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The Ruthless Intellectual

To be a useful intellectual you have to be ruthless in your pursuit of the truth. Ruthless to your own values, ruthless to others feelings, and ruthless to pretty much everything else also. There are too many fuzzy thinking, well meaning, nice intellectuals in the world today. But that only means they are not really thinking anymore, they are just defending safe, comfortable values. That benefit themselves and others. But the true intellectual must sacrifice himself often to his endeavour. Because truth is never comfortable, not for the intellectual, and not for anyone else either. We can only take truth in small doses. But one or two doses of raw truth in your lifetime would already probably put you above most peoples life achievement. Truth has to be fought for with your whole being, it is not something that comes simply and easily. It is not self evident, it does not confirm what you wanted to believe already, and it will often alienate you from the people and the culture around you. But such is the destiny you choose if you choose this path in good faith.

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Book Review: Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being

Toward a Psychology of BeingToward a Psychology of Being by Abraham H. Maslow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maslow offers a future enabling, rather than just a past repressing (as in Freud), psychology of human Being. He focuses on the psychologically healthy, rather than the psychologically ill, and delves into the experiences that healthy people have. His purpose is to show how healthy behavior is not just about adaptation to normal standards, it is about internalising these standards as well as going beyond these standards in a future oriented life. Self-actualisation is the term he uses for this. And people of this kind he suggests should be the role models for us all. They have more peak experiences, more enjoyment in life, but they also embrace the responsibilities and duties that come with this. They have integrated the tendencies towards order and creativity in their personalities, so as to remain always best in touch with the reality surrounding them. Maslow argues also, akin to Plato, that the good and the true and the enjoyable all come together, in these types of people.

I cannot agree with aspects of his approach, such as his belief that this is just science that can be taken in as such. There is no way that much conventional science would accept such an ontology where the center place is held by self actualisers. His combining of Being and Becoming would be anathema to many scientifically minded. A therapist in psychology wants to enable and help others naturally, scientists in many other areas do not have such a motivation, they are motivated more by controlling and circumscribing “things”. Maybe they can learn from Maslows approach, but I think many would simply plug their ears up and refuse to listen. The recent rise of naive selfish instinct based views as in Dawkins and the evolutionary biologists, tells us more the kind of view that science wants to hold as its archetype on this subject matter. Science determines from the outside, self actualisers as in Maslow, partly determine themselves from the inside, at least in some key areas of their lives and personality. This latter can be true all it wants, but it simply will not fit with the agenda of science, and I think this is why this kind of approach tends to be historically revised out of existence in our current science dominated era.

If the Maslow style approach is to gain more ground in our contemporary day to day culture, it will be by those with a more critical eye to the limitations of science, not as an exemplar of science, as Maslow seemed to hope.

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Objective Spirituality

I have spent a long time under the illusion, as I would now see it, that spirituality, insofar as there may be such a thing, is a purely subjective affair. It is something going on only in our own heads, bounded by the limits of our experience of the world from the time we become aware of it in this incarnate form at say age of two or three or whatever. Something akin to how a standard idealism may view the mental realm. But I realise now I was living within a deeply impoverished view of spirituality. A view that gave me a sense of control, an arrogant egocentric placement at the center of spiritual reality. But that for all this show of strength, this view of spirituality is extremely fragile and weak. It is very likely to be susceptible in us to the common problems we see generally in western culture: existential despair, social alienation, mental reification, postmodern relativism etc.. Where the theme is an inability to connect to the people and the world around us and to find meaning in them and in it.

The perspective I now have gleaned is that it should come as no surprise that spirituality cannot be found in the subjective stream of consciousness, for the whole point of this perspective when it was formed by the likes of Descartes, Kant, and others was to put spirituality into a cage so to speak. The idea was to put to one side all the difficult, fuzzy, unclear issues, surrounding spirituality, by locking them away in subjective minds, so that the scientifically and rationally minded could get on with sorting out the world as it is, independent of us completely. The world indifferent to our thoughts about it, of Physical, electrical and astronomical reality. The world where cold, austere mathematical beauty could be found amongst unvarying forms and structures of the natural world.

This was fair enough and well and good for practical purposes. But the reality remains that in some of those fuzzy areas we are not talking about something that can be isolated in human minds, we are talking about something that inhabits our surroundings as well as our minds. We are talking about an area of reality where there is an interplay and interconnection between our awareness of our surroundings and those surroundings. This is the area where an objective spirituality emerges. Objective because it is not confined to our own minds. It reaches beyond our own subjective biographical history into areas that have been considered by others, which we now find ourselves immersed in, such as the collective unconscious, transpersonal domains, archetypal myths, even just regular innocuous looking culture is one of these areas.

We have been seeing these things already, but we had been looking at them through a faulty filter, seeing them as either objects in a material world, or subjective values created by us in our minds. No, they are neither. They are objects for sure, of a kind, but not in the narrow sense of materialism. They are spiritual objects, and it is our task if we want to understand them properly to treat them as such.

For instance, if I want to understand karma or certain moral values, it is not enough to place them as neutral objects nor to brush them aside as the subjective judgments by convention of such and such a group of people, for such and such an irrational reason. I must see them as a living, breathing, changing, flexible reality that I must form some connection with in order to get a handle on them. I will not then simply be dealing with metaphors or subjective delusions and fantasies, I will be dealing with different layers of spiritual reality. Sure, we have an issue, for a rationalistic, universalist philosophy that we have no transcendent point, as in Kants transcendental idealism, from which to survey all things neutrally, equally and fairly. But such a position is an abstraction itself, and is not the spiritual reality we are faced with, but that does not make spirituality any the less objective and real. Just because I cannot ensure the real is rational, does not mean I can simply dismiss it as subjective. We cannot start with an assumption that reality must be rational or we should ignore it. No, we must calmly gain awareness of these spiritual realities without rushing to pigeon hole them into one rational conceptual framework or another.

Each time I make a decision to lie or to do good for someone, or to do bad to someone, it sends a ripple through spiritual reality. A spiritual reality that encompasses other people, places and times. And this ripple is something I have to learn to take responsibility for the consequences of it. I cannot do this if I refuse to accept there is any ripple in the first place, which I must do if I imagine I am only an isolated monad mirroring reality. Isolated in a surrounding vacuum. Objective spirituality means accepting the reality of these ripples, that is all, and accepting our responsibility for them. There can be no absolution. We are never absolved from the social medium surrounding us.

Book Review: True Story of Fake News, Mark Dice

The True Story of Fake News: How Mainstream Media Manipulates MillionsThe True Story of Fake News: How Mainstream Media Manipulates Millions by Mark Dice

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Owners of major media companies see the power their empires hold and often choose to use their outlets to influence people instead of informing them. From activist journalists to senior editors to CEOs, many in the big media companies can’t help but impose their personal political ideology on the world by using the infrastructure they have at their disposal. “

“By building mountains out of molehills, through lying by omission, agenda-setting, framing stories and issues in a certain light, and by manipulating what is spread through social media by either limiting its reach or artificially amplifying it, the major media and tech companies try, and they do, influence the way people think and thus how they act.”

“Our media, our tools, and our politics are being leveraged to help breed polarization by countless actors who can leverage these systems for personal, economic, and ideological gain.”

Just a few of the overarching insights in this book.

At each step with each chapter, just when you think the mainstream media has gone as low as is possible, it goes even lower in the next chapter, as this book reveals. Shocking, frustrating and infuriating at times, even for someone like me who is quite familiar with a lot of this stuff already and from personal experience over the past 20 years or so of gradually awakening to the manipulations of the media. It is a subject I would like to write on at some point, but it is difficult as the insights into the reality of how low some people will stoop can get me too angry to stay in a stable frame of mind to write calmly and fairly.

In general, to avoid getting too angry, it is best to remember that many of these media people are little more than actors performing a role, and reading from a script, in order to assuage people’s boredom for each day in a perpetual daily grind. And they are just puppets to real political issues or maybe even just games between the elite owners of these media corporations. I mean, for one example, the owner of CNN was the owner of WCW wrestling, Trump was financially and personally connected with the success of WWF/E wrestling, so everything on CNN could just be a personal gripe he has with Trump. Two billionaires getting a load of puppets to argue inanities over them!

It could be accused of some one-sidedness this book, there is no place for a critique of the fake news of fox, and I am sure there would be some good examples of this. But to be fair to Mark Dice, the point of view on the right is hardly the predominant one in the mainstream media, when you have ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC all lining up definitely on the left/democratic/liberal side, so he is here, and in his work on youtube providing a much needed counter balance to the left wing insanity that has gone through the roof this past two years ever since they didn’t get the result they tried to force in a supposedly free election.

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Finding Things to Move Towards

A common pattern in my life has been an unwillingness and anxiety about showing genuine good feeling to others, and to sympathise with their point of view, with them as a whole person with an identity, orientation and meaning of their own in life. I have found ways to cope in social life by learning to skirt around the danger spots and sensitive areas in other people. But rarely do I achieve a positive identification with another. Because I need to keep some distance between me and others for some reason. As a result of this, and the levels of anxiety I always get in these situations, when ever they arise. (As they always do, as I have learned from recent reading of Colin Wilson on the psychology of Maslow and others, in which is shown that once some of our more basic physical needs are met in life we move towards the higher levels of pursuing meaning and self actualisation.) I find that I try to move away from the level of anxiety experienced when this is being asked of me by reverting to a more primal level of being. I do this in various ways, spend away all my possessions and money is one, break the things I own is another way, give up on a certain job, hobby or lifestyle is another way. The common theme is to force myself back in to a situation of having to face issues of physical necessity in my life, so I do not need to worry about the higher levels of being where love of others as people is required as part of the meaning of this domain, and where freely chosen obligations are made to others which you are responsible to stick to.

Don’t get me wrong, I have made some progress on these fronts for sure. But it is useful to see this pattern of reversion in more detail as to why it happens, and what I am doing, and why to me at the time, it could seem like a rational way out of the problem. The fact is I have to learn to face some of these anxieties I have in facing others as people. I need to keep on a forward moving path of spirituality towards better understanding of self and deeper levels of self actualisation in the world. I have to stop seeing life as something just to be survived as each crisis emerges, but as something within which to thrive.

For these insights I can thank some of the books I have read recently: Scruton, The Soul of the World. Regarding treating others as persons. Colin Wilson, New Pathways in Psychology, regarding the layers/pyramid of self actualisation. And Branded Mind, for showing me in its most basic form what is going on in my brain when I decide to turn away from others in the world, which is that its a simple matter of love and hate. And the more you think about things you hate, the more neuro connections in your brain tell you to move away from other people and from those things, and from the world. While the more you think about things you love, which doesn’t at this level mean anything complicated, platonic or sexual or altruistic or moral, or even selfish, it just means things that you find yourself moving towards, rather than moving away from, the more those neuro connections form in your brain, the more you find you can move towards the world and the things you love within it.

The Dissolution of Law, Justice and Social Responsibility: Thoughts and Concerns

If the left could give me a clear explanation of when an illegal immigrant becomes a refugee, and vice versa, when a refugee becomes an illegal immigrant, I would be happier to then accept the moral ground they claim for themselves in their defence of all refugees rights. I imagine they would say a refugee can never become an illegal immigrant. So, setting that part aside for now, when do we definitely have an illegal immigrant, not a refugee, and how are we going to apply justice in these cases? The left does not have an answer is part of the reason the law is simply often ignored in this situation in specific cases. The emotional content of these specific peoples situations is generally too much for a left minded person to handle without feeling bad for the person, and so the letter of the law goes out the window.

But if we are going to say that our notion of justice is wrong, what consistent notion are we going to replace it with? It is no long term strategy for a stable society to simply throw out the rule book of justice based on an endless stream of individual exceptions. This kind of whimsy is not justice, and it soon becomes no more than a form of emotional blackmail when people see how to exploit it. The whole point of justice and law is that we have a definite space of our own secured from which we can then enter freely into obligations and duties beyond this sphere. If there is no sphere of our own then obligations are no longer truly obligations, as they are not something we have freely contractually committed to. They have become a responsibility to us with no attendant right. A forcefully imposed commitment. I.e. A form of slavery.

Now this may well be the left wants to go in the future for the western world. Maybe you could argue, for our exploitation of other parts of the world in our imperial pasts, we must now pay collective reparations, and so it is a responsibility freely imposed upon us by our ancestors whom we are now responsible for in some way. In this case, the future is a realm where we no longer have a free realm of choice for selecting our social obligations and responsibilities. It is all imposed upon us by a forced necessity.

This could well be the future, I am just wondering is this really a future people on the left want? Is this a ramification they are willing to accept all because they refuse to take a principled stance on a limitless stream of immigrants we are supposed to be obligated to, legal or not, because we cannot face the emotional turmoil in the stories of each immigrant entailed by turning them away?

And of course bear in mind this necessity will not be imposed on the rich elite in our countries, only on the rest of us. So we will be freely sacrificing our freedom to a new oligarchy in the process. All this because we are too bashful in the face of acknowledging responsibility for the hardship of anyone else! (Leave it to an uncaring, psychopathic, manipulative elite group please, we are too immature for democracy.)

(P.s. I think there is a good chance we will indeed follow this course, and anyone who has not so been so “bashful” in the face of this (except for the protected elite of course) will be the first to be targeted by this new form of mob approach to law and justice.)

Alternatively we could move away from this dangerous obsession on a never ending wave of social justice obligations, and move towards a focus on our social responsibilities. Internalising these responsibilities more, accepting the consequences of them, and then maybe we can make some real strides towards an actual democracy in the future.

(P.p.s. If you think refusing to take any responsibility for bad things done to anyone, implicit in virtue signalling rhetoric for instance, where the point is to exonerate yourself of any personal responsibility for a particular “bad” thing, is being socially responsible you are very much mistaken. We are all, going back in our history, indirectly responsible at least for all sorts of bad things.) (And this refusal seems to pop up on the left often, which is why they like allegories of a romanticised time when we were supposedly innocent, and they like to set up certain oppressed groups as being an exemplar of innocence. Of course, soon as that group has power they are vulnerable to the same problems as any other group or person that had any power ever, and so we move no closer to understanding power in a reasonable way, we just deflect it away on to the next emotional scapegoat.)

We must learn once more in our communities how we can respect peoples boundaries so they can freely adopt social responsibilities, to end this horrendous manipulative parade of trying to force social justice obligations upon people based on such and such an emotional issue that personally concerns such and such a person whose need is special for such and such a reason. This is not justice, it is something that can only degenerate into mob rule as it will force us into a state where our more instinctive needs will predominate in us, over the rational considered needs, the more our personal space is encroached upon.

The elite has a plan for how to deal with all of this. The plan is to send people to sleep, make people passive, so they will not defend themselves as their personal ground is encroached on more and more. This is one way we can go in our future, no doubt. We can be lulled to sleep, we could also go kicking and screaming like Winston Smith in 1984. Or, better yet, we could come together to contribute in some way to our future society, by taking some responsibility for our actions, and, like Kant, once asked of us, to free ourselves from our self imposed immaturity.

Where am I?

As a philosophically minded person I feel myself trapped between a view of the mind and self in line with a dogmatic scientific or political creed, and a view of it in line with an escapist spiritual or religious creed. I know the scientific specialist is often motivated by getting funding directed his way and this will sway his opinions in various ways often unconsciously. The politically minded person will see it through the filter of whatever his political agenda happens to be. I know also that too much spirituality seems to be geared towards a kind of escapist creed of some place where there is no conflict anymore, which it describes by saying we are all interconnected etc…

So where is there left to go? I can concede points here and there to both sides of this argument, but I will never be completely convinced by either. So what then of truth? Is there simply no neutral truth to be had here, we must just choose a side? Or must I simply create my own truth and impose it upon the world as best as I can? If you could stop history and take a snapshot of it, maybe then you could capture a true answer for that one moment. But the process of life keeps carrying us along. It remains an inscrutable mystery and it leaves only one course. To find a meaning to navigate by, because any truth you merely describe gets washed away by the inexorable stream of life.