Ideologies of Oppression and Freedom

litbonanza.jpgA new era has begun. This seems apparent at least. And what characterizes it most of all perhaps is a prevailing fear of extinction. Revolutions have transpired in our current age which have no equal throughout recorded history: domains of thought as diverse as biology, mathematics, cosmology, computers, and theology, along with copious others have together shared in ideological turbulence unparalleled through human civilization. To fully explicate all these events would require volumes each but I will continue with the hope that I have at least communicated and impressed you with the following point: our society is most unlike all that have preceded us. Our world is still changing ever more dramatically and we are even now struggling to keep up. Change brings fear. Why are people afraid? Because those who do not adapt to change inevitably perish. Extinction.

All the information I wish to impart here can be divided as pertaining to two categories: one being success and the other failure. Many people nowadays would question even the validity of making this dichotomy and among them quite a few would be antagonistic towards my focus. But that is part of the very failure I wish to address. Of my concerns here the first to be dealt with will be the value of ideas – which are valuable; which aren’t – and how to discern one from the other. Once this framework for judgment has been reasonably constituted I shall then endeavour to evaluate some trends of contemporary thought by the standards earlier set out. While obviously I have personal prejudices which abide in me even as I intend objectivity I do not consider myself to possess an agenda in the sense that I wish only to propagate those prejudices in other people. I am prepared to submit where I believe I have failed. If there is one dogma that I perhaps cannot shed myself of however it is that I believe we all – myself included of course – have the potential to achieve greater successes and that we must never surrender that aspiration.

What good is thinking? It’s products are intangible. It’s virtues are debated. A great majority of our species avoid it wherever possible and some disdain it openly. Even those who seem most devoted to the practice always appear intent on obtaining answers which would alleviate the necessity of the whole process. It is hard not to come to the conclusion that thinking is merely a bother. Nevertheless is is one of our oldest traditions so it must in some way be satisfactory. And here is where the mystery begins to dissolve itself. Ideas are the material of satisfying our mental appetites and the products of our desires for understanding. They are valuable in so far as they manage to achieve that end.

And as this insight clarifies the purpose of thought it simultaneously reveals the greatest weakness we must guard ourselves against: the urge to capitulate before attractive illusions. The healthy society and individual must accordingly commit to themselves a sincere renunciation of simply upholding their own prejudices whatever those prejudices ensue from. Like any moral rule this one does not eliminate the possibility of moral failure but nevertheless serves it’s purpose by providing a criterion by which the individual can evaluate their own actions. With knowledge of the world and how it functions comes responsibility for those occurrences we can affect which transpire in it. In the search for truth then one must trade inconsiderate heedlessness for accountability in conduct to achieve one’s ambition. This is a duty we must willingly take upon ourselves though.

It is obvious now that ideas can only be successful – or in other words beneficial at all – if they accord with the source provided by their purpose: to attain through thought an understanding including those consequences entailed in the realization of our will. This characterization includes in it also the previously mentioned stipulation that ideas are the products of understanding since if our will is directed at obtaining knowledge of the world beyond merely the self still our desire can only be realized in the further generation of ideas. And no idea – not even those devoted to purely artistic or sentimental effect – can be devoid of factual consequences since awareness of possibilities of the mind themselves contribute to our knowledge. Pretentious ideas, failed ideas, or otherwise what are known as bad ideas – being all aspects of the same impurity in motive – must result when thinking attempts to transgress the boundaries of comprehension. Every degenerate ethic is a result of false consciousness and all are upheld by sophistries. The worst oppressor of humanity has always been it’s own ignorance. Particular tyrants, despots, and other more petty marauders are all solely avatars manifesting the pervasiveness of an oblivion. Immorality is the shadow of the abyss.

If we cannot convince ourselves of subscribing to delusions how can degenerating ideologies persist? They can’t. Without the support of the fallacious reasoning used to formulate them the oppression consecrated by unethical beliefs – racism, sexism, genocide, apartheid, hate, fear, and every other incarnation of greed and idiocy: admittedly greed being a mere form of idiocy – would unravel and perish. The adherents of ideologies can only do so as long as they are left able to construe the world through the knowledge of categories they already possess: deprive them of those categories and even the most orthodox of proponents will renounce their previous dogmas. No one wants to succumb to illusions because no one wants to conceive of themselves as being so weak minded. To reveal an illusion is to destroy it.

When confronted with false consciousness our obligation is clear then: to expose the poverty of it’s ideological foundations and provide compensating knowledge when we can. But what are instances of false consciousness? And how is accusing any belief of being false properly justified? Well, I shall strive to answer these two questions together through illustration and analysis. The examples however are arbitrary.

There is a popular trend among all levels of the intellectual hierarchy – from preeminent pedagogues to pontificating proletariat – that knowledge is unassailable and subjective in nature and therefore immune to the vile conclusions of logical analysis. Somehow moreover this belief is often held concurrently with the notion that any feeling of certainty in one’s understanding of anything is unjustified and vulgar since our perceptions are always fallible: although if one truly embraces the idea that knowledge is subjective then one can be sure of everything unequivocally since there is nothing beyond one’s own beliefs with any power to falsify them. If knowledge is entirely personal then any impersonal criterion claiming objectivity is deluded. Here the chauvinism of agnosticism is laid bare and unfortunately for anyone who sympathizes with such drivel they neglect the fact that the concept of delusion is founded on notions of truth and falsity: without the concept of reality to contrast it with the term illusion is meaningless. Consequently any attempt to subjectify knowledge is a futile endeavour since it cannot escape the absoluteness of it’s own presuppositions and so cannot transcend the dogmatic nature of the objectivity it intends to reject. It is merely whimsical hypocrisy. By crafting new dogmas while striving to eliminate dogma in general the subjectification of knowledge fails with a grandiose and pathetic flourish. The same sort of paradoxical mess results when one is convinced of the assuredness of uncertainty but of course it is dismissed just as easily. What these wondrous instances of stupidity show then is that no matter how convoluted their construction all inconsistent concepts will betray their failures under scrutiny. Shadows must recede before the light.

The method of logical criticism I present here is generalized as follows: any assertion when semantically analyzed will yield all it’s ideological consequences if thoroughly investigated and if that analysis discovers irresolvable contradictions then the formulation of said assertion must be renounced in the pursuit of meaningfulness and coherency. What if we choose to not pursue meaningfulness and coherency though? Would you abandon your mind to the stagnating world of gibberish and nonsensical fantasy? Perhaps you would. Perhaps you resent the supposedly harsh laws of logic: incosiderate as they are of your personal ambitions though they would free you from the harsher laws of oblivion. That is your choice. What you choose in uncompromising subjectivity though is the prison of your own present limits. No progress can penetrate the obstinance to change which results when one forsakes the illuminating powers of reason. And so you secure for yourself and your imitators an inevitable fate.

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Thomas is generally just all around stubborn