-- Isaac Asimov
Intro to Wisdom
One of the goals of the Missive is to incorporate a body of secular Wisdom, drawn from the historical period.
By secular, I mean that which does not rely on any Higher Power as authority or basis for ethical behavior. This is not to disparage a belief or reliance on any Higher Power. Rather, it is to seek out that which is common to and directly observable within human experience (i.e., does not rely on mystical or spiritual experience).
Wisdom may be said to be distinguished from Knowledge in that it relies on induction, rather than deduction.
My aim, at present, is to assemble a preliminary set of secular maxims, eventually to be offered as advice to future readers, rather than as rules or commandments (despite their frequently imperative form). I see them as loosely applicable as personal, behavioral and/or social.
Here are several sets of maxims which I find to be mutually supportive:
Synopsis of Maxims
The following are my distillation of a number of similar maxim sets drawn from a number of sources. The first is sometimes called the Apollonian Maxim. Others stem from many cultural traditions, especially Eastern philosophies and from New World indigenous cultures.
- Know yourself.
- Seek your own balance.
- Respect the balance of others.
- Respect the balance around you.
While these are drawn primarily from religious sources, they are secular in the sense that no Higher Power is invoked.
- Love your self.
- Love your neighbor.
- Love your adversary.
Axelrod's results touch on conflicting or adversarial interactions.
Exploring iterated game theory - in which strategies compete in repeated, zero sum encounters. Roughly speaking, in each encounter, two parties may either cooperate to their mutual benefit or 'defect' to the short term gain of the defector and the cooperator's expense. If both parties defect, neither benefits.
Significantly, Axelrod's results establish a rational, testable and evolutionary basis for cooperation, observable within and between species.
NOTE: In researching equity (see Maxims of Equity, below), I ran across the heartening characteristic of Inequity Aversion common to (most?) human beings; the tendency to prefer equitable (fair) outcomes. Axelrod's results, in part, suggest the adaptive value of inequity aversion.These 'rules' reflect a (non-rigorous) summation of approaches typical of successful strategies:
- Be nice -- Cooperate, never be the first to defect.
- Be provocable -- Return defection for defection, cooperation for cooperation.
- Don't be envious-- Focus on maximizing your own benefit, rather than advantage over others.
- Don't be too clever -- Don't try to be tricky (complicated strategy).
Richard J. Maybury's Two Laws
Maybury considers these two laws to be those to which all world religions agree, and to form the basis of both Common Law and (optimal) Economics.
In arriving at these, Maybury notes that 'persons' and 'property' highlight terms to be defined. This is a task which is on-going in our own times. In terms of the Missive, I believe it's best to leave the task to the future.
- Do all you have agreed to do.
- Do not encroach on other persons or their property.
Maxims of Equity
Maxims of Equity are drawn from historical Courts of Equity running parallel to (British) Common Law courts. Common Law evolved law via court decisions setting precedent for future cases; Equity Law favored principle over particulars, and served to redress injustices stemming from the strict application of precedent.
I've linked these as their interpretation is somewhat less obvious for lay readers. For purposes of the Missive project, I would think they need some winnowing, consolidating and rewording.
- 2.1 Equity sees that as done what ought to be done
- 2.2 Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy
- 2.3 Equity delights in equality/Equality is Equity
- 2.4 Equality is Equity (Aequalitus est quasi equitas)
- 2.5 One who seeks equity must do equity
- 2.6 Equity aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights
- 2.7 Equity imputes an intent to fulfill an obligation
- 2.8 Equity acts in personam or persons
- 2.9 Equity abhors a forfeiture
- 2.10 Equity does not require an idle gesture
- 2.11 He who comes into equity must come with clean hands
- 2.12 Equity delights to do justice and not by halves
- 2.13 Equity will take jurisdiction to avoid a multiplicity of suits
- 2.14 Equity follows the law
- 2.15 Equity will not aid a volunteer (this is wrong description of the maxim)
- 2.16 Where equities are equal, the law will prevail
- 2.17 Between equal equities the first in order of time shall prevail
- 2.18 Equity will not complete an imperfect gift
- 2.19 Equity will not allow a statute to be used as a cloak for fraud
- 2.20 Equity will not allow a trust to fail for want of a trustee