American Identity

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melonkali
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 03:00 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;123994 wrote:
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.

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.


I've not observed that an "authentic identity" necessarily interferes with choices or modernization or freedom. In the "authentic cultures" I'm familiar with, people are comfortable with both their heritage and the modern world.

Example: I've been fascinated by a particularly strong culture in the Caucasus Mts. which teaches their children cultural traditions, especially song and dance, from the time the kids can walk and talk. It's a culture where everyone sings and dances, regularly, often in public places, the same traditional songs and dances handed down for centuries, most of which are communal in nature (all participants, no passive observers). When one person breaks into a song and/or dance, often in restaurants and other public places, many of those around, both young and old, jump right in.

The adolescents and young adults are familiar with Western culture, many of them going to university (education is prized), working in modern jobs, living under a democratically elected government -- thus simultaneously living in two worlds, old and new. I've seen "home-videos" of young people dancing to modern music in a club, then a traditional song is begun and, these same "kids" morph into a completely different posture/stature as they sing and leap and circle around the floor the way their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. It's funny to see some of the older fat adults freely join in. LIVING TRADITION AND CULTURE.

Now, how many here can sing the songs their grandparents and great-grandparents sang? Dance the dances? How many "traditional communal songs" known universally by both young and old does our society have?

What sacrifice of freedom? They have more freedoms than I do! I sure couldn't get away with that boisterous public behavior in my polite "free" society.

rebecca
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 04:53 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;123994 wrote:
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.


You seem to me to be espousing relativism. With relativism there is no necessity and the so-called "choices" have little in the way of real sacrificial consequences. By "choice" I believe that you mean that you do whatever you please whenever you please - whatever feels good. Authenticity is related to blood, war, violence, death, tragedy, sacrifice, life-long religious commitments, hard and fast necessity, as in unrevokable decisions which bind one for one's entire life etc. Authentic people will stand up and die for what they believe in. American "choices" are related to porn, rock music, sex-as-a-political 'right', no fault divorce, abortion on demand, shopping, life-style freedom, and Hollywood fantasies etc.

Prior to the 1960's America actually used to be a rather tribal place. It was an Anglo culture and there were serious societal distinctions between, for example, Jews, blacks, Catholics and Anglo-Protestants. But we have lost our Anglo-Protestant ethnicity and replaced it with a form of life-style relativism. We used to be an ethnic people, with strong families and low divorce, sexual decency etc. We used to have an authentic culture.

Jebediah;123994 wrote:
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.


You speak of people's 'temperaments', 'dispositions' and 'inclinations' and the psychological sense of self. Maybe you don't realize it but these are rather fluffy elements upon which to build a meaningful human life. You have turned the nebulous 'self' into a bizarre and you ask me to recognize it as a fully developed legitimate substance. This reminds me of the spoof on therapy where the guy looks in the mirror and says "I'm good, I'm kind, I'm pleasant and god darn it people like me." Well, this is another form of American insanity in league with unrestrained pornography and mainstream disgusting lunatic media gone wild where the people are whores and not only do they know it, but they flaunt it in your face and tell you to go to hell.

Jebediah;123994 wrote:
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.


But how can there be meaning in life if the choices are never binding? Monogomy, mating for life seems to be a display of a certain seriousness as opposed to obscenity after obscenity after obscentiy on and on and on, pornos and music and drugs and fast money and going from "relationship" to "relationship" to "relationship". You are authentically confused, it would appear /jk.

Jebediah;123994 wrote:
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.


How can there be true needs and wants if all we have access to is our 'inner self'? What could be the meaning of an inner self in the world without a hard and difficult discipline. Forming one life-style after another according to your inner self. Chasing one pleasure after another according to your inner self, going from one girl to another according to your inner self.

By the way, I never stated that third world cultures were superior to first world cultures. I'm only describing the situation that obtains when old traditions die on the alter of selfishness (selfishness which pretends that it is in reality a meaningful life but which is not).

Jebediah;123994 wrote:
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.


Yeah, they know where to get everything, that's the problem. I am simply attempting to describe the nature of societies which are founded upon the political ideas of liberty and equality and the difficulty that such a rational grounding poses.
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 05:01 am
@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.
--

I (Dutch) see the same tendencies here. We don't call it leftish but consious. We shop not only on price but more on quality, preferably durable products. With my Oregon auntie I can joke about gated communities but then she changes the subject to who pays for the public gardens. The public I guess. We sepate our waste, with glass and paper we achieve around 80% re-use of the material. Plastics is starting now. It's start.

In rankings NW-european countries consider themself happy. Except the people from Iceland I guess..:detective:. I would describe our countries as social-democratic monarchies. However I don't conclude the monarchs make us happy. We keep a close watch. Our Crown-prince lost about 20% popularity when his real-estate transacions in Africa and South-America became public, No because it was illegal but because Dutch people, with the Orangists first, agreed it was not a good exemple to live together with big bankers & industrialists in a resort in Mozambique. Economicly we also thought of the travelling expenses!

A bit local news from Amsterdam, alarms go off now. Just testing. Laughing
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 06:30 am
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;123973 wrote:
But the third world "is not white, and is poor" - ?


Yes, and that is why the left thinks the third world is "authentic". It is just warmed over Rousseau. Civilization, bad. Barbarism, good.
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 08:33 am
@Pythagorean,
You yourself change identity in life. How can you easily have a proud national feeling? Europe doesn't have a fixed identity so we keep cheering our Queens, Kings or whatever is in charge. When the Dutch PM refers to our Golden Age we agree but point out the slave-trade, the endless wars with England, France and German Bishops.

PS i think it would be more correct to speak about North-American Identity
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 10:42 am
@melonkali,
melonkali;124009 wrote:
I've not observed that an "authentic identity" necessarily interferes with choices or modernization or freedom. In the "authentic cultures" I'm familiar with, people are comfortable with both their heritage and the modern world.

Example: I've been fascinated by a particularly strong culture in the Caucasus Mts. which teaches their children cultural traditions, especially song and dance, from the time the kids can walk and talk. It's a culture where everyone sings and dances, regularly, often in public places, the same traditional songs and dances handed down for centuries, most of which are communal in nature (all participants, no passive observers). When one person breaks into a song and/or dance, often in restaurants and other public places, many of those around, both young and old, jump right in.

The adolescents and young adults are familiar with Western culture, many of them going to university (education is prized), working in modern jobs, living under a democratically elected government -- thus simultaneously living in two worlds, old and new. I've seen "home-videos" of young people dancing to modern music in a club, then a traditional song is begun and, these same "kids" morph into a completely different posture/stature as they sing and leap and circle around the floor the way their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. It's funny to see some of the older fat adults freely join in. LIVING TRADITION AND CULTURE.

Now, how many here can sing the songs their grandparents and great-grandparents sang? Dance the dances? How many "traditional communal songs" known universally by both young and old does our society have?

What sacrifice of freedom? They have more freedoms than I do! I sure couldn't get away with that boisterous public behavior in my polite "free" society.

rebecca


They sing and leap like their ancestors did, but how many customs have they left behind? Tons of them. Cultures change and evolve. I doubt that as an outsider looking in you can adequately compare our society to theirs. They are becoming less cohesive, as are we. I guarantee the grandmothers don't dance to rap music in the club.

Weddings and funerals, christmas, thanksgiving, new years, the 4th of july. In what way are these not authentically traditional? Don't you think most people know "happy birthday", the national anthem, and "here comes the bride"?

I think what you're describing as a problem isn't actually a problem. How many generations can you trace your name back? I had to do a school project on it once and got to 5 I think, I never really bothered to look at it again.

Your desire for authentic tradition and culture is not shared by the majority of people, so the lack of it is not an issue for society on the whole.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 07:35 pm
@Jebediah,
@pyth: will try and respond all at once rather than paragraph by paragraph.

As best I can summarize, to you the meaningful and authentic life a strong cultural identity, solid families, sacrifice, commitments and things like that. You point out that the freedoms and liberties of our modern societies weaken the strength of all those.

I agree that their strength is much weakened. I don't agree that it makes our lives less meaningful and authentic, but I think if we argue about that we'll just get caught up on the words.

So the question is, what is the best way to live? What really makes for the best life? I think that's what we have to set our standard by.

Do you object to happiness as the standard? I think the things you describe when discussing the meaningful and authentic life are only part of happiness.

In other words, can't a slightly meaningful and somewhat authentic life be better, if the person living it is happier? I don't think it's an either/or question between authenticity and freedom. An increase in the latter is worth a decrease in the former. Wouldn't the fact that modern society has turned this way, and the fact that other cultures are modernizing support that?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 12:42 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;124111 wrote:

Your desire for authentic tradition and culture is not shared by the majority of people, so the lack of it is not an issue for society on the whole.


I hope that someone who posts on this thread will explain to me what an "authentic tradition" is, and how it is to be decided whether someone has it.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 03:48 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;123996 wrote:
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.


It's a bit hard to take you seriously here DT. There is such an obvious, and generally understood, seperation between myth and philosophy. Myths are not true, where philosophers are claiming a validity akin to the validity made by physical scientists. There is reason and there is revelation. Reason is seperate. And I'd imagine if this were a mythology forum instead of a philosophy forum we could not really be having this very discussion at all.

The notion of equal rights arises out of the state of nature teachings of the Early Modern philosophers. The claims they made were not meant to be accepted on the basis of traditions or on the basis of poetic inspirations. The pre-political state of nature is a theory involving human nature. It is, at least in part, a rational philosophy of human nature. It was allied to the emergence of the sciences. You are failing to make the proper distinctions. It seems you are taking modern life with its science and freedoms for granted. It doesn't make any sense to me. If modernity is the result of natural 'automatic' progress there would have been no need for revolutions and you admit that equality was revolutionary and this sounds like you have contradicted yourself.



Didymos Thomas;123996 wrote:
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.


This is not true. The 'spirit' is expounded upon by Plato and Aristotle but in reasonable terms. It is explained and rationally integrated into Cosmos. There is a huge difference between Hesiod's Cosmogony and that of Plato.

Aristotle was, in the eyes of the Schoolmen, 'the philosopher' and he was distinguised from the figure of Jesus Christ. Philosophers wee persecuted by the ethnic peoples for violating their sacred laws. Socrates was sentenced to death for philosophizing and he is not the only one. Reason always exists in tension with society. Reason challenges the prejudices of society and exposes them as convention. And this is precisely why the philosophy of libery was revolutionary - .



Didymos Thomas;123996 wrote:
Sure, Divine Right is pretty well opposed to the Enlightenment concepts of political liberty, but isn't Divine Right still a political philosophy?


Divine Right means that political power is derived directly from God whereas the philosophy of liberty and equality comes from a rational analysis of human nature which seeks for an end to the millenial problem of 'strife in the cities'. You have to make the distinction between philosophy and religion. Philosophers explain themselves, religions do not offer reason without magic and divinity and the supernatural. It is the supernatural that dominates religion and Divine Right whereas it is rational explanation based upon what all men can potentially see that characterizes philosophy.


Didymos Thomas;123996 wrote:
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.


Yes, but Enlightenment liberalism produced actual results. Plato's Republic did not produce results. There was never any society that based itself upon Plato's Republic. And there was never any society in the history of the world that based itself upon philsophical theory until the revolutionary advent of Enlightenment liberalism.



Didymos Thomas;123996 wrote:
Just as today there are many priests who oppose our scientific advances.


Yeah, but you are missing the most significant point. In the past the priests always won out over the scientists because they posessed the authority. Today, the priests always lose. If they didn't then abortion, for example, would not be legal.

Didymos Thomas;123996 wrote:
Did the Greeks not study architecture, mathematics, biology, physics, ect? From what I have read, they established these fields in the west.


The Greeks did not establish progressive institutions devoted to the physical sciences. The Romans were the pragmatic ones. But Roman engineering never caught on and finally died completely. It took a different people living in a different epoch to renew and improve upon the ancients.

Didymos Thomas;123996 wrote:
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.


Your theory that things automatically progress is baseless. After the fall of the Roman Empire things did not progress. Anglo-American culture with its strict mores also died. I would oppose the theory of "automatic" (supernatural?) progression with a theory that things get old and die and not that things get new and young.



Didymos Thomas;123996 wrote:
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.


I'm talking about the death of God and the need of modern people's to fulfill their spiritual longings in a society founded upon rationalistic philosophy of 'rights' and equality. Spiritual people can appear silly to a hard nosed economist. Which one is dealing with reality?

Didymos Thomas;123996 wrote:
Sure, they appeal to mass societies, but so did the Cathedrals, so did the Parthenon, ect.


Mass societies are founded upon reasonable philosophy which insists upon equalty and disenchants the earth. You don't understand America's place in history.
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 05:46 am
@Pythagorean,
I do see the place of the USA in history, just fail to see what's going to happen in the future. I am a Dutch Reformed Capitalist and can hardly break free of my conditionings. First thing we learn in Lawschool: law isn't allways just. Luckily we can change laws, constitutions and treaties. Europe is serious desinvesting in USA finance. Better (less risky) opportunities in Eastern Europe. About spirituality and economics: they both are ruled by phychological believes. Work your way up from delivering newspapers to become a millionair? Live good and you'll go to Heaven.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 09:35 am
@Pythagorean,
I agree that lack of a prolonged, "ancient" history does have an effect on our national character; though I doubt many would see it this way. For anyone borne into any particular national mindset; it's all they know... how exactly would they be able to recognize potential drawbacks?

I can realize this because of the time I've spent overseas. Yes this is real - the only question is what, if any, effects might it have? Being so hard to discern, I'm not sure it's relevant.

Thanks
 
Lost1 phil
 
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2010 07:01 am
@Pythagorean,
"You seem to me to be espousing relativism. With relativism there is no necessity and the so-called 'choices' have little in the way of real sacrificial consequences. By 'choice' I believe that you mean that you do whatever you please whenever you please - whatever feels good. Authenticity is related to blood, war, violence, death, tragedy, sacrifice, life-long religious commitments, hard and fast necessity, as in unrevokable decisions which bind one for one's entire life etc. Authentic people will stand up and die for what they believe in. American 'choices' are related to porn, rock music, sex-as-a-political 'right', no fault divorce, abortion on demand, shopping, life-style freedom, and Hollywood fantasies etc."

Pythagorean - I might debate your use of authenticity -- after all someone who has lived a criminal life can rightly be defined as an authentic criminal. That is a related but off current topic.

If I were in agreement with you on what American choices are (I think your choices are agreed to by a small percentage of Americans) I would not conclude that we are all doomed to the likely results of that lifestyle. Being a child of the 60's I remember the likely end results that we were preached for having the so called "hippie mindset". The percentage was small on the correct end of the scale.

Lost1
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2010 08:40 am
@Khethil,
:surrender:
Khethil;124363 wrote:
I agree that lack of a prolonged, "ancient" history does have an effect on our national character; though I doubt many would see it this way. For anyone borne into any particular national mindset; it's all they know... how exactly would they be able to recognize potential drawbacks?

I can realize this because of the time I've spent overseas. Yes this is real - the only question is what, if any, effects might it have? Being so hard to discern, I'm not sure it's relevant.

Thanks


I think it's relavant. I am a Dutch citizen by birth, nothing I can do about it. I would like an European citizenship, but would many people. At least 500 million citizens of the EU. There are talks to include Turkey and Israel. Dutch people are not in favour, to costly and little to gain.

The effect of being abroad is fantastic! Thinks you take for granted are no longer there. No AMEX, no banks with ATM...Luckely there was barter trade Jeans (made in USA!) for a Moskou police-hat.

Have to arrange Narcissus&Co
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2010 09:12 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;124285 wrote:
I hope that someone who posts on this thread will explain to me what an "authentic tradition" is, and how it is to be decided whether someone has it.
I can only say what it means to me. The USA is different from the nations it popped out of because its basis is words on paper: its constitution (which is now one of the oldest, if not the oldest constitution in continuous use in the world.)

France on the other hand went through a revolution... they were France before it and they were France afterwards. If France had another revolution, it would still be France. The US doesn't have that kind of identity. If the US had a revolution, the USA would cease to exist.

That's why domestic tranquility is a matter of national security for the US. So we can't survive the very thing that gave birth to us. That's an odd place to be.

And Hey! American Protestants have been very influential historically. Just remember: 20th century American Protestantism isn't the same thing... ironically, fundamentalism is recent.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2010 09:30 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;124882 wrote:
I can only say what it means to me. The USA is different from the nations it popped out of because its basis is words on paper: its constitution (which is now one of the oldest, if not the oldest constitution in continuous use in the world.)

France on the other hand went through a revolution... they were France before it and they were France afterwards. If France had another revolution, it would still be France. The US doesn't have that kind of identity. If the US had a revolution, the USA would cease to exist.


How was the founding of france different? They were also a collection of different groups who banded together at some point. Is it just long enough ago that it doesn't matter? The national identities of france, england, germany and spain have changed quite a bit.

There's more to the American identity than the constitution. 250 years is a fairly long time.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2010 10:23 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;124884 wrote:
How was the founding of france different? They were also a collection of different groups who banded together at some point. Is it just long enough ago that it doesn't matter? The national identities of france, england, germany and spain have changed quite a bit.

There's more to the American identity than the constitution. 250 years is a fairly long time.


Indeed, a lot longer than the governments of the countries you mentioned. How long has the French Fourth Republic existed? Or the present kingdom of Spain? Or the present German Reich? Or the present constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom? Not nearly for 250 years.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2010 10:25 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;124884 wrote:
How was the founding of france different? They were also a collection of different groups who banded together at some point. Is it just long enough ago that it doesn't matter? The national identities of france, england, germany and spain have changed quite a bit.

There's more to the American identity than the constitution. 250 years is a fairly long time.
Well it's just that the French don't have a sense of having consciously created France (or do they?) Maybe I'm just projecting. But when I was little I took piano lessons and sat for hours making up national anthems for countries that only existed in my imagination. Nowadays I paint fake icons... they look like russian icons, but they're from artificial religions. In my imagination, you could go to the world where they exist and explore the whole thing... that's how dreams are: they have an artificial history.

But it is a poser: the word artificial suggests fake, when it basically means man-made. So that's how I reacted to authentic identity... one that grew naturally. Having grown naturally, it has roots in the external world of nature or god. But if you consciously make your own identity... there's the notion that it's only an act. I know some philosophers would say that's all there is to identity: an act.

But how does this relate to meaning? Is meaning something we discover or something we create?

It's true, America has had some time to grow naturally. Lately, the US identity has become property of the world in general. That knife cuts both ways. The question comes: what was the authentic American identity vs. American propaganda intended to persuade the third world to become western instead of Communist?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2010 10:33 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;124894 wrote:
Well it's just that the French don't have a sense of having consciously created France (or do they?) Maybe I'm just projecting. But when I was little I took piano lessons and sat for hours making up national anthems for countries that only existed in my imagination. Nowadays I paint fake icons... they look like russian icons, but they're from artificial religions. In my imagination, you could go to the world where they exist and explore the whole thing... that's how dreams are: they have an artificial history.

But it is a poser: the word artificial suggests fake, when it basically means man-made. So that's how I reacted to authentic identity... one that grew naturally. Having grown naturally, it has roots in the external world of nature or god. But if you consciously make your own identity... there's the notion that it's only an act. I know some philosophers would say that's all there is to identity: an act.

But how does this relate to meaning? Is meaning something we discover or something we create?

It's true, America has had some time to grow naturally. Lately, the US identity has become property of the world in general. That knife cuts both ways. The question comes: what was the authentic American identity vs. American propaganda intended to persuade the third world to become western instead of Communist?


Think of "authentic Chinese food". Food as it is made in China, without any foreign imports of cooking. In that sense, American has an "authentic tradition". Thankgiving, Independence Day, the pledge of Allegiance, and so on. None of those are foreign imports.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2010 11:25 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;124894 wrote:

But it is a poser: the word artificial suggests fake, when it basically means man-made. So that's how I reacted to authentic identity... one that grew naturally. Having grown naturally, it has roots in the external world of nature or god. But if you consciously make your own identity... there's the notion that it's only an act. I know some philosophers would say that's all there is to identity: an act.

It's true, America has had some time to grow naturally.


American growth has always been natural. We started from a british background, and the resulting revolution followed from the wide spread discussions of politics and natural rights. Our observations of what was going on in other countries were a significant trigger.

Just because we started calling ourselves America at some point doesn't wipe clean all of our previous history. Greece and Rome are as much a part of American identity as they are to britain and france.

Quote:
But how does this relate to meaning? Is meaning something we discover or something we create?
I don't think meaning and authenticity are much related. If you took a Van Gogh and did a great job forging it, the authenticity would be shattered but the meaning the same.


Quote:
It's true, America has had some time to grow naturally. Lately, the US identity has become property of the world in general. That knife cuts both ways. The question comes: what was the authentic American identity vs. American propaganda intended to persuade the third world to become western instead of Communist?
That's a question, but only of historical interest I think. Was slavery authentic American identity before the abolitionist movement? Yes.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2010 11:25 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;124895 wrote:
Think of "authentic Chinese food". Food as it is made in China, without any foreign imports of cooking. In that sense, American has an "authentic tradition". Thankgiving, Independence Day, the pledge of Allegiance, and so on. None of those are foreign imports.

Plus Supreme Court rulings that school children don't have to pledge allegiance to the flag! That's definitely home-grown.

But what about the "Great American Experiment in Government" In a lot of ways the American Revolution was a massive identity crisis. Benjamin Franklin originally expected Philadelphia to eventually become the capital of the UK. The USA was plan B... after the British made it clear that Americans were nothing more than a cash cow.

---------- Post added 02-04-2010 at 12:29 PM ----------

Jebediah;124901 wrote:

That's a question, but only of historical interest I think. Was slavery authentic American identity before the abolitionist movement? Yes.
Yea, but if you notice in the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson blames the British Crown for slavery in America. Most of the Africans who came into North America, came in prior to 1776.
 
 

 
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