Ghosts From the Past: Sticky Problems in Legal Theory (Resolved)

What exactly does one do about edicts given from previous rulers, over whose (later) jurisdiction a different party — sometimes a radically different party — comes to bear rule?   This problem has plagued rulers since ancient times, and what one does or says about previous authority could easily be used against what they themselves intend as a lasting juridical legacy to aid the cause of justice for more than just one’s own generation.

In particular, how do you prevent someone from leaning to the past in what seems like fringe (or even bizarre) ways that seduce others into rebellious kinds of thinking or actions that can easily lead to breaking the law?  Cultic groups have done this, and this kind of practice has gone on since the days Flavius Josephus (ca 90) made mention of Messianic pretenders who led rebellions against the “Roman” authorities.

Let us take the case of the “Medes and the Persians,” “whose edicts cannot be changed or annulled once given” from the Book of Daniel.  This is a problem for later (thoughtful) Emperors, rulers of various kinds and kings, especially since the Medo-Persian kingdoms (120 or so “Satrapies” or regions) seemed to span what we now regard as the “Western World.”  What was the situation?  The Medes and the Persians came to loggerheads under the rule of Cyrus by the account of Herodotos of Halicarnassos (in Asia Minor).  They decided that sharing power was a better option than a total war, so they opted to alternate kings — now this time he would be a Mede like Darius I, but the next one would then have to be a Persian ruler.

Now, in order to keep each from simply canceling the orders of his predecessor — Democrats overturn the laws of the Republicans, only to have the next (Republican) ruler do the same (edict cancelation wars) to the Democratic laws passed —  they made the laws of both permanent standing orders incapable of cancelation of modification.

Today the parties just say, “oh sure we’ll pass it, but ain’t no way in Hades we’ll fund it; on second thought, we got us a filibuster on right now.  Probably kill it by noon.  What you got to trade?”

But then later emperors happen along as time passes, and Justinian reads a list of edicts given by Persian and Mede emperors from the past, or else Egyptian pharaohs, that did in fact apply in some, or else all, parts of his jurisdiction?  What if they seem lopsided, superstitious, bizarre, or just dead wrong? If you had someone — one person (or body) with worldwide authority — capable of making extremely wise and just judgements, who could obviate the problem by carefully issuing a general cancelation order that supersedes all previous imperial orders for scope and authority rating, you could in fact solve the problem.  But you would have to be careful not to overthrow too much.

If you overthrow too little, you would simply offer a great improvement to the legal landscape, removing a massive headache for future leaders.  This is in fact what Justinian himself attempted upon the completion of his famous Corpus Juris Civilis (533).  He issued a general cancelation order for all the “Roman” (they were actually Greek) legal codes from the various municipalities, which he had had compiled in order to create the CJCiv.  Justinian’s effort (IMHO) was exactly on target, but did nothing about the problems of the earlier empires (prior imperial and royal edicts), and not only the edicts they proffered, but also the oral traditions that function as law (de facto), and the earlier written legal codes.

As far as I am concerned, three very important specific targets of such (potential) judicial entanglements ensue in our day — these are those which we cannot afford to leave unchallenged (the first area is ancient law):

  1.  All imperial, royal and other edicts — whether commands to perform or prohibitions,whether edicts general or special in their scope
  2. All legal codes of the ancient world, until the time of Justinian, inclusive of his own, whether oral or written, de facto or whether de jure

The second target was created as a Christian brotherhood of royal rulers throughout Europe, forming the “Holy Alliance,” (1815 – 1822) which bound all of Europe in a Christian compact together, as led into the oath-based alliance by Czar Alexander II of Russia.  At the first, Great Britain declined to join; but it eventually caved in from pressure by many others by 1822.  The lone dissenting voices — those who refused to join — were the Vatican and Turkey (then the Ottoman Turks.

The third is called the “Solemn League and Covenant,” a compact formed in part as the result of the Confessional work of the Westminster Assembly (1646-47) in Scotland, which many (usually Presbyteriabns) have falsely taken to bear international and CURRENT authority in lands that were once (formerly) under the rule of the British empire.

All 3 of these categories of law and compacts have to be “abrogated, nullified and rendered altogether of no legal authority whatsoever” for the safety, security and sovereignty of all current nations, empires, leaders and governments worldwide to ensure the peace and safety of their domains and jurisdictions, and to prevent the unlawful abuse of past standards, no longer justifiable in our generation, and which may readily occasion the rebellious temptation to tamper with present and future authority.

I suspect that Justinian would agree that the Medes and Persians left a very dangerous legacy (and very bad legal precedent) behind.  Therefore, by the international authority I have been granted worldwide, I am ordering exactly the general cancelation order discussed just above — the categories of ancient law above, the Solemn League and Covenant (1646-7), and the Holy Alliance (1815-22), are hereby “abrogated, nullified and rendered altogether of no legal authority whatsoever” for the safety, security and sovereignty of all current nations, empires, leaders and governments worldwide — to ensure the peace and safety of their domains and jurisdictions, and to prevent the unlawful abuse of past standards, no longer justifiable in our generation, and which may readily occasion the rebellious temptation to tamper with present and future authority.

This category is being added as an addendum — all ecclesiastyical and religious councils, their anathemas (formal curses) and edicts are in like manner forever nullified, that is, rendered of no authority whatever, as a perpetual standing order along with these others.

It is so ordered.  Yet any legal code or order of current authorities, which may take its queue from any of the above, to incorporate some aspect of this or that advance at law — is perfectly acceptable, so long as it is carried out according to the law of the land in which the legal innovation in question transpires.


Surprised By Research: The Myth of The Roman Empire

At first glance, the reader may wish to entertain the somewhat obvious question: What in the world do you mean by dubbing the Roman empire a “Myth,” since it has an extremely well established archaeological foundation?  My answer provides nothing like a typical or expected response.  Instead, it adduces several well-known points (non-controversial) to render an altogether surprising, but nearly “common-sense” repartee.  Given the initial sticker-shock one would expect for my apparently outlandish claim, I can only beg the reading audience’s indulgence here.  First read, THEN judge.  Here, the order of events waxes all-important.  Here, I will now begin to present the facts for my case.

  1.  Every one of the “Western” and “Roman” emperors, from Caesar (transitional figure) and Octavian, all the way to Justinian, whose death in 565 spelled the end of the “Roman” empire to the satisfaction of latest plausible date (some like 463), had one interesting feature — They were ALL Greek-speakers.  Justinian’s wife, Theodora, could not have been more Greek if you had been a dish of Spanikopita.
  2. In 221 B, when Rome began to overrun the Greek empire, and in the years following, the Romans self-c0nsciously adopted (and later adapted) the Greek culture nearly wholesale, from their religion — they only changed the names of the gods but observed dynamic equivalence between the almost scrupulously.
  3. This transition had already begun by an interesting precursor [of the same type], when the Spartans — a Greek empire very much like the Roman one — sacked Athens, winning the Pelopennesian War in 404B.
  4. The Roman aristocrats sought to hire Greek (intellectual) tutors for the high-brow education — one worth bragging about in high society — of their children.  Their education was Greek, their religion was Greek, and their language was Greek.
  5. As late as 250, according to Princeton’s Dr. Bruce Metzger, the predominant language spoken in the city of Rome was Greek, not Latin.
  6. When Julius “Caesar,” (Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s) after whom, in the minds of many, the chief principate of the empire was named, wrote the Gallic Wars, he wrote in good Greek, not Latin.  So also Suetonius when he wrote of the 12 Caesars.  This assumes Greek as the language best befitting the biography of “Caesars” (Presumably, Caesar writing in Greek had something to do with this choice).

Punchline:  The Roman empire was never uniquely something other than Greek.  It was both a continuation (self-consciously) and later a transformation by social, political and economic forces not foreseeable in the early centuries of the empire.  There was no Roman empire AS SUCH.  This is a long-standing historiographic fiction.

The empire in question, was by every standard typically employed by historians — religion, language of leaders and commerce, education, a Greek empire that was far more like the Spartan empire than the Athenian, and later the Hellenistic (Ptolemaic-Seleucid) empire — which we should say ended in 30b on the early side of the calendar (when Cleopatra died).  The Neo-Spartan, Greek empire — the proper name for the purposes of real history — was thoroughly Greek in every way important to historians, but it was a special KIND of Greek, hearkening back to 404 — and we should have noticed this earlier (Peace be upon the historians; they are our final judges).

What does this important correction to our historiographic grasp of the ancient world mean?

  1.  It means that the Greek empire continued unabated, though significantly altered, from the Athenian, to the Hellenistic, to the Neo-Spartan, and then from the death of Justinian (565) and after, the Constantiopolitan (notice that Constantinopolis is a Greek name for the capital of the Neo-Spartan empire, not a Latin name). From Justinian, the Greek empire continued all the way to 1453, when it was decisively trampled and burned by the Ottoman Turks.
  2. This reconstructs western civilization as almost entirely Greek by cultural indebtedness and historical trajectory.
  3. This challenges the existence of any legitimately ROMAN church, and shows this by an interesting fact. The closest thing we ever had to what the (false) donation of Constantine pretended was the choice of Justinian by way of imperial edict to be crowned by THE PATRIARCH of CONSTANTINOPLE, not the pope of Rome, who was just as self-consciously rejected for this role as the patriarch was self-consciously chosen for this role.  Given the conditions of early church, the original could have been nothing but Greek (not Roman).
  4. A certain falsity accrues to the notion of any Roman church as the official one, since there was no “Roman empire,” only a Greek (Neo-Spartan) one, followed by it Byzantine counterpart (until 1453).
  5. The old canard about the “Holy Roman Empire,” (Somewhat funny actually) that it was not particularly holy, certainly was more Frankish, Austrian and Germanic and Spanish, than it ever was “Roman,” and that it was more, well, a loose confederation of states and not-so-much an empire [The HRE was an empire like, er, Cobol was a “highly-advanced programming language”  — well, it was programmable anyway, in a broken Chinese kind of way].
  6. In light of this as a second historigraphic blunder — the “Barbarian empire” (that is what its nomadic constituents were considered in the 3rd and 4th centuries — note that the “barbarians” at the gates is a Greek category and “barbarian” a very Greek concept, meaning “uncivilized,” meaning not able to speak the Greek tongue with any facility.

Surprised By Research: Why I No Longer Believe in Entropy (Anathemic Time) or Anathemic Science

When Sadi Carnot, Rudolph Clausius and William Thompson formulated their expressions of what we now think of as “The Second Law of Thermodynamics,” we (the whole blinking planet) were blissfully unaware of the changes that would take place in the philosophy of language after the mid-20th century we would later come to call the “Deconstructionist Turn.”  Had we known then what we know now, we would have noticed the obvious – the various expressions of this law took place in the “curved space” (cultural context) of [ridiculously-] Christian thinking, and in light of a view of metaphysics best described as “overly-Newtonian.”

Consider that Einstein’s notion of “time-dilation” would greatly affect the rate of entropic expansion within an isolated system.  Then we could ask about the effects that might inflect entropy if we assumed Brownian concepts of motion or Reimannian notions of space.  Taken seriously, these altered ways of thinking (some would say more advanced, but not the only ones would could include in the set of “ideas that would materially affect how we both view AND CALCULATE the nature and progressions of entropy within systems”).  Ladies and gentlemen, it is time now to think.  Let us think.

Early notions of entropy show us that the cultural environment in which they were born were bound to display such notions as affected, or even created, by cultural concepts of the day that formed some of the tacit intellectual capital then taken for granted.  This intellectual capital might seem grossly medieval by modern standards.  I wish to suggest that my own studies reveal that the original conception of entropy is anathemic.  It makes sense in a world characterized by a Great Fall, where God “cursed the man, the woman and the ground.”   It would not make much sense in a thought-world characterized by inevitable progress and basic goodness, where we would expect Moore’s Law, but not entropy, to prevail universally.  But in Christian-world of the 19th-century — “Jesus-Time” (Time as the progress of Anathema, unto the Apocalypse) formed the culturally-inflected background to the developed conceptions of entropy.

The culturally-inflected “Newtonian” assumptions standing behind the earlier entropy-concepts should alert us to the non-universal nature of our grasp of the entropic notion.  Culturally-constrained notions of “what is universal” should warrant our suspicions.  Moreover, various later conceptions of entropy (and their formulae) assume the tacit intellectual capital of mutually incompatible worlds — Newtonian, Einsteinian, Quantum, etc.  It’s only funny until the wave function collapses on YOUR cat.

But let us consult a scientist on another matter — one that seems to work against entropy over time.   Albert Einstein once averred thus: “There is no such thing as magic in the real world.  But the closest thing to it is compound interest.”   This I believe.  If one were to graph the development of a steady-state accretion of the growth of compound interest, it would yield the traditional “parabolic incline.”  Entropy (if we showed its converse — orderliness — would start off a little sloped downward past the point of a linear descent, showing declining “order within the system” (useful energy available), and that available energy would eventually fall to zero.  But it could progress downward no farther.

Compound interest, on the other hand (representing to my mind Moore’s Law) could turn upward sharply past the knee of the curve and soar upward INDEFINITELY.  If you pit the one against the other, compound interest wins.    I believe in Moore’s law, so I regard entropy as an ephemeral (fly by night) fiction, not an actual law of physics, but rather a Christian and anathemic phantom.  If Maxwell had a few demons, then so also Thompson.  Here (We can expect ongoingly) I will be listing and challenging counterinstances to the various formulations of entropy to show that the law of progress is the actually law of the light of nature, and not entropic encroachment.  I propose a more scientific end to all such Christianized silliness.  There is no good reason to believe that our universe will end in heat death (The Christian apocalypse by refrigeration rather than by fire).

It is interesting to note, that like many born in his native Scotland, Kelvin was a religious man.  According to

“Kelvin believed science must be treated with reverence, as he explained:

‘I have long felt that there was a general impression that the scientific world believes science has discovered ways of explaining all the facts of nature without adopting any definite belief in a Creator. I have never doubted that impression was utterly groundless.

‘The more thoroughly I conduct scientific research, the more I believe science excludes atheism. If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to the belief in God, which is the foundation of all religion.’

Attendance at a chapel was part of Kelvin’s daily routine and he faithfully studied the Bible.”

Kelvin’s [religious] background and his father were considerable influences on him as Dr Andrew Holmes, a lecturer in the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast, explains:

“In all his endeavours, Kelvin sought to integrate his faith, politics, and professional interests. His Irish background was very important in shaping him.

“He came to the same position as his father: that the universe was a designed system that could be understood because God created the human mind in order, among other things, to understand the natural world.”

Here, I wish to present a view of entropy contrary to the one suggested by the Christian “anathemic view” of it.  I hold that, instead of succumbing to it, we will progressively defeat entropy (that is both the nature of human progress [after a fashion] and the record of human achievement (Science tends to defeat entropy with the help of technology)], until we render it negligible in the course of future human progress.  In the market place, they speak of “greed versus fear,” where greed indicates the buyers (bull market) and fear the bears (sellers).  In my economic metaphor, we can shortsell entropy (make money and order declines) and invest long in science in technology to drive it back indefinitely until we render it negligible.  With the wisdom of science and technology, and the persistence and pecuniary chutzpah of the greedy bastards, we cannot lose.  Never underestimate the power of greedy bastards.

Please note that the use of negative numbers, non-referential indicators (in some thought-worlds, “Quantity-Lies”) the progress of accruing value on the negative side of the ledger provides the numerical counterpart to entropy — the growing “negative” value.  This growing negative value proceeds only upon the non-referential side of the number line (No one can point to -50 oranges), and the “number” of -50 shows a false conflation of an operation (subtraction is repr. by the “-” sign) and the actual quantity “50.”  This is known as a “category mistake” in informal logic — here, one confusing the ideas of a mathematical operation with the notion of quantity — united in a numeral supposedly displaying only quantity, and not operation + quantity — the actual false conflation conveyed.

Entropy also purports to show WHAT IS LACKING — a lack of order is a (referential) fiction, just as “absurd” (conceptually muddled) as is the concept of “-7.”  Instead, entropy notions will eventually need reformulating to show available and usable energy — what is present — not what is absent.

More about this topic later.