An email just out to an old friend concerning the subordination of the material to the spiritual, on the way to explaining why it's all about individualism vs. collectivism. This was prefaced by a question: ought people be free to determine their own values, whatever they may be? That question forms the foundation of where I'm trying to take this...
And it's an important foundation because if this:
[his argument about the material being subordinate to the spiritual]
I agree, almost without qualification, with all of that, and always have.
Almost without qualification. My single qualification is: free will, and free will speaks to the question I asked you.
As an aside, free will is the only possible reconciliation between materialism and spirituality. I am a materialist in all respects except that I believe in free will (call that contradictory, if you like). It's the "God" I worship, if you will. Of course, most or all religions have held for free will. Most "strong materialists" I know acknowledge free will, and for those who don't, I have a simple question: what is the difference between actual free will and an individual who believes he has free will (which nearly everyone does)? In fact, there is no meaningful difference, nor is there any point in spitting hairs between "real free will" and a material brain so complex as to be able to integrate and respond to millions and millions of stimuli simultaneously in completely unpredictable ways (different individuals respond differently to the same stimuli). Add to that the fact that people value different things...
Free will exists. It must be regarded as axiomatic, and that is the key to unifying everything.
Now then, free will implies choice, which implies values, which implies morality. This is the sum-total (free will-choice-values-morality) of what I would mean when I refer to "natural rights," and why I consider them objective and not just a human construction (a legality), which is why I am continually antagonized by a lot of what passes for law -- in the same way that you are antagonized by the market. It's inverted. Law should be subordinate to natural rights, i.e., to objective morality. So should the market.
So should everything.
Do we have any common ground to this point?