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Does the Declaration of Independence Tell the Truth? (How are these truths "self-evident" ?)
American Thinker ^ | 07/04/2010 | E. Jeffrey Ludwig

Posted on 07/04/2010 7:03:36 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

At this time of the year, while most U.S. citizens are contemplating U.S. independence and the Declaration of Independence, I ask myself why, in 19 years of teaching in the New York Public Schools, I have not once heard the students gathered to sing in any assembly or forum "America the Beautiful," " God Bless America," or "My Country ‘Tis of Thee?"  The National Anthem has only been sung once a year at the graduation ceremonies. 

This serious omission of patriotic fervor can be attributed to the leftist influence on the school system.  Most leftists believe the Declaration of Independence was primarily a document driven by the class interests of the signers. The gentry and economically powerful merchant groups in the U.S. and the aristocratic southern plantation economy joined forces against powerful interests in the mother country that would limit their growth, their economic well-being, and their power.  Talk about inalienable rights, equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were rationalizations for underlying issues of class and status. Charles and Mary Beard had set the stage for this analysis, and it has been carried forward by Howard Zinn's Peoples' History of the United States. Are they correct?

First, a caveat: even if the document were a justification of class interests in part, would that be so wrong?  If we have an economic leadership based on wealth amassed through faith, hard work, determination, and intelligence, then is it not just for them to defend that wealth and influence from usurpations by those who would unlawfully take said wealth and influence away from them? The truth of "no taxation without representation" is a valid truth, but it certainly oversimplifies the dynamics behind the Declaration of Independence.

Let us consider one of the more contentious statements of the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness;...

John Locke in his treatises on government made a cogent analysis of the body politic, and stressed that life, liberty and property could best be protected if the locus of power in the government lay with the representatives of the people rather than with the executive -- in his context: the monarchy. The signers of the Declaration, aware of the moral ambiguities of slavery in the American context, deleted the word "property" and preferred to substitute "pursuit of happiness."  They introduced this Aristotelian goal in order (1) to acknowledge the existence of a summum bonum, (2) to point to the unity of happiness and virtue (happiness for Aristotle was arrived at by strenuous contemplation and implementation of virtue, and was not, as in our times, associated with hedonism or with "self-fulfillment" a la Abraham Maslow), and (3) to introduce the idea of the newly independent USA as a land of opportunity, both economically and politically. How can this be offensive?
Although the Declaration was not in one accord with the 17th century Westminster Shorter Catechism that announced the purpose of life to be "to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever," by insisting that the values expressed were "endowed by their Creator" we can see that the Declaration is an echo of the earlier Westminster document.  The language suggests to me that the Declaration was deeply rooted in Protestant theology more than in class interests.
What about the self-evidence of the truths claimed in our founding document? This assertion is directly out of the rationalist enlightenment playbook.  R. Descartes had affirmed that he could only believe truths that were "clear and distinct." To be clear and distinct they had to meet the challenge of his method of doubt.  If there were any possibility that the truths he perceived could be contingent or could be based on misperception, they would be excluded. Through experience and various other mechanisms, J. Locke's empiricism believed that certainty could be arrived at through experience, science, and intuition.

While these self-evident truths for the signers were not the same as revealed truth as found in Holy Scripture; yet they are "endowed" to all men by God the Creator. In theological language, they would be considered part of common grace, whereas for the believing Christian the Bible comes under special or revealed grace. Thus, the Bible tells us that the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust, and in similar fashion all men are endowed with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Almighty God must be assumed because without Him, how could one explain that all men are so endowed?
As we contemplate our independence as a nation and the exercise of our inalienable rights, as we sing hosannas of gratitude for these blessings, let us remember to also reject all Marxist views that would depreciate the values of the Declaration.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: declaration; dsj; fortunes; independence; lives; sacredhonor; selfevident; thomasjefferson; truth
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1 posted on 07/04/2010 7:03:43 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness;...

They weren't self-evident to George Washington when he was busy buying and lording over his slaves. He didn't give it a second thought until some of his wiser buddies started educating him a little bit. He came around by the time he died, and freed his slaves in his will, after he didn't need them anymore.

2 posted on 07/04/2010 7:07:19 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Huck
Your display of absolute ignorance about the man and the times is sick making.

Go read a book.

3 posted on 07/04/2010 7:09:17 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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To: Jimmy Valentine
Where do you think I got the information? I recommend His Excellency by Joseph Ellis. I've read it twice. McCullough's 1776 is also excellent.
4 posted on 07/04/2010 7:13:06 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Huck
Yours is the typrical Leftist non-argument. The US had slavery, therefore the US is bad, get rid of the US.
5 posted on 07/04/2010 7:14:11 AM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: Jimmy Valentine

I agree. What this person doesn’t know about Washington is amazing. George Washington was known for buying slaves from others so that their families wouldn’t be seperated, so that the slaves wouldn’t be whipped to death. Slavery was a sign of the times and couldn’t have been changed by one individual but Washington worked to change the situation.


6 posted on 07/04/2010 7:14:57 AM PDT by RC2
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To: SeekAndFind
This is a very serious issue that has been on my mind for some years now. I've not seen it put as it is in this article, but the question in the article's title sums it up.

What if the founders were wrong about this? What if "these truths" are not "self evident" to all men?

As I've gotten older, I've come to the realization that many ideas, ways of thinking, that I grew up believing were shared by everyone, are anything but universal. I don't mean "belief in G-d" here. I mean things like a belief in truth. In the concept of truth. In the concept of reality. In the concept of causality, that if you do "X," that "Y" must necessarily follow. And it's corollary; that if "Y" happens to you, it is probably because you did "X" last month, or yesterday, or three seconds ago.

These ideas are held by many in America and around the world, but the number of people who do not hold them is shockingly large, and seems to be growing.

I disagree with Ayn Rand on some fundamental aspects of her philosophy, but she was right about this one when she wrote "man is the only creature that has to make a conscious choice, every day, whether or not to be human."

7 posted on 07/04/2010 7:17:38 AM PDT by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
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To: Huck
They weren't self-evident to George Washington when he was busy buying and lording over his slaves. He didn't give it a second thought until some of his wiser buddies started educating him a little bit. He came around by the time he died, and freed his slaves in his will, after he didn't need them anymore.

They were self-evident; Geo. Washington was merely (a) a man of his times and a sinner in need of redemption, just like the rest of us (yourself most especially included), and (b) in error because slaves weren't "men" in the sense the term was used in that phrase (again, because he was a sinner in need of redemption).

Nothing you've said in the least denigrates that phrase nor the fact that we should live up to it.

But, to address your implicit Alinskyism - the equality spoken of here is equality of spirit, of freedom to do, and most definitely not equality of material conditions or equality of result, so the fact that there are still rich people and poor people in this country does not demean either that phrase or this country one iota.


8 posted on 07/04/2010 7:19:20 AM PDT by Oceander (The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance -- Thos. Jefferson)
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To: Jacquerie
Yours is the typrical Leftist non-argument. The US had slavery, therefore the US is bad, get rid of the US.

That has nothing to do with what I'm saying. The question is whether or not our inalienable rights are self-evident. It's a historical fact that they weren't, even at the time the words were written.

9 posted on 07/04/2010 7:19:26 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Oceander
They were self-evident;

Actually, they weren't. Not to everyone. Washington came around, but he needed to be educated on the subject.

10 posted on 07/04/2010 7:21:33 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Huck

Your alter ego, Patrick Henry opposed the Constitution in large part because he felt it presented a threat to southern “property.”


11 posted on 07/04/2010 7:22:36 AM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: Huck

Just because various people have violated the inalienable rights of others doesn’t mean they aren’t self-evident. It means they’re not self-enforcing. People, being fallible, can and do go against things they know to be obviously true (self-evident), as any smoker, drinker, or adventure sport participant can attest.


12 posted on 07/04/2010 7:24:29 AM PDT by discostu (like a dog being shown a card trick)
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To: Oceander
equality of spirit, of freedom to do, and most definitely not equality of material conditions or equality of result, so the fact that there are still rich people and poor people in this country does not demean either that phrase or this country one iota.

I don't have any quarrel with rich people. I'm not arguing for equal outcomes. Where did I say that? It's obvious, however, that slavery was a complete violation of "freedom to do." And I'm not arguing against our rights. I'm simply pointing out that history shows quite clearly those rights were not self-evident.

13 posted on 07/04/2010 7:24:39 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Jacquerie

That’s true. He was a typical Virginia slaver.


14 posted on 07/04/2010 7:25:39 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: discostu
Just because various people have violated the inalienable rights of others doesn’t mean they aren’t self-evident.

That's true. It doesn't mean they are, either. In Washington's case, from my reading, it appears he had no qualms whatsoever about slavery for the first half of his life. It was only later, at the prodding of others, that he began to see the light. Up until that point, his slaves were his property and he dealt with them as such. They were a notch above mules.

15 posted on 07/04/2010 7:27:56 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: discostu

It’s actually a very interesting question—are human rights self-evident. I used to ask the same question the opposite way—how do we know slavery is wrong. Prove it. Why shouldn’t the strong rule the weak? I’m not saying I favor such a scheme (it’s not in my self-interest), but how does one prove that rights exist, or that they are self-evident. It’s easy to proclaim them, but try proving it.


16 posted on 07/04/2010 7:30:11 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Huck

“They’re complaining about the deficit.” As are most Democrats that are complaining about their own Party and their spending habits in the government.

You compare the thinking of Washington’s days to the thinking of today. That’s like comparing Ancient Romes thinking to today. Doesn’t work. If it did, our education over the centuries doesn’t mean a thing.


17 posted on 07/04/2010 7:31:31 AM PDT by RC2
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To: Huck

You don’t have a clue. The philosophy of Creator given, self evident rights derived by man’s right reason began with Aristotle, followed by Cicero, Aquinas, Locke and others.

It is the abandonment of Natural Rights that is the adoption of tyranny.


18 posted on 07/04/2010 7:33:17 AM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: RC2
You compare the thinking of Washington’s days to the thinking of today. That’s like comparing Ancient Romes thinking to today.

Which proves my point--that the inalienable rights proclaimed in the DoI were not at that time self-evident. I'm not chastising Washington. Just observing the fact that human rights were not self-evident.

19 posted on 07/04/2010 7:34:03 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Huck

If they were not self evident, why did dozens of educated men say they were?


20 posted on 07/04/2010 7:37:08 AM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: Jacquerie
If they were not self evident, why did dozens of educated men say they were?

To justify treason against the Crown.

21 posted on 07/04/2010 7:40:11 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: SeekAndFind
The Declaration, Perry reminds us, was an ex post facto justification of American beliefs. It was addressed to educated elite opinion, especially abroad; it was designed to win arguments, not to capture the essence of Americanism as Americans themselves already understood it.
22 posted on 07/04/2010 7:40:41 AM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: Huck

I think what our founders were saying about inalienable rights being self-evident, is that through the centuries they were being ignored. This was the first time that a country actually put them in writing so that a nation could be formed around those ideals.


23 posted on 07/04/2010 7:40:49 AM PDT by RC2
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To: SeekAndFind; Huck; Jimmy Valentine; RC2; Oceander; discostu

Only Huck would take time away from p!ssing on our Constitution to do the same to our Declaration on Independence Day.


24 posted on 07/04/2010 7:40:55 AM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: Steely Tom
What if "these truths" are not "self evident" to all men?

It is of no importance whether any one particular person or group of persons believe the "truths" to be "self evident". The Declaration states "WE hold these truths ..." (emphasis on WE).

In other words - the signatories to the Delcaration were stating quite clearly that THEY believed that the truths were unable to be contradicted and thus, for them, something worth fighting for!

Most people forget what the Declaration really was - it was the justification of the signatories as to WHY they sought independence from England - in hopes that other nations (mostly France) would come to thier aid.

25 posted on 07/04/2010 7:43:12 AM PDT by An.American.Expatriate (Here's my strategy on the War against Terrorism: We win, they lose. - with apologies to R.R.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. - George Washington 1732-1799

We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life — physical, intellectual, and moral life.

But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course.

Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all. - Frederic Bastiat 1801-1850

26 posted on 07/04/2010 7:44:59 AM PDT by PGalt
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To: Huck

So, according to you, not only were Washington, Jay, Hamilton, Madison, etc, rogues and liars, but all of the brave men who signed their possible death warrant in July 1776 as well.


27 posted on 07/04/2010 7:45:53 AM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: Huck
"They weren't self-evident to George Washington when he was busy buying and lording over his slaves."

Why are you complaining about Washington, not Jefferson - since Jefferson wrote the Declaration and owned slaves until he died?

28 posted on 07/04/2010 7:46:34 AM PDT by Flag_This (Real presidents don't bow.)
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To: Huck; Jacquerie; SeekAndFind
"Yours is the typical Leftist non-argument. The US had slavery, therefore the US is bad, get rid of the US."
--Jacquerie

"That has nothing to do with what I'm saying."

It is interesting to me that you don't dispute Jacquerie's accusation that you are using a "leftist non-argument". You don't deny it's a leftist opinion at all. You simply say "That has nothing to do with what I'm saying".

29 posted on 07/04/2010 7:47:49 AM PDT by Artemis Webb (DeMint 2012)
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To: Jacquerie

No.


30 posted on 07/04/2010 7:48:10 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Artemis Webb

I dismissed it out of hand.


31 posted on 07/04/2010 7:48:58 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Huck
Besides Henry and Yates, can you name any other honorable men of notoriety in the founding era?
32 posted on 07/04/2010 7:50:55 AM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: Huck

So let me ask you this:

Did you wake up this morning and say, “Hey, it’s Independence Day! I think I’ll go on FR and badmouth the Founding Fathers!” Why don’t you go burn a flag while you’re at it.


33 posted on 07/04/2010 7:51:26 AM PDT by Artemis Webb (DeMint 2012)
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To: Artemis Webb; Huck
Today is only a distraction. On most days his apparent duty is to p!ss on our Constitution and its authors.
34 posted on 07/04/2010 7:55:18 AM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: Jacquerie

I think that the intent of people doing this is not to try and understand our Founders but to tear our country apart by tearing apart the Constitution and the DoI and the Founding Fathers. No matter what they say, it does not change the fact that the Constitution and the DoI is there and will stay there. Their comments won’t change that.


35 posted on 07/04/2010 7:56:27 AM PDT by RC2
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To: Artemis Webb

Have Huck go to a local Rodeo and burn a flag. Then watch what happens. Huck, I’m sure, has seen Cowboy and Indian wars, I doubt he has see Cowboy and Flag Burner wars.


36 posted on 07/04/2010 8:02:46 AM PDT by RC2
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To: An.American.Expatriate
In other words - the signatories to the Delcaration were stating quite clearly that THEY believed that the truths were unable to be contradicted and thus, for them, something worth fighting for!

Thanks for the very nicely stated correction to a basic premise of my statement. You are right, of course.

However.

If the truths "WE hold" are not self-evident to a majority of voters in a democracy (or even a Republic such as we are in the process of transitioning away from), then it's inevitable that the freedoms we've enjoyed under our Constitution will pass away.

37 posted on 07/04/2010 8:04:53 AM PDT by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
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To: Huck
I'm simply pointing out that history shows quite clearly those rights were not self-evident.

Actually, you're not even doing that - you haven't even accomplished your stated point. The whole basis for race-based slavery was that the enslaved weren't "men" in the same way that the enslavers were - an attitude that has deep, deep historical roots (going as far back as the ancient Greeks, including those of Athens). Since, by the hypothesis of the day, the enslaved weren't "men," then it would necessarily follow from that hypothesis that those rights did not apply to the enslaved, no matter how self-evidently they applied to the enslavers.

It was, and is, that secondary hypothesis concerning the status of the once-enslaved as "men" that was in error, not the self-evidentness of the rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

As for the rest of it - I can start from stated assumptions and draw the conclusions they are supposed to imply, which is why I am disputing your premises, stated and unstated, rather than playing the fools' game of granting your assumtions and premises and trying to argue on a biased field. That is a classic Alinsky tactic.

Perhaps you ought to take up golf instead?


38 posted on 07/04/2010 8:05:28 AM PDT by Oceander (The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance -- Thos. Jefferson)
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To: Huck
"Self-evident"

In my estimation, I always thought it meant it was obvious to anyone with a calibrated moral compass and some common sense, that the "truths" were a simple judgement of knowing right vs. wrong. It's not rocket science, political correctness, or word-parsing propoganda that is self-evident; it's common sense.

39 posted on 07/04/2010 8:07:03 AM PDT by traditional1 ("Don't gotsta worry 'bout no mo'gage, don't gotsta worry 'bout no gas; Obama gonna take care o' me!)
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To: Jacquerie
If they were not self evident, why did dozens of educated men say they were?

Because their arguments couldn't work unless they claimed it.

Just to be clear: the claim of self-evidence was not applied to the rights themselves, but the fact that they were granted by a Creator.

This is a very important point: those principles held out as unalienable rights, cannot be derived from first principles, nor from observation of the natural world.

In many or most respects, among humans or among any other combination of species, the world seems to operate very nicely on a principle of Might Makes Right.

So how does one arrive at the opposite pole that people, individually, have rights? One invokes a Creator Who makes a rule like that. (As it happens, I believe this to be true.)

Ayn Rand's philosophy collapses on this point, in that she attempted to derive the unalienable rights apart from a creator; but she failed. In effect, she was forced to put herself, and her own assertions, into the same Creator role that she had so stridently rejected.

The bottom line, though, is that those unalienable rights don't simply spring up like laws of nature. They have to come from somewhere -- to be asserted.

40 posted on 07/04/2010 8:08:05 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: SeekAndFind
By their actions, hundreds of millions of individuals who have grown up in distant parts of the globe where oppression and poverty were the way of life constitute a living testimony to the idea encapsulated in our Declaration of Independence. Somewhere in their beings, they longed for the liberty to be who they were intended to be--free individuals, who could pursue happiness, unhampered by tyrants of whatever stripe.
41 posted on 07/04/2010 8:10:01 AM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: SeekAndFind
From Thomas Jefferson:

"May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. . . . All eyes are opened or opening to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few, booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others; for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollection of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them." - Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, 24 June 1826, Ford, Vol. 10, 390-392

Today, a "favored few," "booted and spurred," and steeped in an ideology that is foreign to liberty, have seized temporary power in Washington, D. C. They must be reminded that "We, the People's" Constitution limits their power to ride, rough shod, over the Creator-endowed rights of American citizens.

May we "refresh our recollection" of the Founders' ideas and give "undiminished devotion to them" on this Fourth of July!

42 posted on 07/04/2010 8:11:22 AM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: RC2
I cannot get my mind around such virulent hatred coming from an American, not only for our DoI, Constitution, but also the brave men who risked all for us.

Our Framers authored the most perfect governing document ever devised and some here at FR wish to destroy it.

Fight on.

43 posted on 07/04/2010 8:11:34 AM PDT by Jacquerie (It is happening here.)
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To: SeekAndFind
How are these truths "self-evident"

Simple question with a simple answer. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that’s how.

In the context of the Declaration of Independence hold means to have and maintain control over.

44 posted on 07/04/2010 8:13:23 AM PDT by MosesKnows (Love many, Trust few, and always paddle your own canoe)
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To: Steely Tom
-- What if the founders were wrong about this? What if "these truths" are not "self evident" to all men? --

I think the founders expected some would disagree that all men are created equal, and so forth. The "We hold" part of "We hold these points to be self-evident" is simply an assertion of the rock bottom they were going to build the rest of their statement upon. In other words, they weren't going to argue whether or not all men are created equal, have the right to life and liberty. They ASSERTED it as their belief, claimed "self evident", with no philosophical argument or support, and proceeded to announce they were rejecting the authority of the government that was in power, and that they would fight to sustain that rejection, and establish a new government that suited their principles.

45 posted on 07/04/2010 8:20:09 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: Huck

I think the rights are self evident when using a Christian paradigm-—Do unto others, etc. What you are referring to is the ambiguity in the classification. If you don’t classify slaves as human beings, (kind of like how the liberals classify babies in the womb—globs of cells)—there are no human rights ascribed.

Slavery was accepted in all societies at that time and still is in parts of Africa, Asia and Middle East. Christianity was the driving force in getting rid of slavery and is now, in getting rid of abortion.


46 posted on 07/04/2010 8:26:02 AM PDT by savagesusie
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To: SeekAndFind

Big Deal. Some of the founders were abolitionists, and some owned slaves. The word men obviously meant different things to different people. For the abolitionists, it was self-evident that slavery had to go.

Quite clever, actually to use the term men, and eventually, the country redefined the term to include slaves. Women and children too were treated somewhat as property. This too has been rectified in the law.

The fact that some of the signatories were slave owners, does not negate the awesome principles contained in the Declaration of Independence. Our history is one of trying to form a “more perfect union”.

That is was not perfect then or now simply means we need to continue to improve. Man is not perfect, and we will never have perfection on this earth, only in heaven. All men have feet of clay. So what?


47 posted on 07/04/2010 8:26:56 AM PDT by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: Huck
-- The question is whether or not our inalienable rights are self-evident. It's a historical fact that they weren't ... --

Technically, it is self evident that one cannot take his life, and animate a dead person to life (or health, etc.) Life is "inalienable," it cannot be traded from one person to another.

Likewise "pursuit of happiness," or protection from the mobs, hoards and barbarians, depends on some sort of banding together for common defense. There might be a need for some discussion on that point, but the general idea that governments are erected to protect property rights, or function to protect property rights, and that personal happiness is somewhat tied to property rights, is controversial to a very small segment of humanity. But whatever the government/property/individual situation one finds oneself it, you can't swap it with the situation of a different person.

What has historically been true, and is true now, is that governments are self-serving, and the powerful people in government work more to fool the worker bees than to serve the worker bees. As long as the worker bees THINK they are free, the powerful maintain their elevated social standing over the weaker. One need not be a king in title, to be a king in practical fact.

48 posted on 07/04/2010 8:28:00 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: Artemis Webb
badmouth the Founding Fathers!”

Where did I do that?

49 posted on 07/04/2010 8:33:45 AM PDT by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the minority? A: They're complaining about the deficit.)
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To: Huck
...but how does one prove that rights exist, or that they are self-evident. It’s easy to proclaim them, but try proving it.

This question is the reason that I scoff at assertions that the Founding Fathers were not guided by Judeo-Christian principles and ethics. How else could such concepts find their way into the Declaration of Independence and later, the Constitution? Religious faith lies at a deeper level than any nationalist self-identity; it is clear that Jefferson was reaching for that in *teaching* the people with his words. Showing them that their faith was at odds with King George was key to the rebellion's success.

The existence of rights that are derived from our Maker need not be proved. It's like faith; either you believe or you do not.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

- John Adams

50 posted on 07/04/2010 8:36:00 AM PDT by Charles Martel ("Endeavor to persevere...")
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