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Human Freedom is constipated by Assumptions

  1. Aug 1, 2008 #1
    Human Freedom is constipated by Assumptions

    Society is not a collection of individuals but is a system of containers.

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know for sure [i.e. assume] that just ain’t so”—Mark Twain

    Non-philosophical forms of inquiry are intellectual endeavors constituted by certain basic assumptions. A scientific form of inquiry assumes that the world is an ordered whole and that we can, through reason, acquire knowledge of this whole. The world of science is governed by laws that define causal effects that are measurable and perceivable by humans.

    Reality may be a rainbow but it is the case that humans reason from within container like boundaries; thus we are always within a container. However, the trick is to enlarge our containers and thereby gain a more universal perspective. We must find a means to examine our assumptions. Each container is constructed with its own assumptions. That is why philosophy is so useful. It is a container within the largest container, or at least Philosophy likes to think so.

    How do we escape from the grasp of today’s ideologies, fads, rationalizations, and general enculturation? We must learn to read backwards to remove our self from today’s cultural container. As Archimedes observed we must find a platform outside of that reality which we wish to understand and to move.

    Reading backwards is using our library card to borrow books that were written many years or many hundreds of years ago. Reading has another great advantage in that we can easily focus on books that have withstood the test of time. We can easily identify the ‘real thing’ insofar was worthy thinking is concerned. I have a “Friends of the Library” card from a nearby college, which allows me access to a great library for a small yearly fee of $25.

    We can read Churchill about the past one hundred years; we can read Marx, Darwin or Freud if we want to cover the 19th century, perhaps Paine, Jefferson and Hamilton on the 18th century, maybe Bacon, Chaucer, Aquinas and Plato going further back in history.

    By reading backward we get a sense of the universal and the relative, the essential and the arbitrary. We can form the basis of reading critically with questions to act as our guide to understanding. We can learn to stop our general practice of sleep reading. We learned in our schooling to sleep read, sleep listen, and to become apathetic regarding all things intellectual. By reading backwards we can begin to comprehend the irrational impulses of our superficial consumer culture.

    Freedom is an ever larger container.

    You might think of freedom as being unrestricted to some degree. When we are bound by chains our movement is restricted thus our freedom is restricted. When we are bound by the chains of small comprehension then we are restricted in understanding. In one case our physical movement is restricted and in the other our intellectual movement is restricted.
  2. jcsd
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