Self Ownership: What popular invocations of it don’t tell you!
Undoubtedly, if you have done any research on the topic of self ownership, you probably have come across a multitude of videos and essays where people are discussing how such a concept is a natural right, something that can never be taken away, or something that doesn’t require proof because it is the normal and natural state of existence; or something akin to those ideas.
That’s all wrong!
Okay. Slow down before you get upset with me if you think otherwise. For those of you who don’t know anything about the idea of self ownership, let us move forward. I take this position because the invocation of self ownership as the crux or foundation of any philosophy which presumes to be used as a metric for interactions with others needs to be fully defined and explored as to its creation, why it is needed. From this purpose, this goal of invoking the idea of self ownership, we can craft a set of parameters from which to devise a means of explaining such a concept; as well as how it is to be invoked in a manner that is transparent from a clearly defined goal to a set of means that are not contradictory to the goal.
Of course some individuals will undoubtedly bring up the idea that self ownership is a natural state of existence because someone cannot ‘not’ own themselves. If they are sentient then they own themselves for the reasons that are in essence called ‘elan vital,’ better translated from French to mean vital force or essence of life. Only things that are living possess this capability of ownership of self or other things. This will end up being problematic since ownership beyond simple control in the moment is required to fully understand the purpose of self ownership invoked in Humanity.
As self ownership is explored, it should become noticeable that Humanity is unique in its employment of ownership of things, including itself. Absolutely others creatures invoke claims over territories, offspring, successfully hunted food, and pretty much anything you can readily observe in the wild. This is a form of ownership in the moment. And in these moments, what is the defining factor of laying the superior claim to the control of these things called property or possessions?
In the wild it is survival of the fittest, typically among non-humans. Violence to control a territory, successful kill, or offspring is frequently invoked. The violence that is often the destruction of life in other creatures vying for resources and territory and control of a pack and so on sees the loss of one of their own kind in a way that is absolutely different than the unnecessary killing of one member of Humanity by another. We can communicate far more complex ideas regarding the boundaries we wish to set than other creatures can. We recognize the potential strength and power more information can grant us. Other creatures do not.
That is our evolutionary advantage or divine advantage or whatever you prefer to invoke it as being. Our strength comes in the creation and protection of more minds to potentially problem solve issues where as the strength of other creatures is varied in their ability to utilize whatever genes in their genetic codes give them an advantage over others of their kind and the remainder of creatures they must contend with. And yes, it still works similarly with Humanity. The catch is that anyone of us can have a spectacular idea which could revolutionize the previous pinnacles of Humanity’s successes because we can communicate far more complex ideas than other creatures can. And that is our advantage over them.
There is communication among the various creatures we share this planet with. But to our knowledge there are no other creatures with the complexities of our abilities to communicate ideas such as boundaries concerning future, past, and present acquisitions. Contractual agreements which transcend the present stretching from the recognition of one or another’s previous refinements of their time, intellect, and labor to their current refinements of such and the proclaimed future refinements of such compound the complexity of why we invoke ownership over things, including ourselves and others. Non members of Humanity do not possess the language or communication skills that are typically developed side by side with cognitive abilities as do Humans and other reasonably similar creatures.
How many other creatures recognize contracts in the sense that we do as members of Humanity? I mean specifically those which are in essence a means to set boundaries between us in order to avoid unintentional transgressions which can lead to unnecessary destruction of wealth or loss of life. How many other creatures craft the complexities of communication that we do? So far Humanity is alone in its near absolute dependence upon cognitive abilities to survive in the way it has. That may be open for debate concerning Humanity’s own stupidity in a show of unwisely using its time, intellect, and labor to invoke government as a supposedly peaceful method to regulate a monopoly on violence that is not entirely built upon defensive and peaceful means, however.
This is what makes self ownership different for us than other living creatures. But why?
The simple answer is that self ownership is a boundary invoked to communicate to others of the same species initially. I argue in Morality Defined that it is also a means to communicate with other species of similar cognitive abilities and comprehension of complex ideas. This particular boundary is where actions or abilities to affect a change should stop in order to avoid the potential violent, destructive conflict which may lead to the limiting of abilities to maintain and or improve the quality of their life for the species able to comprehend the purpose of protecting akin minds for the purpose of potential problem solving beyond mere survival. And that is pretty much a universal concept, survival that is.
The purpose of life as best as science so far has been able to understand is to merely perpetuate itself. There is nothing wrong with that. I don’t know why living creatures feel the need to reproduce and perpetuate the species they belong to. I know simply that it happens because it does. This is an axiomatic truth, not that we own ourselves. (I will get into this later.) We can go out and look at the world we are a part of and every living creature will seek to reproduce its own kind in some manner. It is just what life does.
I will likely be accused of invoking some deity or ‘God’ by stating that. To be clear, that is absolutely not what I am doing. I’m not saying that life reproduces because of anything particular reason. I’m simply stating that all life reproduces because of an idea that I currently do not understand AND do not think most people understand either. The drive to reproduce and perpetuate the species for all living creatures is an act that is present in all living creatures that we know of so far. This drive for life to reproduce is as naturally occurring as is gravity. It happens and there is no denying that, at least for Earth, it is the overwhelming axiomatic truth that requires no proof to demonstrate beyond simply observing the world we are a part of.
But self ownership is not the same kind of axiomatic idea. Self ownership is a complex idea founded upon self recognition. Self ownership takes into account time as well. Humanity recognizes its past through memories. Humanity recognizes the present through current actions. And Humanity recognizes its future through the cause and effect of its current actions built upon its past actions. This is why the invocation of self ownership is so important.
Self ownership is not axiomatic in nature entirely the way so many advocates of it invoke it being. We don’t own ourselves and consider such ownership to be ‘obvious’, ‘a truth that requires no proof’, or ‘self evident’ as multiple dictionaries define the word axiomatic and axiom to mean. Proof is very much required just the same as understanding why two plus two equals four. If we do not understand the underlying premise of invoking an idea then it requires proof. And if there needs to be some kind of proof or underlying concept to understand another concept then it is not axiomatic, not requiring proof, self evident, or even obvious. There is no need to prove that all life seeks to reproduce itself. That is axiomatic and requires no proof than to simply look out into the world and recognize that all the deer, insects, fish, plants, and so on in existence must have reproduced repeatedly to populate the world we live on. But the invocation of ownership is not something that is as common as we think. It is in fact fairly rare when we do begin to think about it with defined parameters of its invocation. Self ownership is a rare and complex idea in relation to all life we recognize and still a relatively new concept to Humanity as it is so poorly understood by a species proclaimed to have existed for well over 10,000 years. If self ownership were so obvious and axiomatic and self evident then people would not be subjecting themselves necessarily to the ills of stupidity, corruption, and slavery that is government.
So why is this concept not so obvious and understood?
Let me state this simply. Self ownership is about setting boundaries. How many people promoting the idea of self ownership will tell you that?
Self ownership is about setting boundaries to be respected by others of our own species for the continuation of our own species. Self ownership is the foundation of all moral codes invoked by Humanity. Self ownership is the first boundary invoked to preserve the life of the individual invoking it from other individuals of the same species, cognitive similarities, means to communicate, and desire to maintain and improve the quality of their lives to prevent unnecessary loss of life, liberty, and wealth created and acquired.
The goal of preserving life is to perpetuate the species. And Humanity, as creatures of tremendously developed cognitive abilities, is able to recognize the cause and effect of our past actions with our present actions and look into the future to see the potential outcome of our actions in order to avoid death and destruction at the hands of our own species members. That is an incredibly powerful evolutionary advantage which is useful to maintain AND improve the quality of our lives.
Yet, what is the potentially most destructive thing we can ignore even though we can do the most to peacefully ward off potential aggression from? Ignoring others of our own species is what!
Self ownership is a social construct of Humanity’s desire to perpetuate its own existence amongst itself while giving itself the ability to focus on that which it cannot peacefully reason with; such as the whole remaining parts of the universe which doth not feel or think when it explodes a star or shifts a mountain side leading to the potential destruction of anything in its wake including life, sentient and reason capable or otherwise. Self ownership is a boundary of complex cognitive abilities invoked by creatures desiring to maximize their own ability to maintain and improve the quality of their lives by negotiating and communicating what others should expect of them and vice versa so as to avoid destructive and deadly interactions between one another at the very least.
So long as the individual is in control of his or her cognitive abilities, then they own themselves in those moments. Later I will show how individuals can own themselves through other means of their refinement of their time, intellect, and labor to enter contracts in order to maintain a different kind of control over their bodies while incapacitated.
For the moment, I understand that this does not get into the philosophical ideas of where this control stems from. And that is the actual point of so much debate centered on self ownership. I think it is the incorrect path to take when first discussing self ownership as it doesn’t take into consideration the purpose of invoking self ownership at all. I state that because so many people go straight to discussing that point and fail to recognize they need a point of reference in order to discuss such topics. And these points of reference are almost always about how such things effect Humanity, be them self ownership or the gasses in a nebula 700 trillion light years away which are forming new stars that will eventually have an effect on us.
In short, self ownership in the moment is about control by the conscious mind over its vessel of transportation. For now, that simply means the mind over the body it inhabits. You can be the judge of whether that means the physical brains or whatever is responsible for the creation of that ‘entity’ in our heads which we all have to silently scream and spew obscenities with at others so they can’t hear us and vocally scream back.
Control in the moment is the idea. But as I stated previously, the control extends to the past and future as well. We remember the time, intellect, and labor we had to refine in order to make something ours. We hold claim over everything we’ve created. It has value for us. There will inevitably be arguments for how much we can control. But for now, the idea is that we want what we have worked to refine and create to be ours because it is a reflection of who we were, are, and will be to ourselves and others. Just as I wrote in Morality Defined, we want the value we place on our lives to be respected. When we refine our three natural resources, our time, intellect, and labor, we do so to create real wealth which satisfies one or more of the four basics of our lives; sustenance, shelter, security, and happiness. We value what we create, even if we are laboring for a wage which grants us fiat dollars or credits on Amazon dot com. That is a part of our lives in respect to the natural resources which we control and maintain.
And that right there is the next important step to understanding self ownership. If we control ourselves in each moment, all that we created in action in the moments in which we are in control of our selves, then everything we create while in control of our time, intellect, and labor is our property. That means that our bodies are our property. If we refine our time, intellect, and labor to provide sustenance, shelter, security, and happiness for ourselves, then we as the creators of such have exclusive claim to these creations because it is universally recognized that we did so without hurting others with intent; we did nothing to hinder the abilities of others to not provide the same or similar for themselves. The only additional concept to recognize with this is that not everyone will always be able to have exactly the same property and or choices to maintain and improve the quality of their lives.
This is true because the goal of life, even Human life, is to perpetuate it. And how best to maximize the ability to perpetuate life than to respect the value of other Human life that is not hindering your ability to maintain and improve the quality of your life through the introduction of any hostilities; of course while only asking that you respect the boundaries of maintenance that others maintain peacefully and honestly!?
The key is to make the time to communicate what boundaries are in practice and why?
And it is here that the mind now incapacitated is able to still exert ownership over the body it was or is known to inhabit has control. If an individual has purchased insurance or made contracts for medical care in such an event of being incapacitated and has saved the wealth required to continue paying for such care, then the mind in question may be considered to still own itself, particularly the vessel in which it is last known to reside. This is true based on the recognition of contractual obligations entered into by others voluntarily. They want the wealth of the incapacitated individual while also maintaining the respect of others.
In the event the incapacitated mind recovers, the obligation is complete. Otherwise the responsibility may fall upon other arrangements etc.
Regardless of the extra details that will inevitably come with an infinite number of ‘what if x happens’ style questions, self ownership in the moment is rooted in control of the vessel the mind inhabits. However, pending who cares for that vessel also is a determining factor for who owns the vessel in question.
The philosophical approach for self ownership is rooted in the setting of boundaries and who controls the body and mind directly from the inside in terms of internal controls. The practical application, or the layman’s approach, is what is commonly referred to as homesteading. This is how the setting of boundaries plays a role in the preservation of self and eventually the collective of Humanity through action built upon the philosophy of control to maintain ownership. So if the primary controller of the body and mind refines its time, intellect, and labor to maintain and or improve the quality of the controller’s life without imposing or transgressing against another unjustly, then the controller in question has exclusive rights to the possession of the life in question.
It takes the refinement of an individual’s time, intellect, and labor to refine other more traditional resources such as metals, wood, crops and so on to maintain and improve the quality of a life. When the refinement of an individual’s time, intellect, and labor must be refined to the betterment of another or suffer the wrath of others not being harmed, transgressed against, or otherwise the victim of their wrath, the target of such wrath is now enslaved. So why did I bring this up?
The short answer is: People can own other people, starting with themselves.
More specifically, parents and guardians own their children or dependents.
If this is grossly offensive to you, please take as much time right now to calm yourself and return. If you’re okay, let us continue.
In Morality Defined I laid out a clear path of thought progression concerning the purpose of morality. And in that work I discussed everything about the foundation of Morality except the in depth sub topic from which all morality is derived, self ownership. That is what this piece is all about.
To maintain alone without consideration of the improvement of quality of life requires a massive amount of resources, both philosophical in terms of time, intellect, and labor and traditional resources that will be consumed to satisfy the needs for sustenance, shelter, security, and happiness. However, to provide refine one’s time, intellect, labor to care for another in need of sustenance, shelter, security, and happiness is also exponentially more demanding. How many resources will a new life require that will, not might but will, change the kind of choices made that would offer different or arguably better living conditions for the caregiver in question?
Self ownership, while about control, pertains to those whom can communicate that they have control over themselves and maintain the vessel in which they proclaim to inhabit or control. Since children cannot do either of these without the investment of massive amounts of resources by some form of caregiver, they are then beholden to the caregiver. The key to understanding this is not that the children must be made to comply. It is in fact the responsibility of the caregiver to teach the children how to maintain themselves in order to be absolved of the responsibility of such stewardship of another mind AND to be free of the potential blowback of such a ward turning against the caregiver for some illusion of ‘malpractice’ of sorts.
Otherwise, the caregiver should never be scolded, ostracized, or otherwise intimidated by others not responsible for the welfare of the caregiver in question for not doing whatever is thought the caregiver should do. By holding a potential caregiver or a caregiver in contempt while not providing any resources voluntarily to aid the caregiver or the ward in question is an attempt to enslave the caregiver to emotional sentiment devoid of a clear path of logical thought progression.
That is the foundation of slavery. There is a difference between ownership of people and the enslavement of people. Perhaps it is time to begin looking into the differences of enslavement versus the ownership of people. The evolution and comprehension of ideas needs to be prominent in our daily lives so we can stop the ills of blind nationalism of those said to be statists and the nescience, although arguably intentional mean spirited ignorance, of proclaimed champions of freedom and dissenters of government and advocates of voluntaryism to berate these statists for being indoctrinated with patriotism instead of nationalism.
Now why is that important?
Because the evolution of ideas is real! Ideas change. Patriotism is no more wholly responsible for the advocacy of government than is a single white man responsible for all the ills of slavery. Patriotism is merely the devotion to an idea where as nationalism is the specific devotion to one’s governed country, not simply one’s ungoverned country. That is a significant point to recognize.
We, both as advocates of government and dissenters of it alike, fail to recognize the fact that while labels are important the context in which they are invoked is equally important. We need to make time to understand the ideas being relayed. Humanity is thus far unique in its ability to relay complex information and set boundaries with intent to preserve individuals and whole societies alike with compounded concepts built upon simpler concepts.
Our failure as a whole species to recognize the importance of understanding all of the ideas we invoke leads us to become enslaved; not to the maliciously calculated intent of others, but to the accidental profit of a few seeking to control others. It is absolutely okay to not understand everything. If some of us want to be beholden to those who create wireless communication such as smart phones and others want to be the producers and providers of services for those devices, it is okay. These are peacefully voluntary interactions which abide by the setting of boundaries between individuals.
Yet if we want to interact with others and have boundaries respected we must have a solid comprehension of the foundation of why these boundaries are invoked. The invocation of such ideas without comprehension is akin to locking one’s door at night for generations without actually teaching those successive generations why. One day they will simply stop locking their doors, not understand why they needed to in the first place, and be caught unaware of the danger.
And this is precisely the problem today. The main point of this recognition is that so many freedom advocates will be nodding their heads and silently saying their ‘amens’ to what I have just shared without realizing that such applies equally to them. If they say something is axiomatic or self evident and never bother explaining or exploring what those fancy words mean, then they end up sounding like crazy people to the already nescient people whom they think they are smarter than.
The nescient people who don’t lock their doors will simply say, “Nobody broke into my home or even tried that I ever heard of. Not even my great grandpa remembers anyone trying anything. Why bother locking the doors? Why do we even need locks or doors at all? You telling me that monsters will get me is ridiculous.”
Perhaps it sounds more akin to this:
“Of course I own myself. I also understand that tyrants don’t live in my nation because we all obviously know that we own ourselves. The constitution prevents gives us that right. Therefore tyrants in power and slavery can never happen here again. Besides, it’s good to have a little encouragement to pay for common defenses and amenities even if it isn’t voluntary all the time. It’s not like they’d exist without all of us pooling our resources.”
That’s what people think in essence when they are nescient and listen to the responses by others who claim things are axiomatic and self evident. The patience to make the time to understand for yourself is far more important than trying to educate others on subjects you don’t understand yourself fully beyond a mere sentiment. If concepts, such as self ownership, were truly existent without requiring proof then people would be more likely to respect others if they had to abide by them in the same regard as they are beholden to gravity’s pull while on Earth presently.
There needs to be more to help enlighten others whom are without comprehension to the ideas which will enable their freedom from limited knowledge. Knowledge is power. And power is often employed to gain at the expense of others whom could potentially help problem solve issues in your own life through your patience to listen to them. The power knowledge brings is meant to help Humanity and other akin beings in abilities to reason, communicate, and in sentience to survive not just one another but the whole of the universe that will never be capable of reasoning with.
That is the true purpose of having power in relation to understanding the question:
Why do we invoke the concept of self ownership?
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