Liberate Thineself

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Khethil
 
Reply Sat 18 Jul, 2009 02:59 pm
Good Afternoon, all

SHORT VERSION: To what do we owe the tendency to two-dimensionalize (or polarize) virtually all aspects of philosophy; that X must be good or bad, that Y is always right or wrong? A is the way! B is absurd while C is ridiculous...

LONG VERSION: It's become clear to me, over time, that the answer to virtually all life's questions (within the philosophical realm, especially) is never simple - that for almost any idea we label as bad, therein is also the potential for good. For that political ideology I abhor so much; it also brings some joy or reward and therefore can't be discounted completely. Possibilities reach! Yet that doesn't mean there IS a god - only that such a thing is possible and good CAN come from hope. This truth - of the complex nature of proper understanding - is particularly true of ethical considerations; That sticky place where we select which course is Right or Wrong.

  • I see people railing against dualism; yet within dualism is a mindset that allows a mental view that facilitates even more metaphysical possibilities. Unless and until such an issue is ever resolved to everyone's satisfaction, every possibility should be given an ear*


  • I see fundamentalist thinking get put through the ringer; yet this same fundamentalist mindset brings with it a deep appreciation for tradition, roots and time-honored values. What's more, there are many aspects to fundamentalism - yes, you too could likely be labeled a fundamentalist in one or more ways.*


  • Who here believes honestly that atheism brings bitterness and anger while all theism consists of swallowing absurd dogma? Isn't it just a WEE bit more complicated?


  • Slap me with the Liberal Label and suddenly I'll *ALWAYS* choose vegan, I'll degrade the unborn and I'll teach homosexuality in public; who believes that? Or, on the other hand, band me a conservative and suddenly I'm Charlton Heston shooting an AK-47 in celebration at a southern church rally. Think about it - I'll bet many of us are guilty of these extreme-labelings.*


  • Oh my god, socialism is coming! Socialism is coming! Oh, wait... in many forms its already here. Well, heck... *


  • Why must the term "communist" carry with it a pointed beard, hammer and sickle all poised over an over-worked peasant's sweat-soaked head?*


  • How limited are we, that in almost all discussions of unethical behavior that someone will inevitably toss out the "Hitler"-card. Is Hitler our only example of wrongdoing? What's more - and perhaps more disturbing - is he the only one we can come up with? Must every named-man example be "Jesus" and "Hitler"?*


  • Are we so blind, so hopelessly polarized to believe that Rationalism holds ALL or NONE of the answers? How silly is that?*


  • "To support our troops you must support the War in Iraq" - must supporting the people include applauding any ill-advised orders they've received?*

Polarization; the propensity to take a statement, mindset or ideal and apply it as an ALWAYS/NEVER or ON/OFF proposition. Despite how complex and individualized personal philosophies are, we do this. We use them in name-calling and boogie-man conjuring even though - I believe - the majority of us know that there is no "Pure" mindset and virtually just no black-and-white extolling or condemnation.

QUESTIONS: So... Why is this so prevalent?

  1. Is it our need to neatly-categorize?
  2. Do we have some innate desire to demonize what we don't ascribe to - taking it to its worst, most abject extreme?
  3. Is the complexity of philosophy - a philosophy that recognizes these subtleties - simply too much to bite off and chew?

Absent of any example-opinions I've given above (which I'll not address - those are examples only), why do we do this?

Thanks




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* - No, I don't necessarily buy this myself (though I might!). It's just an example
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sat 18 Jul, 2009 11:35 pm
@Khethil,
I think it is because of the arbitrary ideal of X/notX. And the symbolic extension of physical laws laws like two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. The physical is overlayed on the mental process of 'rational thinking'. If this is X then it is not anything else. Things are automatically polarized by this principle. However, this principle does not apply to value judgments, semantic domains, or cognitive models. In other words it does not apply to how we think and act. How we process symbols and meaning is not X/notX, we process it in overlapping bundles of meaning stemming from a nebulous prototype. So in the case of good/evil, polar opposites good/not good is extended to good/evil buy its natural metaphor with the x/not x physical paradigm. Not good however covers way more ground than just evil, and thus it is even with semantic category. Cat/not cat covers a lot of nebulous ground.

Anyway, its a possible explanation.
Good OP as always Khet

Cheers,
Russ
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 09:18 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;78196 wrote:
Polarization; the propensity to take a statement, mindset or ideal and apply it as an ALWAYS/NEVER or ON/OFF proposition. Despite how complex and individualized personal philosophies are, we do this. We use them in name-calling and boogie-man conjuring even though - I believe - the majority of us know that there is no "Pure" mindset and virtually just no black-and-white extolling or condemnation.

QUESTIONS: So... Why is this so prevalent?


Hi there Khethil,

Thanks for the question.

I believe that polarization is what creates flow. And flow is the method for change and creation. Why change? Because I think we would all be bored without it. Maybe the Universe doesn't want to be bored?

Rich
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 10:39 am
@Khethil,
Simplistic thinking seems the opposite of philosophical thinking and more like repeating opinions. While allowance must be made, at least HERE, for the kind of venue a forum is, making distinctions and qualifying remarks is certainly not a waste of time or effort.
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 11:35 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;78312 wrote:
Simplistic thinking seems the opposite of philosophical thinking


I prefer to think of it as simplifying ideas as being very philosophical, but that is not to say that the other approaches are not just as valid.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." [Albert Einstein]

In either case, I would not personally refer to anyone's way of thinking as simplistic since it seems to me to be demeaning.

simplistic
Adjective
(of an opinion or interpretation) too simple or naive

Rich
 
Shlomo
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 05:09 pm
@richrf,
This discussion is possible due to computers. All attempts to create computer failed until binary system was adopted, which is Yes/No or True/False.

Not philosophically correct, but works.
 
Persona phil
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 07:03 pm
@Khethil,
Nerf rock!...paper is fine.

Signed, Scissors.
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Fri 20 Nov, 2009 11:50 am
@Khethil,
I agree Khethil that we tend to oversimplify and put things into neat little categories but, keep in mind, an extreme label for this or that is not ALWAYS a result of such foolish oversimplification. Sometimes, the world is indeed moving extremely in one direction or another. And sometimes, principled people do, can, and should object vehemently.

In addition to our tendency to oversimplify, we have another, which I would argue has caused even more harm; we cannot see the largest movements in terms of society, culture, politics, and even intellectually in some ways. Maybe this relates to your comments. While we're occupied in intense debate over which box to out this or that in, we fail to realize that both this and that are part a much larger and much more important other. This is especially true of American politics and the partisanship between the two parties.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 08:22 pm
@Khethil,
I think this two-dimensional thinking is unavoidable. This thread's beginning is accidentally just the sort of two-dimensional thinking it attacks. Two-dimensional thinking is the thesis, and non-two-dimensional thinking is the antithesis.

It's hard to praise something without putting its opposite in an inferior position. It's hard to conceptualize something (excepting the totality) without creating this opposite as a by-product.

With respect, my two cents.
 
Shlomo
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 02:16 am
@Khethil,
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. "
Albert Einstein

I think the desire to "liberate" oneself from bipolar thinking is based on fear to discover a simple truth.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 02:35 am
@Shlomo,
In politics, oversimplification is a plague. But Hitler, unfortunately, was right. Give em a soundbite. Repetition repetition repetition.
 
Shlomo
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 02:40 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;106321 wrote:
In politics, oversimplification is a plague. But Hitler, unfortunately, was right. Give em a soundbite. Repetition repetition repetition.

Lenin corrected Hitler's primitivism. He founded his hell on 50+ thick philosophical volumes.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 02:53 pm
@Shlomo,
Ah, but the "masses" will never read them. If you want to found a popular movement, I think you are forced to simplify. "Change We Can Believe In."
 
Shlomo
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 03:17 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;106433 wrote:
Ah, but the "masses" will never read them. If you want to found a popular movement, I think you are forced to simplify. "Change We Can Believe In."

"Masses" will not read this thread either, because they will hardly grasp such a sudden change of subject from liberating oneself to enslaving others. Anyway, your message is essentially the same as mine: simplicity works. And I speak about simplicity of Einstein, not of Hitler. As Leonardo da Vinci put it, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". You seem to insist that such thing does not exist and replace it by "simplification", which is regretful.

If you want to persuade somebody, you must be simple. If you want to brainwash him, you must be sophisticated.

Sincerely,
Shlomo
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 04:10 pm
@Shlomo,
I protest! I love the so-called mystical traditions. I love the One of the metaphysicians, from Parmenides to Spinoza to Hegel and so on. I strongly value religious myth in general. We live by faith, and yet we free ourselves from inferior forms of faith by means of criticism. I take my name from F. Schlegel, an undervalued thinker.

I do believe in self-liberation, but my idea of self-liberation includes a strong dose of irony and humor. Intuition without criticism is awkward. Criticism without intuition is shallow.

Yes, politics is a derailment of this thread, I suppose. And yet enslavement is a natural co-theme of liberate. For me to not see the difference between simplicity and over-simplification would itself be an oversimplification.

"An intellectual says a simple thing in a complicated way. An artist says a complicated thing in a simple way." Bukowski

Regards
 
Shlomo
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 12:16 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;106705 wrote:
I protest! I love the so-called mystical traditions. I love the One of the metaphysicians, from Parmenides to Spinoza to Hegel and so on. I strongly value religious myth in general. We live by faith, and yet we free ourselves from inferior forms of faith by means of criticism. I take my name from F. Schlegel, an undervalued thinker.

I do believe in self-liberation, but my idea of self-liberation includes a strong dose of irony and humor. Intuition without criticism is awkward. Criticism without intuition is shallow.

Yes, politics is a derailment of this thread, I suppose. And yet enslavement is a natural co-theme of liberate. For me to not see the difference between simplicity and over-simplification would itself be an oversimplification.

"An intellectual says a simple thing in a complicated way. An artist says a complicated thing in a simple way." Bukowski

Regards

Thank you Reconstructo for having consoled me on the simplicity issue.

As of mysticism, I doubt that any sophistication of rational thinking can lift the veil between this world and the spiritual one. Rational thinking works through structured languages with its syntax reflecting the deterministic nature of the material world. Spiritual world is about will and spontaneity, not cause-and-effect (somewhat reminding of liberation, eh?). We can rationally research the deterministic world by testing its phenomena under controllable conditions. Conversely, we can practically research the spiritual world only by accepting the control of the willing spirit over ourselves, because it is above us. Another paradox of liberation.

As regards your pointing to liberation-enslaving tandem, it shows again that while we deal with this world, bipolar (but multidimensional!) thinking is the only one that works.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 02:03 am
@Shlomo,
One of my favorite themes is the impossibility of closure. Philosophy as criticism is never finished, for it must criticize itself, and criticize this criticism of itself, and so on -- forever.

Which is to say that I agree that rationalization, no matter how sophisticated, will never attain the "truth" or the "One." I also don't think man is primarily a rational animal. He's inventive and lingual, but I question the will-to-truth. He needs truth in a practical sense and something else in a spiritual emotional sense -- which is sometimes also called truth.

Nicholas of Cusa compared man's knowledge of God to a polygon inscribed in a circle. No matter how many sides its has, it is not congruent. ("The Way that can be told is not the true way." I think we can still get some mileage out of the word "God," but only among those without knee-jerk reactions to the term. One could just as well use the "Absolute" or "Ultimate Reality" or the "One."

C.G. Jung strongly influenced my mental-model of the human psyche.

I use words like "intuition" or "feeling" for my response to the mystical-religious traditions I value, knowing that words can only do so much.

Somehow this attitude reminds me of Kant 2.0 (Now with 666% more Nietzsche) --- I want to call out the implicit pseudo-religion of those who make an idol of logic. I want to clear a path for the appreciation of myth both religious and metaphysical.
 
Shlomo
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 01:40 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;107017 wrote:
C.G. Jung strongly influenced my mental-model of the human psyche.

I use words like "intuition" or "feeling" for my response to the mystical-religious traditions I value, knowing that words can only do so much.

Somehow this attitude reminds me of Kant 2.0 (Now with 666% more Nietzsche) --- I want to call out the implicit pseudo-religion of those who make an idol of logic. I want to clear a path for the appreciation of myth both religious and metaphysical.

If you hint to Gnosticism, I agree it has an excellent point. But why give up logic? It is also excellent thing. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 10:54 pm
@Shlomo,
I feel that "logic" functions as an idol for some. I agree with the sophists that all the proof we have ever had is persuasion in Sunday clothes. Formal logic is not much use where metaphor is concerned, and where metaphor is not concerned, neither am I. But language is a reef of dead metaphor, so there's plenty of action left.

For I view philosophers as the creators and critics of concepts, and concepts are born as metaphors. We relate to the "thing-in-itself" by means of mental-models, and this "thing-in-itself" is also such a mental model.

I question and am not the first to question the will to truth itself. I think the sophists had it right (implicitly). Plato defined himself against the sophists, claiming a purer motive and a more rigorous method. Nietzsche finally inverts this Platonism, arguing that truth is made, not found. Scientific truth in a practical sense is made in relation to that which is well symbolized as objective reality -- but science is a method, not a dogma. And science has corrected (sophisticated) its model of "reality" many times.

So I'm not anti-logic, but anti naive logic. Caesar and Christ can share.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 11:04 pm
@Shlomo,
Shlomo;106323 wrote:
Lenin corrected Hitler's primitivism. He founded his hell on 50+ thick philosophical volumes.


That is not possible. Lenin came previous to Hitler. Could you possibly mean Stalin? Lenin was not an anti-Semite and supported the Jews and wrote in their favor time and time again. Considering what Lenin helped overthrow, and the improvements that Russia witnessed after the ousting of the tzars, it is unfortunate the bad rap that Lenin receives in the eyes of history. Stalin ruined Lenin's reputation after taking over Russia and installing a harsh authoritarian regime. The Russians were able to liberate themselves after the Bolshevik revolution for a period of time.
 
 

 
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