Friday, November 8, 2013

Obama and Consciousness

In his syndicated column of November 7, 2013, the brilliant Charles Krauthammer has written of “Rhetoric v. Reality.”

Quoting The New York Times headline “Obama to campaign to ensure health law’s success,” Dr. Krauthammer asks, “Campaigning to make something work? How does that work. Presidential sweet talk persuades the nonfunctional Web portal to function?”

Obviously not.

Psychiatrist Krauthammer’s next sentence—“This odd belief that rhetoric trumps reality [my emphasis] leads to strange scenes”—is the theme of his essay. It is reinforced by the observation that Obama proponents don’t live “in the real world,” and by Krauthammer’s statement that the president and his minions entertain a “bizarre belief in the unlimited power of the speech.”

Putting aside that Dr. Kauthammer seems to be careful not to diagnose Obama and his followers as delusional, there is a more fundamental—and frightening—explanation of the president’s behavior, not just regarding Obamacare but more broadly much of what else he has done and not done.

President of the United States Barack Obama suffers from the ultimately fatal disease of Primacy of Consciousness.

For Barack Obama, the tree does not fall in the forest if he’s not there to see and hear it.

If he wants to believe, for whatever reason, Americans can keep their insurance and physicians, then they can—even if in the real world they can’t.

If he denies having said they could, he didn’t say that—even if in the real world he did.

There are too many other such examples, and in suffering from Primacy of Consciousness Obama necessarily rejects Primacy of Existence—or, one could say, he rejects reality.

The late Ayn Rand expressed the crucial distinction between the two and their centrality to living in the real world rather than in an amorphous never-never land:

The basic metaphysical issues that lies at the root of any system of philosophy [is] the primacy of existence or the primacy of consciousness.

The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness), that things are what they are, that they possess a specific nature, an identity. The epistemological corollary is the axiom that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists—and that man gains knowledge of reality by looking outward. The rejection of these axioms represents a reversal: the primacy of consciousness—the notion that the universe has no independent existence, that it is the product of a consciousness (either human or divine or both). The epistemological corollary is the notion that man gains knowledge of reality by looking inward (either at his own consciousness or at the revelations it receives from another, superior consciousness).

The source of this reversal is the inability or unwillingness fully to grasp the difference between one’s inner state and the outer world[1] (i.e., between the perceiver and the the perceived (thus blending consciousness and existence into one indeterminate package-deal). This crucial distinction is not given to man automatically; it has to be learned. It is implicit in any awareness, but it has to be grasped conceptually and held as an absolute.[2]

Despite Obama’s unwillingness or inability to recognize what has happened before his eyes, the private health insurance market has crashed in the real-world forest.

[1] My emphasis.
[2] “The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made,” Philosophy: Who Needs It? (1982), 29.