Indeed, it is evident that it is in the knowledge of the other (autrui) as a simple individual — individual of a genus, a class, or a race — that peace with the other (autrui) turns into hatred; it is the approach of the other as “such and such a type.”
Basic Philosophical Writings
I’m on this tall hill surrounded by toy buildings –which look toy but are actually real, and are precariously leaning as if to fall off the mountain side. I’m worried about the people in the buildings — but ultimately not too worried as they are rich people who decided to build this way. They are not like me. I’m hiding in/behind a group of others and sniping at some building at the base of the mountain. Some threat is issued. Someone is sniping back at me. They sound dangerous. Everybody is going to die anyway. Then this baby appears. It is in a hammock and gurgling. I say, “We should stop this fighting, so that some of us, at least, can survive. How old are you?’ It said, “nine point four.” “9.4 is too young to die. And I’m too young to die, too. We should at least save ourselves, of everyone here.”
I’d love to do some short story writing over this short holiday at the end of the year, which I’ve awarded myself. I haven’t really had the good conscience to award myself a holiday for about 12 years. I’ve been on holiday — but I haven’t really holidayed. My mind has never stopped trying to find solutions to assorted problems. Even today, relaxing is a battle with an overactive conscience. I’ve felt like I’ve had to redeem myself from a terrible situation with a terrible force of will for so long. Now, with a change in government at hand, I think the atmosphere in Australia may also begin changing. I ought to find it easier to be less oppressed. The extremely mean-spirited, narrow minded economic (but not creative-minded) individualism that had us all occupied with the business of looking busy, like so many trepidated soldier ants, may finally be over. It is in honour of this strong possibility that I award myself this little break.
To function under constant stress is not to function at one’s best. Efficiency is not the only thing that’s damaged when one lives under a system that imposes stress for stress’s sake. Creativity and the ability to have accurate insights also drops off. One struggles to have these as a salmon struggles to make its way against the tide. Onwards and upwards and a little mating, solemn soldiers. That is all.
I have rejected stress as a principle of social organisation. It produces only dull witted soldier ants, or solemn salmon, not a happy kind of human being.
We need rain forests. We need rainbows. We need our mysteries and we need the imagination. Dull witted conformity can take us so far — but intelligence supremely suffers. Let us move beyond.
From today’s West Australian:
Migrants work hard, earn less
Migrants earn less than people born in Australia, despite evidence that they work harder and are better educated.
A fresh Australian Bureau of Statistics analysis showed migrants made up 29 per cent of Australia’s unemployed compared with 67 per cent of Australian born residents.
However, their wages remained lower, with 34 per cent earning $399 or less a week and 16 per cent getting $150 -$249. In contrast, most Australian-born residents earned $400-$599 a week and only 26 per cent earned $399 or less.
The analysis found just over 50 per cent of all migrants completed Year 12 or equivalent compared with 31 per cent of Australian-born residents. A further 41 per cent of migrants complted some form of further study in contrast with 30 per cent of Australian-born residents
Our upbringing and education makes all the
difference in which tribe we feel we belong to.Humanists try to regard all
of humanity as their tribe, and Peter Singer goes further and asks us to
consider sentient beings as well.
I wish that it were as easy as differentiating those who have empathy from
those who don’t.
However, the fact is that we are all taught to express empathy in different
ways. For example, I belonged to a rather stoical tribe, and throughout my
upbringing I was taught to have a stiff upper lip and not to show when I was
in pain. To express pain publicly — for instance, by crying — would
have made me feel very ashamed.
So, when I came to Australia, I brought with me the same presuppositions
that it was shameful to express emotions publicly. If I saw somebody
about to cry in public I would feel as if they were publicly shredding
their character. I would feel terrible for them. So my way of expressing
empathy was to prevent people from crying. I could do this by distracting
them, or giving them reasons to toughen up, or whatever. If they did cry in
public, I would try to ignore it — because my empathy taught me that having
spectators on something as shameful as this would be worse than having no
spectators at all. So, I was deeply empathetic with the problem that
somebody had, but I chose to respect their situation by not drawing
attention to it. But to those conditioned in this different cultural
context, this very implicit and subtle expression of empathy is not empathy
at all. In fact, paradoxically enough, many who think differently about
empathy have chosen to punish me severely a great deal for feeling
differently about this matter. To a lot of Australians, born and bred, I
just don’t have the character structure that would make me an acceptable
human being. It seems that many conclude (quite offensively) that I have to be punished severely until I can FEEL someone else’s
pain, the way they feel it. In particular, a lot of Australians don’t feel that I have
the correct feminine attributes. They think that punishing me a lot will
give me the correct feelings of sympathy for all things.
Matt: “What thoughts do others have about underlying human nature?”
I don’t think there is a human nature. However, I do think that humans tend
to aggregate into tribes and feel safer when they have developed a feeling
of belonging with those who they consider to be like themselves. This
feeling of belongingness tends to be reinforced by maintaining that certain
others are necessarily “outsiders” and can never belong. I think that these
are the human tendencies that a rationalist framework (being universalist
rather than tribal in orientation) needs to counteract. The Secular Party
should embrace a rationalist framework for its ethics, rather than an
emotionalist one which determines that some people “belong” and others do
not. In so doing, the party will do a great service to society — to its
diversity, and to the efficiency and well-being of those living within the
society. I say this from personal experience. I came from a country which
was at war ever since I was born, and then I was ripped out from my roots,
and forced to enter a very different culture. I think that I myself, and my
whole family were very shell-shocked at the violence of this sudden cultural
transition — the immigration experience. When I came to Australia as a
teenager, I found that everyone knew where they fitted in — except me. I
was incredibly shy and had absolutely no awareness of the stereotypes that
proliferated in this culture about white Africans. I could barely speak out
for myself. Oddly enough, my shyness was interpreted as arrogance (no doubt
to fit the “white African” stereotype) and nobody really asked me where I
was from or how I felt about anything. So, I had layers of emotional trauma
added to my initial trauma of transition and the sense of loss, and of
feeling out of place. My point is that everyone had a very emotional
reaction to me, because of how they understood the events of Rhodesia (which
they continued to confuse with South Africa’s apartheid). However, nobody
spoke to me in a rational or sincere way, in order to hear from me what I’d
experienced or understood about my past. They all presumed, as I could tell
by their reactions, that my version of the story would be untrustworthy.
This is the nature of tribalism. White Australians, as a tribe, have had a
particular view of white Africans (viewed, for whatever reason, as being all
of one other tribe). There is no rationality in this kind of perspective,
because identity is taken as tribal, which means that you are locked into a
particular identity no matter what your feelings are about it, or how much
you try to shake it off.
Tribalism undermines trust, and is a disruptive force in society. It denies
individuals free speech, and it traumatises them for things outside of their
control as individuals. To the degree that tribalism is still a part of our
“human natures” it needs to be counteracted with a spirit of rationality.
I must say what a pleasure it has been for me to work with all of you on this little project of ours. I’m inclined to agree with John that it was necessary for us to start somewhere. Believe me, there are friends and relatives whom I have told about this project, who have sat up and taken note. This is all about changing the cultural climate. The political aspect is the tip of the iceberg.
As I say, I was very glad to work with Michael Tan, and he is to be congratulated for his efforts and sincerity. I have felt that working with John Perkins and others was a breath of fresh air for me, because of his deeply rational approach. Emotionalism as a primary mode of communication produces stress. Indeed, stress is its primary product. Yet with calm and rational communication, so much more can eventually be done, than if this factor were not present.
To educate people as to what rationality is, and how it can be of benefit for increasing communication clarity, for enhancing productivity and for making an all-round happier and more hopeful society is the task that I see for the Secular party, both now and in the future.
It has been wonderful to meet you all, and to experience the beginnings of the secularisation of Australia.
All innovators of the spirit must for a time bear the pallid and fatal mark of the chandala on their foreheads—not because they are considered that way by others, but because they themselves feel the terrible chasm which separates them from everything that is customary or reputable. Almost every genius knows, as one stage of his development, the “Catilinarian existence”—a feeling of hatred, revenge, and rebellion against everything which already is, which no longer becomes … Catiline—the form of pre-existence of every Caesar.—
I’ve been thinking that one of the problems with a certain prevalent mal-development of western consciousness is the growth of a tendency to believe that “perceptions” and “reality” do not correlate or intersect. It is considered “masterful” to take the position that somebody else’s perceptions have nothing at all to do with reality. Perhaps only one’s own perceptions are really able to dominate reality appropriately — separating truth from falsity in an accurate way.
This, in my view, is why many people speak forth with the expectation of struggling but not with the expectation of achieving something real. Because to “struggle” is to put forward one’s perceptions into the public realm. But the perceptions would have to be perceptions of reality itself in order for the putting forth of one’s perceptions to have any chance of changing reality. But most people are conditioned to believe that we cannot change reality, only perceptions: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
So, pointless struggle becomes very common indeed. One gives up on changing reality all for the liquid joy of expressing one’s perceptions in pure form. Expressing one’s perceptions becomes a compensatory compulsion due to being deprived of a notion of reality, and not having any clue what reality is.
In terms of the effect of embracing perceptions as reality itself, and ignoring that there is a reality that is independent of perception (such as the reality of global warming, the reality of miscommunication and twisted reasoning, and so on) many westerners speak at cross-purposes to themselves and others. It’s a Tower of Babel.
Rational thinking has become a lost art, and catering to each other’s “perceptions”, by treating all perceptions (no matter how outlandish) as if they were already valid components of reality itself have become more common. In other words, social interactions have become politicised in such a thorough way, that current stakeholders are easily able to keep out newcomers who do not play this game of manipulating perceptions. Rationality has had no or little stake in western cultural consciousness due to the advent of this egoist subjectivist approach which accepts that what is real is the aggregate of common opinion, and nothing else besides.
A rational person cannot be expected to succeed in such a society unless they first prostitute themselves by playing a highly irrational game.
The votes are still being counted, but we did about as well as could have been expected, this time, given the depth and breadth of our campaign — which was rudimentary.
Behold, the Senate results (still coming in)
So, this is about as well as I expected we would do. We might get a few more from postal votes and the like. We were not even a registered party, though, and it all has to start somewhere!
1. The material ugliness of philosophical idealists’ society makes its members turn inward as a way of finding their spirituality and emotional solace.
2. As a result of the above inwards turn, the typical philosophical idealist is deprived of actual and integral life experience.
3. As a result of this deprivation of actual life experience, the philosophical idealists’ notion of knowledge becomes categorically determined. In other words, as a bureaucratically minded person, if I can put something in its correct category, then I can also presume to know it.
4. The philosophical idealists’ position in relation to knowledge is “transcendent” in the sense that the subject who categorises in order to know does not actually engage integrally with the one that they are categorising.
5. The philosophical idealists’ position in relation to knowledge is actually a posture in relation to assumed knowledge, which is not knowledge at all except in concept. The philosophical idealists’ “knowledge” is generally lacking in the substance of lived experience.
6. Those who adopt a position of philosophical idealists’ “knowing” will presume that they have the ultimate perspective — having categorised everything — but those who base their knowledge on experience will perceive the philosophical idealists’ perspective to be devoid of insight as well as being devoid of any quality of genuine knowledge.
In Western Australia, vote group Q for individualism and rationality in politics.
Perhaps some of us are simply more protean in our natures than others are? This is another aspect of things that I have lately come to consider. I had thought the life and the environment one enters changes people. While this is true, perhaps people are generally less changed by factors such as these than I had thought. My own training in the humanities gives me a philosophy — a paradigm if you will — of human plasticity. But what of those brought up to feel that they have only one “soul” and that this soul is immutable?
I have been in touch with old school friends, whom I would have thought had experiences the bumps of life that bring about changes, like I have endured.
Yet where I expected change and the characterological complexity that comes from dealing with hard situations, I have not found a different philosophical attitude to have been wrought in the minds of my friends. They are more similar to their old selves, at least on appearance, than they are different.
For me, everything has changed. I used to be very nervous about a lot of things, and this quality of timorousness lasted with me up until my mid-twenties, when I found myself cornered in a ring, not even fully realising yet that I was in a fight, but with a switch in my head turning on, “fight back or die whilst still thinking about it.”
So, I’ve changed. And while these days I sometimes still feel a flicker of the quality which used to be me, when I move to act it’s almost like a different spirit has inhabited my brain and limbs. I feel the apprehensiveness that precedes doing something, but this flow of thought does not pass into my movements or actions, which have become slow, full of will and certainty, deliberate.
Yet, speaking to my old school friends who had expected the old me to appear — tender, passive and reactive — I sometimes wonder whether it is a betrayal that I can’t make her appear at all. I don’t know where this other person has gone. Am I faking being my present self? My limbs and mind just won’t react in socially awkward fashion they hadbeen used to.
From an article by TAMAS PATAKI:
The only means of acquiring knowledge, however, resides in the slow, fallible progress of the empirical sciences and humanities, and these either ignore or obstinately refuse to endorse what the religious wish most to know. Not knowing, for them, is intolerable; it is like being abandoned. So reason, the wounded messenger, becomes hateful; it not only refuses to support religious belief, it challenges it. At the deepest level, reason threatens to subvert the cherished relationship to God and the (illusional) omnipotence and omniscience of the self. Thus, in the grip of offended narcissism, in precarious identification with God, the eye is plucked out and reason is abandoned. The religiose cannot say in their hearts: ‘I just don’t know!’ So the artifices of faith, revelation, and supernatural experience are employed to provide what reason cannot. Thought, unguided by reason or self-understanding, captive to infantile needs for attachment and omnipotence, becomes more or less phantastic and delusional.
Bataille’s concept of non-knowledge, which he equates with mystical experience, can be useful here. To dwell in it sets one apart from mass religion and mass psychology. Only the very strong can even attempt this. By virtue of departing from any predetermined formulas, one is more likely to find what one is looking for — oneself.
I have the view of human beings that more conventional religiosity is generally an attempt to short-cut (but actually serving only to short-circuit) the deeper spiritual cravings of human beings for community, art, belonging, meaning and purpose, and so on. Religion is, as per Marx, the cry of the oppressed. And it is a misunderstanding of the religious drive to say that it is “knowing” that they most desire. That is the confused cry of someone whose thinking has been short-circuited by so many social dead-ends, and caused by social aridity within oneself and in the broader sphere. It is very harsh to require that these infantile religious people force themselves to feast upon the bones of scientific knowledge when their real cry is for human community. It is a real misunderstanding on the part of both the sufferer and the one making the critique.
In conclusion, the feeling of “the need to know” something is often the result of at thinning of the spirit that comes from not having things — friendship, community, common reference points and a degree of control over one’s life. We all experience this at times and need to find the basic rhythms of life, all over again.
It is an illusion to feel that any knowledge that is not also personal and subjective is also power — a particularly bourgeois illusion at that. Those in more primitive conditions do not think in this way (and I know this because I was not brought up to think in this way).
I’m a secularist, but Richard Dawkins doesn’t appeal to me too much, because he seems to be making a scientific argument and then clothing it as a social argument. I don’t think that works. I don’t think that it works to say that teaching religion is a form child abuse because physics shows that god does not exist. I don’t think it works because there are atheists who also abuse their children (by teaching them the principles of consumerism as their only “ethic”, for instance). I don’t think it works because it is begging the question as to what child abuse actually is — social workers and sociologists would be able to give us a better idea. But I think Dawkins model, which denies the right of the humanities (for example, French philosophers) to criticize society,gives too much power to the consumerist model, which can take up this empty, ideological space. There are those who would be inclined to say, “Not giving my child the latest and fastest computer model is a form of child abuse.” This should be criticized, but Dawkins prefers to lend his hand to attacking Luce Irigaray.
And then there is also the problem in Dawkins’s model concerning his tacitly held notion of ideological purity. His argument about child abuse and religious indoctrination is strained because we are all “indoctrinated” into something — sometimes as bad as a consumerist ideology. And he also has a view of ideological purity: the hard line athiest’s sense that atheism is better than even liberal religiosity as it does not create a bridge of tolerance (as liberal christianity does, he thinks) between secularism and fundamentalism. But this kind of argument follows the pattern that a lot of right wingers use (which is why I could be forgiven for thinking that a lot of “Secularists” are right wing). You can see how this implicit argument works in the Liberal party’s campaign blitz against federal Labor: “The Labor party is the bridge towards communism!” the Liberal party slogans scream. And is this a good argument, which supports the basis for a reasonable and tolerant society? NO, it isn’t.
So, these are problems with Dawkins. And then, of course, the ultimate problem that hard science and scientism do not in themselves furnish us with the values required for a humanistic society. Even sociology can at best study the pros and cons of social conditions and procedures already in place. This is an overestimation of what “science” can and should do for us — which could lead to an undermining of the moderating effect of the liberal religions on society, and to the acceptance of something crude, like social darwinism.
Finally: the ultimate mistake that kind of creeps in — the expectation of a scientific “thou shalt” to put human societies into moral order. This assumption derives from a religious impuse that wants to be given a different, scientific aura.
A 57 year-old activist from the pressure group Woman of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), who had been arrested on 10 different occasions and had been physically and mentally abused by the police each time, has died. Ninety-eight activists from WOZA and their male counterparts, who were protesting against escalating state sponsored violence, were arrested by the police earlier this month.
Fifteen opposition activists were abducted from a house belonging to an MDC member in Chipinge South and a police chief threatened to invoke the shoot-to-kill order against MDC activists if they went ahead with a planned rally in Chimanimani.
Contentious developments on the election front include the appointment of five former government employees to positions of influence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The appointments have been condemned by the opposition and civil society.
The point that I want to make is that social darwinism may not be easily to falsify. We have Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, which suggests that social darwinism is an incorrect theory. His evidence seems mounted against it. From what I learned in taking classes in informal logic (critical thinking 101) we could say that there was fairly strong logic in Diamond’s position against the theory of social darwinism.
Still, historical and sociological evidence are not 100 percent falsifiable in the way that evidence in relation to physics is falsifiable. This is not to say that there is not more evidence available against social darwinism than for it (as I happen to think). So this is the situation with the social sciences and falsifiability. It’s not a notion that suits it as well as it suits physics.
But actually what I meant by social darwinism being “a faith” is that people believe it because they want to. Attraction to this idea would seem to have very little to do with the evidence (whether or not it was falsifiable).
Pandagon :: A shared enthusiasm for depriving women of basic medical care :: November :: 2007
meanwhile, I long for gentle rivers, roaring tropical season changes, soft grass
I would have liked to have met him, and formed my opinions. It is without a
doubt that the political atmosphere he created had broad repercussions for
me and my family. A question my parents must have faced over and over
again: Where does one go to, ideologically, when one finds that the simple
naive life of 1950s (or 40s?) idealism in which one had been briefed, simple
Christianity, where everyone knew their place on the basis of race and
gender, and of course, very often expressions of bravery, are no longer
valued in the world?
My parents eventually dug their heels in — refusing to allow the world to
change (the despite the fact that it obviously has already changed and must
continue to change).
I, meanwhile — driven in part by my reaction to the more negative extremes
of this retrograde ideology — am now the lead WA candidate for the Secular
Party of Australia (arguing for a society which embraces rationality and
So, you can see how history has had its impact.
More on bourgeois “reason”.
break, break , break your bourgeois epistemologies!
As end to such vulgar mysticism is in sight.