Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Undercurrent - Student Newspaper

The following is an announcement from the staff of The Undercurrent:

The next issue of The Undercurrent will be coming out in mid-September. If you are interested in writing for it, please note that the submissions deadline for first drafts is August 17th. (Early submissions welcome!)

Anyone interested in writing should email the editors at content@the-undercurrent.com. We will have some specific suggestions and guidelines to offer you.

If you want to write but do not have a specific topic in mind, please let us know! We can point you to some news stories and make some article suggestions.

On the other hand, if you already have an article in mind, we encourage you to send us an abstract/outline so that we can give you an early indication whether we're interested in publishing.
Thanks for your interest and support,

The Undercurrent Staff

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality - Part IV

Gender as an Integration of Individuating Elements

This is part 4 of a 6-part essay on the Psycho-epistemology of Sexuality. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here, and part 3 can be found here.

In parts 2 and 3 of this essay, I argued that man values individuating elements of self, like the particulars of his body, because these elements are integrated by one's mind with his pursuit of objective values. I also indicated why, when one perceives a concrete (like the artist's hands) which symbolizes a host of values, the subconscious responds with a positive emotion. I will now apply these ideas to gender and sexuality specifically.

One's sex is an element of self which is a significant factor determining the range of physical attributes possible to him. The essential difference between men and woman is physiological. Men are generally taller and heavier, have deeper voices, straighter figures, have greater physical strength, more facial hair, etc. Women are generally smaller, have higher voices, hourglass-shaped figures, are relatively weaker, etc. Granted, a wide variety of attributes are possible within each gender. These physiological tendencies are not absolutely universal -- borderline cases exist -- but it cannot be denied that there are fundamental physiological differences between men and women in general.

For example, within the population of males there is a great variety in vocal pitch. However, men are much more similar to each other in this regard when contrasted with women. Being male or female determines - in part - the range of vocal pitch that is possible to a person. To use a simple numerical representation: Assume that the entire range of pitches of the human voice could be measured from 1 to 10. And for the sake of argument, assume that 99% of men fell within the 2-6 range, and 99% of women fell within the 6-9 range. (These numbers are entirely made up, but are close enough to the truth for our purpose.) There is some overlap between the pitch ranges of men and women, but not much. Again, borderline cases exist, but they are just that: borderline cases.

While the range of one's vocal pitch is limited by his gender, his particular voice can be highly distinctive. The sound of one's own voice is certainly an individuating element of self, like the artist's hands. It is one's voice that gives reality to his ideas and communicates them to others. If my argument up to this point holds, then the distinctiveness of one's voice can legitimately be experienced as a value, as could one's distinctive walk, style of dancing, etc. Each of these physical attributes individuates a person, and at the same time places him firmly in the category of his gender.

Why is this important? If it were only vocal pitch that separated men and women, then it wouldn't be important at all -- just as skin color or eye color alone are not significant individuating aspects of self. But the existence of the two sexes is a fundamental, universal fact of human beings as such. A huge number of physical individuating aspects of self are limited to a certain range by one's sex. This is why it is legitimate for a person to experience his sex as an essential element of his self. It is why - in fundamental terms - I experience my physical self as primarily a man, and Kelly thinks of herself primarily as a woman.

We have here a great range of distinguishing physical attributes which are in some respects physiologically integrated. This is an extremely important point. There is one concrete fact -- one's gender -- which gives rise to and integrates a huge number of individuating elements of self. One cannot perceive one's "man-ness" or "woman-ness" as a whole through introspection. There are so many individual physical elements which are associated with one's gender in his subconscious, it would be impossible to hold them all in his focal awareness simultaneously. But what if one could perceive another single, concrete entity which symbolized and reflected all of these individual physical elements at once? It's easy -- simply take a long, hungry look at your lover.

Because it is the difference between the sexes that gives rise to and integrates so many individuating elements of self, perceiving a member of the opposite sex gives one an immediate, perceptual frame of reference -- one which places a special stress on those differences. This is why men are more aware of their own masculine qualities in the presence of women, and vice-versa. A man on a desert island, unaware of the existence of women, would not understand what it felt like to be masculine. But for one in a romantic relationship with a member of the opposite sex, this feeling permeates his entire physical sense of being.

I have not yet touched upon the most easily recognizable difference between the sexes -- the sex organs themselves. Of all the physical elements of self determined by one's gender, clearly none are more important than the way he actually has sex. (I must stress that I am delimiting my arguments to heterosexual sex on this point.) We have arrived at another critically important fact: Man possesses a great number of individuating attributes that are physiologically integrated by his gender, and one of those elements is the form in which he experiences the greatest physical pleasure possible to him. In the act of sex, this physical pleasure is enhanced by the direct perception of a being which symbolizes a host of values - namely, the integration of many of one's distinguishing attributes - by stressing the essential differences.

But the joy of sex does not stop there. Man is not only a physical being -- he is also a conceptual being. Not only does he possess physical individuating elements, but also mental and spiritual individuating elements. One's lover can symbolize and reflect these values, as well. The final result has been named psychological visibility.

In part 5 of this essay, I will discuss the concept of psychological visibility, and how sexuality is a critical component of this process.

**Update- Part 5 can be found here.

--Dan Edge

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality - Part III

MIND-BODY INTEGRATION

This is part 3 of a 6-part essay on the Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here. This section contains material drawn from two of my earlier essays: The Psycho-Epistemology of Acting and Mind-Body Integration. Those essays are not necessarily prerequisites for reading this one, but reading them may be helpful in understanding some of the ideas I present here.

In part 2 of this essay, I presented the example of an artist who derives great pleasure from the use of his hands despite their accidental flaws, and I asked the questions: Why does the artist value his hands in particular? And why is it that he takes such pleasure in looking at his hands, even though their individuating characteristics (size, shape, etc.) are non-essential?

In order to answer these questions, one must introspect further to discover the relationship between automatized perceptual data, automatized physical motions, automatized concepts, and automatized evaluations. Once this relationship has been established, I will have laid the groundwork for explaining why man treats sexuality as a value. But first, let us consider some examples of the automatized mind-body connection in the subconscious.

For decades, self-help gurus have noted that if one forces himself to sit up, smile, and take a deep breath, it can immediately improve his mood. There appears to be a connection between the automatized motions associated with an emotion and the emotion itself. When one forces himself to sit up and smile, he is effectively telling his subconscious that he is calm and comfortable, and the subconscious responds with the corresponding emotion.

Similar examples can easily be found through observing the relationship between one's own emotional and physical states. I find that, when my lover and I are fighting, if I lower the tone of my voice and force the grimace from my face, it calms me down immediately. Kelly also picks up on this non-verbal communication. As I sit here and type this, I can force myself to experience (some degree of) anger simply by contorting my face and body into the kind of form they would be in if I were enraged. This rage has no outlet or object, so it is merely a shadow of the true emotion, yet this example still illustrates a subconscious connection between mind and body. I encourage the reader to experiment with this, as it may seem counter-intuitive.

Consider another example. If one detects the smell of honey in the immediate vicinity, he may begin to think about the taste of honey or remember instances when he has eaten it, even before he is focally aware of the fact he is actually smelling it. Or, one could begin to sing a song to himself, only to discover that the song had been playing in the background all along. This indicates that the subconscious actively integrates perceptions, memories, and emotions outside of one's focal awareness.

One final example: If one ponders a happy memory, like the first time he kissed his lover, he may experience a shadow of the happiness he felt at that time, along with the physical manifestation of that happiness. If he feels happy in the moment, his mind may naturally wander to memories of happy occasions. Kissing one's lover in a passionate way may bring to mind memories of their first kiss.

These examples demonstrate how the subconscious can integrate perceptions, physical motions, ideas, memories, evaluations, and emotions. In my essay Mind-Body Integration, I argue that the mind treats these elements as related units, and that one's "subconscious provides him information related to whatever his mind is focused on at any particular time." If the perception of a certain entity is connected in the subconscious to certain ideas or memories, then one can expect that when he perceives that entity, his subconscious will respond with the related units (whether they are ideas, memories, emotions, etc.)

Now let us apply this principle to the example of the artist and his hands. If my hypothesis is correct, then in his subconscious the artist's automatized perceptions of his hands are integrated with the automatized physical motions his hands perform; are integrated with his automatized knowledge of the values his hands create; are integrated with his automatized evaluations (and emotional responses) generated by the attainment of his values. When the artist perceives and/or uses his hands, his subconscious provides his focal awareness with the related units, which include positive value judgments -- and therefore positive emotions.

This kind of emotional feedback is essential in the same way and for the same reasons as psychological visibility. (I provide a skeletal explanation of psychological visibility in the 'Background' section of my essay The Morality of Monogamy, but for a full explanation, see Branden's Psychology of Self Esteem or his article on the Muttnick Principle published in The Objectivist). In perceiving oneself creating values, some of the concretes (like the artist's hands) become symbolic of a host of abstract values. While it may may be impossible to hold a great number of abstractions in one's focal awareness at any particular time (per the Crow principle), they can be experienced through the direct perception of an entity which is related to many other values in the subconscious. This is why the artist derives pleasure from perceiving his hands, and why he values his particular hands more highly than any other pair of hands on Earth.

In the 2nd part of this essay, I argued that the artist is justified in highly valuing his particular hands despite their accidental flaws. The units integrated by his subconscious relate to his particular hands, not anyone else's. While the artist may be able conceptually to evaluate the relative advantages of another man's hands over his own, the artist cannot actually use someone else's hands, and thus only his own hands can serve as perceptual symbols of his values.

This principle can apply to other individuating elements of self, both physical and mental. For instance, I am a big fan of the Carolina Panthers, and I love being a Panthers fan. I chose the Panthers based on nothing more than geographical proximity -- they were the closest football team to my hometown of Greenville, SC. Yet I value the Carolina Panthers much more highly that any other football team. Certainly it is not more ethical for a football team to make its home in the Carolinas, or New York, or some other city. But while my choice was initially based on a trivial factor, proximity, over time my subconscious has integrated the concept of the Carolina Panthers with countless perceptions, experiences, and emotions related to my love of the game. I argue that it is entirely legitimate for me to value the Panthers more highly than any other sports team on Earth, and the elation I feel when watching them play is justified.

In conclusion, I believe it is legitimate to value individuating elements of self which are morally optional, provided that one's particular attributes fall within a range -- a range determined by one's hierarchy of values.

In part 4 of this essay, hopefully coming up next week, I will argue that one's sex is a significant factor in determining the range of physical motions possible to him (especially compared to members of the opposite sex), and that one's sex is integrated with many individuating aspect of self, which causes him to experience sexuality as a value. Stay tuned.

** Update- Part 4 can be found here.

--Dan Edge

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Israel Negotiating Terms of its Surrender

A letter sent to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the Israeli release of 250 Palestinian prisoners in an effort to "bolster" Abbas and Fatah.

To Whom it May Concern,

I am an American who supports Israel in its war against Islamic Totalitarianism. So it is very frustrating to watch Israel negotiating the terms of its surrender with the terrorists. Why are you releasing criminals who will only return to your country with explosives strapped to their bodies? I support freedom and capitalism, and consequently I support Israel, but you guys make it hard when you continue to negotiate with terrorists. Fatah is not your friend. 250 Israeli bombers over Gaza will do a lot more for the cause of freedom than 250 released terrorists.

--Dan Edge, NY, USA

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality - Parts I and II

Following are the first two parts of a six-part essay on the psycho-epistemology of sexuality. I will try to post the next four parts over the next four weeks, and then publish a complete, edited version of the paper a few weeks later. I am open to feedback on the separate sections and will answer questions as they arise, but I intend to execute the original outline as planned. This paper is as much for writing practice as it is for philosophical exploration. Critiques of writing style and editorial suggestions are also welcome.

THE PSYCHO-EPISTEMOLOGY OF SEXUALITY

Introduction

To the men: Imagine standing next to your ideal lover, looking into her eyes, wrapping your arms around her, picking her up in the air, and kissing her deeply. To the women: imagine being the one desired, lifted, and kissed. These are the moments when one has a deep experience of his sexuality. They are the times when you love being a man, and love reveling in your masculinity. Almost all of us have felt this way at some point.

But where does this feeling come from? Man generally derives pleasure from the achievement of values. What values are achieved in the act of kissing a lover? If there is a set of (philosophical) values shared between two lovers, then love-making can be a celebration of those values. But one also experiences a pleasure that is related directly to his gender. When a man picks a woman up off the floor and kisses her, he not only experiences his lover as a valuable human being, but as a valuable woman. And by reflection, he experiences his man-ness as a value.

There is a set of traits that are considered masculine, and a separate set of traits that are considered feminine. Most men are proud of their masculine traits, play them up, and act to gain additional masculine traits (like lifting weights to gain bigger biceps). Women do the same with feminine traits (like getting manicures). Men and women generally treat expressions of sexuality as a value.

If a value is "that which one acts to gain and/or keep" (Rand, Atlas Shrugged), then in what way can one's gender be considered a value? Certainly it is no more valuable to be a man or a woman. Men and woman are completely equal from an ethical standpoint. From this perspective, it would appear that experiencing one's gender as a value is irrational.

Some have argued that masculinity and femininity are culturally based. Men have traditionally opened doors for ladies, so over the years this has become a "masculine" act. This would imply that the pleasurable experience of sexuality is based on irrational premises left unchecked in the subconscious. Masculinity and femininity become a psychological disease, disseminated through osmosis from the culture. If this is the case, then the rational man should stamp out any hint of so-called "masculinity" in his psyche, and strive for a "gender neutral" image of self.

If the man (or woman) inside of you emphatically rejects this conclusion, then I agree completely. This is an appropriate reaction to an absurd conclusion.

In this paper, I will argue that it is valid to value one's gender and other individuating elements of self that are morally optional. I will argue that the experience of sexuality is a natural, rational result of man's physiological and psychological makeup. Finally, I will explain why sexuality is experienced most deeply in the context of a romantic love relationship.

Individuating Elements of Self - The Shower Principle

I contend that it is rational to value individuating elements of self. An individuating element of self is an aspect of one's self, physical or mental, that makes an individual unique. This includes both the particulars of one's body (like facial structure, skin tone, or hair color) and the particulars of one's personality (like sense of humor, taste in music, or personal style).

That one values individuating elements of self is evident through introspection. I value my face because it is my face; I value my voice because it is my voice; I value my sense of humor because it represents what is funny to me. All of these individuating elements are morally optional within a range. It is not inherently more valuable to have brown hair rather than blond, to have green eyes or blue, to be white or black. But I would not want to change my hair, eye, or skin color -- I love the way I look, just as I am. It is not inherently more valuable to prefer Beethoven to Bach, ice cream to chocolate bars, or jeans to khaki. But I would not want to change my music collection, the contents of my fridge, or my ideal wardrobe -- I love my personal preferences, and treasure them over all others.

Why is it that I value the particulars of my body and mind? While in the shower one day, I conducted a thought experiment that clarified this issue for me. For this reason, I christen it "The Shower Principle":

Consider the example of a normal, rational man who values his life. He values his particular life, here on earth. This does not imply that every aspect of his life is positive. He abstracts away the negative elements and focuses on the positive values in life. One could say that he values his life in general.

Assuming the man is a good person with a healthy self-esteem, he values his self (his self being the sum of his physical and mental existence). He acts to preserve both his mind and body, because both are necessary for his survival. He values these elements of self in general -- but this does not imply that every particular aspect of his mind and body are positive. He may have a congenital heart defect, or some leftover psychological problems from his childhood, or perhaps he has not fully integrated some aspects of his philosophy into his life. But in general he is a good person, with a good mind, and a good body. He focuses on the positive elements of his particular mind and his particular body, and he values these elements of his self in general.

Now, let us break it down further. The man values his body as a matter of course. He values his particular body because it is his particular body that supports his life. Suppose the man is a painter. He loves using his hands to create beauty on canvas. The man highly values a particular aspect of his body: his hands. This does not imply that every aspect of his hands are perfect. Maybe he has some scarring on his fingers from a bloody fight in his past. Maybe he is starting to develop arthritis, and has to take Advil to dull the pain. But he abstracts away these negative elements, and focuses on the positive. He values his hand in general. And he values his hands in particular.

This man loves his hands (love being the emotional response to values). He likes to look at them and watch himself using them as a creative force. He has chosen to focus on this particular value because of the way he views its integration with other positive elements of his life, like his painting. He understands the curves, strengths, and capabilities of his hands to a far greater degree than most people. Though his hands have scarring and occasional pain, he values his own hands much more highly than anyone else's. This man loves his particular hands, despite their accidental flaws.

So why, exactly, does the artist value his hands in particular? Why is it that he takes such pleasure in looking at them, even though their individuating characteristics (size, shape, etc.) are non-essential? It is because his subconscious integrates the perception of his hands, the automatized motions they perform, and his evaluation of the things they create. His emotions then respond to this integrated, psycho-sensual unit.


Thanks for reading. Part three of this paper, Mind-Body Integration and Psycho-sensual Units, should be published either next week or the following week.

**Update - Part 3 can be found here.

--Dan Edge

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On Sanctioning the Sanctioner Sanctioners

Soon after discovering Objectivism, I learned of "the Split" which occurred between the leaders of the ARI and David Kelley's group. At the time, it seemed so important that our high school study group stopped everything we were doing to research this issue -- we wanted to choose the right side from the beginning. My friend Chris McKenzie printed out over 100 pages of text related to the Split, and we dived in. After reading many of the essays, letters, and other Split-related documents, I tentatively agreed with the ARIan philosophical perspective on all the main points.

After several years of studying Objectivism in more detail, I revisited the Split again in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the epistemological and ethical issues involved. Once again, I found that I sided with the ARI camp on all of the important philosophical disputes. In summary, I concluded that Objectivism is a closed system, that Kelley's understanding of epistemology as applied to ethical judgment is severely flawed, that "toleration" (in the sense Kelley describes it) is not a virtue, and that granting sanction to one's ideological enemies is a dangerous game.

Regarding this last point, however - the issue of sanction - I have never been fully satisfied with my understanding of how to apply the principle. I agree that it is counter-productive to sanction those who misrepresent one's ideas, but the question remains in my mind: What constitutes sanction?

To "sanction" a person, group, or idea is to grant it a degree of legitimacy. One dictionary website defines sanction as "encourag[ing] or tolerat[ing] by indicating approval." It is unethical to publicly encourage, tolerate, and approve of one's enemies.

One does not need explicitly to voice his approval in order to grant sanction -- it is often given implicitly. For instance, one could argue that joining a political party grants sanction to the ideology underlying the party's platform, or that engaging in serious debate with a thoroughly dishonest opponent grants a degree of legitimacy to the opponent's arguments. But how far does this go? I will first consider a few clear examples, then present some borderline cases for analysis.

In my view, publicly supporting a political party clearly sanctions that party's ideological platform. "Public support" can include speaking at party-sponsored events, joining the party, helping raise funds for the party, and other similar activities. If ideas move history, then popular and well-funded ideological movements are a force to be reckoned with. To be clear, I do not believe it constitutes sanction to cooperate with members of a political party to accomplish a specific goal, like getting a particular bill passed through Congress. However, publicly promoting a political party as a whole is sanction, and one should be careful not to grant implicit support to ideological movements that oppose his values.

As an example of a form of support which is clearly not sanction, consider the act of buying an apple from a street vendor in Manhattan. One does not implicitly sanction the philosophical beliefs of the street vendor by doing business with him. Within the context of this interaction between buyer and seller, one implies his approval only of this particular transaction. Apples are not ideas, and purchasing one does affect the course of history on a grand scale. Even if the street vendor is an unethical person, one is not in a position to know it, nor does he need to.

Now consider a few personal examples that are much less clear to me:

Ironically, the Split between ARI and TOC has led to debate about whether and to what degree one ought to "tolerate" Kelleyites. Kelley's ideas, particularly in epistemology, are indeed destructive to Objectivism -- and he leads an ideological movement dedicated to spreading those ideas. Here is a clear case in which an Objectivist should withhold sanction from TOC. This would rule out joining TOC or directly donating money, of course, but how far does it go?

Harry Binswanger offers part of his answer in the Loyalty Oath for his product the HB List. According to the Loyalty Oath, the HB List "exclude[s] anyone who is sanctioning or supporting the enemies of Ayn Rand and Objectivism." Note he excludes, not only Kelleyites, but also those who sanction Kelleyites. The question remains: what constitutes sanction in this context? I found that Dr. Binswanger is very strict in his answer to this question.

Several years ago, when I ran the MSN group Objectivist Singles, I was denied membership to HBL because at one point my site contained a link to a TOC website. I notified Dr. Binswanger that at the time, no link to the TOC actually existed -- the member who had posted the link was banned for bad behavior, and his posts were all deleted. However, I told him, I did not in principle disallow links to TOC-related websites. On Objectivist Singles, the Split and other contentious issues were off-limits because I thought they were not appropriate topics for a singles site, but my rules allowed members to link to whatever other websites they chose. Dr. Binswanger wrote back and politely thanked me for my honesty, but denied my membership to HBL. In his view, I was sanctioning the sanctioner sanctioners.

The Atlasphere is another interesting borderline case regarding sanction. The site's owner Joshua Zader is most definitely a Kellyite, and to boot is a supporter of some kooky new age ideas. However, these negative elements do not seem to heavily influence Zader's management of his product. The Atlasphere is unique in its catalogue of thousands of Rand admirers from all over the world. It offers enormous potential value, particularly for Objectivists looking for friends and potential lovers. Does one sanction TOC by perusing The Atlasphere? How about becoming a paying member? How about writing an article for its blog? How about working for The Atlasphere?

Another recent example: a poster on Objectivism Online believes that "Even if [Nathanial Branden's] books have value, [he still doesn't] think Objectivists should buy them." I disagreed in this particular instance because I so highly value Branden's The Psychology of Self-Esteem. But I can see where this poster is coming from. Nathanial Branden has spent years and years campaigning against Objectivism in general and Ayn Rand in particular. If Jim Valiant is even 50% correct in his evaluation of Branden in PARC, then Branden deserves the ostracism he has received in Objectivist circles. So, is it morally optional to buy Branden's books? Ought one buy them used if possible? In general, how much time should one spend on making sure that his ideological enemies do not get a penny of his money?

I have friends who tried not buying any goods from China, in order not to grant sanction to this socialist, totalitarian state. This only lasted a few days. It was simply too difficult to avoid buying Chinese products. One would be sacrificing a great deal in order to stay China-free. I think of this whenever I hear people discouraging others from buying great books because they don't want the authors to benefit.

There is a sliding scale here, but the lines are not clearly marked.

I must wrap up this blog post, since it is already a day late (I like to publish on Tuesdays). I can leave you only with more questions, since I think it will be some time before I fully understand the answers: How can I make sure that I do not inadvertently sanction hostile ideological movements? When dealing with groups like TOCers and Libertarians, what kinds of interactions constitute sanction? How much of this is morally optional, how much is optimization, and how much is morally obligatory?

--Dan Edge

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Holy Scriptures of the United States of America

Tomorrow is the 4th of July. I am a very patriotic American, and this week's blog post is dedicated to the three documents that together define the true spirit of America: the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

I was fortunate enough to actually see these documents last year at The National Archives in Washington, DC. All those who value freedom should make the Mecca to the Archives at least once in their lives. It is nothing short of a religious experience. Seeing the documents up close was overwhelmingly emotional for me. Here lie the writings of some of the greatest giants ever to walk the Earth, whose ideas truly changed the world. When stepping into the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, where the documents are displayed, one is compelled to stand a little straighter, hold his head a little higher, and walk with confidence and grace. When I left the dimly lit room, I sat down on one of the chairs immediately outside to reflect on what I had seen and to sign the guest book. "This is one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had," I wrote. "One feels he must be worthy even to share the same room with these documents."

If you have never read America's holiest scriptures, there is no better time to do so than on the 4th of July. The Founding Fathers were not only great intellectuals, they were men of action. On July 4th, 1776, they performed one of the most profound acts of bravery the world has ever seen. They declared war on the greatest military power of their time in the name of life, liberty, property, and the sanctity of the individual. Take the time to read them tomorrow (particularly the Declaration of Independence) and honor the principles they represent. And if you're going to be doing the same things as me, have fun at the beach!

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

--Dan Edge