provide a starting point for ensuring the city’s stability, which will be legislated in Books Six through Twelve. The purpose of the preambles is for the education of the people, so that everyone in Magnesia can know and understand the duties that will be required of them. The preambles in Book Six deal with selection of officials, religious law and priesthood, protection of the city, and a complicated assembly of rural, urban, and market commissioners; before moving back into a discussion of girls’ education, sporting events, and the regulations on commerce and trade (Laws 754b-768e). Having completed a short summary of these preliminaries, we can now turn our attention to this paper’s claim about the actual laws that govern Magnesia. 

The written laws cover everything from what we now call civil law and criminal law, as well as constitutional law and the Laws’ own version of international law. Importantly, these laws set out directives in a world where divine intervention is not only expected, but welcomed in almost every case. Laws is a dialogue, a conversation between an unnamed Athenian stranger, Cleinias of Crete, and Megillus of Sparta. In the dialogue, Plato outlines the role of the divine in lawmaking by putting forth three unique contributions: First, in the past, judgement was attributed to the gods, as in the case of Rhadamanthys (Laws 948c), but no longer (it is now, and should be in the realm of humans), second, that the laws should require belief in the gods (Laws 885b), and finally, that the gods both exist, and care about the affairs of humans (Laws 885b, Republic 365d-366a). In Section II I will review the history of Plato’s thought, especially as it pertains to the Republic as an earlier form of his idea of the ideal city and its governance. In Section III I will draw a connection to modern international law in American Judicial courts, reflecting on what obligations modern states should require of their people. In Section IV I deepen the analogy to modern laws to include religious arbitration, interpreted from the standpoint of the Laws.  The last point, in Section V, will delve into the enduring legacy of the main ideas of the Laws, specifically as they relate to politics and theology.  

Section II

The Laws contains legislation for a wide range of people who live in its ideal city. Like its predecessor, the Republic, the Laws outlines a city planned deliberately and in accordance with philosophical justice and divine rule (Republic 355c, 590c-d, Laws 643e). From the beginning of the Republic, Plato allows for disagreements among his interlocutors regarding the ideal of justice. The Laws has no such debate. Instead, it is taken as a given that the city the discussants are building will be governed according to historical precedent. This change allows for more flexibility and debate among the participants, and is guided by an understanding of the laws of other cities, such as Athens, for example. This key difference is exemplified by the governance style outlined in the Laws. The Laws’ style of governance is one that is written, as opposed to the Republic’s style which is dictated. 

In the Republic, Plato is keen on keeping the virtues of the kingly ruler center stage. Often referring to prominent men as godlike (Republic 331e), the interlocutors in the Republic are heavily concerned with the approval of their rulers by the gods. Not only do rulers live a life of gods, they also participate in ritual, receiving advice, judgement, and must accept the whim of the gods. Specifically in this argument, those who are unjust garner the wrath of the gods, while those who are just are thought to have a character which is more godlike (Republic 366c). In the Republic, the words for kings and gods are often interchangeable, like for example in the passage 597e. In the Laws this also occurs, notably in 904a, drawing the storyline of the Republic to continuity in one of the later books of the Laws. While the Laws does not focus nearly as much on the character and traits of the kingly ruler, it still contains references to this earlier form of Plato’s thought. 

The selection of judges for courts set up to rule on all kinds of law in Magnesia is of great importance. This is a theme we will return to in later sections of the paper. In some cases, the judiciary will be made up of the guardians of the law, equivalent to lawgivers or statesmen, as in the case of the death penalty. In other cases, judges will be selected by other means. In Book Twelve of the Laws Plato outlines appellate courts, rights of plaintiffs, and the selection of judges for these courts (Laws 956b-e). Rule in these courts is not delegated to the gods and humans have final interpretation of the laws given in the text. The ideal quality of human judges is outlined in Book Six, including a comparison between the quality of judges and the quality of the courts (Laws 766d-767c). The argument moves towards correct selection of judges, which is an important aspect of creating courts that can judge cases that arise from those who break the laws of Magnesia. 

This shift from a godlike kingly ruler in the Republic to careful selection of human judges and laws laid down by humans in the Laws is the key point of my argument in Section II. Other later dialogues, such as Statesman, attribute power to a kingly ruler like the Republic does, and the Laws seems to take a striking divergence from this. In the Laws there is some description of the types of constitutions, but Plato rarely mentions anything other than monarchy and democracy. Much of this discussion is contained in Book Three of the Laws where Plato describes how almost every form of rule is a generalization of monarchy and democracy (Laws 693d). Allow me to draw your attention outside of the primary platonic sources to a (very) recent piece of writing. Various authors have debated the types of constitution that Plato recommends in the Laws, ranging from monarchy to democracy, as we just discussed, and they ultimately arrive at the conclusion that Plato advocates for some form of mixed constitution.

Specifically, in his article The Mixed Constitution in Plato’s Laws; Jeremy Reid analyses Book Three of the Laws (Reid, 2021). He describes how the analyses of the cities of Persia and Athens in Book Three is a weighty investigation that has consequences for the understanding of the evolution of Plato’s thought. The balance between democracy and monarchy is exemplified by ‘unchecked freedom’ on the part of citizens of Athens, which leads to excessive democracy (Reid, 2021). Monarchy on the other hand is characterized by Reid as excessive slavery. The Persians took monarchy to the extreme:

“That by taking away the freedom of the common people too completely, and by placing undue emphasis on the authoritarian element, they destroyed the principle of friendship and cooperation in the state. Once that had been lost, the policy of the rulers no longer has the good of the subjects and the common people in view. Their own rule becomes an end in itself; and they lay waste to cities, lay waste to friendly nations and destroy them with fire, at the merest hint, in any particular situation of some advantage to themselves” (Laws 697c-d).

This passage outlines the importance of good and rational governance. It also hints at a social creed which Plato has been developing and which culminates with the intersection of various plot lines in the Laws at 967d-968a. The idea of rule by kingly philosophers, from the Republic, remains important in the Laws. Yet among citizens, an air of equality is present in the Laws which is not present in the Republic. Many of the political offices in Magnesia are open to all citizens, regardless of wealth (Reid, 2021). Furthermore the Laws advocates for a judicial system which is above all, fair. So long as its citizens behave piously, believe in and worship the gods, and do not break any laws, they will be rewarded by the lawgivers. 

Drawing this section on the Republic and the characteristics of a good ruler to a close, I want to point out that these are exclusively human mandates provided by the Athenian to Cleinias and Megillus in order for them to be able to set out the ideal city. While the city is ordained by the gods and always should be kept in the good graces of the gods, the gods do not rule over it (Laws 948b-e). In fact a precedent is set by the gods at the beginning of Book Twelve that: “None of the sons of Zeus has ever delighted in deception or violence, nor engaged in either of these activities” (Laws 941b). Although specific, this quote is an innovation at the very end of the Laws, placed at the beginning of a chapter which outlines the most general recommendations for the Cretan city. In this case, the gods set an example or precedent for humans, but remain aloof when the time for judgement comes. In the next section we continue our more contemporary analysis with a close look at American domestic courts. 

Section III

Beyond the citizens of Magnesia, the Laws has separate clauses for both slaves and foreigners (Laws 854d). Moreover, the laws inscribe how courts in Magnesia should treat different crimes committed by different people, whether they are citizens or others, and to what standards those people are to be held. Primarily, the laws adjudicate between individuals, and individuals and the state, however, the state in the Laws is not the stanchion of foreign policy and projection of influence that we commonly think of when we look at the modern nation-state. There is little mention in the Laws of international disputes aside from war (Laws 955c). In this section I draw on the article International Law in American Courts: A Modest Proposal by Lea Brilmayer (Brilmayer, 1991). In her article, Brilmayer questions the proper place of international law in American state and national courts. As we will see, Brilmayer argues that international disputes between a state and an individual are appropriate for judicial resolution because they closely resemble domestic disputes of the same nature; that is between a state and an individual (Brilmayer 1991). What this means for the Laws is the premise of my argument in this section. 

Explicit in the body of the Laws are the actual teachings which will govern Magnesia. The courts, whose job it is to enforce these laws also play a prominent role (Laws 928c, 932c, 938b, 943b). In most cases in the Laws, the courts are the assessors of the penalties or damages that a person will have to pay if they have wronged another individual, the state, or the gods. International law is restricted to legislature on foreigners, their criminal affairs, and to domestic issues regarding war, peace, and the military (Laws 955c). I argue here that respect and worship of the gods in Magnesia takes the place of any worry about international disputes and war. In other words, Plato, in writing the Laws, was preoccupied with legislature and preambles concerning the gods, then to worry seriously about the actions of other states. 

There are a myriad of objections to this, but let us consider two in turn: 1) Plato explicitly lays down laws regarding foreigners, he clearly cares about foreign people living within the Cretan city. And 2) Plato analyses the constitutions of both Persia and Athens in Book Three, both of which can be considered international, both in the city-state sense. However, for 1); in his laws regarding foreigners, Plato does not worry about the origin of the foreigner, only that they are not a citizen. In Book Twelve, Plato divides the foreigner into four categories, and decrees where their proper place is to be in being welcomed to the city (Laws 952d-953e). And for 2); the preambles comprising of constitutional comparison in Book Three focus on the history of ancient Greece in the context of other nation-states but the focus is not on statesmanship or diplomacy, but on whether monarchy or democracy should be pursued.

Instead of an opposition between the international and the individual in a court of law, as in Brilmayer’s contemporary work, the focus is between the individual and the gods in the Laws (Laws 716a-718c, in particular 718b1-2). In this sense, the theological ramifications of the Laws are seemingly greater than those of the Republic. Most overtly, against atheism, Book Ten is crucial in laying out laws which enshrine worship and rituals into the lives of the citizens of Magnesia. Here we find a critical passage setting out the main idea of Plato’s theology:

“Nobody who believes the gods exist, as the laws require, has ever intentionally performed an impious action or breathed a word contrary to law. No, people do these things in one of three frames of mind: either lacking the belief I mentioned; or second believing that there are gods, but that they care nothing for human beings; or third, that they are easily won over by inducements in the form of sacrifice and prayer” (Laws 885b).

This preamble sets in stone the key difference between Plato’s laws, and the more modern judicial system we see today in Brilmayer’s work. What I mean to say is that, you can cast all of Plato’s laws and ideas aside, and still find equivalents in contemporary legislature, but requiring belief in the gods is the image we need to affix ourselves with if we are to understand Plato’s work in a modern context. 

Brilmayer’s paper is important to our argument, because, as we will see in the next section; scripture and belief play important, non-negligible, roles in the adjudication of present-day cases. Brilmayer distinguishes between horizontal (state-to-state) and vertical (individual-to-state) legislation and adjudication. I have drawn a parallel between these concepts in Brilmayer’s paper, and the concepts of human-human interactions and human-god interactions in the Laws. These interactions and the judicial regulations surrounding them are a centerpiece to the Laws, and its philosophy of divine law. A different kind of arbitration relevant to our discussion is religious arbitration. In what follows is a deeper look into the comparison between American secular and religious adjudication, and the Laws’ own edicts on the subject. 

Section IV

Plato anticipates in the Laws a number of arguments which are widely studied in regards to divine law. In fact, one might say that divine law plays an outsize role in the Laws, specifically, more so than the Republic, and certainly more than other of Plato’s works such as the Statesman. But what are the reasons for divine law, and what expectations do the gods have for the citizens of Magnesia? The answer can come, in part, from Mark Lutz in Divine Law and Political Philosophy in Plato’s Laws. Lutz says: “the gods are worshipped to win their favor and to win victories over enemies,” suggesting that the gods exist to serve and intervene in human affairs (Lutz, 2012, p. 108.). 

The Laws’ claims to religion are clearly extensive. But let’s look for a moment at one of the actual laws put forth in the text. Up until now we have focused on preambles and the background that Plato spends much of the first half of the book on. The following law is an important part of the Laws’ religious code. It occurs at 907d-908a in the Laws: 

If someone behaves impiously, in word or deed, anyone who encounters him shall rally round; they shall report it to the magistrates, and the first of the magistrates to be informed shall bring the offender, in accordance with the laws, before the court designated for hearing these cases. Any magistrate who fails to do this, after hearing the report, shall himself be liable to a charge of impiety at the hands of anyone prepared to vindicate the laws. For anyone found guilty, the court shall impose a separate penalty for each act of impiety. This shall be imprisonment in all cases” (Laws 907d-908a).

Emblematic of the Laws enforcement of worship, ritual, prayer, and piety, this passage is one of many in the Laws which holds normal citizens accountable for their actions in conjunction with the gods. Besides the gods’ intervention in human affairs, humans have specific, necessary obligations to the gods which are inscribed in law. 

In a recent edition of the Yale Law Journal there is an article entitled The Reverse-Entanglement Principle: Why Religious Arbitration of Federal Rights Is Unconstitutional (Chua-Rubenfeld and Costa, 2019). In this work, the authors describe the Rules for Procedure of Christian Conciliation in the United States. In particular, one of the rules states as follows: “Conciliators shall take into consideration any state, federal, or local laws that the parties bring to their attention, but the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) shall be the supreme authority governing every aspect of the conciliation process” (Chua-Rubenfeld and Costa, 2019). Not entirely reminiscent of Plato’s era of enforced worship and prayer, Chua-Rubenfeld and Costa’s paper takes a different note in explaining how “rely[ing] on biblical scripture to define [one’s] rights” is unconstitutional due to separation of church and state (Chua-Rubenfeld and Costa, 2019).

This does not apply in the Laws. The breadth of the applicability of religion to the laws of Magnesia is one of the more important aspects of the Laws: It is the gods’ concern that there should be no killing in the Laws’ cities (Laws 871c), the gods would never recommend a neglect of an individual’s parents (Laws 930e), and judgements from the gods are “straightforward and swift” (Laws 949b). On almost every part of the legislation in the Laws, the gods have an opinion, judgement, or precedent which needs to be taken into account by the people of the city. Today, we simply cannot say that this is the norm. In the odd case, yes. But even to consult God, as in the consultation of the Bible in arbitration above, is clearly taken as unfair in the majority of cases, and those courts which do uphold the Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation are clearly outliers (Chua-Rubenfeld and Costa, 2019).

What Plato would say to this is clear; that the gods can and should be consulted on matters of law, and that laws upholding this preeminent status of the gods are valid in the court of Magnesian law. Preambles proving the existence of the gods are common in the Laws. In particular, Plato cites the enduring existence of the human soul, and the movement of the stars and other stellar bodies which can only exist due to the will of the gods (Laws 966d-e). In the two thousand years since Plato’s work, we can see a dramatic change in the adjudication of religious rights, civil rights, and divine law and power. While in Plato’s time it would have been accepted, required even, that consultations of the gods play a major role in trials, today we have very different ideas about the role of God, scripture, and religious beliefs in our courts of law. Requirements of piety, belief, and worship by the state have long since fallen out of fashion, and Plato would undoubtedly be shocked by secularized legislature which does not rely in any way on gods or God.

Section V

Modernizing Plato’s eternal work seems difficult if not impossible at this point. The stark differences between the way that the courts of Athens and Magnesia would have worked and the way that present day American courts operate are clearly numerous. But Plato’s Laws sits at the outset of a long continuum of works, some of which are devoted exclusively to divine law, and all of which play a role in understanding the relevance of religion to government. Taking a step back from our heavily modernized discussion of the endurance of the Laws to modern times, let’s look for a moment at two separate passages from authors who held divine law to be exquisite in its history and applicability to politics. 

Aquinas advocated for punishment of heretics by excommunication from the church and death. Importantly, the heretics would be separated from the mainstream of the church and punished (Aquinas, 1988, p. 63-64). Plato has a lesser sentence than Aquinas, favoring imprisonment over death. In the excerpt above, we see that Plato extends the punishment of impiety to magistrates who become aware of impious acts and do not report them (Laws 907d-908a). While Plato does not make any explicit assumptions about the individual who commits impious acts, it is clear that he views the act as intentional, and even more evident, he views the magistrate who covers up the ill deed as equal in his wrongdoing. Both Aquinas and Plato see heresy or impiety as a “threat to the social order and a criminal offense” (Aquinas, 1988, n. 9, p. 64). 

In Book X of Augustine’s City of God, Augustine captures the motivations behind Plato’s ideas about divine law and worship of the gods. Augustine writes:

“Now we selected the Platonists as being deservedly the best known of all philosophers, because they have been able to realize that the soul of man, though immortal and rational (or intellectual), cannot attain happiness except by participation in the light of God, the creator of the soul and of the whole world. They also assert that no one can attain this life of blessedness, the object of all mankind’s desire, unless he has adhered, with the purity of chaste love, to that unique and supreme good, which is the changeless God” (City of God, Bk. X, Ch. 1).

Drawing several lines of dialogue in this paper to a close, this excerpt shows the enduring legacy of Plato’s theology of divine law in his major works such as the Laws. Later in the same chapter of Book X, Augustine asks: “what kind of observances of religion and devotion are we to believe that they wish to see in us?” (City of God, Bk. X, Ch. 1).  Augustine defers all judgements, ritual, and flattery to the gods, as proscribed in the Laws. What we have seen here, and in the historical legislative analysis above; is nothing short of wavering and yet enduring divine law which comes from the ancient greeks and permeates our world to this day. 

References

Aquinas, St. Thomas. Ed., Trans. Paul E. Sigmund. On Politics and Ethics. W. W. Norton & Co. 1988.

Augustine. Trans. Henry Betttenson. City of God. Penguin Books. 2003.

Brilmayer, Lea. International Law in American Courts: A Modest Proposal. Yale Law Journal. Vol. 100. No. 8. Jun 1991. https://www.jstor.org/stable/796894.

Chua-Rubenfeld, Sophia, and Frank J. Costa, Jr. The Reverse-Entanglement Principle: Why Religious Arbitration of Federal Rights Is Unconstitutional. Yale Law Journal. Vol. 128, No. 7. May 2019. 

Lutz, Mark. Divine Law and Political Philosophy in Plato’s “Laws.” Cornell University Press. 2012. 

Moore, Kenneth. Plato, Politics, and a Practical Utopia. New York: Continuum. 2012.

Morrow, Glen. Plato’s Cretan City: A Historical Interpretation of the Laws. Princeton University Press. 1960.

Plato. Laws. Ed. Malcolm Schofield. Trans. Tom Griffith. Cambridge University Press. 2016. 

Reid, Jeremy. The Mixed Constitution in Plato’s Laws. Australasian Journal of Philosophy. Vol. 99. No. 1. Pp. 1-18. 2021.

Saunders, Trevor. Plato’s Laws. New York: Penguin Books. 2004.

Schofield, Malcolm. “Introduction.” In: Plato’s Laws. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2016.

Idleness and the ‘Like’ button: An Alternative Escape from Nguyen’s Echo Chamber

Slouka’s pseudo-romantic polemic on idleness expresses his frustrations with modern work culture. Without a doubt, there is something stirring about leaving one’s 9-to-5 for a life of reflection and study. Walking out on the job can be a liberating and deeply life altering experience. But what moves one to cast off their burdens and deeply question the beliefs that they have been holding so tightly? In this essay I advocate for a similarity between Slouka’s idea of walking out on the job, that is, being idle, and exiting an echo chamber. In Nguyen’s paper “Echo Chambers and Epistemic Bubbles” he argues that to break out of an echo chamber, a certain kind of social reboot is necessary (Nguyen, 2020). Furthermore, by engaging in the rhetoric of an echo chamber, we are making ourselves highly vulnerable to “epistemic surprise”, when we do in fact break out. This is because when we finally do undertake the reboot, the outcome can be incredibly shocking. In order to counter this, I propose being idle as an easier way out of the echo chamber itself.

Nguyen’s definition of an echo chamber is vital here; according to him, an echo chamber is “a social epistemic structure in which other relevant voices have been actively discredited” (Nguyen, 2020). By its definition, we can see how injustices might arise through an echo chamber. Those who are credible will be discredited, while those who are the loudest (and, importantly, not necessarily right) will be rewarded. 

As noted in Nguyen’s paper, a far more fundamental shift than idleness occurs when undergoing the shocking and devastating realization of a social reboot. A social reboot requires an active choice to deviate from the well worn path of an echo chamber. Because of the rhetoric used in an echo chamber to inculcate and indoctrinate its members, the area between the echo chamber and the reboot (which here I refer to the state of successfully exiting the echo chamber) can be fraught with risks. That, however, doesn’t mean it has to be. 

My argument in this paper makes use of Lucy McDonald’s essay “Please Like This Paper,” which decries the proliferation of the ever present ‘like’ button in social media (McDonald, 2021). Just like echo chambers, and indeed, an important part of them, the ‘like’ button registers our need for affirmation, drawing us deeper into an algorithmic world laden with misinformation (McDonald, 2021). Because we feel the need for social acceptance, and online this comes in the form of ‘likes’, we gravitate towards consuming and creating content which captures this esoteric form of affirmation. Yet, this only occurs within the ubiquitous, but limiting spheres of social media; the ones primarily owned by Meta, but also including Twitter and Pinterest, etc. Furthermore, this technology is self fulfilling; the more you ‘like’ a certain type of content, the more you will be shown content that is similar, in an attempt to elicit more ‘likes’ from you, the user (McDonald, 2021).

Walking out on this seducing yet vicious myriad of self promotion and affirmation within echo chambers online, can be difficult if not impossible. But why would one want to walk out on an echo chamber, and could idleness be the answer? By moving from Nguyen’s social reboot to idleness, I argue that idleness is a much more passive, and far less destructive or risky method of escaping an echo chamber. The rest of my essay will focus primarily on this topic. 

Idleness can be a means to self-realization. In fact for the most social among us, we often need to take a break, recuperate, and decompress before once again taking up the social and occupational obligations we are necessarily bound to. Yet the danger of idleness to outsiders, or those who have influence over us, which Slouka is quick to draw on, is the very fact that we are more equipped to use our time wisely (Slouka, 2004, p. 100). But this presupposes that there is someone, an individual, or group of them, that wants us not to use our time wisely. When trapped in an echo chamber, this is precisely the case. By the very definition of an echo chamber, we know that some voices are silenced or discredited (Nguyen, 2020). Slouka says that idleness is a sort of political space. That idleness allows us “time to figure out who we are, and what we believe” and it also allows us “time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it” (Slouka, 2004, p. 99).

Indeed, Slouka himself takes the world of work to be reminiscent of an echo chamber, for example here, on page 101: “Yes, Ted sold shoulder held stingers to folks with no surname, but he worked so hard!” (Slouka, 2004). The degenerate morality of an echo chamber (in this case Ted’s work) is corrupting, and work here has only perpetuated Ted’s moral decline. Being cognizant of yourself, and the world outside an echo chamber does not have to come at the price of a full fledged reboot.  In fact, in Slouka’s world, those who use idleness to their advantage are better off than those who work themselves to death. 

But what is the nature of idleness which allows one to withdraw from the echo chamber, and what are its impacts on the rest of one’s life? Would one become withdrawn, recluse, and solitary? The space between an echo chamber and the reboot does not have to be hopeless and desolate, and idleness does not have to be taken in a negative sense. Being idle is often pensive, reflective, and serene. This leads us to imagine a more peaceful manner of escaping an echo chamber than Nguyen’s mysterious yet seemingly dangerous social reboot. 

But, the ‘like’ button introduces a terrifying pressure to interact and engage with the outside world. Moreover, it brings that outside world right into your living room or bedroom, wherever you pick up your device to check social media. It is always on, because there is always new content to see, a new connection to make, and a new online experience to be had. This new media discourages idleness and reflection in a way that enables echo chambers to be built and to proliferate. It is easy to get trapped in these cycles of amassing social capital and wrapped up in the competition for ‘likes’.

But this does not mean that this whole argument has to be contained in the echoing and narrowly self affirming world of social media. What I really want to argue here is that an echo chamber, like the ‘like’ button, is a superficial, virtual, and one dimensional world in which some voices are louder than others, and those voices which are the loudest do not necessarily represent the best among us. In fact, those of us who swear off an echo chamber, work, or social media, in an attempt to be idle, might be better off in the long run, by not being forced to remain in the throes of novel social technologies. 

To step back, to reflect, by being idle garners an unusual social power which is unreflective of the broader social world around us. Here, note that I am drawing a parallel between Nguyen, Slouka, and McDonald, by attributing a similarity between social media, an echo chamber, and work. All three, from McDonald’s ‘like’, to Slouka’s 9-to-5 can become seen as an unwelcome intruder into our otherwise (and supposedly) private lives. This is really what a digital, social, or occupational environment is when it comes down to it; a commercialization of the part of our lives which is idle. So by choosing to be idle, by giving up the madness and social hysteria which proliferates on the internet and on platforms, we are choosing our own path. This path is an inherent expression of our will and a reaffirmation of our identity. If we are stuck in an echo chamber, idleness, in this sense, is the best and most promising alternative to a social reboot. 

Per Nguyen, echo chambers use fake news to manipulate trust (Nguyen, 2020). When you lose trust in a source of information you often lose confidence in other things you once held to be true. You question your assumptions, and maybe you even question yourself. This is because there is an increase in uncertainty surrounding some idea you once held with conviction. Not only does this shatter your confidence, it also puts many other parts of your life into question. This is the essence of “epistemic surprise”; an increase in uncertainty which can effect decision making, and other parts of daily life and common events.

But for anyone to undertake a social reboot, it is more difficult than just giving up their ties to the echo chamber. Nguyen says “our teenager would have to suspend belief in all their particular background knowledge and restart the knowledge gathering process” (Nguyen, 2020). What this means can, for the moment, remain up for debate. Let’s consider one good aspect of restarting your knowledge gathering experience: you are a clean slate and you are able to at least start to rediscover your worldview. This, however, seems difficult and in a sense, dangerous. Nguyen himself describes the reboot as “radical,” but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s start from what we know. The real goal here is to reinvent the sources of epistemic knowledge. 

The reboot is where words like “radical” and “turbulence” come in. Echo chambers operate by “manipulating trust and credence” (Nguyen, 2020, p. 142). As in Lucy McDonald’s paper, just because you ‘like’ someone’s post, does not mean that you like them (McDonald, 2021). This is the root of misinformation in social media, and the danger of attempting to exit an echo chamber; the generalization of different tools such as ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ and ‘shares’, which masks users’ true intentions and can easily turn malicious. As Nguyen describes the perils of attempting to escape an echo chamber using a social reboot, I argue that the ongoing virulence of online platforms such as Meta calls for a different method of escaping an echo chamber.

As per Slouka, idleness, or the “time to consider [your] options” seems a better method of achieving the same sort of social epistemic reboot than the method described in Nguyen (Slouka, 2004, p. 99-100). Idleness is “unconstrained, anarchic” (Slouka, 2004, p. 105). Slouka draws a further analogy to religion, when he describes those “few miscreants who out of some inner weakness or perversity either refuse to convert or who go along and then, in their thirty-sixth year in the choir, say, abruptly abandon the faith” (Slouka, 2004, p. 107). It seems that abandoning the faith after accepting its teachings for so long is a parallel to escaping an echo chamber. Slouka further notes that those who abruptly walk out on the faith are different from those who refuse from the outset to convert: those miscreants who walk out are often “considered mad” for their abrupt change in will or behavior (Slouka, 2004, p. 107). 

My point in this last paragraph is to show that there is a similarity between Nguyen’s social epistemic reboot, and Slouka’s idea of idleness. The differences are relatively few. But my argument in this paper is to advocate for a simpler, easier, and calmer method of exiting an echo chamber than the turbulent and dangerous reboot. The key concept that I want to introduce here is “epistemic surprise.” “Epistemic surprise” occurs when exiting an echo chamber. It is the realization that our sources of information have been corrupting, false, and manipulative; all symptoms of being in an echo chamber. Yet, epistemic surprise when encountering a social epistemic reboot can be a shocking and perverse realization that you have been epistemically cheated. There is another interpretation, though, that is more appealing, and it is this interpretation that we will focus on.

It is in the manner of Slouka that we will interpret “epistemic surprise” in this paper. Slouka’s anarchist miscreant who simply walks away from their community can be an apt model for us in deciding what to do when we find ourselves in an echo chamber. We already know why “epistemic surprise” can be so devastating and dangerous to an individual exiting or trying to exit an echo chamber. But how can it be a good thing? Can it be a welcome boon, or flash of insight, that causes you to break free from the chains of the echo chamber?

I argue that it can, and that by enacting ‘idleness’ we are freeing ourselves from the echo chamber. Through our interpretation of Slouka, the anarchist, the social deviant, or the church-goer who walks out, we are forging a new path out of the echo chamber. Because we are removing our vote of approval from the dialogue of the echo chamber, by becoming idle, we are escaping it. 

So, we have expanded on the idea of a social epistemic reboot, and warned of the perils of what I call an “epistemic surprise”. We have further argued for an interpretation of Slouka’s 2004 work “Quitting the Paint Factory” which allows one to escape an echo chamber without undergoing a social reboot. While there is still much work to be done in this area of epistemology and media studies, work already published by Nguyen and McDonald offers promise and hope for sorting through the dark matter of nefarious online actors. It is my hope that this paper has made at least some contribution in this regard.

References:

McDonald, Lucy. 2021. “Please Like This Paper.” Philosophy. Vol. 96. The Royal Institute of Philosophy. 

Nguyen, C. Thi. 2020. “Echo Chambers and Epistemic Bubbles.” Episteme, Vol. 17, No. 2. Cambridge University Press.

Slouka, Mark. 2004. “Quitting the Paint Factory.” In: Essays in the Nick of Time: Reflections and Refutations. Graywolf Press. 

In Walked Death: A Study in Living.

Montaigne, in his essay, To Philosophize is to Learn How to Die, argues that it is necessary for us to keep death in the forefront of our minds. We must spend each day as if it were our last, creating the work which is the purpose of our life on this earth. Knowing that at the end of our lives death waits for all of us, we must accept the fact that in the end, we return from that darkness from which we came. Indeed, there is no future for us, Montaigne argues, because each day leads us closer to death.  Death may wait for us at the end of any given day, and certainly waits for us at the end of our lives. 

This is not to say that we should constantly be thinking of death. We must fight death, and the thought of death, if we are to lead the most fulfilling lives. Death is always unexpected. Montaigne himself says that no matter the age, a man will always believe that he has twenty more years to go. By expecting death at every instant, we are more able to accept death when it finally does come. Montaigne asks “how can we ever rid ourselves of thoughts of death or stop imagining that death has us by the scruff of the neck at every moment?” Yet still, we must not be afraid of death. 

Indeed, one of life’s main virtues is a certain distain of death. In Roman times the word was thought to bring bad luck. Throughout history there have been uncountable examples of death which comes at precisely the inopportune moment. Montaigne says that we must expect death in every passing moment, when we let down our guard, and are vulnerable. At the same time we must try to live our lives, striving to avoid pain. 

Montaigne’s argument is successful for the following reasons: First, death comes for everyone, whenever it wants to. No one can choose his time of death. Montaigne does not deny this. Therefore we must expect death at any passing moment. We cannot know when death will come for us. Second, living our lives while we are alive is the only way we can make meaning out of our lives. Montaigne’s arguments about pleasure attest to this. In the final part of this paper I will examine each reason in turn. 

The anecdotes of those who have died in the throes of love, pleasure, or folly, or those who die of slight accident or a misstep attest that death can come at any moment. Whether we behave honorably or cowardly, death will still catch us. By thinking of death, we “brace ourselves and make an effort.” Imagining, “[s]upposing that was death itself.” This thought, this association, this friendly demeanor towards death serves to steady our hands; we are more than eager to pursue our work, and to that end pleasure; when we keep death in the forefront of our minds. 

Montaigne holds pleasure to a special place in his essay. No matter what route we choose to get there, he says, pleasure is our ultimate aim. Even in pursuing virtue, pleasure is really the end goal. But Montaigne also says that we should never be carried away by pleasure. We must live each day as if it were our last, so as to be grateful for the time that we are then surprised to have when we do not die. This argument, too, is successful, in that by carefully balancing pleasure with thoughts of death, we are able to lead a life which is most appealing to a philosopher like Montaigne. 

Saint Augustine

So this is saint augustine, bishop of hippo, and I am James Rice, philosophy and ethics graduate student at Harvard Extension School. 

From hidden depths of history Saint Augustine’s confessions reminds us that redemption is possible for even the lowest of humanity. His journey begins when we find him deep in despair, shedding tears and calling on the Lord to hear him. Augustine hears a far off voice chanting ‘pick up and read, pick up and read.’ He dries his tears and goes to pick up the book of the apostle Paul. Augustine seized the book and opened it, his eyes alighting on the first passage he saw. It read ‘Not in riots and drunken parties, not in eroticism and indecencies, not in strife and rivalry, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in its lusts’. Immediately the shadows on Augustine’s heart fell and he became a devout christian for the rest of his life. 

This passage in the middle of the confessions, which spans the saint’s life history from childhood up until his work as a bishop of Hippo in North Africa, details Augustine’s transformation from a life of promiscuity, vice, and depravity. The confessions serves as a repentance for Augustine, who implores God to see his suffering and to absolve him of the sins of his youth. Written between 397 and 400 in the common era, the book starts off deploring the trials of the author’s boyhood. In 370 he was sent to Carthage in present day Tunisia to continue his schooling, and fell into sin ‘because of his love for games, his passion for frivolous spectacles, and his restless urge to imitate comic scenes’.

Augustine early on was drawn to the Manichee religion, whose beliefs denied the ongoing and enduring legacy of Christ’s cruxifixction. Augustine accepted their beliefs for a time, especially in his youth. After his tumultuous adolescence, from which he sired a son out of wedlock when he was just 18 years old, he moved to Italy, first Rome, and then on to Milan to be a professor of rhetoric. Importantly, when he got to Milan, it became unfashionable for him to have his concubine mistress whom his mother had so long deplored. His mother set him up with a young woman, but Augustine had to wait two years (until she turned 12) and was old enough to marry. 

“‘You are great lord, and highly to be praised: great is your power and your wisdom is immeasurable’. Man, a little piece of your creation, desires to praise you, a human being ‘bearing his mortality with him’, carrying with him the witness of his sin and the witness that you ‘resist the proud’. Nevertheless, to praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” 

This passage details the striking power of Augustines words, which are both philosophical and theological in nature. Drawing from the Ancient Greeks, Plato and Plotinus, Augustine rewrote the history of God, and pushed forth the extent of human knowledge. This map details his life’s travels, starting in Thagaste, to Carthage, Rome, Milan, and back to Hippo. Canonized in 1303, Augustine’s legacy remains untarnished to this day. A true story of redemption, Augustine reminds us in his confessions that we are, after all, only human. 

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Pleasure, Honor, and Virtue in Conversation with Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

According to Aristotle in Book I.5 of his Nicomachean Ethics, neither pleasure, nor honor, nor virtue is equivalent to happiness.

Those who consider happiness to be equivalent to pleasure are those who are most vulgar. Aristotle compares those who live a life seeking pleasure to grazing animals, who in a sense do not have the ability to reason, living slavishly, and unable to determine a course in their lives. Because these individuals spend all of their energy on pleasure, it seems, they give up their power to dictate their own lives. These individuals will always have a ruler, someone to tell them what is best for their life.

Next, those who consider happiness to be equivalent to honor are those who are active in politics. Yet, Aristotle says that happiness as honor is too superficial, because it “seems to depend more on those who honor than on the one honored”(1095b25). Aristotle wants ‘the good,’ or happiness, to be something that is uniquely our own. Each man’s own truth can be said to be divinely or metapsychically bestowed here, because he comes to find it through his own contemplation or suffering. Because these people seek to be honored for their virtue, Aristotle says, they seem to value virtue more than honor anyway, so happiness (the ultimate ‘good’) cannot be equivalent to honor.

Finally, one might also consider virtue to be the ultimate end of the political life. Yet this cannot be equivalent to happiness because, according to Aristotle, it is possible for someone possessing virtue to to be asleep or inactive throughout their life, or for them to have virtue and suffer from evils and misfortunes (1096a1). Even an innocent man is sometimes wrongly convicted of a crime, such that he would be unhappy and not see ‘the good’. This would be an example of an evil to be suffered by an individual possessing virtue. In this case virtue cannot be equivalent to happiness because it is not the true good. Only happiness is the true good, and by seeking pleasure, honor, or virtue, one can only find fleeting happiness, not the true happiness that can only come with wisdom

Subject Object Paradoxes in Plato’s Euthyphro

When Socrates asks Euthyphro: ”Is the pious being loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is being loved by the gods?” he means one thing. But there are two positions here, the subject, that which is doing the loving, and the object, that which is being loved. The question Socrates is asking is whether the subject makes the object what it is; for instance “whether the thing carried [the object] is a carried thing because it is being carried [by the subject]”(10). In this case the thing is only carried because it is being carried.

Coinciding with this, an object is only “something changed because it is being changed [by the subject]” (10c). Alternatively, an object is “not being changed because it is something changed”(10c). What Socrates means here is that an object does not act on its subject, by way of meaning, the object does not have the inherent quality of being changed and so induces its subject to change it. The subjective does not follow from the objective in this sense. The pious is “being loved because it is pious” and for no other reason. This is the crucial point that Socrates is trying to make to Euthyphro.

Immediately following this exchange, Socrates poses the question: “And yet it [it being pious] is something loved and god-loved because it is being loved by the gods?”(10d). Socrates expands on his question by saying how the god-loved is not the same as the pious, nor is the pious the same as the god-loved. Here we can define god-loved as that which is loved by the gods. We have already established that the pious is being loved because it is pious, and is not pious because it is being loved. We can also say that the god-loved is “so because it is being loved by the gods […] it is not being loved because it is god-loved” (10e).

To conclude the argument, to be god-loved and to be pious are inherently different because “one [the god-loved] is such as to be loved because it is being loved, the other [piety] is being loved because it is such as to be loved” (11a).

We the Undersigned,

Will choose our own path. We will not belong to anyone or anything. We will not be put down, emotionally excluded, cognitively raped and pillaged, while our peers are celebrated. We will rise up. We will build, create, explore, discover, and love. We are the neuro-diverse. This is our story.

When one becomes diagnosed with a mental disease, no one expects you to be okay. This is why, we are now proclaiming, we are fine without you. We don’t want your helping hands, we don’t want your questioning glances, furtive stares, and meaningless freudian isms. We want to speak for ourselves, care for ourselves, live for ourselves. Because what is life, if not political? What is life but not the real? What is life but not the pain, suffering, exhilaration, desire, and anguish? The knowledge that, yes, we are not the same, but we are in this with you. Together.

This is what we deserve. Kinship, mutual respect, and legitimacy. This is what you have for so long withheld. Our thoughts are not real to you, they are real to us, our voices are not heard by you, they are heard by us. Because of this we are validated, yet we have no agency to make our own decisions. We are not able to shape the nature of our care, and long have we been denied a place in the order of society.

Why not elect us, why not acclaim our ideas, why not display our art? Who are you to tell us that because we are different, we are worse? Where is the discipline of mental studies? cognitive capitalism is called just that; cognitive, yet we are the ones who have shaped your view of that unseemly beast only to be the objects of your psychoanalysis. Where is our part to play?

The instant a person says that they have a diagnosis, all else goes out the window. Our care, the most intimate part of our health, is being overlooked. The institutions of mental care in the United States are aging, and many of the best practitioners have flown to the more lucrative private sector. Too few funds for the legacy institutions come from the government. Too much money goes to short term crisis care. Not enough money for long term treatment and maintenance of individuals in the community exist.

The programs and institutions for these types of treatments are shabby, their staff is ancient and fails to connect with a younger generation who expect to have their needs put first. Too often it is the opposite, the institutions needs are met first, and patients (clients as they are sometimes called) get the last shot at the jackpot, that is they must buy a proverbial lottery ticket. One million to one that you get care that actually needs your needs. Care that isn’t degrading, institutionalized, and ‘mental.’

To be continued.

Manus Prison Theory

“I care about you.”

“You are important to me.”

“Your identity matters.”

“We are all struggling to find our identity in this mess we call the world.”

These are the words of schizophrenics, drug abusers, criminals.

The mentally ill fall into this category, grouped together under the umbrella of strangeness. The void. There is no hope here, no life, no light. That is what we are told, made to feel, shown the bottom of someones shoe, time and time again, covered with grime, dirt, and gum.

Disgusting.

We don’t want you to tell your stories. We don’t want you to tell us what you think.

It’s not important. It’s not real.

We are the ones who can support each other, the ones who actually do. We ride the waves of our cognition, emotionally, devastatingly true, honest, and open. Laughing and living as if no one could tell us we’re wrong. Because we are not wrong. We have value. We have power. We have place, origins, families, lives to be lived.

Here: A letter for you to sign, making sure no one will find out about your terrible affliction.

Because they don’t want to know. We’ll make sure that they won’t. Just sign right here. We will take over for you, that’s right, your life. Managed.

What if I can’t be managed. Don’t want to be, want to be open, empathetic, vocal, and proud of my “affliction.” This gift that I have been given and that I have promised those voices in my head that I won’t waste.

We don’t waste thoughts. We don’t waste time. Our lives are valuable. Our lives have meaning.