Values, Virtues and Sins of a Viable Democratic Civilization


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Reframing the Controversy of Unconstrained Population Growth as a Hyperobject


22 Aug 2022 – Considerable importance is attached to values, especially to the democratic values deemed fundamental to governance, whether local, national or global. Significant in these times is the lack of consensus on the set of democratic values and especially how the relate to each other to sustain a viable global system.

As widely recognized, it has become virtually impossible to discuss the role of unconstrained population growth as a primary driver for current global crises (Institutionalized Shunning of Overpopulation Challenge: incommunicability of fundamentally inconvenient truth, 2008; Local Reality of Overcrowding — Global Unreality of Overpopulation, 2019). Increasing population can however be recognized as aggravating issues such as: climate change, shortage of resources, overcrowding, environmental degradation, unemployment, inadequate social security, violence, and the like. Strategies are however designed with minimal attention to the ever-increasing significance of that factor.

Curiously there is a sense in which little effort is made to explore the conclusions offered by root cause analysis with respect to processes driving the current crisis. Especially problematic are situations in which the root cause cannot be named in public discourse — because of the controversy and denial it arouses. Rather than the familiar deprecation of overpopulation as being a root cause in its own right, is there an even more fundamental root cause to which attention might be fruitfully accorded?

Does the controversy associated with “unconstrained population growth” derives from an understanding of the associated values which is problematic in its own right? Such growth might be more fruitfully recognized as engendered by a complex of intuited values which has yet to be appropriately understood. Rather than assuming that it can be readily understood, there is a case for recognizing that it may elude conventional modes of comprehension.

One possible way forward is through recognition that the issues and dimensions of discourse in that regard together constitute a hyperobject, as articulated from the perspective of object-oriented ontology (OOO) by Timothy Morton (Hyperobjects: philosophy and ecology after the End of the World, University of Minnesota Press, 2013;  Hyperobjects: an excerpt,; Introducing the Idea of ‘Hyperobjects’: a new way of understanding climate change and other phenomenaHigh Country News, 19 January 2015). For Morton, a hyperobject is held to be of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions in relation to human life that it defeats traditional ideas about what is indicated — an association with references to hyperreality.

The following argument is a development of an earlier discussion of the complex dimensions of wealth and poverty, and the manner in which hyper-wealth and hyper-poverty might be represented (Memorable representation of the dynamics of a hyper-wealth complex, 2022). Curiously and ironically — and perhaps necessarily paradoxically — engendering progeny could be readily recognized as a quest for a form of wealth, especially given the etymological relation of wealth to health. Through intercourse, the process is one which is intimately related to the quest for inner wealth, usefully indicated as “wholth” (Wholth as Sustaining Dynamic of Health and Wealth, 2013). This then merits careful consideration of the value dynamics sustaining the meta-pattern that connects.

As with the quest for material wealth, the controversy regarding population growth may merit considered exploration as a fundamental instance of misplaced concreteness — of reification and a quest for the ungraspable (Misplaced Concreteness as a Form of Encryption, 2021). Expressed otherwise, it may be a tragic case of “subunderstanding”, as articulated by Magoroh Maruyama from a cybernetic perspective (Peripheral Vision: polyocular vision or subunderstanding? Organization Studies, 25, 2004, 3).

Subunderstanding can in turn be recognized as an instance of negative learning, namely one which seeks to solve a partial problem, without considering the general problem of which it is a part. Successive resolutions of the partial problem do indeed generate learning — but increase the motivation to make choices suboptimal from the standpoint of the general problem (Lipoproblems: Developing a Strategy Omitting a Key Problem, 2009). In a context of political correctness, consideration of negative learning may itself be confused with negative language, namely the representation of people with disabilities in an incapable light.

Rather than the futility of rational argument regarding the “overpopulation myth“, it may prove to be the case that it is the aesthetics of wholth which offers a means of reconciling the extremes of wealth and poverty (Creating one’s own Reality through Aesthetics, 2022). Their compatibility — their reconciliation — necessarily eludes conventional modes of articulation through a mistaken quest for closure in the enragement with otherness (Engaging with Elusive Connectivity and Coherence, 2018; Comprehension of Unity as a Paradoxical Dynamic, 2019).

Understood as a complex nexus of controversial perceptions, greater insight may be found by applying the methods of representation of a hyper-wealth complex (as previously explored) to the familar sets of “virtues” and “sins” variously recognized by the religions over centuries. In systemic terms these may usefully frame a more elusive form of root cause — in a manner enabling more fruitful discourse.

Whilst acknowledging the ethical articulations of Buddhism and Taoism, the initial focus here is on the articulations within the Christian tradition (inspired to a degree by Aristotle), especially in the light of their current influence on national and global strategies. The concern here is the quest for more appropriate and coherent ways of representing those sets of virtues and sins beyond their traditional presentation as simple checkists. These necessarily tend to obscure the systemic relations between the psycho-social functions they imply, as well as any insight into their relationships in dynamic terms.

The focus on virtues and sins follows from an earlier Human Values Project as part of the online Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential. This addressed the difficulty in handling the labelling ambiguity of constructive values and destructive values through their organization into value polarities. The conventional labelling of virtues and sins offers a particular example of this — especially in a multicultural global context. This understanding of axiological polarity is contrasted with that of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics in which 12 virtues are each associated at the (golden) mean between their excess and deficiency

The exploration here of more systemically coherent forms of axiological representation is consistent with the fundamental role now authoritatively attributed to the existence of an “Axis of Evil” — and by implication to an “Axis of Good”, as variously recognized. The cognitive and logical significance of such “geometry” follows from the two-dimensional square of opposition, whose origins are traced back to Aristotle (7th World Congress on the Square of Opposition, Leuven 2022). Given the problematic role of divisive opposition so evident within a global context, this has acquired new relevance through the geometry of logical opposition, now articulated in three dimensions through polyhedra and their 4-dimensional analogues.


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One Response to “Values, Virtues and Sins of a Viable Democratic Civilization”

  1. Values are the products of man-making universal peace education. Values like democracy, justice, peace, tolerance, nonviolence, altruism and other values are the integral manifestation of the elements–body, vitality, mind, intellect and spirit–which constitute every man and woman, and the non-realization of these elements leads man to create dis values like non-democracy, injustice, war, intolerance, violence, selfishness, and other dis-values followed and practiced. For more detail, one may refer to my articles cited below with their websites:

    By Surya Nath Prasad, Ph. D.
    Peace and Conflict Monitor – A Journal of UN Mandated University for Peace, 17 January 2012

    Dialogue among Civilizations for Peace
    By Surya Nath Prasad, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service
    The paper is based on A Wrap-up Speech delivered by Dr. Surya Nath Prasad on 27 September 2001 at the UN Year of Dialogue among Civilizations and the 20th Anniversary of the UN Intl. Day of Peace, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea

    Peace Education for Genuine Democracy, Good Governance and Nonviolence
    Transcend Media Service, 21 Apr 2014