The Moron Manual

Chapter 3

In Washington D.C., you can see people wearing lapel pins with the message: "Reality is negotiable." This is at once an example of, and the proud result of, two hundred years of the Moron Muddle. Here are some examples:

It is a wonderful and, to morons, encouraging fact that almost no one presented with such examples can be persuaded that people really talk that way—or that it means anything if they do. It is assumed that no one can get anywhere by talking like that. So let us examine a real quotation from the most influential thinker since Thomas Jefferson. This is on page 99 of Critique of Pure Reason, by Immanuel Kant (N.K.Smith translation, St. Martin's Press, N.Y.):

F "Now it may be noted as a sure and useful warning, that general logic, if viewed as an organon, is always a logic of illusion, that is, dialectical. For logic teaches us nothing whatsoever regarding the content of knowledge, but lays down only the formal conditions of agreement with the understanding; and since these conditions can tell us nothing at all as to the objects concerned, any attempt to use this logic as an instrument (organon) that professes to extend and enlarge our knowledge can end in nothing but mere talk—in which, with a certain plausibility, we maintain, or, if such be our choice, attack, any and every possible assertion."

Since we are here trying to show the Moron Method, we must admit at once that if one takes literally Kant's assertion that logic is mere talk, then his entire book is mere talk. In case we might miss this, he states on page 629: "It is humiliating to human reason that it achieves nothing in its pure employment..."

Kant's book did not achieve nothing, however. It destroyed certainty, by undermining confidence in the method to achieve certainty. It made possible, two hundred years later, the "jesting" suggestion that reality is negotiable. It made it possible for morons to be in charge of things.

THE MORON GOD: Immanuel Kant.

This is on page 27 of the Critique:

F "That space and time are only forms of sensible intuition, and so only conditions of the existence of things as appearance: that, moreover, we have no concepts of understanding, and consequently no elements for the knowledge of things, save in so far as intuition can be given corresponding to these concepts; and that we can therefore have no knowledge of any object as thing in itself, but only in so far as it is an object of sensible intuition, that is, an appearance—all this is proved in the analytical part of the Critique."

That is perhaps one of the great muddled sentences of literature, and one of the most effective. Note that it begins by mentioning "space" and "time," so that it sounds scientific. You will find it generally effective to sound scientific. "Forms of sensible intuition" is one of those phrases that philosophers can argue over, because it means nothing in particular. A moron can assert that the meaning is perfectly clear to him, and others are simply not in the know. Let us, purely as a scientific demonstration, recast the sentence so that the meaning is clear:

F "Since all we know about things is what they look like here and now, and not why they look like that, then we can only know things as they look rather than as they are—all this is proved later."

We must humbly apologize to the great philosopher for mangling his marvelous writing, but our purpose is to show why it is so inspiring to all morons. Our version sounds mundane and peevish. A reader of our version immediately notices that the promise of proof cannot be kept, if reason is helpless and logic is specious. The Master's version suffers no such fate. Half way through the splendid muddle of the Master's sentence, one's attention begins to fade. One is left not with a specific idea, but with an impression of wisdom. The willing reader comes away with at least the beginnings of self-doubt. This is the exact purpose of the sentence.


This is such a fundamental method of moron survival that we must illustrate it with a concrete example. Suppose you want to plant a doubt in my mind about the existence of the moon. If I call your attention to the full moon, and you say, "All I see is a big star," it won't work. You just sound silly. You must watch for a more propitious moment. You must wait for clouds.

This is Immanuel Kant's legacy to morons: "Kant discovered that the objects of thought are none other than the products of thought itself." (Windelband: A History of Philosophy, Harper & Row, N.Y., p.543) Any moron can see what this means: it means that anything goes.

Why do morons often not get fired even by private businessmen uncoerced by the government? Because the businessman knows that Karl Marx called him an exploiter, and he feels no certainty that he is not. As long as we can keep that element of doubt in his mind, we can keep our jobs.

Voters complain loudly and constantly about the morons who were elected to govern them. Then they elect the same people again, because by election time they have begun to doubt their assessment. As long as we can keep that element of doubt alive in society, we can stay in charge of things.

It was Immanuel Kant, the greatest of all morons, who made it possible for us to be in charge of things. To all those who use Kant's methods without even knowing his name, let this be said:

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