Analytic Discussion of V-50 Lectures

S. Kurowski (2012 - incomplete, work in progress)

Jay Stuart Snelson's 1978 final version of a 40-hour seminar course "V-50" originally developed by Andrew Galambos through the Free Enterprise Institute.  Snelson, who died in 2011, was a superbly gifted researcher and speaker and often entertained intellectuals as he educated them.  He gave the V-50 lectures for 13 years to classes of up to over 300 people per class.

Key Principles & Innovations

  1. A scientific, a-political (not-political or unpolitical) treatment of society structure and operation.  Not a call to action, not a 'movement', not a group to join, etc.

    The word 'science' is based on the Greek work to divide or separate (likewise, 'scissors' and 'incise'), as in the knowledgable discerning of differences or distinctions.  Rigorous scientific treatment and inquiry to corroborate evidence and observations presented in the lectures is not only welcomed, but demanded, of the listener.  In science, it is observational evidence, not teachings, which are the paramount authorities in identification of truths.

    The words 'politics' and 'political' are based on the word 'pole' or one of two or more endpoints, and is directly related to similar words, polarize, polar opposites, etc. where an alleged 'choice' is typically presented as having contrasting views, or poles, one with which to more strongly align oneself when engaging 'political process'.

    Unlike science, political decisions depend heavily upon opinion and the ebb and flow of voter/protester/media sentiment, as James Madison regretfully observed about what he sensed was an eventual, inevitable federal government tyranny (Federalist Papers).
     
  2. That human action is subject first and always to physical laws (first pointed out by Erwin Schrodinger) provides scientific epistemology means to develop new insights to human nature and how society can work.

    Scientific 'epistemology' is nearly equivalent to the notion of a math, geometric or logic 'proof' -- as long as the hypothetical inputs are reliably true, and the chain of cause-effect reasoning is reliably intact, then derived conclusions are (almost certainly) necessarily true, too.  For example, Einstein's Special Relativity was epistemologically derived directly from James Maxwell's equations of electromagnetic phenomena, on logic alone -- which was initially sharply criticized as 'too abstract' to be correct.  Sir Arthur Eddington (who verifed Einstein) in his The Philosophy of Physical Science (1958), stated that the consequences of correct epistimology are "compulsive, universal, and absolute".  Even so, not all truths (nor all not-truths [falsehoods] for that matter) can be derived by epistemological means, and those that are not can only be discovered by empirically observed evidence (see Kurt Godel's 1931 proofs on undecidable propositions).

    The characteristic of "intellectual honesty" is essential for any truth-seeker to arrive at actual 'truths'.  By "almost certainly" "necessarily true" (above), it is meant that observational corroboration shall always remain the ultimate determination of truth, even if our confidence is sky-high that such an observation will agree with an epistemologically derived conclusion.  It is also almost always a characteristic of actual 'truths' that (say, like a marker stone in a jungle) they are reachable by multiple paths -- they remain consistent with all observations regardless of method, observer or timing.  For example, there exist over 400 known proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem.  The scientific method does not fear inspections, does not need to defend itself, and there is no need to.

     
  3. Sharpened example definitions of property (self 'p0', intellectual property 'p1', physical property 'p2'), right and wrong ("whose property is it?"), and profit (includes anything having value to the exchanging parties, not only money).
     
  4. Identification and illustration of failures to correctly act upon rational cause and effect; only the "impossible" in physics is 'truly' impossible (lack of extant example of alternatives is no reason to suppose their indefinite impossibility);
     
  5. Central role of market competition, contracts and profit motive; the role of thermodynamics in human nature (indeed, all living things) and therefore all human action


     
  6. Identification and illustration of State failures and mis-teachings
     
    1. the lack of negative feedback loops in central State authorities (such loops are necessary in all true businesses)
    2. repeated presentation of political false alternatives ("which do you prefer, a broken arm or a broken leg [or perhaps, a broken back]?")
    3. the 'four horsemen' decisions of all political processes (whose property to take by State force, how much property to take by State force, who uses the State's force and does the taking, who receives the property taken by the State)
    4. voting as secret weapon of force
    5. disconnect between legality and cause-and-effect
    6. the repeated pattern of resort to setting up a central authority by the modern substitution of "The People" for "The King" or "God"
    7. contrasts the philosophical polar opposites of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution
    8. monopolies
    9. interventionism: the "State Knows What's Best for All of Us" by separation of property ownership from its control and decreasing individual responsibilities while promoting and increasing State dependence - use of public schools to indoctrinate
       
  7. Identification of the general qualities of a (future) society having more peace, harmony and higher living standards despite fiercely competive markets and population growth.

 

Criticisms

Jay Snelson (not Galambos) was responsible for most of the lecture series content (really a strength), however Snelson (perhaps overly) credited Galambos.

Use of 'Absolute' for concepts of right and wrong morality (in 1987 Snelson retracted the value of the word 'absolute' in V-50 during his Human Action Solutions lectures)

Incomplete treatment of property definition and the role of thermodynamics in human nature (indeed, all living things) and therefore human action

Missing treatment of the State's legal corpus and the unavoidable inconsistency of such formal systems as they seek to achieve completeness (Kurt Godel, 1931).

Good, but incomplete, credit to parallel intellectual contributors Ludwig von Mises, Robert LeFevre, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Rose W. Lane, and Frederik Bastiat.

References to course V-201 and 'bridge to freedom'

Attribution of Newton as single point of innovative integration for most of improvement in standard of living since late 1600s

Lack of discussion about social structure evolution relative to present and idealized social environments (the State may be a 'typical' evolutionary trajectory step of societies)

Lack of documented references (though it is not difficult to research and corroborate the material, it would be convenient if the references were previously compiled)

 

 

Parallel Intellectual Treatments

Le Fevre, Mises, Bastiat, Snelson, Ridley

See also:

Human Action Principles Lectures, Jay Snelson (1985)
Human Action Solutions Lectures, Jay Snelson (1987)