## The Deadend, and the Wastelands of Philosophy and Culture

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I think that the experience of alienation is complex. It is about feeling rejected and about feeling lost, especially in the age of technology. We may have feelings of loss as individuals, and also feel that we do not count in the grand scheme of life. In some ways, such thinking is connected to our own psychology, and sense of lack of low self esteem and worth. But, in other ways, it is related to social and cultural perspectives and it may be that philosophy can help put this together. Perhaps, philosophy can help to save us.
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Alienation is complex. When referring to the context of Eliot's poems, I didn't hope to make it simpler.
Caught in his moment, he navigated as well as he could. I figure we are all like that.
As a matter of philosophy, alternatives are possible. A chance to change the deal.
The kind of thing that is not settled for all time but more of a working agreement.
Chess with the Devil, if you will.
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You've misunderstood me, let me rephrase.

Philosophy is both an academic subject and a characteristic of thought. If your thinking has a philosophical characteristic then it's philosophy, whichever way one chooses to define this characteristic, it exists outside this academic branch. Depending on the definition it will also exist in politics, law, economics, psychology, sport, culture, music and so on. As an academic subject, it can be further characterised as a style of writing, a type of culture, with a certain history and continuous aspect to it. Perhaps it is the culture and broader administrative aspects which are becoming outdated rather than the spirit of philosophy. Even on this forum, many philosophical topics take their shape in a political context. Philosophical ideas become relevant based on how well they can be applied to the political context.

Or for example, questions about ethics and morality could be applied in rather different ways depending on whether the subject was criminal law or government policy on economic redistribution. The conversation still exists about ethics and morality in a philosophical manner even if the subject is actually about law or politics.

The questions about human nature or the human condition persist within our culture, but the subject is culture, not philosophy. It exists in music or film, the practical ramifications or explicit mention of philosophical concepts ends up affecting these different areas of life.

But you even threw culture into the mix. I remember discussing this in another thread.
https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/9857/death-of-language-the-real-way-cultures-decay-and-die/p1

Culture is changing so fast now compared to any time in human history and that change is going to continue to speed up. Your characterisation of an impending dead end seems to go against everything that is happening around you, so why this characterisation? It is not because of the world and therefore it is something to do with you. Just as in that thread, culture is always seemingly declining or being destroyed in someone's eyes but in reality, the rate of change has been accelerating exponentially over the last thousand years. However you're worried about things becoming now, people will be worrying about being changed in the future, it is the way of things.
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I am sorry if I misunderstood you. I am just interested in the future of philosophy and related fields of thought. It is not my own personal issue, because apart from writing on this site and reading books, I don't have any role or life revolving around philosophy at all. But, I do enjoy my reading and, thinking itself.

I do agree that culture is changing fast and it is hard to keep up with it. Also, it is easy to feel lost amidst it all, with no sense of any belonging. I think that it is enough of a struggle to find meaning and purpose, and it is for that reason that I turn towards philosophy. Of course, it doesn't have all the answers.I would not really expect it to provide them, but at least it provides methods and ways of thinking for the many different aspects of human existence, as the arts do too. It can be about coping in the face of the deadend and wastelands.
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Some would argue (Steven Pinker, a primary example) that the world is safer, healthier and happier today than ever before in history.

I'm unfamiliar with his work, but will take a look now, thanks.

There has been minimal collapse of meaning... Shared meaning does not bring with it contentment, despite what some commentators believe. What we have seen for the past decades is the common good, education and jobs undermined by corporatism and a very unhelpful media. For my money, a lot of social problems in the West stem just from this.

This statement is something I thought about and can agree with. However, when corporate / technocratic elites and the media control the prevailing narrative, if that narrative is one of division, woe, apathy and hopelessness, then what does that mean for us, the masses? Of course, some of us see it for what it is and know better, but for many, this fear and the threats it implies seem all too real. The flow on effect from these giants shaping the discourse and public opinion could very well be overwhelmingly negative, an insidious psychological manipulation. Disturbing.
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However, when corporate / technocratic elites and the media control the prevailing narrative, if that narrative is one of division, woe, apathy and hopelessness, then what does that mean for us, the masses?

People need a sense of what is real and where to find out reliable information.

Bear in mind, I am not saying there is a coordinated conspiracy to feed us nonsense - it's simply that bad news and stories of danger and woe resonate strongest and are click bait and ratings  successes. As everyone knows, humans are drawn to car crashes, they're compelling.
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People need a sense of what is real and where to find out reliable information.

This. This is key.
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When you speak of elites and technocracies, this also makes me think about how in some ways rather than a possible deadend, there is also so much scope for ideas which challenge the status quo. I think that this exists in the internet, but also within philosophy and the arts historically. When I spoke of T.S. Eliot's 'The Wasteland', we can think how that was a major influence in literature and the cultural development of ideas.

I think that it is worth looking back at the way in which ideas developed in the twentieth century. The 1960s protest movement played a key role with the expression in the music and the development of counterculture. This was linked with the rise of sociology and women's liberation. There was also punk rock and other genres, which spoke of alienation, but also with a radical idea of transformation.

In the twentieth century, we are in an interesting time. In philosophy, we can see the past history of existentialism and romanticism, as well as postmodernism. Alongside this, we have the developments in the sciences, especially neuroscientists. So, it is interesting to know what comes next in philosophy and culture. My own thinking about it fluctuates between demoralisation and optimism. But, I think it is clear that in this information age, there is so much which, as you say is nonsense, and part of the problem may be that many people get lost in making their way through all the jumble of ideas.
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But, I do think that such questions may be cast aside, especially if many see knowledge as having been reached.

Late to the party as always, and haven't read the rest of the thread...

I think this is just the rub; you appear to be concerned that philosophical questions will fall away somehow, but what you say here is exactly why they will ultimately not do so. Knowledge is slippery and seems to often slip away on accident; It's almost like a venus fly trap; just when knowledge appears to arrive at the fake bud, the trap closes.

In our current physicalist world, it may take years of painful slippery fly-trap deaths for us to realize this hubristic error. And I almost think that we need to go through all these painful deaths if we're ever going to see our mistake.
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Yes, I think having the ability and courage to challenge the status quo is essential to growth. Complacency is what leads to stagnation. I think philosophy will still have its place, as long as the ideas keep coming and we don't give up the conversation.

part of the problem may be that many people get lost in making their way through all the jumble of ideas.

This is true. I think that because information is so readily available, it can be challenging sometimes to navigate the murk.
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The 1960s protest movement played a key role with the expression in the music and the development of counterculture. This was linked with the rise of sociology and women's liberation. There was also punk rock and other genres, which spoke of alienation, but also with a radical idea of transformation.

But counterculture was also a commercial venture that made a lot of people rich whilst they played at being hippies. One of the nastiest things about the 1960's is how many of those counterculture figures ended up running the corporations and mainstream advertising/marketing worlds that have screwed us over ever since.
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that have screwed us over ever since.

Is this a new "counter culture"?
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Is this a new "counter culture"?

More properly I guess it's the counter reformation culture. :worry:
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That makes sense, but actually I realize I responded too quickly...what I wanted to intimate, as maybe a half-joke, was that you are attempting to represent a new counter-culture with your critique of the old counter-culture..."they've screwed us over ever since", etc...I'll see myself out...
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No worries I thought your response was funny. Many of them became 'The Man' in the end. I was being flip with my counter reformation comment which is too pompous for the subject matter.
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Many of them became 'The Man' in the end

I suppose that's the thing with counter culture, you rage against the machine until you end up raging with it. Then a new counter culture emerges.
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:cheer: I love jokes, especially in the middle of serious threads.
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I think that it a complicated dialectic. On one hand, there is the way in which mainstream and countercultural protests are opposed. But, also the ideas and ideals in the counterculture become so successful that they are incorporated into the mainstream. So, a further new wave of protest ideas come in, both within the arts and other forms of ideas.

Also, political factors come into play affecting trends, as well as interrelated ideas which are not necessarily countercultural as such, but divergent. What I am thinking of is how there was the whole idea of the new age movement. This was partly connected to ideals based on the aquarian movement, which was linked in some ways with the utopian ideals which emerged from the hippy age, and the rise of the new age hippies. However, it was also interconnected with millennium fears, linked to the significance of the year 2000.

But, the world didn't end or the computers didn't crash, and even 2012 was seen as being potentially significant, in relation to the Mayan calendar. But, I think it is harder to disentangle the different conflicting ideas now, because it is as if many movements are partly fragmenting and converging too. I am not even sure how or if the idea of the new age affected or was seen by the philosophers. I know that such ideas are often seen as 'woo' on this site, but I don't know if that is an accurate global picture.
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You suggest that 'we need to go through all these painful deaths if we're going to ever see our mistakes' regarding errors in philosophy. It reminds me of a book title by the psychologist, James Hillman, 'We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World is Getting Worse.' Similarly, we may ask about where philosophy is going in way of progress?
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What I have been thinking since reading and writing on this thread earlier is there is little chance of complacency because trends and developments are so rapid. There are just so many voices, from the past and from the present, with so much variation. The symbol that has come to my mind, and I may have mentioned it in some other thread, is the Tower of Babel. There are so many variations in expression of ideas that it can be hard to distinguish the unique, individual voices. There are just so many voices and it is probably not a case of a deadend, but of being overwhelmed in the cacophony of them all.
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there is little chance of complacency because trends and developments are so rapid.

There are just so many voices and it is probably not a case of a deadend, but of being overwhelmed in the cacophony of them all.

I'd say it's likely a bit of both. The trends and developments are indeed rapid, however this leads to more voices, as well as less. You get those that want to be heard, and those that grow complacent simply because they don't want to deal with the cacophony.
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I have not lost interest in this topic of the deadend and the wastelands, and where culture is going.

Today, I have just read a chapter in a book, 'Paths Beyond Ego' (ed. Walsh and Vaughan) by Duane Elgin, 'The Tao of Personal and Social Transformation', in which the author is describing the way in which ideas arise within the socioeconomic context, and I how ideas arise within the context of consumer materialism. I think that this is so important for seeing philosophy, including ideas such as nihilism, and many other ideologies.

My own additional thought is that consumer materialism may be collapsing, so what will come next, philosophically, politically and culturally? Where can philosophy take us and, play a leading role or pathway?
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My own additional thought is that consumer materialism may be collapsing, so what will come next, philosophically, politically and culturally? Where can philosophy take us and, play a leading role or pathway?

Unless there is a radical change to the Capitalist model in modern Western society, I don't see consumer materialism collapsing anytime soon. Rather, it is the current will to power. The current game to be played in order to survive and thrive. Within this economic model, for arguably, a prosperous life that minimises potential suffering, philosophy may have a duty here to help the individual thrive. Unfortunately, culturally, I personally can only see more division, apathy and ultimately stagnation. Unless of course, the status quo is continually challenged, and modern visionaries and artists inspire the culture to move forward.

It's tough to evaluate it all whilst in the midst of it. It may be that we will only be able to see what is, when it becomes what was, in hindsight.
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I am not sure to what extent consumer materialism will collapse completely, because people are still buying items, but I think that has changed. Perhaps, one change is people relying more on the internet and less on shops, with many big chains having collapsed. It is hard to know where everything is going to lead until, as you say, we are able to look back in hindsight. I am not sure that there can be actual stagnation in our culture, because there seems to be so much development all the time, but I don't see how Western civilisation can develop and thrive in the same way without radical changes in the way resources are used, but this may be very different from cultural collapse itself.

But, yes, where do ideas and philosophy lie in this and it may be that they are needed to help the individual and groups cope within any potential changes, especially in the potentially difficult times. Some people are probably experiencing a lot of suffering as it is, and this may need a lot of inner strength too, but of course, suffering has always been a central aspect of human life.
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May not be relevant but I've installed this strategy game on my old laptop - Civilization VI - and when I begin a new game, I get a settler unit close to a good tile to found a city but set that aside for the moment and let's look at my other most valuable unit, a scout.

The map of the world chosen is shrouded in what gamers will immediately recognize as the irksome fog of war. The scout's job is to explore the map, can be done either manually or in automatic mode, and reveal resources, city-friendly tiles, natural wonders, other civilizations, friendlies, and foes (barbarians or other belligerents).

Once a scout reveals parts of the map, we can send settlers to build more cities that can maximize benefits for my civilization in terms of wealth, knowledge, tourism, military power, and so on. However, what's interesting is, once I've developed a tile's resources as uncovered by a scout, keeping the scout on that tile or others I've already capitalized on is a total waste of a scout's innate exploratory skills. I must, should, send my scout units to the edges of my cities' borders, out into areas of the map still obscured by the fog of war. That's what scouts (are supposed to) do!
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Perhaps we need to learn to be scouts for ourselves and others, to prevent us getting lost in the fog.
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I think that you are right to see the artists and visionaries as being important in bringing ideas and culture forward. That is because culture and philosophy are not just abstract ideas, or even political ideologies, but more about imagination. Utopia may never be achieved, but it does seem to me that any real progress is about dreaming of new possibilities, even if the translation of such dreams to the real world falls far short of that which is imagined. It is also hard to know what new ideas within philosophy are waiting to be arise within human consciousness.
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