Art and the nature of beauty lie within the realm of esthetics. While many forms of art exist presently, just as many motivations for creating it exist too. Most artists are driven by a need to explore and express their various emotions through this medium. How they feel about themselves, about others, about society, about the world, or about life, all reveal themselves in the many types of art.
Interestingly, a person can appreciate a work of art (for example, a song) for a very different reason than what the person who created it had in mind. Since so many factors, both conscious and subconscious, go into the creation as well as the appreciation of any type or work of art, we must take time to discover the nature of its value. One person may find a particular song energizing, while another may find it repulsive. Psychological and personal context matters a great deal in this regard.
Art is also an achievement. It normally takes much thought and time to compose. Obviously a bucket of paint splashed on a wall requires much less dedication than a multifaceted scenic mural. Yet it is what we get out of the artistic experience that truly matters. Usually though, self-destructive or nihilistic art is easily recognizable; it offers simply noise or dissonance as its primary theme.
Beauty is another topic that permeates our culture. We are constantly shown models exhibiting beautiful characteristics. What is the real standard of beauty, though? Is there actually a standard? For that matter what is the standard of ugly? Could you imagine a person going through life with the label of "ugly" etched in the back of his or her mind? How did this sort of "global" evaluation get propagated?
Often people rely on conventional, socially acceptable notions of beauty (and ugliness) as a substitute for their thoughtful opinions. As conceptual creatures, how we value the beauty of something has much to do with the level at which we analyze it. Judging objects or people superficially and by other peoples standards (thoughtless or not) is quite easy. Looking into their deeper nature requires more discrimination. Even though I have yet to meet someone who finds a warthog beautiful (or even not ugly), I dont rule out the possibility of some zoologist (or warthogologist?) finding such a creature exquisite in naturea complex integration of cells animated by a consciousness that serves its particular purpose. Beauty may be truly in the eye of the beholder.
Artificial intelligence is a human innovation that will continue to confront us. As we create machines that mimic aspects of human consciousness, or at least that of other animals (e.g., insects or dogs), we will have to deal with new philosophical issues.
Those who have seen the movie Bicentennial Man are aware that there may reach a point when robots might become as complex as usand then more so. More intelligent, more competent, etc. Certain questions arise as a consequence. For instance, could a silicon based "life form," a self-replicating and self-maintaining robot think for itself? Could it make choices? How would they be different than us? Would it be just different "programming"?
Business and productivity follow from the creation of an economic environment. Any business that is not concerned with making a profit will soon find itself wondering how it can continue its existence. This is a basic fact of life in an economy. We each must discover something to trade, be it labor, a service, a product, an idea, etc. The freer the market, the more our creativity is rewarded in this regard.
Any at least semi-capitalistic economy will soon create more capital to work with. When a business or individual innovates and accomplishes something in less time, that is time now available to create yet another innovation. This amounts to an increase in productivity. For example, robots, machinery, and machine tools to fabricate parts are all labor saving devices; they grant more time to use our minds in create ways and dedicate time to new tasks. Multiply this process a million fold in all varieties of division of labor and specialization, and an economy soon generates enormous amounts of wealth.
Now the question arises: What to do with this "surplus" of money? Fortunately, the free market is able to allocate it in the best fashion. Unfortunately, this is not the case today. Since the government is the largest employer, and since it takes annually almost two trillion dollars from the market, a huge unproductive weight is thus placed around the neck of the economy. We can thank recent innovations in the computer sector, among other fields, for giving the economy the strength (via increases in productivity) to stagger forward, or at least stay on its feetfor the time being.
Alas, the more wealth created by businesses and productive individuals today, the more is expropriated by the State (via primarily the progressively burdensome income tax, following from the sixteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution).
Again, for individuals and businesses to remain productive, they must have wealth to work with. They have an absolute right to this wealthfor they are the ones who created it.
Cognition is one of the two primary functions of consciousness; the other is evaluation. Cognition is the identification aspect of our mental processes. We categorize, distinguish, differentiate. We also form a whole array of mental maps and memories, and we refer to these when necessary.
Without cognition we could form no conceptions of the world. We can thank the frontal lobe of our brain for most of this. Our cerebral cortex enables us to accomplish such higher level symbolization.
The formation of concepts by a human mind is the lifeblood of our species. Without the ability to conceptualize, none of our distinctive achievements and talents could occur.
We form concepts by isolating particular aspects of reality based on their distinguishing characteristics. What we conceive are entities and their various properties and relationships. As long as we can precisely define whatever existent we are talking about, we can make sense of reality. This entails that our concepts have actual referents. These referents can be actual or imaginary of course, external or internal.
We should note that our ability to imagine things does not result in creating things that cannot exist, that defy the nature of reality (a supernatural realm, for example). Yet the possible end products of creativity are as innovative as we can make them.
Consciousness is an attribute of the brain. Studies reveal that lesions to the brain systematically subtract mental processes and capabilities from consciousness. And of course, certain traumas and circumstances lead to unconsciousnessor even brain death. In fact, without being constantly bathed in glucose and oxygen via the bloodstream, the brain cannot functionand neither can mental processes.
Consciousness is also a primary axiom, in that everything we do and say presupposes a mind. Those who say that consciousness is fiction obviously still have to use it. This is what Ayn Rand called the fallacy of stolen concept.
Scientists are still mapping the contents and characteristics of the brain. They are still a long way from the end of their journey (if there is an end).
Culture is a term depicting the customs and practices of a given group of individuals. It represents a set of beliefs about acceptable and unacceptable ideas and behaviors. Our American culture is one of many subcultures, to be sure. Although various cultures can exist in the same society, when we move beyond the superficial distinctions (like dress and mannerisms) we find that most cultures have more in common than usually thought.
Most cultures throughout the world place their main emphasis on groups instead of individuals, which is called collectivism. An example would be the incessant categorization of people into "minority groups," each having their own particular status in relation to others (and in relation to government). Thinking about the self in terms of group identity and making comparisons and contrasts to others, especially groups, undoubtedly detracts from the enlightenment of a culture.
People most benefit when they view themselves as individuals, each to be judged on their own merit and character rather than as members of a group (race, religion, status, etc.). Their true identity is thus honored.
Definitions are the way that we can keep thousands of concepts distinguished from one another. They are an economical shorthand for the essential nature of identifications. They carve out concepts, placing them in relation to other concepts.
Although definitions note the distinguishing characteristics of concepts, in reality each concept subsumes a variety of elementary aspects or particular measurements. The specific instances of "horse," for instance, can be quite varied (different colors and sizes). A new concept must be formed when we cannot ascribe the same distinguishing characteristics to a new phenomenon (a mule, a cross between a donkey and a horse, for example). It is up to us to isolate the distinguishing characteristics of concepts in order to avoid confusion, inadequacies, or redundancies.
Economics is a field that arises from the creation of a marketplace. All sorts of trading goes on between individuals and groups in an advanced economy. Such trading, by definition, is voluntary. This would be called a free market.
Unfortunately a free market has never really existed. To be sure, some markets are appreciably freer than others, but in all economies we see today government and those who pander to it create a situation in which individuals and businesses are not free to contract (and free to not contract). In countless instances, they are forced to proceed in a certain regulated fashion. Be it a sales or income tax, an antitrust law, a price cap, an employment mandate, or a taking of property, all undermine the nature of a free market system of voluntarism.
As a result, our present economy (and any other throughout the world) fosters various advocates of political and economic adjustment. "Tweaking" of the economy, most notably and dangerously of the money supply, is promoted by myriad economists and political theorists. Ironically, the free market and its voluntary operations get maligned by the real culprits of economic problems. Such culprits overlook the utter immorality of using force in any area of trade between and among consenting adults.
In his Wealth of Nations Adam Smith made note of "the invisible hand" of the market economy. In all its exhaustive interchanges and transactions, the market allocates goods and services and prices in the most efficient manner possiblebeyond the wildest dreams of central planners of Communist and Fascist countries. Countless local points of knowledge serve as the market lubricant for trade in an entire society. Each person pursuing his or her own interests is offered the fruit of others, and each person is able to offer his or her own fruit in the process.
Of course, in order to accurately theorize about this magnificent process, one must realize that individual rights are its foundation.
Emotions are particular mental and physical responses to something being good or bad for us and/or our values. Our emotions reveal our evaluations of things, either consciously or subconsciously. Emotions are indicators of good or bad, not right or wrong. Only reason can sort out whether an emotion or a conscious conviction is more in line with what is right or wrong, that is, correct or incorrect.
Since emotions are such a large part of who we are, we must be attuned to them and try to make sense of them. Certain contexts might make this process more difficult. For example, we may be immersed in a social context that barely acknowledges our feelings. A great deal of human activity can influence us to lose sight of our deeper feelings about issues in relating to the self. Yet it is vitally important that we cultivate an awareness of our emotions so that our subconscious evaluations and assumptions can become consistent with our conscious beliefs and ideas.
Ethnicity is a particular set of common characteristics that distinguish a group of individuals based on such things as language, religion, place of origin, historical traditions, and rules of conduct for its members. It is another form of group identification, a form of collectivism. In fact, it is the primary way that individuals can avoid formulating a personal identityinstead opting for a group identity.
While it is interesting and at times helpful to know ones genetic and familial history, some people hold knowledge of their "people's history" as their main claim to fame. They tend to lose sight that ethnicity need not determine who they are. After all, differences between groups and their various customs and rituals are mostly superficial differences. Viewing them as essential differences just precludes the personal discovery process.
Ethnic groups typically offer a set of ideas and behaviors, mores, that are deemed needed or acceptable. At the same time people in these groups may frown upon and not participate in what is foreign to them. For all practical purposes, they get caught in an ethnic straightjacket. Their standards of conduct are viewed as best for them, as part of their ethnic identity.
Yet, as soon as one recognizes that one is an individual with unlimited possibilities in life, one begins to shed the nonessential aspects of human behavior that have followed people for centuries. Given this, it is no wonder that Americans have been accused of having no distinctive ethnicity or culture. Becoming "Americanized" and the phenomenon of the "Melting Pot" is the result of a society that offers a relatively greater degree of personal and economic freedom (although still far from ideal), and thus more individualistic options for living.
Evaluation is, like cognition, a fundamental aspect of human consciousness. We form judgments of reality in all its facets. Is something good or bad for us? Is it irrelevant? Such questions stem from our ability to decide how to evaluate things.
We possess both conscious and subconscious evaluation. We can judge a situation, a thing, or a person in explicit terms. We can also make judgments in more implicit ways, subtly determining that a certain situation, thing, or person has a good or not so good implication or influence on us. We therefore develop all sorts of feelings in this evaluation process.
Human rights should actually be defined as individual rights. They are the freedoms that we possess by virtue of being conceptual, volitional creatures.
Because we function by way of reason, we enjoy the ability to make choices to guide our lives. In society we encounter the ideas and actions of others. To ensure that everyones ideas and actions are respected (i.e., rights are upheld), we devise a system of laws that remedy conflicts and exact justice when necessary. Since only individuals make choices, only individuals can devise a proper system that respects individual rights.
The most basic right is that of property, beginning with ones own body and life. Property rights are essential to functioning in the world as a conceptual being. They are also essential to an advanced civilization and the prosperity of a free market, for they enable people to have freedom of action and trade. Indeed, no one has the right to grant or take away property rights, only to respect and uphold them. Our present society still has quite a ways to go before rights are fully respected.
Identification, differentiation, and integration are all processes of the mind. They are aspects of thinking and the process of conceptualization.
Some of our ideas may not be so sharply defined. We may have a vague image or sense of something, and that may be sufficient in a particular context. For example, knowing precisely how my microwave works is not so important to me as that it heats up my food. Although I have studied the process in the past, it escapes me at present. This is an example of how our past integrations may degrade over time, leaving us with approximations that may or may not be accurate.
In the realm of ideas though, especially philosophical ones, it is important to have precise definitions and to differentiate them among a variety of concepts. The identifications we make must be solidified and integrated in the context of those that immediately relate to them.
Identity and causality are fundamental metaphysical concepts. They can be viewed as basic laws of reality. Things are what they are and they act consistent with their nature (i.e., in a noncontradictory fashion).
Anything that exists, any existent, cannot act in contradiction to its nature. It has identity. Arising from its identity, an existent has certain properties and attributes, and thus various aspects of causality.
Because we are conceptual creatures, we can interpret reality in many different ways. Some of us may find some aspects particularly interesting to isolate, while others may focus on different things. Regardless of what we interpret to have identity, be it a rock, a piece of steel, a car wheel, a pile of dirt, a mountain, a valley, a molecule or a subatomic particlei.e., regardless of how we choose to isolate parts of realityeach part has specific identity and cannot contradict the other parts.
In other words, A is A. A is not non-A; and non-A cannot be A.
Judgment is an aspect of free will. We depend on it in virtually every action. The more we understand the nature of the judgment process, the more we see that it is vital to accept our mistakes rather than to ignore or repudiate them.
We face lots of opportunities to doubt our judgment, of course. We can defer it to others. We can force it on others. We can rush to judgment blindly. We can stubbornly refuse to acknowledge our errors and weaknesses. Only an appropriate acceptance of the process of judgment can aid in becoming better equipped to deal with challenges and relationships in functional ways.
Finally, the way we judge ourselves and our behaviors in various contexts bears on our self-concept.
Justice is a term that becomes meaningless without understanding individual rights. Justice in the political sense involves the implementation of laws that uphold and enforce (i.e., protect) individual rights.
When a person or group initiates force against another, an injustice has occurredthe person or group has infringed on individual rights. The ultimate remedy is the use of retaliatory force, in the form of ceasing the continuation of the injustice, exacting compensation, and fixing the wrong that was done.
The present state of the State is not conducive to a society based on laws of justice. The State itself commits by far the most injustices in society, so to believe that it will advocate the implementation of a system that holds justice as a preeminent political concept would be quite misguided. Only a widespread proper understanding of the term will make it possible to create a society that respects the rights of individuals. Such a society will offer potent incentives to promote justice while offering potent disincentives to promote injustice.
The other idea of justice relates to the notion that "people get what they have coming to them" or "people get what they deserve." This could be termed metaphysical justice. However, to ascribe such a notion to the actions of volitional beings in an often uncertain world is unwise.
Certainly we must take the facts of reality into account as we proceed in life. The decisions we make certainly have consequences, and we have trade-offs to consider in the process. Yet many virtuous people have wrongs done to them by others and suffer various mishaps and natural disasters. In turn, various people who, for example, lack integrity achieve many things at the expense of others; and they neither get caught in tornados nor are forced to make amends for their misconduct.
This goes to show that nothing is guaranteed in life. However, what humans can do is establish a society that respects individual rights and implements laws of justiceso that we are not exploited by others or by the Stateso that we can live peaceably. And, in terms of accidents and natural disasters, we can take precautions and use technologies that protect us from tragedies
If we dont do these things, although we might not deserve our fates, we certainly invite trouble into our lives.
Law is instituted in societies that have a formal structure of resolving disputes and of dealing with criminals. As opposed to tribal organizations, which may have a set of strict rules to follow and penalties for not following them, law provides for redress in court and due process.
Or at least this is the common assumption. When laws are developed by governments that wield their powers arbitrarily and in defiance of reason, they become nonobjective. They fail to respect and uphold individual rights. Such laws then become destructive for society and its members. This is what we see throughout the world today.
Only when law is understood as a respectful means to clarify agreements, resolve disputes, and provide for remedying the effects of criminalityall while grounded firmly in an understanding of individual rightsonly when these criteria are satisfied, can we advance to a society of cooperation and benevolence. The members of such a society take responsibility for their actions and ideas.
Logic is the essential way we check our premises and concepts against the background of reality. It is the method or process by which we identify things in a noncontradictory fashion.
Only by defining what we mean, can we use logic in the most beneficial way. We need to trace concepts to their primary meanings and compare them to a whole system of other concepts or assumptions that rely on them for comprehensibility.
Internal consistency, or internal logic, is only one aspect of the contradiction finding process. The very terms used as the basis for argument, the assumptions or premises, must also be submitted to logical analysis.
Our basis for making logical judgments lies in reason and empirical evidence. Only when we are presented with an array of facts, and ideas formulated from them, can we embark on a logical journey that has substance.
Money is a key aspect of an economy that has advanced beyond bartering methods. Most of us have seen those signs held by some persons on city street corners that read, "Will work for food." Essentially they are asking for a barter agreementa service in exchange for a good. Needless to say, this is a less common and less convenient way to do business. Money, being a near universal medium of exchange, is much more flexible: We dont need to trade specifically one service or product for another one; we just provide money for that valued thing, and the seller uses it as he or she sees fit.
While many people show a lot of concern for the allegedly hopeless plight of homeless people, we should realize that such indigence can be rectified. First, one can take responsibility for ones own financial life. And second (perhaps this should be first) one can realize that ones financial life is affected greatly by what government has done to our money. In fact this topic was large enough to be made into a book (Murray Rothbards What Has Government Done To Our Money).
Rather than advocating more government welfare programs (or from-welfare-to-work programs), we ought to be inspectingand then remedyingthe governmental causes of poverty. Fiscally, the government expropriates wealth from every tax-paying citizen and uses it to further its own unproductive schemes (the list of boondoggles seems endless). Rather than being left to the rightful owners to create more wealth through investment or offering more jobs, the wealth is stripped from them. (In regards to money, the State is very good at taking, but not very good at creating; the opportunities it offers the average person pale in comparison to a truly free market.)
Monetarily, the government devises the Treasury, the mint, and the Federal Reserve, as well as heavily regulates the entire banking industry; it prints money out of thin air with no backing of gold (or other precious metal); it adjusts interest rates to continually stave off minor and major economic disasters. This is supposedly all done for the good of the people.
In order that we do not all find ourselves holding signs that say "Will workor wrestle youfor food," and in order to help those presently in dire straits, we must understand the nature of money. And we must uphold the right of each individual to create it and exchange it without threat of force or governmental imposition.
Morality concerns how we should live. What set of principles should we embrace to live the best, the most happily? Unfortunately, the various codes of morality found throughout the world oftentimes run counter to healthy principles for living. Many ask one to make sacrifices and to focus on the health and well-being of others at the expense of oneself. The self-contradictory nature of these doctrines is not commonly pointed out.
Nevertheless, an ethics of rational self-interest, which promotes objective values, should be the focus of humans. By determining what is actually beneficial to our lives and well-being, we can formulate the proper values and virtues.
Such self-interested action certainly does not entail living at the expense of others, asking them to make sacrifices for us. Each of us is granted an independent existence. We are alone in the world, metaphysically, regardless of how interdependent we are with others personally or economically. Acknowledgment of this fact helps us to live for our own sake, our own happiness. We then take full responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, actions, and relationships, because we have a vested interest in maintaining a great life.
Objectivity ought to be a main factor in how philosophy is devised and interpreted. It is how we can establish truth, ranging from the most trivial to the most profound.
Objectivity entails taking into account all the available facts and arguments and drawing sound conclusions. Our own personal biases and feelings are obviously part of this information gathering process. We compare and contrast them to the thoughts and feelings of others, as well as to the broader context in which they transpire.
It is hard to imagine a context in which striving for objectivity would not be important. Even in our most subjectively pleasurable moments we need the knowledge that such pleasure is objectively in service to our life and well-being.
Perception and the nervous system concerns our physiological aspects in relation to philosophy. Invariably all of our knowledge can be traced back to our sensory and perceptual faculties. Our ideas and memories are phenomena that stem from the interconnections and activities of our brains. Without sensory input from our environment, our brains would have little to work with and thus little to think about. They would be tabula rasa, or a blank slate.
Sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and somatic feelings all contribute immensely to our sense of self and our experiences. While some people declare these processes to be untrustworthy or error-prone, they overlook the greater problem of having to prove how one came to this supposedly correct and trustworthy conclusion.
Politics is again the fourth branch of philosophy. It deals with how a society should function legally. Only an individual rights based politics is suitable for conceptual beings such as ourselves.
Rights are violated when we are forced by others to do or not do things (with or without the backing of the law). This naturally means that we need to understand the purpose of law. It is to maintain a society in which individual rights are respected. Many of the laws in our society violate individual rights; they are nonobjective. They require individuals to conform; they do not uphold the principle of voluntarism.
Plainly, we do not have a right to violate the rights of others. That would be terribly contradictory. Any law should serve the purpose of enforcing the inalienable rights of the individual, the rights to person and various property and contracts.
So long as we do not infringe on the person or property of others, we are free to live as we see fit. We can uphold any idea, ideology, behavior, tradition, culture, or customso long as none enact instruments of force to negate the rights of others. In this way, politicslogically understoodprovides the framework to live lives proper to human beings.
The nature of reality relates to metaphysics. Different worldviews rely on different views of nature. The fact that we live on a planet in the spiral arm of a galaxy filled with billions of other stars (and ostensibly other planets) in a universe filled with billions of other galaxies is a very important fact.
To believe that reality is anything other than objectivei.e., distinct from consciousness and noncontradictorywould be contradictory. A "supernatural reality" is one prevalent example. It is one we do not and cannot observe, and for a good reason: It exists only in the minds of those who believe in it and of course in the pages of ancient, unscientific texts.
In all the millions of human hours dedicated to scientific study of reality, we find only objective reality, the same reality we all know and hold dear. By understanding this reality better, we further our well-being. Fortunately, exploration of the universe will remain a favorite human endeavor.
Reason is our tool of survival. It is the process by which we identify and integrate perceptual material and relate it to the rest of our knowledge. Naturally, we must check and recheck our perceptions. For example, when we see a body of water in the distance while driving in the desert, upon further investigation we conclude that the "water" is really a mirage. Repeated experiences of this sort lead us to maintain certain assumptions or rules of thumb. We economize the reasoning process when appropriate.
Nevertheless, we must always check our premises, our assumptions, when evidence or argument or intuition tells that it might be wise to do so. Our relationship to reality via our reasoning process is fundamental to our lives, so reason is one of our highest values.
Society is a group of individuals who share some common bond. Historically the common bond, aside from ethnic, religious, customary bonds for instance, has been the form of governmental rule present. Governments have an uncanny ability to institute uniformity of beliefs, at least on the societal level. They usually do this through enacting laws (instruments of force) and by providing widespread education for the young.
Children reared in India, Cuba, or Japan, for example, are typically inculcated with different ideas about society than those in the United States. In the U. S., lip service is still given to the rights of the individual and the virtues of being an independent thinker. The other countries just mentioned stress more the importance of the group and self-sacrifice to the group and State. However, since government runs the school systems in virtually all countries, the dominant ideas taught relate to duty, conformity, being a good taxpaying citizen, and the like.
A respectable society is one that upholds the inalienable right of each individual to live his or her life as deemed fit. It implements no tools of force to gain compliance with certain views. It exacts justice when appropriate (i.e., when someones rights are violated). Such a society of thoughtful and genuinely confident people share the common bond of the values of liberty and reason.
Values are things one acts to gain and/or keep, as Rand stated. They are the driving forces in our lives. Without values we would not be able to survive. Yet some values actually lead to death, although they may serve a twisted purpose for a time. They may foster ideologies that sacrifice many individual lives while maintaining irrational institutions.
We need values because of the fundamental alternative that faces each of us: life or death. If we choose life, our own life, then we have to discover values that are healthy for us. They must be in accordance with our rational self-interest. They must be objective.
Some say that all values are subjective. They cite sundry personal preferences and cannot imagine how such things could, in the wider context, be objective. In truth, a whole array of possible choices can be objective. Some say that we cannot determine objectively what is good for each person, since each person is an individual with unique experiences. Clearly the meaning of objectivity must be understood here. The choosing of values is each persons responsibility. He or she must discover the ones that are in service to his or her life and well being. Incontrovertible examples include reason, happiness, self-esteem, logic, purposeful action, and liberty.
Virtues are the ways in which we strive for values. Although two people may hold the same values, each may have slightly different ways of achieving them. Some may compromise on occasion. Others may have rock solid integrity. Obviously a person may espouse the beneficial nature of a value and yet not practice it consistently. This is where congruence between what we profess and what we do becomes an issue.
Self-esteem is a definite value. We have a need to view our mind as effective and our person as worthy of happiness. Yet a corresponding virtue such as pride may not be experienced fully by a person. The person thus needs to examine his or her beliefs about actually living values. A mix of other important virtues is entailed in this. Responsibility, honesty, independence, and others are involved too.
Volition is a natural consequence of the capacity of reason. We are constantly presented with an array of things to think about and things to do. Depending on our level of awareness and level of motivation, we can decide from a range of choices. We can also modify our behavior on command by virtue of our abstract awareness of it. In this sense we are controllers of our own destiny. And, we are responsible for our actions.
Volition is really a sacred part of being human. Nothing ought to be revered more than honoring the volitional faculty of individuals. It is the main way we use our minds to think, feel, and act. When a mind is free to make choices, it is free to live in accordance with reason and realityit is free to live as a human being.