American Identity

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Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 06:02 pm
These are just some of my thoughts on American identity that I think are important to discuss. Any comments or questions will be greatly appreciated. -



In thinking about American identity, (what it means to be an American today) we should begin by distinguishing two types of societies in the world. The first type of society is the modern type. Now, these modern types are commonly referred to as the societies or nations of the 'first world' to which belong America and Western Europe. And the second type of society is called the the 'developing world' or, now sometimes pejorative, 'third world' societies. So, I need to ask what are the origins and foundations of these two types and what is the source of the differences between them?

Looking at history I can see that the vast majority of societies were based or founded upon religion or mythology. In these societies there doesn't appear to be a difference between the individual and the state; the state or the nation is inseperable from the ethnicity of the tribe and the mythology or religious history of the society. In these societies the individuals are almost completely defined by their religious tribal identity which is coextensive with the state as a political unity. Looking at Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, ancient Greeks and the majority of historical peoples we see that there is not much individual identity, that the individual's conception of herself is dependent upon the tribal state. In these societies the call for 'individual' rights or identity seperate from the religio-political state would be tantamount to an act of political treason. This is the model of the third world, pre-modern society.

The difference between modern societies and third world societies lies in their origins. So, what's the origin of modern society? In modern societies the people are not mythologically bound to the state and the meanings of the political state is not expressable in ethno-religious terms. Modern societies are said to be 'free'.

What makes modern societies different is they were founded by philosophical ideas. Before these ideas were constituted within actual states and nations, they were written out by philosophical thinkers. The idea of human freedom which helps to define American identity is revolutionary history - the ideas of liberty, equality and individual rights were first proposed as revolutionary philosophical ideas.

The political freedom that Enlightenment thinkers like Locke and Hobbes proposed were inseperable from the notion of free scientific inquiry into the essential nature of the physical world. And the Universities of today where scientific research is conducted are historical newcomers.

The historical origin of human freedom lies in the untrammeled acquisition of knowledge. The advances of science are dependent upon political equaliy and individual rights. Generally speaking, where there is no political freedoms there can be no high level of material well-being.

The basis of modern society is not biblical or religious but philosophical and progressive. The idea of equality and freedom is not derived from religious scripture but from the proposals of the Enlightened philosophers. Freedom depends on the use of reason. The U.S. Congress is not a spiritual body but a rational and deliberative body.


Basically, there is no great mythological culture or spirituality allowed in the modern secular state. Culture and spirituality are private concerns within individuals. And the architecture in Washington D.C. points to Greece and Rome as the sources of rational inspiration. There is no authentic architecture in the United States as there is in old Europe and the third world.

The dilemma that individual Americans face today is the dilemma of authentic identity. There is none. And it seems there cannot be authentic identity without a consequent restriction on freedom. We are stuck with merely private identities which cannot involve the state. The state is basically economics, not culture.

The real problem is that there is no absolute freedom within which a human life can be fulfilled - and no absolute reason that authentic culture can grow out of. So, today, in modern society, we live in rock 'n roll personality culture and long for the third world authenticity, which is, of course, antithetical to political liberty.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 06:06 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;123936 wrote:
long for the third world authenticity, which is, of course, antithetical to political liberty.


We do? Not me. I like first world plumbing as well as first world liberty. Not to mention, first world safety, rather than third world terrorism, and brutality. Have you ever visited or lived in the third world? Try it before you praise it.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 06:11 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;123938 wrote:
We do? Not me. I like first world plumbing as well as first world liberty. Not to mention, first world safety, rather than third world terrorism, and brutality. Have you ever visited or lived in the third world? Try it before you praise it.


I am not praising it, I am describing the state of society today.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 06:43 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;123941 wrote:
I am not praising it, I am describing the state of society today.


You did say that "we" long for the third world. Who does that? Not first world people I know. They want nothing to do with it. And neither do I. Where did you ever get such an idea?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 06:55 pm
@kennethamy,
Pyth did not say that we long for the third world, he said that we long for what he calls "third world authenticity." I'm not entirely sure what he means by that phrase, but it does not seem to mean that we desire to live under third world conditions.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 06:56 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;123942 wrote:
You did say that "we" long for the third world. Who does that? Not first world people I know. They want nothing to do with it. And neither do I. Where did you ever get such an idea?


It is nearly universal on the left end of the American and European social spectrum. I actually find it hard to believe that you're not aware of this.

And I would also add that it will be in the name of a longing for cultural identity that the American people in the future will embrace a leftist pseudo-absolutist form of government. I think we are already far down that path.

--
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 07:11 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Pythagorean;123936 wrote:
In modern societies the people are not mythologically bound to the state and the meanings of the political state is not expressable in ethno-religious terms. Modern societies are said to be 'free'.


I'm not sure that this is true. How has the modern state eliminated mythology?

There is the mythology of manifest destiny. That of the western cowboy. Remember the Horatio Alger mythology of the young, downtrodden boy who climbs his way to the top through sheer intellect and force of will. There is the mythology of the open road.

However appealing a mythology might be, it is still part of our mythological framework. And when we live in a particular society, it is sometimes difficult to recognize the mythologies we take for granted. Remember the old saying - 'a fish is the last thing to notice water'.

Pythagorean;123936 wrote:
What makes modern societies different is they were founded by philosophical ideas. Before these ideas were constituted within actual states and nations, they were written out by philosophical thinkers. The idea of human freedom which helps to define American identity is revolutionary history - the ideas of liberty, equality and individual rights were first proposed as revolutionary philosophical ideas.


Hasn't every society been founded upon some sort of philosophical idea? Whether this is Divine Right, Social Contract, ect, there seems to have always been a framework for justifying the state to the people, a system for establishing the necessity of the state in the eyes of the people.

Pythagorean;123936 wrote:
And the Universities of today where scientific research is conducted are historical newcomers.


The modern techniques and equipment may be newcomers, but scientific inquiry is ancient. And from what I can tell, has always been part of higher learning.

Pythagorean;123936 wrote:
There is no authentic architecture in the United States as there is in old Europe and the third world.


Maybe this is a quibble in the context of your larger post, but we all know better.

There is a great deal of authentic and original American architecture. For example, the steel framed sky-scraper. Or consider the residential designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Or the larger phenomenon of suburbia.

Pythagorean;123936 wrote:
The dilemma that individual Americans face today is the dilemma of authentic identity. There is none. And it seems there cannot be authentic identity without a consequent restriction on freedom. We are stuck with merely private identities which cannot involve the state. The state is basically economics, not culture.


This is a very interesting idea, one that has been presented in one way or another before. And you may just be right. Take, for instance, that great American novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The protagonist and his sidekick romp through a large American city with absolutely no inhibitions, running wild, anarchist freedom at play. And what is the protagonist told when he asks someone where he can find the American Dream? He is told that the American Dream burned down years ago, and that even then it was just a hangout for hustlers and prostitutes.

These characters have every hedonistic freedom, and still they find no American Dream. Of course, you make a slightly different case than that suggest by this novel, but the conclusions regarding American identity seem pretty close.

Very interesting post, Pyth. I'm looking forward to your thoughts!
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 07:48 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;123944 wrote:
It is nearly universal on the left end of the American and European social spectrum. I actually find it hard to believe that you're not aware of this.

And I would also add that it will be in the name of a longing for cultural identity that the American people in the future will embrace a leftist pseudo-absolutist form of government. I think we are already far down that path.

--

Oh, them. I pay no attention to them. Maybe that is what they long for. I would not know, and neither would they. If someone is not white, and is poor, they think they are superior.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 07:49 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;123936 wrote:

The dilemma that individual Americans face today is the dilemma of authentic identity. There is none. And it seems there cannot be authentic identity without a consequent restriction on freedom. We are stuck with merely private identities which cannot involve the state. The state is basically economics, not culture.


I don't really see why we would want an identity that comes from the state or country. People can and do identify with the country though, with the ideals and the history.

Quote:
The real problem is that there is no absolute freedom within which a human life can be fulfilled - and no absolute reason that authentic culture can grow out of. So, today, in modern society, we live in rock 'n roll personality culture and long for the third world authenticity, which is, of course, antithetical to political liberty.


Third world authenticity? I'm not entirely sure what you mean. But the urge towards primitivism goes back a long way and never seems to get far. Probably because our modern societies are actually better.
 
Insty
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 07:57 pm
@Pythagorean,
I generally disagree with the thrust of the original post.

I don't see any reason for thinking that the U.S. lacks an authentic culture. There's no reason to think that an authentic culture can exist only where it is imposed by the state. Culture can also develop through the private associations that make up civil society. And in any case, the American government takes all sorts of measures to promote particular cultural values and traditions.
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 07:57 pm
@Jebediah,
Funny how we tend to separate the world into more or other worlds, 'third world' for instance, by the way what is the second world?, i thought we were all one world, shame we think we are a better part of the one world by giving ourselves the higher position.
We are all poor but only some of us are rich?
 
melonkali
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 08:25 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pyth, I agree with Thomas, yours is a very interesting post.

Sometimes I visit Youtube just to observe "group identity". I'm fascinated reading comments (under the videos) by members of groups which have existed with a strong concept of cohesiveness, be it national, ethnic, religious, cultural, geographical, etc, for hundreds of years. This may sound voyeuristic, but when I see a video about certain strong groups, and look down and see 1000 or so comments (one video I found had over 3000 comments), I know it's going to be interesting reading. I've learned a lot about "foreign" and world history, old and modern, through other eyes, other perspectives.

And yes, I find myself envying that strong sense of identity, even from "less advantaged" nations or peoples. I'm amazed that they've managed to survive centuries of hardship and oppression, changing political systems, often ruled by foreign powers ruthlessly trying to eliminate their native culture, without breaking, without surrendering their "essential identity" for the sake of convenience. Willing to spend years in prison, to sacrifice their lives, to pay any price for this "quality, idea, ideal, whatever-it-is" which I can't begin to understand -- I've never experienced anything like it, at least not to my knowledge.

And I've wondered what kind of "identity" we in America might have? Do we have any kind of "identity" strong enough to endure the inevitable long, hard winters in our future (as with any long-lived nation's future)? Or, will "Americans" simply disappear -- and if we do, is there anything of value, any significant, unique essence, that will disappear with us? Honestly, I can't think of anything. Can you?

rebecca
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 08:32 pm
@Insty,
Insty;123954 wrote:
I generally disagree with the thrust of the original post.

I don't see any reason for thinking that the U.S. lacks an authentic culture. There's no reason to think that an authentic culture can exist only where it is imposed by the state. Culture can also develop through the private associations that make up civil society. And in any case, the American government takes all sorts of measures to promote particular cultural values and traditions.


Only non-white poor people can have authentic culture. That's an axiom. Everyone knows that.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 08:45 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;123946 wrote:
I'm not sure that this is true. How has the modern state eliminated mythology?

There is the mythology of manifest destiny. That of the western cowboy. Remember the Horatio Alger mythology of the young, downtrodden boy who climbs his way to the top through sheer intellect and force of will. There is the mythology of the open road.

However appealing a mythology might be, it is still part of our mythological framework. And when we live in a particular society, it is sometimes difficult to recognize the mythologies we take for granted. Remember the old saying - 'a fish is the last thing to notice water'.


I'm speaking of mythology which unified the individual with the group or the state in a continuum where the original identity of the tribe or ethnicity lies. For example, the Native American tribes had no notion of political freedom and they were unified by blood and divine ritual. This is the kind of compact or 'nation' or folk that was once universal on the face of the earth. It was Europeans who broke from these blood and ritual ties with their revolutionary philosophy of political freedom, equality and indivdiaul rights.

I agree, that mythology per se can be said to posess an existence in the minds and imaginations of the Western peoples, but when it comes to politics they each to a man posess parliaments or other forms of rational deliberative bodies based on liberty and individual political rights. In America there are no blood rights that can make legitimate political claims.



Didymos Thomas wrote:
Hasn't every society been founded upon some sort of philosophical idea? Whether this is Divine Right, Social Contract, ect, there seems to have always been a framework for justifying the state to the people, a system for establishing the necessity of the state in the eyes of the people.


I don't believe so. At least not philosophical justification. The gentiles posessed no philosophy as far as I know. Their ideas are to be found within their religions. The priest held as much power as did the chief, who was usually a war leader. And 'Divine right' is exactly the opposite of equality and individual freedom. The American and French revolutions were carried out in direct opposition to the aristocracy and king. The Social Contract of course is part of Rouseau's modern revolutionary language.



Didymos Thomas wrote:
The modern techniques and equipment may be newcomers, but scientific inquiry is ancient. And from what I can tell, has always been part of higher learning.


Most ancient schools, Plato's academy for instance, were dedicated to abstract ideas. The Alexandrians were the forerunners of modern scientific academies, it is true, however, you need to understand that the priests were often the enemies of scientific and philosophical inquiry. The rapid development of science is, of course, a modern phenomenon. For thousands of years there were no institutions fruitfully dedicated to the continuous advancement of physics and science. Why wasn't something like Silicon Valley and the NASA space program developed in 5,000 B.C.? Why not in 10,000 B.C.? You aren't accounting for the establishment of modern Universities and you are not understanding the role they played in the industrial revolution (the revolution which was a Western European and American only revolution). Can you account for the difference in material conditions and standards of living between the third world and the first? How do you account for the differences between the Stone Age and the Space Age?

Didymos Thomas wrote:
Maybe this is a quibble in the context of your larger post, but we all know better.

There is a great deal of authentic and original American architecture. For example, the steel framed sky-scraper. Or consider the residential designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Or the larger phenomenon of suburbia.


Very interesting examples, DT. The skyscraper is of course an office tower, developed by businessmen. They were not developed, for example, as were the Gothic Cathedrals in Europe, out of religious devotion. The U.S. is a free economic zone, where culture is left to the private sphere.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a modernist, of course, who took his bearings from the European modernist scene. I do not say the modernists were not authentic, but they were appealing to mass societies and not in the service of royal Princes and priests, in my opinion.

The suburbs, considered a blight by bohemians, is the housing of 9 to 5 business employees. They are not exactly renowned for their cultural expression, quite the opposite in fact. The suburbs have long been ridiculed by artists and poets and other leftists, as was also the 'square' 9 to 5 workers who build and inhabit them. (Of course, America itself has long been and remains today the subject of ridicule for its 'bourgoisie' population and philistinism.)

The establishment of individual rights based on the state of nature teaching and the Enlightenment political revolutions precludes the authentic cultural expressions because they are laisser faire, and if there were any religions they were disestablished in modernity one way or another. Reason came to replace religion and the legislators of humanity, who were once the poets, are now technocrats, at least in the Western world.



Didymos Thomas wrote:
This is a very interesting idea, one that has been presented in one way or another before. And you may just be right. Take, for instance, that great American novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The protagonist and his sidekick romp through a large American city with absolutely no inhibitions, running wild, anarchist freedom at play. And what is the protagonist told when he asks someone where he can find the American Dream? He is told that the American Dream burned down years ago, and that even then it was just a hangout for hustlers and prostitutes.

These characters have every hedonistic freedom, and still they find no American Dream. Of course, you make a slightly different case than that suggest by this novel, but the conclusions regarding American identity seem pretty close.


That's a wonderful example, DT. As I was saying, all of the artists and poets, not to say psychologists and anthropologists, have critiqued the so called bourgeoisie, and America is, of course, the land where the average man triumphed more than any other nation.



Quote:
Very interesting post, Pyth. I'm looking forward to your thoughts!


Thanks DT.:bigsmile:
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 09:06 pm
@Pythagorean,
And what has any of this to do with the contention that third world societies are more "authentic" than are first world societies? And that the latter long for the former? Or has that peculiar view been dropped in favor of a discussion of architecture?
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 09:07 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;123951 wrote:
Oh, them. I pay no attention to them. Maybe that is what they long for. I would not know, and neither would they. If someone is not white, and is poor, they think they are superior.


But the third world "is not white, and is poor" - ?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 10:27 pm
@Pythagorean,
Well, I came back to this one because I couldn't quite see what you were getting at.

Pyth wrote:

The dilemma that individual Americans face today is the dilemma of authentic identity. There is none. And it seems there cannot be authentic identity without a consequent restriction on freedom. We are stuck with merely private identities which cannot involve the state. The state is basically economics, not culture.


I just don't where you get the premises from. The common use if identity is tied to individuality. My "ID" card refers only to me. If I join a mob of people wearing masks, I lose my identity. Uniform, homogeneous cultures have very inauthentic individual identities.

If there is authenticity, it comes from each of us being who we naturally are. And we are naturally different. Some of us are inclined towards religion, some towards atheism. Some towards chastity, some towards promiscuity. People forced to dress, act, and live a certain way because that is the only culture possible to them are not living naturally. That's the folly of primitivism.

People who say they want to live more authentically usually mean they don't want their values decided by advertisements, i.e. they want to be free from their culture. You are describing the opposite.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 12:13 am
@melonkali,
melonkali;123963 wrote:
Pyth, I agree with Thomas, yours is a very interesting post.

Sometimes I visit Youtube just to observe "group identity". I'm fascinated reading comments (under the videos) by members of groups which have existed with a strong concept of cohesiveness, be it national, ethnic, religious, cultural, geographical, etc, for hundreds of years. This may sound voyeuristic, but when I see a video about certain strong groups, and look down and see 1000 or so comments (one video I found had over 3000 comments), I know it's going to be interesting reading. I've learned a lot about "foreign" and world history, old and modern, through other eyes, other perspectives.

And yes, I find myself envying that strong sense of identity, even from "less advantaged" nations or peoples. I'm amazed that they've managed to survive centuries of hardship and oppression, changing political systems, often ruled by foreign powers ruthlessly trying to eliminate their native culture, without breaking, without surrendering their "essential identity" for the sake of convenience. Willing to spend years in prison, to sacrifice their lives, to pay any price for this "quality, idea, ideal, whatever-it-is" which I can't begin to understand -- I've never experienced anything like it, at least not to my knowledge.

And I've wondered what kind of "identity" we in America might have? Do we have any kind of "identity" strong enough to endure the inevitable long, hard winters in our future (as with any long-lived nation's future)? Or, will "Americans" simply disappear -- and if we do, is there anything of value, any significant, unique essence, that will disappear with us? Honestly, I can't think of anything. Can you?

rebecca


Thank you rebecca.

Well, culturally speaking, I would point out that being white used to mean something in America. I mean, once upon a time there was the residual Anglo-Protestantism. I realize that this is taboo today and I think that the practical institution of freedoms progressively dilluted that old Anglo-American biblical culture. But having said that, the Protestantism, even when it was a social force, never really generated any outward expressions of high cultural achievement. It was a real minimalist mind-set that held only the bible in hand.

And I think it is important (as well as impolite) to realize that it was Anglos who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration Of Independence. The freedom that dissolved the old minimalist Anglo tradition was itself a product of the white European mind. But these ideas of political freedom, although they don't lend themselves to any higher spirituality beyond the ideals of reason, will remain within the world. And I would like to look at these revolutionary freedoms the same way one looks at philosophy in general. Whenever and wherever philosophy (as understood as rational theorizing) is reconstituted so that it once again informs the course of nations, there will then take place a reconsideration if not a rebirth of those ideals of freedom and reason. So, we will leave behind a realistic political outlook that may serve future peoples in some way.

It might also be important to pose the question whether our lack of authentic culture was a fair price that we paid for worldly success. Is the entitlement of the 'average man', the masses, the contemptible bourgeoisie, noble enough or worth the price we have paid? Is the bourgeoisie really more contemptible than the lying priests and tyrannical Kings of the past?

But the truth seems to be that while we have won the highest material standards of life we have, somehow along the way, lost the possibility of living a meaningful human life.

---------- Post added 02-01-2010 at 01:50 AM ----------

Jebediah;123981 wrote:
Well, I came back to this one because I couldn't quite see what you were getting at.



I just don't where you get the premises from. The common use if identity is tied to individuality. My "ID" card refers only to me. If I join a mob of people wearing masks, I lose my identity. Uniform, homogeneous cultures have very inauthentic individual identities.

If there is authenticity, it comes from each of us being who we naturally are. And we are naturally different. Some of us are inclined towards religion, some towards atheism. Some towards chastity, some towards promiscuity. People forced to dress, act, and live a certain way because that is the only culture possible to them are not living naturally. That's the folly of primitivism.

People who say they want to live more authentically usually mean they don't want their values decided by advertisements, i.e. they want to be free from their culture. You are describing the opposite.


How can one individual all alone posess any inner identity? You are describing our relative values, but if all values are relative then how can there be any truth in any of them?

The common use of identity is not tied to individuality but the general case only. Only groups appeal for the recognition of their identity. Old world cultures have no need for individual identity for they are already in posession of the authentic item.

The choices between religion/atheism, promiscuity/chastity is proof that there is no authentic morality present. The need for an individual to "choose" who he really is is proof of what he is lacking. Identity does not arise magically from within an isolated individual; identity comes from history, ethnicity, family, or tribal relations. Individuals do not form themselves as relativism would have it, rather they are shaped by the external world, which authenticates them.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 01:36 am
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;123989 wrote:

How can one individual all alone posess any inner identity? You are describing our relative values, but if all values are relative then how can there be any truth in any of them?

The common use of identity is not tied to individuality but the general case only. Only groups appeal for the recognition of their identity. Old world cultures have no need for individual identity for they are already in posession of the authentic item.

The choices between religion/atheism, promiscuity/chastity is proof that there is no authentic morality present. The need for an individual to "choose" who he really is is proof of what he is lacking. Identity does not arise magically from within an isolated individual; identity comes from history, ethnicity, family, or tribal relations. Individuals do not form themselves as relativism would have it, rather they are shaped by the external world, which authenticates them.


I think the sticking point here is the word authentic, which I'm not real clear about. You seem to be using it kind of a "untouched by modernism" way. But I think that's tricky, because authentic clearly implies better in a way that my description doesn't.

People aren't a blank slate. We all come into this world with a variety of different temperaments and dispositions. So, no homogeneous society can work to our standards--someone will always get shafted. Like you said, more freedom results in less social cohesion.

Adolescence into early adulthood is the time when people determine their identity. I suppose I'm using the word in that kind of psychological sense. We absorb the world around us, and adopt or reject it according to our inclinations. The same process occurs in people in the first world and in the third world. Everyone chooses, some people are just much more limited in what they can choose from.

I don't feel any inauthenticity here in America. I see options and freedom, which are lacking in some other countries. I don't see how women in those countries are living authentic lives, I would call it repression.

When I hear people talk about living authentically here, they mean they want to live simply and by their own needs and wants instead of chasing after cars or clothes they saw on tv.

Are you talking about identity as in, being part of something bigger than yourself? People who want that here find a place to get it.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 01:41 am
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;123969 wrote:
I'm speaking of mythology which unified the individual with the group or the state in a continuum where the original identity of the tribe or ethnicity lies. For example, the Native American tribes had no notion of political freedom and they were unified by blood and divine ritual. This is the kind of compact or 'nation' or folk that was once universal on the face of the earth. It was Europeans who broke from these blood and ritual ties with their revolutionary philosophy of political freedom, equality and indivdiaul rights.

I agree, that mythology per se can be said to posess an existence in the minds and imaginations of the Western peoples, but when it comes to politics they each to a man posess parliaments or other forms of rational deliberative bodies based on liberty and individual political rights. In America there are no blood rights that can make legitimate political claims.


How about the mythology that every person has equal rights, that every person's vote is important to the state - Jefferson's "All men are created equal" mythology.

Isn't the whole philosophy of political freedom simply our modern, uniting mythology?

Sure, it's a revolutionary mythology, but a mythos that is used to unite our nations into a single polity.

Pythagorean;123969 wrote:
I don't believe so. At least not philosophical justification. The gentiles posessed no philosophy as far as I know. Their ideas are to be found within their religions. The priest held as much power as did the chief, who was usually a war leader. And 'Divine right' is exactly the opposite of equality and individual freedom. The American and French revolutions were carried out in direct opposition to the aristocracy and king. The Social Contract of course is part of Rouseau's modern revolutionary language.


Well, we have to be careful. I think we have to remember that philosophy existed as part of religion until the enlightenment. For Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the practice of philosophy was a spiritual practice.

Sure, Divine Right is pretty well opposed to the Enlightenment concepts of political liberty, but isn't Divine Right still a political philosophy?

I'm saying that there has always been a political philosophy, and that Enlightenment liberalism is simply a newer political philosophy, just as Communism is a still younger political philosophy.

Pythagorean;123969 wrote:
Most ancient schools, Plato's academy for instance, were dedicated to abstract ideas. The Alexandrians were the forerunners of modern scientific academies, it is true, however, you need to understand that the priests were often the enemies of scientific and philosophical inquiry.


Just as today there are many priests who oppose our scientific advances.

Did the Greeks not study architecture, mathematics, biology, physics, ect? From what I have read, they established these fields in the west.

Pythagorean;123969 wrote:
Can you account for the difference in material conditions and standards of living between the third world and the first? How do you account for the differences between the Stone Age and the Space Age?


The same way I account for the differences between the politics of the Stone Age and the Space Age - the evolution of society, the constant change over time of society. We progress, for good or ill, and this occurs in our scientific learning as well as our political philosophy.

Pythagorean;123969 wrote:
Very interesting examples, DT. The skyscraper is of course an office tower, developed by businessmen. They were not developed, for example, as were the Gothic Cathedrals in Europe, out of religious devotion. The U.S. is a free economic zone, where culture is left to the private sphere.


Skyscrapers were designed by architects just as cathedrals were designed by architects.

But I like that line - "The U.S. is a free economic zone, where culture is left to the private sphere" because I think you are absolutely correct. But I think we also have to recognize that individuals can come together, and in doing so they bring their private cultures into a community of shared culture. Hence the predominance of sub-cultures.

But I would also suggest that we have a great deal of shared culture, and that this shared culture is very much like the religious driven shared culture of the past. Let's go back to those skyscrapers.

In the past, the largest buildings were religious buildings and military buildings. Today, the largest buildings are economic buildings and military buildings. It seems that money has replaced religion.

I would say the same of much of our shared culture. Music, television, movies, even most books, are created out of profit-motive. Instead of art created out of religious motive, we have a money motive.

The usurpation of religion by money seems to be the real problem. Maybe that's what you're driving at.

Pythagorean;123969 wrote:
Frank Lloyd Wright was a modernist, of course, who took his bearings from the European modernist scene. I do not say the modernists were not authentic, but they were appealing to mass societies and not in the service of royal Princes and priests, in my opinion.


Sure, they appeal to mass societies, but so did the Cathedrals, so did the Parthenon, ect.

Pythagorean;123969 wrote:
The suburbs, considered a blight by bohemians, is the housing of 9 to 5 business employees. They are not exactly renowned for their cultural expression, quite the opposite in fact. The suburbs have long been ridiculed by artists and poets and other leftists, as was also the 'square' 9 to 5 workers who build and inhabit them. (Of course, America itself has long been and remains today the subject of ridicule for its 'bourgoisie' population and philistinism.)


Oh, but they are renown for their cultural expression!

It's just that many people believe it to be a cultural expression that shows our culture to be sickly.

Pythagorean;123969 wrote:
The establishment of individual rights based on the state of nature teaching and the Enlightenment political revolutions precludes the authentic cultural expressions because they are laisser faire, and if there were any religions they were disestablished in modernity one way or another. Reason came to replace religion and the legislators of humanity, who were once the poets, are now technocrats, at least in the Western world.


I just do not follow you on this notion of authenticity. Sure, the enlightenment culture is different from past cultures, but every past culture is different from the ones that came before them. Culture changes.

It's a very interesting subject to say the least, the changes in culture and the impact of these changes.
 
 

 
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