• TheMadFool
    3.4k
    I'm rather disconnected from the world but whenever I check the news it's about people who are supposedly trying to change the world. It goes without saying that that's predicated on the belief that all is not right with this, our present, world. I guess by ''change'' people want to give the impression that the efforts of these people, who hog the airtime on networks, are positive; an improvement so to speak.

    There is truth in this afterall this world can become better - discrimination, poverty, disease, etc. are some of the things we can do without.

    However, when I try to fit this image, the world as still imperfect and requiring improvement, onto a community, any community, it doesn't work. People are happy and content. They aren't bothered by philosophical issues such as the meaning of life and neither are they overly concerned about the goings-on in the world outside their communities. In short they're content and that somehow doesn't cohere with the media coverage on people who want to change the world.

    I guess this is some kind of error in statistical reasoning as my sample is biased. Nevertheless the point is if you give a poor man a job and he manages to climb into the middle-class category then he won't want more i.e. there's a good chance that he'll content to live his life using public transport, saving for retirement, and dying of cancer or something else. The impulse to be rich, powerful, healthy, etc. just isn't as extreme as it should be if the world wasn't a happy place in its present form.

    Ergo, it, if you agree with what I said, is false that we need to change the world, at least not in the way the media seems to portraying it. The world is alright as it is. I guess I'm saying that, to use the best concept, if utopia was a room then some of us are already in it while others need to be helped in. We don't need to change the world.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.3k
    Insofar as there are a lot of people who have difficulty regularly acquiring good food, who simply go without health care and education because they can't afford it, who have to worry about whether they're going to have a place to live, who have to worry about affording other necessities, who have difficulty with travel--either because of cost or availability, who don't have satisfying employment, who don't leisure time, and who don't have the freedom to do some consensual things they'd like to do, I think we need to change it.

    Otherwise, no, not really.
  • yupamiralda
    87
    I don't understand why somebody wouldn't adapt to and exploit the environment as it is like the killer apes they are instead of sacrificing the meaning of their entire conscious functioning to some christian-egalitarian idea of justice. Per Nietzsche: With the Christian God goes Christian morality. Get yours.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    Revolution: The Beatles, John Lennon / Paul Mccartney

    You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    You tell me that it's evolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world

    But when you talk about destruction
    Don't you know that you can count me out
    Don't you know it's gonna be
    All right, all right, all right

    You say you got a real solution
    Well, you know
    We'd all love to see the plan
    You ask me for a contribution
    Well, you know
    We're doing what we can

    But if you want money for people with minds that hate
    All I can tell is brother you have to wait
    Don't you know it's gonna be
    All right, all right, all right

    You say you'll change the constitution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change your head
    You tell me it's the institution
    Well, you know
    You better free you mind instead

    But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
    You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
    Don't you know it's gonna be
    All right ...
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    I don't understand why somebody wouldn't adapt to and exploit the environment as it is like the killer apes they areyupamiralda

    Yeah, well, for the most part we all pretty much behave like the naked, smart, ruthlessly exploiting, short sighted, killer apes we are. Though, you have to acknowledge that we don't kill each other nearly as often as we could. Most of the time we are officially "at peace". On a macroscopic sale, the world is indeed going to hell in a hand cart, but on a person-to-person basis, it's relatively peaceful.
  • boethius
    205
    I'm rather disconnected from the world but whenever I check the news it's about people who are supposedly trying to change the world.TheMadFool

    Perhaps, it shouldn't surprise you that this is what you find on the news, but you maybe mixing different kinds of self-identified "world changers" and generalizing the disingenuity and poor arguments of some to all.

    I would argue your impression should not surprise you, because anyone trying to make any change at all will claim that A. the world needs changing and B. that their proposed change is good.

    Many in this group, however, may not actually believe in these statements, rather they may just believe it's the statements to make; i.e. marketing. For instance, a corrupt politician (who is already corrupt and not fooling themselves about it) won't make the statement "I'm corrupt, vote for me" but rather they will market themselves as bringing positive change. Likewise, corporate lobbiest, executives, funded academic, conflict-of-interest pundits, funded think-tankers, or otherwise corporate representatives may have no illusions that they are presenting an argument in the news that is good for the corporation that is paying them to make those said arguments, and it's not good for the world in general and they are only making these arguments because they are being paid. There are also useful-idiots in the same categories that have no critical thinking skills; they may actually believe the proposed A+B arguments, and are funded precisely because they champion that view. Likewise, for non-profit groups such as religions, NOG's, social movements of various kinds. And beside these, there's the "silicon valley startup" culture, darlings of main stream media, that, if you are dissatisfied, are offered up and fawned over as the "radicals" that are going to shake up and disrupt business as usual; and again, whether they believe it or not, it's better marketing to say your new service or product is making the world a better place.

    Now, this is not to paint all politicians, corporations, non-profits, religious organizations, and entrepreneurs with the same brush, my entire point here is that we can not generalize from a particular self labelled or media labelled group, and we can expect, and certainly can't exclude, that the self-aware disingenuous "world changers" as well as useful idiots they employ appearing in the news; it likely follows that someone with critical thinking skills will not be very convinced by arguments from this group. And, more importantly, if the mainstream media was a terrain that not only allowed the disingenuous and useful idiots but actually favoured them (perhaps because corporate news is not a neutral organization itself or it they are simply doing there job and "giving people what they want"), then we might expect to find exactly the following observation:

    I guess by ''change'' people want to give the impression that the efforts of these people, who hog the airtime on networks, are positive; an improvement so to speak.TheMadFool

    I don't want to put corporate news on trial, here, I simply wish to invite you to consider if your observation is surprising or not.

    What I wish to focus on is the underlying question of your post, that is if "world changing" itself is a fools errand or not.

    You seem to be aware that in the past world changing was probably needed as well as aware that, being largely disconnected from the world that the people who surround you represent a statistical selection bias. You see little need for world changing around you and your argument that this sentiment might be generalized seems to rest on remaining unconvinced by the main stream media. Since you already have 2 premises needed to challenge your view, I'll leave you to inspect the third.

    I'd also like to mention that between the disingenuous and useful idiots groups above and well the genuine, well reflected and, if not correct then compelling interlocutors, there's of course a large spectrum in between, of genuine but confused, inarticulate or even counter productive people that are perhaps right in their feeling that the world needs changing but are unable to formulate their reasons for this, much less what would be efficient action with respect to it. Again, if these people are often on the media, perhaps because they're a lot of them or perhaps because they are useful targets or perhaps the media really is neutral and just giving a platform to everyone, then it likely follows, even they are right about some things, that they are unconvincing.

    The point I'd like to focus on, is the the positive argument that some world-changers are correct, of which I'd self-label myself as apart and so feel responsible to defend this world view on the forum; of course, as a tiny part of my world changing mission.

    There are many arguments of why actively changing the world is a worthwhile endeavor, but I'll focus on two.

    The first, is that, as you mention we pretty much all believe slavery was bad and that people were in the right to actively endeavor to end slavery. If we consider this believe as correct and we look closer at it, we find that the question of slaver was not one of number, that "most people were slaves" or even "most slaves are treated brutally" but of type, that slavery itself is morally repugnant. Slavery is still very much a thing and if we believe the abolitionists had the the right cause, then it's extremely likely that they would not have consider a resolution of slavery simply calling slavery a different name, but that exactly the same or sufficiently similar conditions to slavery fall within the same scope of the slaver-is-bad argument. Since it is not a question of number but of type, then it follows we should continue to change the world to abolish slavery until the task is done. Likewise, the same argument applies if we believe people who fought for democracy were in the right until the entire world is democratic (the counter argument that some people don't "want to be democratic", well if it's the majority who feel that way then the only way to check is through democracy).

    The second argument is to simply look at the present and talk numbers. Are (entirely preventable) wars and famines affecting millions morally justified to do nothing about? If someone was starving right in front of me, would I act? What changes morally if the person is far away? What can practically be accomplished, if anything, is a much harder challenge but does something being inconvenient or difficult sufficient grounds to dissolve moral responsibility? If we turn our attention to the West, though I would agree we need not worry about the middle class, there are a large number of people in poorer classes: should we care? essentially depends on whether the status quo is justifiable justifiable.

    The third argument is to consider whether the global economic system is sustainable. If it's not sustainable, regardless of whether one believes it would require large or small change, then the definition of not-sustainable is that it will come to an end on the one hand and on the other that the process of being unsustainable is the destruction of conditions, in other words nature. From here, one can argue that even if one cares not about the slaves, the oppressed or the down-trodden because there is not enough of them or it is entirely self-inflicted suffering, and one only cares about middle-class Western life style as a "good thing", then if the system supporting this life style is not sustainable then presumably there is some basis to act to make it sustainable; otherwise it's difficult to say it's a good thing as you seem to suggest in your post. The other direction this can take is that preserving the conditions for human civilization, whether the value is placed on civilization or nature, is a moral responsibility; that every avoidable extinction is a tragedy and we should strive to avoid more of them. The question of whether our economic system is sustainable -- or even if it is not whether it will simply self correct without anyone doing a particular effort above what would otherwise fancy them to do -- is of course an empirical question with a significant amount of resources available.

    Before discussing the empirical (not only is perhaps the system sustainable, perhaps there are no slaves or no sufferers that choose not to suffer), and in particular for a philosophy forum it is I believe more fitting, I am here only defending that they conclusions follow from the premises: that if there are slaves, then we should "change the world" until there are no slaves; that if there are preventable wars and famines and preventable undignified working conditions, we should act to prevent these things; that if our system sustenance and shelter is not sustainable we should act until it is sustainable. Would you agree or disagree that these arguments are sound?

    If there is agreement, then both the empirical questions as well as what actions, if any, are effective and which, if there are several, are the most effective, would be the next pertinent issues.
  • yupamiralda
    87


    If you really want to talk about numbers, Stalin and Mao killed a lot of people during "peace".

    As long as there are humans there will be human misery. I'd rather people value the promotion of human excellence (which involves mostly leaving people alone, according to me) instead of the prevention of human suffering. But that's just a preference, like all values.

    I don't think the US, at least, is sustainable, but it will break before anybody ends consumerism.
  • yupamiralda
    87


    I might say, partly in jest, that the world is going to hell in a handbasket because we aren't killing each other on a local level. Peace creates monstrosities. Violence makes people honest (edit: realistic).
  • Bodhisattva
    7
    You say "the world is alright as it is". Such smugness! Maybe your world is alright. But have you ever visited a refugee camp and spoken to war traumatised people? Have you ever worked with homeless people? Do you know what it is like to be made redundant and suddenly not be able to pay your rent? I have met with these people during my working life. Inequality, caused by our current system of capitalism based on greed and rampant consumerism, is the cause of much human suffering today. It is not our world that needs changing. It is our selfish attitude of "I'm alright". To have the desire and willingness to help others less fortunate is what we need. Helping others, even in a small way, brings great joy to one's life. Yes. We need to change the world.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    I might say, partly in jest, that the world is going to hell in a handbasket because we aren't killing each other on a local level. Peace creates monstrosities. Violence makes people honest (edit: realistic).yupamiralda

    I might agree with you, partly in jest--but not a very big part. Nonetheless, you raise an interesting point about local level peacefulness and large scale armed conflict. If one were to sample interpersonal violence on a local level anywhere in larger scale battle zones (like Congo, Somalia, Yemen, Burma, Venezuela. etc.) it is likely one would find a lot of neighborliness, at least initially.

    Large scale violence, such as occurred in Iraq or Syria, or in Nazified Germany, degrades neighborliness. Shia and Sunni Moslems had been neighborly until large scale violence had gone on for a while. Prior to the Nazis, many gentile Germans interacted with Jewish Germans on a neighborly basis.

    Large scale conflict doesn't arise out of a lack of person-to-person neighborliness, it arises out of "Real-Politic" concerns: control over resources, territory, and populations. However murky it may be to outsiders, Real-Politic is operating in Congo, Yemen, Syria, et al. Large scale conflict tends to unite people--as it did the Russians, English, and Americans in WWII. But there are exceptions: The managers of large scale conflict may decide to achieve greater unity by means of isolating and delegitimizing a recognizable group (as the Nazis did the Jews, as the Burmese are doing to their Moslem and Christian minorities). Many a white American neighborhood has achieved a greater sense of unity by excluding blacks.

    There is an element of Real-Politic in American segregation. People want control over their communities, and want to have things arranged as they like. As it happens, at least moderately prosperous white people have the means to achieve this goal, and certainly at least moderately impoverished black people do not. There is an eternal verity in this: Those who have, get more; those who have less, lose what little they had.

    When and how the segregation patterns of the United States might change is very difficult to predict. Certainly, a lot of people are more or less contented with the way things are. The more ethically sensitive of us recognize that the present arrangement is unfair, but even the ethnically sensitive aren't willing to have things re-arranged too much.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    You say "the world is alright as it is". Such smugness! Maybe your world is alright. But have you ever visited a refugee camp and spoken to war traumatised people? Have you ever worked with homeless people? Do you know what it is like to be made redundant and suddenly not be able to pay your rent? I have met with these people during my working life. Inequality, caused by our current system of capitalism based on greed and rampant consumerism, is the cause of much human suffering today. It is not our world that needs changing. It is our selfish attitude of "I'm alright". To have the desire and willingness to help others less fortunate is what we need. Helping others, even in a small way, brings great joy to one's life. Yes. We need to change the world.Bodhisattva

    I didn't deny the existence of suffering either in the very poor or the very rich. All I said was there's a limit to human desire and once a certain level of comfort is achieved there's contentment. It's this contentment between extremes that many achieve and it's possible in the world as it is, without change. Of course we'll have to better the conditions of the underpriveleged but we needn't make them extremely wealthy.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    Forget about changing the world. You can't unless you change yourself.
  • I like sushi
    1.2k
    I was reading Aristotle’s Rhetoric recently and liked how he defined “wealth”. He talked about it as “wealth” existing where resources are put to use not merely hoarded. This would make many extremely wealthy people slothful in their negligence.

    I’m not sure how we’re meant to put dormant finance to use though or how we’re meant to discourage lack of use of resources - obviously there is something to be said for having a safety net of sorts.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    Forget about changing the world. You can't unless you change yourself.Janus

    The world is us and each individual change adds up to a global effect.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    We, collectively, are part of the world and the only way to significantly change the world is to significantly change the part known as yourself.
  • Wallows
    8.7k


    Read some Marx. I find his analysis astonishing in its depth and rigour. He really does confront the problem of the desire to change the world.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    We, collectively, are part of the world and the only way to significantly change the world is to significantly change the part known as yourself.Janus

    I agree with you except we all don't realize a truth together like a hive-mind. A few take the first steps and the rest follow.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    OK, but I wasn't suggesting anything like a "hive mind", so I'm not sure what part you are disagreeing with.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    I was exaggerating a bit. All I meant was that changing yourself won't have any noticeable impact except perhaps a feeling of equanimity. A majority or the whole lot has to change if we go for real world consequences and that needs leaders who can change other people. Anyhow I agree with you.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k


    The world will change itself, and there's nothing we can do to change that. We don't change the world, the world changes us.

    The best one can do is fortify oneself against the influence of the world, and hope for the best.

    Could we call humanity "the pocket change of the universe"? :grin:
  • Janus
    7.9k
    Well, we've certainly managed to monetize life!

    The process, even the human economic and political process, is now so complex that we arguably cannot hope to control it. What I really meant, though, is that, until you can, to some reasonable degree, sort out your own problems, you have zero hope of sorting out, or even significantly contributing towards sorting out, the larger problems of the human situation.

    A majority or the whole lot has to change if we go for real world consequences and that needs leaders who can change other people.TheMadFool

    That's true, but if you were to make significant positive changes to yourself, although you would be vastly in the minority, you might be able to lead by example or have more energy to actually care, beyond paying mere lip service (which is what most of us only do), about the problems humanity faces. With a change for the positive in yourself should come a greater peace of mind perhaps enabling you to find the clarity to know how to do something that is actually effective. Or perhaps not: maybe not everyone is suited to taking political action; you won't find that until you know yourself enough, though. (I am referring to the generic you btw, not you in particular).
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    The process, even the human economic and political process, is now so complex that we arguably cannot hope to control it. What I really meant, though, is that, until you can, to some reasonable degree, sort out your own problems, you have zero hope of sorting out, or even significantly contributing towards sorting out, the larger problems of the human situation.Janus

    I agree with your assessment.

    It would be miraculous if enough individuals worked out their shit sufficiently enough to effect real qualitative change in the world. That is what makes it seem so improbable.

    In another aspect, it is the mass conformity to the influence of the world that makes the prospect of changing the world so unattainable.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    That's true, but if you were to make significant positive changes to yourself, although you would be vastly in the minority, you might be able to lead by example or have more energy to actually care, beyond paying mere lip service (which is what most of us only do), about the problems humanity faces. With a change for the positive in yourself should come a greater peace of mind perhaps enabling you to find the clarity to know how to do something that is actually effective. Or perhaps not: maybe not everyone is suited to taking political action; you won't find that until you know yourself enough, though. (I am referring to the generic you btw, not you in particular).Janus

    It's like a magnet I guess. A single or a few particles aligned doesn't result in magnetism. Yet when most or all particles align we have magnetism. Magnetism is the summation event but it itself consists of individual particles oriented in a specific direction.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    In another aspect, it is the mass conformity to the influence of the world that makes the world unchangeableMerkwurdichliebe

    Is this possibly the bandwagon fallacy? Could conformity ever be reasoned and rational? I think the answer is ''yes'' and that's what we should aim for.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    Is this possibly the bandwagon fallacy? Could conformity ever be reasoned and rational? I think the answer is ''yes'' and that's what we should aim for.TheMadFool

    It is certainly an over generalization. And conformity can indeed be reasoned and rational, but the consequences of a reasoned and rational cooperation is uncertain. The Nazi's and Soviets used a heavy dose of reason and rationale to compel conformity. I'm sure it sounded like a great idea at the time, but it didn't turn out so well.

    I can at least say with confidence, the best way to come together is directly, as individual to individual, without mediating authority and without group identity.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    It is certainly an over generalization. And conformity can indeed be reasoned and rational, but the consequences of a reasoned and rational cooperation is uncertain. The Nazi's and Soviets used a heavy dose of reason and rationale to compel conformity. I'm sure it sounded like a great idea at the time, but it didn't turn out so well.

    I can at least say with confidence, the best way to come together is directly, as individual to individual, without mediating authority and without group identity.
    Merkwurdichliebe

    This reminds of another thread where a poster was claiming ''So, truth (the one reality) must also be non-dual in substance.''

    If the above claim is true, that truth is one, shouldn't conformity, based on the oneness of truth, be the rule rather than the exception?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.1k

    I don't think the positive nature of the world is as you make it seem. There is a negative quality to existence itself having to do with its circular nature. One simple change that would help is not bringing more people into the world to endure it for 80+ years. More minutia to monger, more "stuff" that needs to get done that doesn't really need to get done by anyone, literally.

    So, it's not so much a political change, as you may see on your average news network or other media. Rather, it is an existential acknowledgement that you are not doing anyone a service by bringing them into the world. By having children, you are making a political statement- other people should be born, deal with the challenges, deal with life in general, and that is okay to do for them. But is it?
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    Often the thought occurs to me... usually during a bout of insomnia... do you or I really and truly object to “the way things are”? Do we really want a radical change? (Culturally or civilizationally speaking, as opposed to existentially or “naturally”). Or do we merely object to our status in the grand pecking order?

    In other words, does one simply want to reshuffle the deck of cards in hopes of a better hand... or on the other hand, quit this game and play something else? (I would suppose holding both views is possible, especially if one recognized the “reshuffling” to be a band-aid, quick-fix, stopgap kind of thing).
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    If the above claim is true, that truth is one, shouldn't conformity, based on the oneness of truth, be the rule rather than the exception?TheMadFool

    Assuming this "one truth" actually exists, it is an immense stretch to think that a collective could uniformy apprehended the one truth, and cooperatively work toward it with no inner contention. This is called: idealism. Very improbable. Just look at TPF.

    I'm not saying that some mode of unity shouldn't be attempted, I'm just saying it is much more complicated than mass conformity to the "one truth".

    (Imo, I personally believe in the "one truth", and I think it exists uniquely in the heart of each and every individual. One of the main reasons for the outward difference between people is due to some cultivating that inner truth, and others not.)
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