• Enrique
    247
    I'm curious what you guys think of this idea: almost everyone in the Western world is essentially enlightened or capable of grasping the core facets of an enlightened mindset due to pervasive infusion of basic science and history into the educational system along with the centrality of technological thinking in broader culture. Nearly everyone has access to resources which train citizens for reasoning analytically at a high enough level that ideological discernments are a cinch and intellectual self-control strong if so desired, with the majority of the population easily seeing through any form of rhetorical b.s. via reflection. But a way has not been found to make this personal capacity for insight workable in traditional institutions, leading to disillusionment in the context of practical decision making, corrupting the modern world's optimism and leading towards exploitative nihilism or reversion to mob mentality in public life. Is this generally accurate?
  • Frank Apisa
    2k
    One thing everyone ought to keep in mind is that...

    ...at some point 1200 to 1400 years ago, a scholar said to a student a version of, "Now that we have access to so much science and philosophy, we should consider ourselves to be enlightened."

    They weren't...or at least, they were MUCH less enlightened than they supposed.

    More than likely, that's where we are, too.

    If all the knowledge that could possibly be were a yardstick...we might be at a point one atom onto the stick.

    Could be!
  • Tzeentch
    727
    I think western society is rapidly running away from enlightenment, despite all of the education being in place to show the way towards it. Isn't our infatuation with pointless leisures and extravagance only growing? Education seems to play no role in this process. Indeed some of the simplest minds may have come closer to enlightenment than others who have worked for a university degree and dedicated their lives to it.
  • David Mo
    734


    I think the problem is not whether Western culture is enlightened. It's not in the terms that the great thinkers of the Enlightenment thought. A thin layer of basic culture, a rhetoric of good ideals and a formal democracy does not mean enlightened minds. Everywhere the holes in this layer allow us to see the modern and ancient superstitions, aggressive selfishness and anti-democratic powers that are the true ferment of our society.

    It would be easy to say that all of this is the consequence of domination (classes) and the strong capacities to control minds (junk culture and consumerism). That may be true, but the philosophical problem is: why do these means of control work? Is human nature irremediably stupid and corrupt?

    I confess that my optimism for the future is breaking down day by day.
  • TheMadFool
    6.6k
    Perhaps I'm being naively optimistic, even dumb beyond redemption but a Buddhist perspective seems to be in order. It shouldn't sadden us that we're unenlightened as much as it should gladden us that we're the only species capable of enlightenment. Tangential?
  • Gnomon
    821
    an enlightened mindsetEnrique
    Unless you are the Buddha, philosophical Enlightenment is a process, not a sudden revelation. The light-bulb insight is only the beginning of an ongoing learning procedure, following the light of reason (the mindset). Human culture began its evolution toward enlightenment eons ago, but we haven't yet reached the mountaintop. :smile:
  • MAYAEL
    11
    I have yet to see a society capabile of actually thinking critically as individuals
  • boethius
    761
    Nearly everyone has access to resources which train citizens for reasoning analytically at a high enough level that ideological discernments are a cinch and intellectual self-control strong if so desired, with the majority of the population easily seeing through any form of rhetorical b.s. via reflection.Enrique

    Nearly everyone has access as you say, but not everyone has the leisure, and perhaps innate capacities, to both develop and defend against deluges of propaganda; the rhetorical b.s. as you put it. Nevertheless, where we do see both the access to as well as the time and energy to develop, such as (Nordics, Switzerland, New Zealand) we do see more "enlightened" development of traditional organizations (rehabilitation based justice, free education at all levels, respect for nature) compared with both previous times in those countries as well as other contemporary places.

    So, given these counter examples, I would argue that where the access is real and not hypothetical there is essentially the "enlightened society" enlightenment thinkers dreamed of.

    A potential counter-thesis to corrupt institutions being due to the failures of commoner individuals to get enlightened, would be that those institutions were already sufficiently corrupt to simply keep the lid on enlightenment by corrupting education (indoctrination and control, rather than as free as feasible discussion and curiosity), depriving people of the energy and means to enlighten themselves outside education, and inundations of propaganda. Of course, the onus falls on those individuals that do happen upon the luxury of enlightenment to fight such corruption, but the situation is not a virtuous cycle as in the fully developed welfare states (where education, lack of corruption and functioning institutions, leads to even more education and even less corruption and even better working institutions).

    I have lived in both kinds of places, and although cooperative primary and secondary education, strong tendency of higher education access not reinforcing existing class structures, low corruption and good institutions don't solve everyone's problems, it's a pretty radical difference in terms of social experience, and if we compare this social experience to 18th century Europe, it's clearly a "pretty good go" at enlightened society as was conceived of at the time. If everywhere was organized like Switzerland, our political discussions would be very different; there would still be problems to solve, but it's difficult to even imagine what the difference would be in such a scenario compared with the problems we face as a global society today.
  • Pantagruel
    975
    I'm curious what you guys think of this idea: almost everyone in the Western world is essentially enlightened or capable of grasping the core facets of an enlightened mindset due to pervasive infusion of basic science and history into the educational system along with the centrality of technological thinking in broader cultureEnrique

    Here I would you you are overestimating the general level of education. Even at the secondary school level, core competencies are deteriorating. For those who do go on to post-secondary education fields are becoming increasingly siloed. I think there is a frightening lack of generalized knowledge. Compared to fifty years ago I would say that people who are educated are less "comprehensively educated" now than then. And yes, this is a major barrier to any kind of enlightenment.
  • Enrique
    247
    Even at the secondary school level, core competencies are deteriorating.Pantagruel

    I know, intellectuality in mainstream culture these days is battle rapping with multiple accents. Nothing at all wrong with that, just sayin' everyone should also be allowed to read a book.
  • Athena
    807
    I'm curious what you guys think of this idea: almost everyone in the Western world is essentially enlightened or capable of grasping the core facets of an enlightened mindset due to pervasive infusion of basic science and history into the educational system along with the centrality of technological thinking in broader culture. Nearly everyone has access to resources which train citizens for reasoning analytically at a high enough level that ideological discernments are a cinch and intellectual self-control strong if so desired, with the majority of the population easily seeing through any form of rhetorical b.s. via reflection. But a way has not been found to make this personal capacity for insight workable in traditional institutions, leading to disillusionment in the context of practical decision making, corrupting the modern world's optimism and leading towards exploitative nihilism or reversion to mob mentality in public life. Is this generally accurate?Enrique

    I would say Christianity and education for technology cancel out any benefit of the enlightenment because there is not much consciousness of the reasoning of the enlightenment. Before 1958 education supported what you said and Christianity was not the problem it is today. Christianity is a problem because the mythology has serious problems and too many people believe that mythology instead of science. On the other hand....

    Education for technology has lead to the research we need for better judgment. If we returned to liberal education and an understanding of what morals have to do with democracy and reason, we could realize a New Age that is better than our past.

    Also, I think the economic collapse caused by this pandemic will force rethinking economics and creating a new system of exchange that more justly meets human needs. A breakthrough in energy would also be an incredible advancement for humanity.

    I believe the potential reality of the New Age, a time of peace and high tech, and the end of tyranny. A future so different from our past, those in the New Age will not be able to relate to the past. It is that change in consciousness that truly makes it a New Age.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.9k
    Nearly everyone has access as you say, but not everyone has the leisure, and perhaps innate capacities, to both develop and defend against deluges of propaganda; the rhetorical b.s. as you put it. Neverthelessboethius

    Additionally, even those who have the access, the leisure, and the innate capacities, still often lack the values that would incline them to pursue it. As I'm sure you well know, there is a pervasive attitude of anti-intellectualism in America, and even among nominal intellectuals, a lot of parochialism by topic area. I.e. you've got masses and masses of people who think learning, studying, and thinking generally aren't worthwhile endeavors, and then even people who say they value those things dismiss large swaths of things they could study and think and learn about as not worthwhile, e.g. the STEM brogrammers who think all social sciences, arts, and humanities, especially philosophy, are worthless nonsense, and conversely some people in those latter fields who think that hard sciences are just arrogant Modern-era religions that find no better truths than any other "ways of knowing".

    The incubation of these anti-values is itself of course a systemic thing promoted by those in power who benefit from it, too.
  • David Mo
    734
    Before 1958 education supported what you said and Christianity was not the problem it is today.Athena

    If we returned to liberal education and an understanding of what morals have to do with democracy and reason, we could realize a New Age that is better than our past.Athena

    I do not know what wonderful country you are talking about that in 1958 had no problems with religion and was liberal in its education system. Where I know the influence of religious intransigence and authoritarian education were two serious problems for a real Enlightenment as much or more than now. What country are you talking about?

    I also don't see any foreseeable developments in human behavior due to the pandemic. Neither intellectually nor morally. Quite the opposite: individualism that is indifferent to death o the others is still on the rise and the destruction of the Earth is advancing by leaps and bounds. Social inequalities have also become more evident without anyone lifting a finger to resolve them in the future. What reasons do we have to hope for a rational, communitarian and democratic New Age? I see none.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Unless you are the Buddha, philosophical Enlightenment is a process, not a sudden revelation.Gnomon

    Interesting fact - the term ‘enlightenment’ was chosen by one of the influential early translators of Buddhist texts as the translation for the Buddhist term ‘bodhi’ - because of it’s resonance with ‘the European Enlightenment’. But ‘enlightenment’ in the Buddhist sense - bodhi - has nothing to do with European ‘enlightenment values’ which are very much the product of the unique historical circumstances which prevailed in the Europe of the day.

    Are you aware of the New Left’s criticism of the Enlightenment under the heading of ‘the dialectics of the enlightenment’? It’s well worth being acquainted with. There’s a useful encyclopaedia entry on it here, particularly the criticism of the instrumentalisation of reason.
  • Athena
    807
    I do not know what wonderful country you are talking about that in 1958 had no problems with religion and was liberal in its education system. Where I know the influence of religious intransigence and authoritarian education were two serious problems for a real Enlightenment as much or more than now. What country are you talking about?

    I also don't see any foreseeable developments in human behavior due to the pandemic. Neither intellectually nor morally. Quite the opposite: individualism that is indifferent to death o the others is still on the rise and the destruction of the Earth is advancing by leaps and bounds. Social inequalities have also become more evident without anyone lifting a finger to resolve them in the future. What reasons do we have to hope for a rational, communitarian and democratic New Age? I see none.
    David Mo

    I don't what planet you are talking about but I do know you over-exaggerated what I said, to make your argument. That distorts what I said.

    Nothing I say will give you the ability to see something you do not want to see, but we can wait 10 years and then determine if things have radically changed or not. I do believe the whole world getting behind Black Lives Matter and intolerance of the confederate flag and statues of men who profited from slavery in Britain and the US is a change that many of us had not expected.
  • Athena
    807
    One thing everyone ought to keep in mind is that...

    ...at some point 1200 to 1400 years ago, a scholar said to a student a version of, "Now that we have access to so much science and philosophy, we should consider ourselves to be enlightened."

    They weren't...or at least, they were MUCH less enlightened than they supposed.

    More than likely, that's where we are, too.

    If all the knowledge that could possibly be were a yardstick...we might be at a point one atom onto the stick.

    Could be!
    Frank Apisa

    I agree with the fact that expectations of what technology can not do us were unrealistic. On the other hand, I also know before the second world war few labors owned their own homes, and few people thought they would ever earn enough to have to pay taxes, and since then the middle class has grown a lot and most people pay taxes. However, the economic crashes we experienced since then have ruined the progress we have made. Before Roosevelt and today, it is the top 1% who own and control most of the land and wealth. On the other hand, there is an amazing awareness of what has happened and the injustice of it. Especially the injustice laws and policies that prevented people of color from gaining the benefits of owning property is something many of us were unaware of.

    For the first time in human history we are working with the mentality of abundance, and believe it is possible we can do even better. While more and more people are losing everything because of the pandemic. Awareness of social and economic injustice is spreading like a summer fire. At the very least I expect this pandemic to lead to universal medicine. People fight much harder to keep what the had, they do to get something they never had and didn't expect to have, no matter how hard they worked nor how many hours they worked. The reality people accepted before Roosevelt is no longer an acceptable reality.
  • Enrique
    247
    Are you aware of the New Left’s criticism of the Enlightenment under the heading of ‘the dialectics of the enlightenment’? It’s well worth being acquainted with. There’s a useful encyclopaedia entry on it here, particularly the criticism of the instrumentalisation of reason.Wayfarer

    I wrote an essay which touched upon what basically amounts to instrumentalization in the medical field, something I have all too much familiarity with. I think a reductionism vaguely related to both mechanistic materialism and the oversimplifications of social contract theory is instrumentalist reason's go to means of clandestine ideological manipulation, and in psychiatry it can be almost malicious by effacing the real experiences of patients with pathologizing labels that amount to delusional rationalizing. If you don't make an appropriate first impression, have adequate social supports, or as in my case major shit goes down, the superficial mechanistic materialist/social contract delusion can creep into place as the parameters of discourse and your actual reality becomes the alleged delusion.


    Analysis of brain function by neurology provides much firmer foundation for unveiling certain unintuitive aspects of human cognition, in particular those that manifest as nearly reflexive. This is a more narrowly focused objectivity viewing the psyche primarily in the context of biochemically salient causes and unmistakable behaviors. Unfortunately, neuroscience often fails to acknowledge many of the relative deviancies in human consciousness, restricting its subordinate analysis of qualitative experience to models that are extremely neutral or mainstream culturally. It tends to neglect politically controversial fact-gathering and fall victim to paradigmal fads, often generating or reinforcing prejudices in relation to gender, sexuality, intelligence and sanity among additional domains. Emphasis in psychology shifted from investigating and relieving the sufferings of those with neurosis to talk therapy assistance in coping with ordinary life stressors such as divorces or temporary trauma on the one hand and treating supposed underlying physical causes on the other.

    The psyche itself was downplayed in favor of physiological and biochemical interventions, with counseling becoming a normative influence to more or less snap patients out of it into typical behavior or superficially mitigate their troubled minds, and everything extraordinarily difficult assigned to medicine. Diagnostic categories steadily multiplied, with psychology becoming a rather careless, experimental social engineering project as opposed to an empirical pursuit for enriching theory and truth, more about defining what is or is not wrong with patients in bulk than developing better accounts of what is going on in particular minds, though the field still has a sizable remainder of something to contribute.

    With both good and bad outcomes, many individuals rely on the mental health field, if only to lend relatively rare mental traits or traumatic experiential backgrounds a legitimized social niche so these patients can be in good standing and participate culturally, working, forming relationships, generally having resources to combat adriftedness and discrimination. Physically reductionistic theorizing has been revealing and its applications to treatment consistently improve, but is also constricting or even dangerous when its materialistic approximations prove broadly invasive to or dismissive of cultural construction and unfathomed depth of the psyche, an ongoing struggle for balance within the institution of healthcare.


    The danger is always that healthy reasoning will veer into the domain of socially destructive rationalizing, and I think this is obviously rampant in most cultural settings, a possibility for harm which instrumentalist positivism chronically neglects, exploits or even foments. It seems that humans sometimes have this weird compulsion to displace the interpretation of what is happening to them into fallacy, and these delusional rationalizations can achieve almost total memetic and psychological conquest in the absence of critical theory of the kind that the humanities concern themselves with. Its almost like the European Enlightenment became an ideological delusion to shield unmitigated power-seeking, based in an outlook on human nature that is good as an idealistic starting point but horrific as a disingenuous constraint on discourse, and our species is essentially in the process of reacting to Enlightenment ideals as if a psychosocial allergy (undoubtedly in consort with many additional factors).

    That's one possible interpretation, it could certainly be argued against.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    In very bald terms, a major consequence of ‘enlightenment rationalism’ is the wish to replace religion with science, or put science in the place of moral authority previously accorded religion. Bearing in mind that the word ‘scientist’ was only coined in 1838 or thereabouts and that previously philosophy and science were all understood as facets of the study of natural law.

    So back to the ‘enlightenment mindset’ - this is underpinned by some very broad and often not articulated assumptions along these lines, chief amongst which is that reason itself is the product of an essentially undirected and mindless process. The faculty of reason is subjectivised, understood in terms of the neural goings on of individual minds. And this turns out not to be so ‘enlightened’ after all.

    In popular Darwinism, the good is the well-adapted, and the value of that to which the organism adapts itself is unquestioned or is measured only in terms of further adaptation. However, being well adapted to one’s surroundings is tantamount to being capable of coping successfully with them, of mastering the forces that beset one. Thus the theoretical denial of the spirit’s antagonism to nature–even as implied in the doctrine of interrelation between the various forms of organic life, including man–frequently amounts in practice to subscribing to the principle of man’s continuous and thoroughgoing domination of nature. Regarding reason as a natural organ does not divest it of the trend to domination or invest it with greater potentialities for reconciliation. On the contrary, the abdication of the spirit in popular Darwinism entails the rejection of any elements of the mind that transcend the function of adaptation and consequently are not instruments of self-preservation. Reason disavows its own primacy and professes to be a mere servant of natural selection. On the surface, this new empirical reason seems more humble toward nature than the reason of the metaphysical tradition. Actually, however, it is arrogant, practical mind riding roughshod over the ‘useless spiritual,’ and dismissing any view of nature in which the latter is taken to be more than a stimulus to human activity. The effects of this view are not confined to modern philosophy. — Horkheimer, The Eclipse of Reason
  • David Mo
    734
    I do believe the whole world getting behind Black Lives MatterAthena

    We can wait ten years to see, if you like. In the meantime, I think "the whole world" is a bold statement.There have been bigger movements against racism in the past ("I have a dream", you know) that ended up in superficial changes of a situation that remains basically the same. Racism is a system of discrimination and violence against a race. Social discrimination continues. And violence against black men (and other discriminated races) has been passed on to the police from the branches of trees. And pandemics strikes according to skin color.

    As you know, progress is one of the key ideas of the Enlightenment. Progress in the material and in the moral. But it's a difficult concept to measure. Steven Pinker published an acclaimed book on the subject that is the most subtly biased I've read in recent times. His indicators were geared to score in only one direction.
    I believe that the evolution of morality, for example, cannot be measured because traditional state violence has disappeared from the map... while it has been replaced by new forms of violence against people. For example, current states are less violent in the display of violence in justice, but more violent in the spread of everyday micro-violence. In a sense, it can be said that the practice is directed towards externalizing violence.That is to say, to make violence be exercised among the subjects of sovereignty, while the latter is limited to controlling the rules of the game. Is that progress? For Pinker it is. It seems to me to be a myopic point of view.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    Steven Pinker published an acclaimed book on the subject that is the most subtly biased I've read in recent times.David Mo

    Subtly biased? I'd hate to read anything of his that was not subtle then. Perhaps he wrote a piece entitled "Everything is absolutely fine, please don't take away my stuff... hey look at the primitive fuzzy-wuzzies they were much worse than us...so nothing to see here, move along, everything's fine". Did I miss that one?
  • Athena
    807
    We can wait ten years to see, if you like. In the meantime, I think "the whole world" is a bold statement.There have been bigger movements against racism in the past ("I have a dream", you know) that ended up in superficial changes of a situation that remains basically the same. Racism is a system of discrimination and violence against a race. Social discrimination continues. And violence against black men (and other discriminated races) has been passed on to the police from the branches of trees. And pandemics strikes according to skin color.

    As you know, progress is one of the key ideas of the Enlightenment. Progress in the material and in the moral. But it's a difficult concept to measure. Steven Pinker published an acclaimed book on the subject that is the most subtly biased I've read in recent times. His indicators were geared to score in only one direction.
    I believe that the evolution of morality, for example, cannot be measured because traditional state violence has disappeared from the map... while it has been replaced by new forms of violence against people. For example, current states are less violent in the display of violence in justice, but more violent in the spread of everyday micro-violence. In a sense, it can be said that the practice is directed towards externalizing violence.That is to say, to make violence be exercised among the subjects of sovereignty, while the latter is limited to controlling the rules of the game. Is that progress? For Pinker it is. It seems to me to be a myopic point of view.
    David Mo

    My understanding of the rest of the world's interest in what happens in the US is based on news from other countries that I did not have in the 60's. So maybe the rest of the world was reacting as strongly to Martin Luther King and the whole civil rights movement, as it is reacting to our racism today, but we were just less informed than we are today? However, I doubt that. I think what is happening today is different. Except the US was pressed to end segregation because of the communist reaction to it. The USSR could use our racism to convince other countries that our democracy was not that good and what the USSR had to offer was better. But people in Britain were not tearing down statues of men who profited from slavery and Africa was not questioning the good of western civilization as it is now. Or if Africa was questioning the good or evil of western imperialism, it didn't matter because the whole of Africa was too weak to have any political significance.

    But all those considerations may have nothing to do with this thread because the enlightenment is like Christianity or any other religion. It must be taught or it does not become a part of our consciousness. The democracy of the US transmitted a culture through liberal education. That culture was based on literacy in Greek and Roman classics and a focus on preparing everyone for independent thinking, and that ended with the passing of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. Since then German philosophers replaced the Greek and Roman philosophers, and training for independent thinking has been replaced with "group think".

    The US has experienced dramatic culture change since it began educating for a technological society with unknown values. The new culture is no longer based on the Greek and Roman classics that gave us the enlightenment.
  • Athena
    807
    Education for technology is not education for wisdom. A liberal education serves wisdom much better. Since we replaced liberal education with education for technology, our reality is as Zeus feared it would be when man as given the technology of fire. We are now technological smart but lack the wisdom to use it well.

    Exactly how does wisdom develop in a society focused on technology but not wisdom?
  • Gnomon
    821
    I believe the potential reality of the New Age, a time of peace and high tech, and the end of tyranny. A future so different from our past, those in the New Age will not be able to relate to the past. It is that change in consciousness that truly makes it a New Age.Athena
    The term "Age of Enlightenment" is usually applied by historians to an era in 17th & 18th centuries, that was sparked by the re-discovery of Greek Rationalism, and spread by the new technology of the printing press. Its early stages were marked by a formalization of the empirical scientific method, and later by the emergence of Individualism & Humanism, as a philosophical reaction to the intellectual suffocation imposed by the Collectivism and Spiritualism of the dominant Christian Church of the Dark Ages.

    But a "New Age of Enlightenment" emerged in the 19th & 20th centuries as a reaction to the dominance of Modern Scientism and Secularism. The New Age movement was a return to Collectivism (communes) and Spiritualism (Buddhism, Hinduism, Theosophy). It also expressed a distaste for Rationalism & Empiricism & Objectivism & Modernism. Unfortunately, like the return of Christ, the prophesied Age of Aquarius (peace & love) never occurred, and many old hippies became pot-smoking suburbanites.

    These different interpretations of "Enlightenment" seem to be recurring examples of Hegel's historical Dialectic, in which a once dominant worldview is challenged, and sometimes replaced, by a new opposing paradigm. Yet eventually, some of the key ideas of the previous "enlightenment" are retained in the subsequent "synthetic" worldview. Many people now claim to be "spiritual but not religious", and even "back to nature" types have made accommodations for the technological fruits of Modern Science. So, you could say that the world of human culture is progressing by erratic (zig-zag) stages of enlightenment toward a more flourishing and moral future.

    However, at this moment in time, there is a new burgeoning movement called the "Enlightenment Project", which is a counter-attack on the anti-Science and anti-Reason worldviews, not so much of old hippies, but of old Republicans. And so it goes, on & on. Enlightenment is not a specific age or sudden inspiration, but the evolving learning process of humanity. :smile:

    Enlightenment : education or awareness that brings change; consciousness raising

    Hegel's Dialectic : Thesis >>> Antithesis >>> Synthesis
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectic

    Historical Progression : see Age of the Sage link
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page11.html
    https://www.age-of-the-sage.org/philosophy/history/hegel_philosophy_history.html

    Dark Side of Enlightenment : https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-dark-side-of-the-enlightenment-1523050206
  • Enrique
    247
    Exactly how does wisdom develop in a society focused on technology but not wisdom?Athena

    I'll break up this little shindig and say that I've come to think the solution lies in an analysis of the past, giving objectivity a cogent historical dimension. I think this is what can disrupt the toxic inclination of instrumentalist culture to neglect its influence upon human nature. The deconstructionists were probably pioneers in this regard, but the analyticity of it all got diluted by wishywashy extreme relativism arising from unphilosophical science, as in history from my distinct personal perspective as a b.s. elective, unintegrated with an accounting of technical causality. Some great books about the history of science have come out recently that describe its social context, and that I think is the best approach, factually showing the motivational dynamics associated with modern knowledge's development and how actualizing responsible humanism and paradigmal consciousness-raising can be, a kind of positivistic cultural narrative.
  • David Mo
    734
    Subtly biased?Isaac

    It was a way of talking so as not to be rude.
  • David Mo
    734
    So maybe the rest of the world was reacting as strongly to Martin Luther King and the whole civil rights movement, as it is reacting to our racism today, but we were just less informed than we are today?Athena

    European racism has different roots and problems than North American racism. There are notable differences between traditional Polish racism (anti-Semitic) and Spanish racism (anti-Roma). Today it is a new racism that is a product of immigration. It is especially directed against North Africans and people from Asia Minor. It has religious and cultural connotations that are not found in North American racism. (Although it is also strong against Romanians and other Balkan peoples with bad press).


    European anti-racist movement, which has existed for a long time, is not the same as the North American one. For example, to a semi-slaved worker in the fields of Almeria, the problem of police violence seems secondary and she does not see that her struggle can be the same. She doesn't care much about the fact that statues of slave traders are being knocked down.
    The Black Lives Matter movement has been a mere media product in Europe that has brought about a flash on other forms of racism and will not have much impact on the real battle being waged by European anti-racist organizations. Incidentally, I am sorry to be pessimistic, but these organizations are not at their best at present. Neither with BLM nor without BLM. We should examine why this is the case.

    If I mention it, it is because you mentioned it as an indicator of progress towards the enlightenment. For the reasons I just explained, it is not.
  • David Mo
    734
    Exactly how does wisdom develop in a society focused on technology but not wisdom?Athena

    With Heidegger's permission, the problem of the essence of technology is nothing mysterious. To begin with, one must distinguish various phases in the problem of technology. There is not just one technological thought, but several types of technological thought. The problem lies in the technocratic ideology of modernity, especially in the last two centuries. And the problem is that there is no generalized technological thinking, but thinking oriented towards technological consumerism, which is based on an idolatry of the machine. It is not that we use machines, which has always happened throughout human history, with Heidegger's permission, but that we get high on machines. The less we understand them, the more we love them, which is the opposite point of view to the enlightened sapere aude.

    Another use of technology is certainly possible. But not in this model of society.

    I suggest a review of Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove

    (Note: I am mentioning Heidegger because I am reading his famous article on technology, which I find particularly flawed.)
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.1k
    (Note: I am mentioning Heidegger because I am reading his famous article on technology, which I find particularly flawed.)David Mo

    Yes. A dreadful little piece of romantic fluff.
  • Gnomon
    821
    But ‘enlightenment’ in the Buddhist sense - bodhi - has nothing to do with European ‘enlightenment values’ which are very much the product of the unique historical circumstances which prevailed in the Europe of the day.Wayfarer
    Yes. I'm currently reading Robert Wright's latest book, Why Buddhism Is True, in which he gives a secular psychological analysis of the Eastern version of Awakening from our illusions. The primary difference seems to be that Buddhist "enlightenment" was directed inwardly, toward understanding & control of the subjective self (e.g. Psychology), while the European "enlightenment" was focused outwardly, toward knowledge & control of the objective natural world (e.g. Physics). Eventually though, the West began to apply its objective methods to the subjective Mind in the so-called "soft-sciences". Wright's book suggests a blend of eastern & western approaches to shining light in the darkness (e.g. Neuroscience & Meditation).

    Apparently, the OP was referring to the European secular revolution, as was Steven Pinker in his book, Enlightenment Now! Pinker's book was provoked primarily by the religious & political Right, which tend to denigrate the authority of secular Science. Such concerns are in the air these days. There is another Enlightened Worldview Project, asking "Can science bring peace to our world and to our lives?" Humanity-in-general seems to be dependent upon, and loathe to live without, our comforting illusions of attainable absolute Truth. But, is Scientism also based on an illusion of omniscience? Are our current "historical circumstances" begging for a Revival of Inner & Outer Enlightenment?? :cool:


    Enlightened Worldview Project : "This leads us to the realization that inner peace (that we seek within our own consciousness) and outer peace (that we seek with the outside world) are deeply interdependent".
    https://medium.com/@brandon_29259

    Scientism : excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques. --Wiki
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    I'm currently reading Robert Wright's latest book, Why Buddhism Is True, in which he gives a secular psychological analysis of the Eastern version of Awakening from our illusionsGnomon

    Yes. Another of the many books I know about. I liked this review. I myself am really rather a secular Buddhist, except I regard saṃsāra - the eternal caravan of birth and death - as a reality, which puts me out of the bounds of secularism.

    The primary difference seems to be that Buddhist "enlightenment" was directed inwardly, toward understanding & control of the subjective self (e.g. Psychology), while the European "enlightenment" was focused outwardly, toward knowledge & control of the objective natural world (e.g. Physics). Eventually though, the West began to apply its objective methods to the subjective Mind in the so-called "soft-sciences". Wright's book suggests a blend of eastern & western approaches to shining light in the darkness (e.g. Neuroscience & Meditation).Gnomon

    What was translated as 'enlightenment' was the term 'bodhi' - one of those many Buddhist terms (Nirvāṇa, dharma, saṃsāra, dukka) for which there is no direct translation, but I think 'wisdom' is quite a good equivalent. Provided, that is, that it includes the experiential dimension of compassion, and is not taken as a drily instrumental faculty.

    As for 'inner' - I think what Buddhism teaches is 'the limits of knowledge' as a mode of understanding. I mean, modern man regards only that which can be described in his 'net of knowledge' - scientia - as worthy of consideration. This is strangely anthropocentric, however, in the sense that it makes 'man the measure of all things', once again - whilst at the same time, relegating man to the role of simply another species.

    Edward Conze, scholar of Buddhism, has this to say:

    In the West, a large number of philosophers discarded the basic presuppositions of the "perennial philosophy," and developed by contrast what for want of a better term we may call a "sciential" [we would say 'scientistic'] philosophy. That has the following features: [1] Natural science, particularly that dealing with inorganic matter, has a cognitive value, tells us about the actual structure of the universe, and provides the other branches of knowledge with an ideal standard in that they are the more "scientific" the more they are capable of mathematical formulation and the more they rely on repeatable and publicly verified observations. [2] Man is the highest of beings known to science, and his power and convenience should be promoted at all costs. [3] Spiritual and magical forces cannot influence events, and life after death may be disregarded, because it is unproven by scientific methods. [4] In consequence, "life" means "man's" life in this world, and the task is to ameliorate this life by a social "technique" in harmony with the "welfare" or "will" of "the people." [Scientistic] philosophy is an ideology which corresponds to a technological civilization. It arises in its purity only to the extent that its social substratum has freed itself from all pre-industrial influences, and in the end it must lead to the elimination of even the last traces of what could properly be called "philosophy" in the original sense of "love of wisdom."

    Buddhists must view all these tenets with the utmost distaste.

    :clap:
  • Athena
    807
    The term "Age of Enlightenment" is usually applied by historians to an era in 17th & 18th centuries, that was sparked by the re-discovery of Greek Rationalism, and spread by the new technology of the printing press. Its early stages were marked by a formalization of the empirical scientific method, and later by the emergence of Individualism & Humanism, as a philosophical reaction to the intellectual suffocation imposed by the Collectivism and Spiritualism of the dominant Christian Church of the Dark Ages.

    But a "New Age of Enlightenment" emerged in the 19th & 20th centuries as a reaction to the dominance of Modern Scientism and Secularism. The New Age movement was a return to Collectivism (communes) and Spiritualism (Buddhism, Hinduism, Theosophy). It also expressed a distaste for Rationalism & Empiricism & Objectivism & Modernism. Unfortunately, like the return of Christ, the prophesied Age of Aquarius (peace & love) never occurred, and many old hippies became pot-smoking suburbanites.

    These different interpretations of "Enlightenment" seem to be recurring examples of Hegel's historical Dialectic, in which a once dominant worldview is challenged, and sometimes replaced, by a new opposing paradigm. Yet eventually, some of the key ideas of the previous "enlightenment" are retained in the subsequent "synthetic" worldview. Many people now claim to be "spiritual but not religious", and even "back to nature" types have made accommodations for the technological fruits of Modern Science. So, you could say that the world of human culture is progressing by erratic (zig-zag) stages of enlightenment toward a more flourishing and moral future.

    However, at this moment in time, there is a new burgeoning movement called the "Enlightenment Project", which is a counter-attack on the anti-Science and anti-Reason worldviews, not so much of old hippies, but of old Republicans. And so it goes, on & on. Enlightenment is not a specific age or sudden inspiration, but the evolving learning process of humanity. :smile:
    Gnomon

    Nicely said. However, don't you think the mentality of abundance has made a big difference! I mean a really big difference! In Oregon, no one will starve to death because any low income person can get food stamps and we now talk about people feeling entitled. I really think that is different from how people thought before the economic achievements following the second world war. No one would have ever thought to give every adult $1200 to spend and support the economy 80 years ago. In our past, people starved to death, and not until Roosevelt did the federal government begin to take responsibility for something like that. We are experiencing a very different reality and I will stand on the idea that is a New Age and we are just beginning to adjust to the ability to feed everyone, educate everyone, provide medical care for everyone. Whoops the US is behind on the medical care, but we are getting closer to a new reality. A really, really new reality.
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