‘Form’ and ‘Substance’

I am not sure, but I think that it was Aristotle, over 2000 years ago, who talked about the nature of ‘things’. (Or it might have been Plato) He believed that all we can experience is ‘the form’ of things. Take a boulder of sandstone. We can see its colour – light brown to yellow; we can see its size: we can feel its hardness; we can test its weight; we can even scrape it and remove tiny bits of it and observe that each tiny bit is a copy of the whole. Everything that we know about that boulder comes from our senses. He called those aspects of the boulder ‘FORM’. We can only experience ‘the form’ of the boulder. What we cannot experience is its ‘SUBSTANCE’. I do not mean atoms and quarks and all that sort of thing – they come under ‘scrapings’, and are just as much ‘form’.

It is a long time since I studied Philosophy, and it is hard to remember, but as best that I can recall, Aristotle was saying that the boulder’s existence implied more than just the properties which we sense. He called those hidden properties ‘SUBSTANCE’. You could even, if you wish, say that the boulder had some sort of ‘soul’.

How much more so with a human being? If you came across a dead body, without knowing anything about human beings, all that you would observe would be similar to the bolder. You would note its shape, its softness, its colour, its weight. You might even cut it up and observe the ‘form’ of the interior parts. But you would have not idea whatsoever that that body was once a person. In that case, the ‘substance’ would be far, far greater than the ‘form’ in importance, and you would have no idea of that ‘substance’.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, is the last full day before election day. What are we going to elect on Thursday? Will it be ‘form’ or ‘substance’?

Distorting Aristotle, I see all the promises of manifestos, squeezing the rich, etc,  and blatherings as ‘form’. I see nothing of ‘substance’, being freedom from persecution, and such spiritual things. Weird, is it not, that the collapse of communism was seen wholly in terms of economic development, even though it started, in Poland, with ‘Solidarity’ – a movement to free the people of Poland from ‘substantive’ restrictions. That is, freedom of thought as much as freedom of life.

What we are seeing right now, in this general election, is MORE ‘form’. just have we have always seen. There has been absolutely not talk WHATSOEVER about ‘freedom’, or ‘substance’ if you like. The proliferation of laws and regulations will go on and on and on.

But it is essentially about Brexit where the difference between ‘form’ and ‘substance’ will become evident.

I bought a box of cigarette tubes from a guy in Bulgaria. The parcel arrived today. I ordered to tubes on 25th May. The guy posted them on 26th May. They arrived today, 6th June. According to my calculations, based upon the Bulgarian stamps on the parcel, it cost my supplier £2.30 to send the parcel from Bulgaria to the UK. It cost me more to send a recorded delivery letter to London.

My point is that it has taken half a century to build up the transportation infrastructure which can speed a small parcel half way across Europe in 11 days and delivery it to my door at a cost of £2.30 to the sender.

Is it even remotely possible that Brexit will be allowed to destroy that infrastructure? Not for a moment do I believe that the British people wanted to destroy that infrastructure, or easy foreign travel, or anything of that kind. Those things are ‘form’. What we voted for was a change in ‘substance’. We want the EU to get out of our minds and our lifestyles, and our hegemony in the UK. Trade can go on, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘free movement’.

What ‘free movement’ comes down to is ‘who gets a passport?’ How did the Libyan family which produced the Manchester bomber get into our country? How did the father abandon his family and go back to Libya to fight for something or other? Who paid for the care of his abandoned family? That is ‘substance’.

I vaguely fear that all the politicians involved in Brexit negotiations will try to find ways to ‘save’ face’? All that they will be concerned about will be political ‘form’.

The British People voted to exit THE EUROPEAN UNION, and nothing else. Nothing much needs to change, except that WE will decide, and not some ‘qualified majority vote’ which has obviously favoured the big populations with the occasional necessity to bribe a few smaller nations.

NO Cameron, Blair, Brown, Merkel, etc. It is because of your preoccupation with ‘form’ that the ‘substance’ of our people has been eroded. YOU have divided ‘the substance’ of our people into ‘forms’ as smokers, drinkers and fatties.

I doubt that St Theresa has the philosophical understanding to avoid negotiations with the EU which are intended just to ‘save face’. None of the politicians in this Shakespearean play want to give way, but they all want to come out if it looking good.

What is the answer?

It is not to bother with the EU Bosses. Negotiate with the 27 Nations. There is no problem. There are only 27 and they are not bombing and fighting each other. So, say to those Nations, “We are prepared to continue our current trade agreements. Are you?” “We are prepared to permit free movement between our respective Nation’s passport holders. Are you?”

Further, We Brits have paid more than our fair share of the costs of the EU for years and years. The accounts of the EU have never been OK’ed by auditors. Only Kings and Dictators can get away with that. Why was not Cameron shouting loudly, over and over, about the failure of EU accountability? Because he was only interested in ‘form’ and not ‘substance’.

And to the nitty gritty. The same applies to ‘The War on Smokers’. The ‘substance’ is our demand to be free; the ‘form’ is bans and children.


9 Responses to “‘Form’ and ‘Substance’”

  1. Some French bloke Says:

    Back in the days when smokers were at at liberty to indulge in their pastime most everywhere, untold millions of discussions took place in untold millions of smoky surroundings (not just pubs, but homes and workplaces, too), yet not enough ‘substance’ was brought to the surface in all of these discussions to render it impossible for TobCon to raise its ugly head and shove their outrageous lies down our throats, unchecked by the so-called scientific community, and even seconded by the Powers That (should not) Be.

    • junican Says:

      Exactly. ‘Freedom’ is substance; ‘bans’ are form. We should be able to expect out elected representatives to uphold ‘the substance’ of our nation – freedom of speech, freedom of the individual, freedom to enjoy tobacco without paying swinging taxes.
      Such freedom automatically means that ASH ET AL have to pay for themselves via personal contributions, and not from gifts from commercial enterprises.

  2. artbylisabelle Says:

    You’ve nailed it! Also great comment Some French bloke all we need now is the ability to organize!

    • junican Says:

      I’m not sure that such organisation is possible. Perhaps it might be better to just keep scratching at the foundations. What brought down Prohibition in the USA? It was that people who enjoyed alcoholic stuff continued to do so, and that criminal gangs were the only source of supply. And that the criminal gangs fought amongst themselves. And that thousands and thousands of people were poisoned by ‘hooch’.
      The implementation of the Smoking Ban was cheap. Publicans were roped in to be enforcers. All the rest of the ‘regulations’ are not so cheap (apart from PP). How do you enforce a smoking ban on a beach? It is impossible.
      Our ‘duty’ as smokers is simply to ‘resist’, unless we want to become part of the ‘criminal gangs’.

  3. artbylisabelle Says:


  4. garyk30 Says:

    At least you know that Plato and Aristotle are not some rock group!

    Seems to me, being PC is all about ‘form’ over ‘substance’.

    • junican Says:

      Exactly Gary! ‘Form’ and ‘Substance’ have always been around in England. Around 1900, the ‘aristocrats’ still controlled England. That was ‘form’. Only after WW1 did the ‘substance’ – uneducated masses and servility – change. The ‘People’ became the collection of all adults. They became ‘the substance’.
      Sadly, that ‘Substance’ has been downgraded by propaganda.
      But there is hope. Brexit, Trump and ‘glasnost’ in Russia have paved the way.

  5. Some French bloke Says:

    Thanks Junican and artbylisabelle for your heart-warming appreciation. Being able to stop by and leave a comment here is an invaluable recourse. Who knows, such virtual communities may even prove to be life-savers for some isolated smokers (or isolated anti-anti-smokers in general, for that matter). Otherwise they’d be more likely to become manic-depressive or even suicidal, or to be tempted to do hard drugs. After all, according to the official narrative, nothing you can do to yourself can be worse than smoking tobacco – that is until the anti-salt, -fat, & -sugar people get their act together and reach the same level of stigmatisation as their anti-tobacco counterparts already have, which I doubt they’ll ever will!
    The sheer intensity of anti-smoking hysteria in Britain and Ireland is what makes the situation there as regards smoking restrictions and over-taxation more interesting to keep track of than it is in continental countries. In the latter, since they have yet to be taxed and stigmatised to the same extent, it’s easier for them to brush off the issue, and maybe legitimate exasperation is more likely to come to a head sooner in your parts than in either continental Europe or younger nations such as Australia and NZ.

    • junican Says:

      You are more than welcome, SFB. Your comments, and the comments of everyone else, strengthen us all. I am not sure that the ‘fight back’ will occur in the UK and Ireland first, even though we are subjected to more persecution than our continental cousins. The big problems is that we were not subjected to the Nazi or Communist jackboot: we do not know what it was like to see people being rounded up and carted away, never to be seen again.
      In Mallorca, a tourist place, the bars etc comply with the smoking ban, but in Malaga, the Spanish people decide for themselves. For example, I walked through a shopping arcade and there was a bar at the end of the arcade. It was clearly ‘indoors’, but there were people sitting at the bar drinking and smoking, and not furtively in any way.
      Let’s say that ‘we keep the home-fires burning’. That is what we do.

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