Without self-consciousness, the price of our life would not be much different from that of plants and animals. With self-consciousness, we merely cognize the existence of our inner being through the representation of our unchangeable characters and empirical grounds. One could obtain the learning experience empirically. But that could only broaden the empirical grounds on which our characters reacts so as to reflect into one’s willing. To me, the significance of self-consciousness therefore becomes a specious and ambiguous proposition that does not make any sense empirically. However, simply realizing this does not deter me from baffling into this trap all the time.
Empirically, everything makes perfect sense in the short run. I want to do A because I would like to achieve B. The reason I need to get B is because I like C … But people eventually follow the same path, and no one could avoid that, no matter if you are a 50 IQ Bushman in Kalahari desert or a super genius Ashkenazi Jew with an IQ of 190. The Bushman won’t think much metaphysically and the Ashkenazi Jew is not free of the manipulation of lust, hate, jealousy and compassion. The major difference being the variance in terms of the development of their civilization. If our mission is to expand and thrive our civilization, sustain it through generations, contribute greatly to the world so as to benefit others and make your name known for generations, I would rest my case here. This is usually the ultimate hypnosis for smart people in an advanced civilization. Complicated traditions, religions step in to reinforce this vision and prevent us from wandering off all the time. But the chaos of the post-rational stage convinces me that that ancient tradition of ours, is merely some good old indoctrination which no longer works nowadays. Then, what is the meaning of my self-consciousness? How could there be any missions of mine if it was set by some grounds? Schopenhauer might be right after all. We come to suffer, for we would always build our objectives based on some grounds. Once the significance of one’s being depends on the necessary grounds, you would always suffer when you haven’t achieved it. When you achieve it you must respond to other grounds, otherwise you would get trapped in boredom. This cycle continues until your self-consciousness diminishes according to the biological determinants…
Sometimes I think mankind should never develop metaphysics at all. Perhaps to live in a set-up realm without knowing its setup would satiate humans better. But unfortunately we are given the privilege to realize what it is.
Some random dabbling thoughts, in memory of my beloved grandmother and uncle.
Darwin evolution tells us organisms evolve because of natural selection as to better adapt the living environment. That explains why giraffe has long neck, lion has sharp teeth, and white peppered moth turned black under soot pollution in the industrial England. However, the evolution of our intelligence does not really comply with the Darwin evolution theory. Contrary to the evolution principle, the evolution of humans (since the early hominid species) has always been driven to dissociate ourselves from the nature. The emergence and development of our intelligence allows us to walk out of the forest and create an artificial environment that would fit our own nature. Looking backwards into the development of human civilization, the use of tools for hunting, the invention of animal husbandry, agriculture, the emergence of the urbanized settlement, the structure of polity, industrial revolution, electronics etc, are the indisputable footsteps we left along this human evolution path. Following this logic, I dare to hypothesize that the ultimate objective of human civilization would be one abstract sentence: to dissociate ourselves from the given nature.
Thinking a step further, this seems also to be observed in the modern social mentality as well. I have always said that leftism, an appendix of modern surplus productivity, stem from the very idea that humans ought to be and act god-alike. Thou shalt love others just as much as yourself. Despite the myth about the origin of leftism (with several disputing theories), it is unanimously agreed that leftism tends to associate more with the intelligentsia with extremely high intelligence. While leftism itself has lots of incurable defects and I am sure there are noticed by the smart leftists, its core supporters (really smart people) appear to be rather stubborn in believing there are no other alternatives that would keep up with the advancement of our civilization.
What accounts for the advancement of the civilization anyway? Science and technology? As if the answer is that simple as all science and technology are neutral to our social beings… In my opinion, egalitarianism, that’s what the left intellectuals are really aiming for. Leftists think our achievement in science and technology has reached a milestone where the pursuit of a pure egalitarian artificial world starts possible. You see there are lots of facts that need numerous tests to confirm their existence in our realm. But it wouldn’t make any sense to look for even a slight degree of egalitarianism in this sensory world. In fact the pursuit of egalitarianism, a specious claptrap, has been destined to fail since the very beginning when this idea was nurtured 200 years ago, for it just simply goes against literally every empirical axioms we witness in the nature. Ignore the natural diversity, bell curves, and individual variations to guide our actions, and the only result is failure, for we don’t have the science and technology yet to make all individuals, all races, all species the same. This is THE perfect example of mankind’s desire to dissociate ourselves from the given universe.
Burrowing into deeper analysis and specific illustrations, egalitarian perspectives regarding the environment and the nature is best interpreted as gaiaism. For instance, terms such as preservation, conservation, and mitigation etc. have deluged the mass media in recent years. The hegemonic tone has never ebbed since the day they were created in the show business. But why do we want to preserve the nature? Why do we want to mitigate the climate change? Why do we want to protect the endangered species? Of course, there are so many conspicuous explanations that emphasize on the importance of “co-existence” , “ sustainability”, “rights to live” etc. Modern gaiaism has long jumped out of the spectrum of mere environmental problem control. In most western countries people’s livelihood are no longer susceptible under the compromising environmental conditions. Modern gaiaism is all about “value” and “lifestyle”. Beyond all those eloquent apologies, the true interpretation of this recent environmental fad is rather embedded in our own brains: the desire to dissociate from the nature. “We are transcended creatures with our artificial realms and thus we shall do everything we could to leave the old place the way it was, undisturbed and absolutely harmonious.” Therefore some advocates to stop slaughtering animals, some advocates stop pumping the fossil fuels, and some advocates even stop the modern technology for it disrupts the rhythm of the earth…
Western elites came up with the ideas and ensure that most people are well drilled to feel the same way. This luxurious emotion would be magnified manifold before a kid even learns to see the real cruelty of the world. That you think you care about African starving babies is nothing more than a sheer result of repetitious drills from the hypnosis organ. Nevertheless, this all may have worked perfectly fine, if our science and technology drive didn’t stagnate for the past half century. I have no problem with leaving in a real Brave New World where people just fool ourselves to death. At least that’d be a system that works. But once again our reality could not be offset by our intelligence yet, and worst of all, we are still insolently blind to the dire consequences that are about to ravage our incoherent civilization.
As far as I concern our human evolution has entered a dead end. The only way out would be a regrouping after the collapse of what has been built up for the past 50 or even 100 years and consciously refrain us from turning the divine thirst of mankind into a dead cult of leftism. For all I know, that window of opportunity is accumulating its momentum as we speak.
Many people are desperately looking for jobs in such economic downturn, including some acquaintances of mine. I have heard a lot of stories recently. Those fine young men, living in constant fear, anxiety, and depression, are struggling for months without a decent job. It is disheartening for me to see those great potentials to be lost in this transition, for I firmly believe they absolutely deserve way more than this.
Meanwhile, I am also aware that the destination they fiercely long for is unfortunately the starting point of banality, at least to most of people. I for one have well witnessed the mediocre nature of most desktop work myself. The state of inundating wholly into something grammatical or mechanical tranquilizes our intellectual curiosity. Sooner or later whatever “extra” ordinary ideas that pop out of your mind would be brutally pinched off one by one and you will be gradually sliding into the confined hourglass as a weightless granule of sand.
Of course, most people beg to differ about the definition of “job”. I have observed smart people rejoiced on their success in stepping into this middle class trap in rapture. Their fear of being the outcast from the expected social structure easily overruns their intelligent audacity. As much as they are dubious about the new journey they are about to take, a sense of grave relief submerges their minds, for social recognition and social security are guaranteed on board.
We humans have to live under the boundary of various definitions. If looking for a job brings recognition and security to us, we would feel like going after that as an inevitable part of the life. It is as if a man in a lonely raft finally gaze afar the land from the horizon. However, only a handful would think ahead about the discovery of the land and the land after the land. Everyone wants to discover a continent rather than a deceiving island. It is rather the irrational nature of us, the courage, the willingness for risk, that could ignite those with a flair for the magnum explosion to go on with further expedition.
But the question is, if not A, then what is B? Perfect abstraction scales down to everyday life and then becomes the origin of this sophomoric perplexity that confounds the few pitiful mortal souls. Invalidating the definition of your social being means the choice of a drastic unknown destiny. The world is too wondrous to be comprehended by its humble organic creations, yet our drive to discover every little detail of the significance of everything is simply inexplicable with rationality. I do feel sorry for those who is suffocating in the purgatory of joblessness; and I also do share the joy with those who were immersed in the excitement for finding a contracted employment. Maybe it’s a folly not to stay in the social ouroboros after all; but I want out, emotionally.
A nice paragraph in the <48 Degrees of Power> by Robert Greene:
According to the cosmology of ancient Greeks, the gods were thought to have complete vision into the future. They saw everything to come, right down to the intricate details. Men, on the other hand, were seen as victims of fate, trapped in the moment and their emotion, unable to see beyond immediate dangers. He who thinks further ahead and patiently brings their plans to fruition seems to have a godlike power.
Most people believe that they are in fact aware of the future, which they are planning and thinking ahead. They are usually deluded: what they are really doing is succumbing to their desires, to what they want the future to be. Their plans are vague, based on their imaginations rather than their reality. They may believe they are thinking all the way to the end, but they are really only focusing on the happy ending, and deluding themselves by the strength of their desire.
This explains a lot of things in the reality. For all I know I am exactly one of those “most people” who precisely fall into his description of the victim of fate. You, together with me, should start to be awakened to react more thoughtfully in our own life.
Stereotype, most of them, are able to stand the test of time. The basic contention here is: the validation of stereotype is like the accuracy of the stereotype itself, 8 out of 10 times in your personal experience those stereotypes could be cast upon the people who could associate with them.
However, stereotype nowadays is usually perceived as a negative term, a term that usually associated with ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry. It is definitely not something that counts politically correct, but most of times, statistically correct. There is an axiom underlined from this argument: everything is bell-curved from biology. If you wouldn’t agree with that, there’s no need to read what I wrote afterwards, since you would most likely turn emotionally to a dead end of reasoning.
For those who share a slice of sense of respect for the mother nature, stereotype, as far as I concern, not only validates in most cases but more importantly helps us to cope with unfamiliar individuals in the beginning. People are intimidated by things we don’t know. The first thing we do when we meet a complete stranger is to figure out at least some of his/her behavior, background, or manners, to match with some well-established stereotype identities, e.g. a well-mannered businessman, a beer-loving German, or a scarfed conservative Muslim woman. As soon as we link the stranger with certain type of stereotypes (a person could fit into different stereotypes at the same time), we would 1. react to the unfamiliar individual based on the image of stereotypes we keep in mind and 2. seek to evaluate more subtle patterns of his/her behavior, background, and manners to the stereotypes created earlier.
In many times stereotypes do apply in general and help people cope with unknown situations. I’d say it’s a valuable experience accumulated over generations. Based on my cosmopolitan experience, I always happen to validate a lot of stereotypes on the people I met in different parts of the world. Everywhere I go, the stereotype image could always find itself a majority status in the people associated with that certain characteristics. Things that are even a bit edgy, like the incoherence with Islamic community and secular society, the behavior and intelligence difference between different ethnic groups, are proven to be valid one by one not only in a holistic statistical sense, but from my personal experience as well.
At the same time, as I mentioned, exception and irregularity do exist too, though in a much lower frequency. Like in the Bell Curve, there are always statistical outliers that would not fit into the stereotypes. Those individual cases, statistically speaking, is still accepted as the stereotype only aims to cover the majority of the group of people it particularly associates with. People with exceptions could not really change the stereotypes or invalidate them most of the time.
I use myself as an example here. People who know me personally and from this blog probably sense that I am very heretic as a Chinese. I mostly indulge myself in the Western atmosphere and could only find a sense of belonging to the Classic China. I am social, outgoing, athletic, and most importantly, appearing to be the biggest Chinese reactionary among all the Chinese I know (quoted from my friend: A Chinese dissent who doesn’t go with Western mainstream either). Though I was raised in China with heavy Classic Chinese influence, people always mistakenly thought I was raised in the West. I don’t really fit into the Chinese stereotype (math nerd or lab guy, whatever your stereotype is) that is prevalent around the globe. Yet everywhere I go, I always have to make double efforts to appeal to others to dissociate myself from their Chinese stereotypes on me (since most Chinese stereotypes ain’t pretty, and neither do most of fellow countrymen anyway). Am I upset every time I was easily labelled as “Chinese”? Of course, many times. For quite a while I held a sharp aversion against other stereotyped Chinese in and out of China, for their presence help consolidating those unwanted stereotypes everywhere (Chinese are everywhere nowadays). People always come with the pre-assumption of the nerdy or coy Chinese dude they met previously or saw on TV to meet me the first time. In the old time I was determined to whitewash those negative Chinese stereotypes from my own example. After a while it turned out people just associate me with a unique category, whereas their perception towards the Chinese remains. After all, those perceptions towards Chinese are most likely to true in most of cases and are repeatedly drilled frequently nowadays. Over the time I just began to accept the fact of being a statistical outlier who has to make double efforts on everything everywhere I go.
What does this say? It says a unique experience of a person who fails to fulfill generalized expectations. But what does it do to the generalization in the first place? Not much. Unless China has 1.3 million people instead of 1.3 billion people, I might put up with delusion that every Chinese is as cool as me. But that’s not the case. Though I sometimes consider myself a victim of stereotypes, I have to say they are most of the time still valid. To me, to others, nothing is fair and some has to try harder than the others. At least I am glad I could have the luck to be aware of all these in an early stage of my life. In the end of the day, to devise a personalized plan to achieve whatever we want is the most sensible thing in everyone’s life.
A real wise guy would recognize the stereotype while be open-minded about the statistical outliers that he/she may encounter in real life.Let’s say you meet a black guy for a job interview. Though you know the odds of meeting a smart black fella is way slimmer than meeting a random white guy, you still construct your own assessment based on the personal evaluation of that particular individual being. Maybe you could have the luck to meet a very smart black guy (I claim that I have met two that are not really interested in dancing and aggression all the time but science and technology instead). Of course when the person fits most of the criteria of the stereotype you should immediately pull out from your sympathetic and guilty emotion to review him/her with the help of stereotype description. This is not discrimination but merely recognizing the difference among people.
Egalitarianism doesn’t really work in reality, noble concept though. The great Chinese philosopher Confucius once said “Education should be tailor-made in order to fit different individuals (因材施教)”, the denial that says all humans are the same and should be treated equally could pose fundamental social and political adverse consequences if it were assimilated in the societal governing guideline. That’s where most of social problems in the modern civilization stems from – leftism.
Then what about coarse discrimination? They are stereotypes too. I call that the prole comprehension of natural differences. Discrimination happens when the stereotypes combine with strong emotional attachment and evolves into a sort of absolute slogan that is universal to all regardless of individual variance. Together with discrimination, misconception always tends to exist among stereotypes, too. Nothing is perfect. But a smart person knows how to adjust the his/her stereotype image based on updating data.
The validation of stereotype is like the accuracy of the stereotype itself, not all are valid, but the majority of them are.