Nov 22, 2013

Man is Social, Man is Weak: The Need to Be Social

Society is the man's most extraordinary biological weakness. I am nothing alone but I am proven nothing when with others.

Society does not make us weak, but rather it is us. The statement in question posits the man in relation to the society to which he belongs. A single man finds his greatest weakness in his attachment to his society. Society dictates the way he thinks, believes, loves, and so on. All his major psychological functions are influenced (if not dictated) by his society. Society taught his mother and his mother taught him. Society gives him the values in which he judges himself. For example, our capitalist society forces me to value myself in terms of things that I "have". My job, my car, my girlfriend all contribute to my overall worth, and this worth gives me hope. Society is man's greatest biological weakness because although the intelligent man can clearly see that this material evaluation of his life is silly - that life shouldn't be valued; life is beyond any type of measurement - he is unable to escape. Man it is true, in a sense, is greater in numbers, but greater only to the extent that the numbers work towards a goal that is beneficial to the individual men involved. Society helps us achieve goals, yes, but it goes a step further and tells us what the goal is. The man is not his own. Society does not make us weak, but it is a weakness as it is a barrier to our ultimate goal; namely to love and experience happiness.

Should society be held up as the reason for my unhappiness, after all it is the cause of many kinds of human achievements. Public sculpture and art. Music. Gardens. Even language itself is a cause of society. But, society seeks to take too much in return for its favours, and if I try to break away, as a few do do, I am judged as 'sick; and must be retaught how to function in society. Society goes so far as to restrict my liberty when I reject it.

Society helps to facilitate my preservation and perseverance. Alone, I would gather my own fruits and hunt my own food. With society, I am able to specialize and hoard my labour through the use of a monetary system. This system causes me stress and worry, no doubt, but is this anything in excess of what I would experience on my own? Is there much a difference between counting one's dollars and counting one's hoard of food? Perhaps not.

Yet, society is a barrier to what I think should be a human's goals - an individual will decide his own goals. It is a biological weakness because the weakness is birthed from our upbringing; namely, one of reliance on an Other (my mother, for example). The weakness is not from a societal standpoint but from an individual standpoint. Man is afraid to be an individual (meaning not psychologically reliant or unduly influenced by Others). Man is inclined from childhood to submission to an outside force, in this case the norms of society. Submission may in fact be the greatest way to achieve certain goals, such as stimulating products and power/sex; but, it must be a willing and consensual submission, which it often is not. It is most often a submission birthed out of the inability to not. Our current society is not necessarily a good strategy for the sustainment of life (as an aside - sustainment of life itself should not be taken as a self-evident good). And it would appear that society is a self directing beast that we are incapable of changing. - by saying that is it man's weakness I am negating but not positing any alternative. It would be vain to for an indoctrinated man to posit any alternative.

Isaac Snow
Hanging with his bros in Vernon, BC
January 2014

Nov 8, 2013

The Absurdity of Multiple Sects: Religious Incompatability

It would seem to most people who are not indoctrinated into a certain religion and who have no ulterior motives for promoting a specific sect of religion we can all agree that religion is good in so far as it promotes good. This is a silly tautology that is nonetheless worth explicating. As a denier that any text contains ultimate truth, it is easy to criticize those who claim that the Bible contains such a truth. It becomes even stranger when we realize that multiple religious sects have different 'interpretations' of that truth. In other words, the Bible, to these religious groups, contains the truth, but they can not agree on what that truth is. When the average person is unable to garner truth from the text alone, he must seek the guidance of a professional. It's not ridiculous to expect this person to do this, after all, if I am ill I seek the guidance of a doctor. It only becomes ridiculous, and allows one to adopt a certain skepticism, when the professionals begin to give you a variety of different answers. In the doctor example, perhaps one doctor misdiagnosed you, or perhaps they have a different opinion on the proper treatment. Their judgement is also affected by their temperament. In the end, this is excusable, because the doctor does not claim to propound the truth. A doctor gives his advice based on logical speculation coming from his interpretation of your symptoms. Religious speakers, in contrast, do pretend to give out truth-isms. The truth can not be inconsistent; therefor, only one, if one, of these speakers is correct - just as only one of the doctors has given you a correct diagnosis.

Jehovah's Witness, a specific sect of Christianity - to the extent that they purport the Bible to be the truth, publishes a periodical called 'The Watchtower'. This pamphlet typically contains a series of short articles of advice giving, and interpretations of the Bible. In a recent issue there was an article on  interfaith movements. The writer quoted the Dalai Lama as saying, "All major religious traditions carry basically the same message: that is love, compassion and forgiveness." One subtitle in this article carried the text "Is promoting good good enough?". The writer wanted to say that simply doing good things isn't good, to do good we must follow the dogma of the Bible. This obviously goes against my judgement of what a good religion is: once you say that religion is only good if it propounds truth, we enter into a strange world; who is to say what truth is? The Bible can't say what truth is, if it did we wouldn't have multiple sects all in disagreement. 

The Jehovah's Witness seems to enjoy its ignorance of this fact, as do many sects, and they firmly admit of only the truth of their interpretation. The article even cites a survey that described 89% of people as saying religion divides us. But, even if it does divide us, Jehovah's Witness does not care: it is in the belief that they are correct. "Jehovah is described as 'the god of truth', and he said of himself: 'I do not change.' About God Jesus said 'your word is truth'. The truth is in the divinely inspired Scriptures, the Bible." Even ignoring the fact that Jehovah's Witness spits in the face of all the other religious types (it disallows the legitimacy of the Koran, Buddhist Writings, etc.) it doesn't acknowledge that even if the Bible is the truth, there are different interpretations.

The Jehovah's Witness has almost no self-awareness. In the very same article it draws up an analogy to the international space station. The interfaith movements won't work because they are not using the same 'blueprint'. The space station was the result of 15 nations working together, "could you imagine the project being accomplished if the participating nations did not agree on what blue-print to use?". But, the interfaith movement has declared a blueprint, namely "love, compassion, and forgiveness". This blueprint seems less convoluted than the open-to-interpretation Bible. The Bible, to continue the blueprint analogy, doesn't state which measurement system it's using, it is not explicit in its commandments. We can't, as the writer suggests, "build our lives on what the Bible says", because I have no clue as to which biblical line (let alone chapter or book) to use, and I don't know how to convert that line into a call to action. The Bible tells me to circumcise myself, but it is impossible to see a logical link between that and my goals - I don't even know what my goals should be based on a reading of the bible.

The Jehovah's Witness places "building faith" above the reasons that faith should be built to begin with. It places the means above the ends. If the 15 nations building the space station each brought its own blueprint, it would make sense for the nations to sit down and rationally choose which is the best blueprint, or to piece together a blueprint using ideas from each one; the best blueprint would obviously be the one that the nations agree will help them build the best space station. Yet, the nation of Jehovah's Witness would reject the 'blueprint' of every other religious sect in favor of their own, in complete disregard of which one will lead to the best results; in complete disregard to what the best results even look like.

You can be an incredibly caring person, who tries to get along with everyone, but if you don't follow the specific dogma of a specific religious sect, you are an imbecile in their eyes. Jehovah's Witness, and any other religious sect that demands the same submission from people, have completely missed the point of the interfaith movement, they have complete disregard for the value of human life. They commit an absurdity of gargantuan proportions. Jehovah's Witness is a kin to a doctor who ignores the methods of its peers even if the foreign methods proved effective.Until you can quit this absurd ignorance, I would appreciate it if you didn't knock on my door. Unfortunately, Jehovah's Witness relies on the intellectual and spiritual weakness of its members to persevere; it is a vampiric practice that is sadly not exclusive to this one sect.  

Isaac Snow
Valuing the outcome regardless of the method in Vernon, BC
January 2014