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Is society a fictional world of opposites?

  1. Oct 1, 2005 #1
    Everywhere you look, it is a world of opposites: nation vs. nation, state vs. state, city vs. city, team vs. team, network vs. network, channel vs. channel, management vs. employees, store vs. store, and so on.

    The questions are: Is this it? Is this the end all/be all of human existence? Is this the zenith of human development? Is the present state the highest state that humans can achieve, in terms of happiness, contentness, secureness, and overall good health for all individuals alive?

    Sure, the technological achievements are great. But looking around the globe, it looks like not many, if any, people are truly happy/content/safe. It appears that fear is everywhere. My idea of a great society does not include 'terror threat levels', nor does it include individuals that incite actions that necessitate the need for 'terror threat levels'.

    It appears to me that the current society is one that is dedicated to action and fiction. People love to watch action. Sports, movies, TV, etc... In the past, all other societies imaginable were also dedicated to the theatre of action and fiction. The Romans' Amphitheatre. Shakespearian actors. Those societies are extinct.

    Is there a 'real' world behind the current world being experienced?

    And if there is a 'real' world behind this temporary facade that I believe people are in, what is needed to get us into it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2005 #2
    The structure of Western culture is one of an antagonistic, hierarchical, and extremely divisive form of dualism. Many civilizations are like this; the ones that are so visible and heavily populated are so because of this structure. It requires a lot of people to be on the bottom of the pyramid to push the others to "great" heights. Really, tho, the whole thing with Western culture is that the opposites are antagonistic, not complementary. There is always one side that has every "superior" quality, and the other has all the "negative" qualities - male, strong, wealthy, educated, white vs female, weak, poor, uneducated, any other "race". In the Kwaikutl (knew this stuff would come in handy some day), a group of NW native americans, there is also a theme of dualism. But they are complementary. This is common in a lot of cultures. When you've got an emphasis on good vs bad, you get that negative feel of adversity - poor vs rich, old vs young, etc. It's a harsh form of "othering," it requires that have the population (or more) be categorized as inferior and therefore (according to Plato) dominated and controlled - eg dominating and controlling women, any nonwhites, the poor, the old and "invalid"....

    There is no point to human existence, except to pass your genes on. It's not as if we are pushing towards some ultimate perfection, we are perfectly suited to our environment right now. Personally, I think we're overdue for a major catostrophic event. Nice, fat asteroid has our names on it. Usually good to study the history of evolution to get some perspective. Maybe it'll be more beneficial for our descendants to devlop gills and live int the ocean. Kind of hard to talk in such isolated terms, I mean, bodies are plastic, we are adapted as we need to. We don't need to be completely altruistic to survive.

    Don't even try to mention progress, more manifest destiny nonsense. As for being happy and content, I really think this hierarchical, materialistic theme sucks. Doesn't make me happy. I also don't think it's healthy, for anyone. It's really the fault of our chimpanzee-like ancestor - the only male-bonded group of primates. Brings out all the aggression and violence, really the reason why we go to war at all.

    Not sure what it's like for people in other cultures/countries. It's not impossible that others have quite a different experience than we do. Not sure how much concern is given to terror threat levels around the globe. Doesn't cross my mind too often.

    I am I right in saying you mean that Western culture is concerned with aggression and demonstration of power, and also with escapism? Seems like every culture has some fiction in it, legends and myths to give their actions meaning and hold their bonds together. What you call works of fiction or our myths and legends. There are key cultural metaphors tied into those works. I think you've got to look at the function of these societal aspects. As for Romans being extinct, do you think the basic structure is gone? This framework has been around since Plato. We've taken ideas from "The Republic," strengthened that idealogy and the basics tenets with Christian dogma, and now we've used science to "prove" whatever we want. Really, science is the new religion. *ducks for cover* True, empires fall, but it's hard to erase culture. It's alive and kicking. What's truly scary is coercive harmony and other controlling processes. These are more insidious and harder to combat.

    LOL, you mean like the matrix? or something less philosophical? The world is whatever you want it to be. Change your ways of understanding and watch your perspectives shift.

    I guess you don't mean life is a temporary facade, but the veils and blinders we wear right now. Correct? Deconstruct your surroundings. I recommend some cultural anthro classes :wink:
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2005
  4. Oct 3, 2005 #3
    im not so sure that humans could not progress father. i believe the only problem with it is that to progress we would have to not be threatened by anything. i believe that humans are only mean when they feel threatened, so if we remove most threats we would have a much nicer/friendlier culture.

    now the question is, would this be better? would it be worth it? have you ever read Brave New World or Fahrenheit 451 or even Those Who Walk Away From Omelas? all deal with utopias, how ppl tried to achieve them, and the paradoxes they met. I would suggest F451 for you, it specifically deals with a society fascinated with escapism, by the means of violent tv+music+speeding cars. f451 is written by Ray Bradbury, go check it out.

    As for escapism, what TheSwerve said above me is true. EVERY society has it. it is a human quality to want a more exciting life, the only way to get around it is to make your life more exciting instead of watching another life on tv.

    a for a real life...i think that going out and living an exciting life, not being ruled by escapism, and having fun would be a real enough life for me
  5. Oct 3, 2005 #4
    The very notion of progress is at odds with the theory of evolution. We evolve in ways that that help us survive. It is by necessity that we are the way we are. Just because we are aware of the suffering we inflict on each other does not mean we will be able to overcome our mechanisms for survival...which is what war and culture are. I'm really just trying to be realistic, evolution generates powerful forces and pressures. I do see your point, tho, that we are capable of rearranging these pressures so that we express them in other ways. I think a total restructuring of society would be required - in size, organization, subsistence, etc.

    To go even further, I really mean that what we call escapism is actually the way in which cultural ideology is reinforced. It's not as if Native Americans who go on spirit journeys (what are those called?) because they're bored, or perform specific dances and rites to escape their toil, it's actually reinforcing their cosmological and cultural belief systems. Even tho movies and video games seem ordinary to us (as they should, they're part of our culture), they actually perform the same function. It's just that we've commodified it so much that it's lost its uniqueness. They still reinforce social aspects of gender, status, kinship, etc. We aren't just escaping (tho I think that's a big part of Western culture today), we are also reaffirming our perspectives. It seems to me that the spiritual and sacred are a part of our physical realm. It doesn't have to be something that we escape to from our physical/material existence.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2005
  6. Oct 3, 2005 #5
    The only utopia I've seen work are small groups that are egalitarian. They are only egalitarian because there is no real benefit for having a stratified society. Tho that doesn't make it any less preferrable. But can you really see people escaping the controlled society we live in today to do that? Heck, you'd have to raise enough money to buy and found your own country! Not to mention other countries would probably try to control and influence it. There is way too much power to be given up with the switch to a different social structure, no way those in power will ever give it up.
  7. Oct 3, 2005 #6
    at the year 1776, the U.S. was created by the founders by uniting various states to form "one nation under God". They believed the whole was greater than the part, and that "united they stand, divided they fall". One whole union within a particular geographic location.

    at the year 2005, the U.S. is but one of 192 particular states.

    192 particular states divided, on one planet that is dying, from the 192 states competing with each other. I believe the founding fathers were correct in thinking that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that united we humans shall stand forever, and divided we humans shall fall (extinction).

    Doesn't it make sense for the unification process that took place at 1776 to form the U.S. should again transpire to unite the 192 states? To form the first true world government?

    And to put an end to duality?
  8. Oct 3, 2005 #7
    Seems like we are more unified now, at least in terms of control. I'd guess that's why the divisiveness seems so apparent, people are complaining about being so controlled. The power of the nation-state is increasing and becoming more insidious. Perhaps there are more nation-states that are voicing their existence and that's what emphasize separateness, but I'm not sure that this separateness wasn't so great before.

    The planet is not dying. You can read up on world trends and how tiny sections of it are used by alarmists to...alarm you, or something even more villainous! Here

    The forests were retreating before we got here, and even if we screw everything up, it'll be fixed when either 1) we go extinct or 2) we stop making things into muddles. I'd be more worried about how it affects us, Earth can take care of itself.

    and why is duality bad? I can see how Western dualism is harmful, but I think multiplicity is pretty nifty anyhow. Esp when you've got interpenetration btw multiplicity and unity, or dualities btw each other.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2005
  9. Oct 4, 2005 #8
    Terror Level Threat. Do you enjoy being governed by alarmists? Do you enjoy living in a world where an airplane, filled with individuals, can be used as a missile?

    cannibalistic way of doing business at the expense of the planet.

    No it can not. It requires stewardship. If the planet can truly take care of itself, then why, for instance, are there levees built and rebuilt? Why, after learning that CFC products damage the ozone, did government choose to ban CFC products? If the planet can take care of itself then we should be free to make and use CFC products. Hole in the ozone getting bigger? No problem, the planet will 'take care' of itself.

    Responsible stewardship is about 'preventive maintenance'. And that principle applies to products and nations.

    There would be no hole in the ozone if that product did not exist. There would be no war if that nation had no power and no weapons.
  10. Oct 4, 2005 #9
    I don't watch the news anymore because of it, just listen to radio and read about it online. I actually spent a year and a half at a small (like 500ppl) liberal arts school and most of were so cut off from the outside world that we didn't even know that we had declared war on Iraq/terrorism till a month after or more. And no, I don't enjoy it.

    The planet (the biosphere is what you mean I think) is constantly changing, organisms arise and pass away. What I mean is that even if we screw things up, I don't think it'll ever get so bad that life never arises again. Not that that is a justification for getting things in a muddle and destroying all life. If we want to take care of the biosphere in which we currently exist, then yes we do need to consciously take action to do so. But just because we know this, doesn't mean it'll get done. Plus, since we're so controlled by centralized government, we're all in the same boat. When we were comprised of smaller societies, we didn't screw each other over so often (if ever). It really is something that you have to make conscious effort to do, you can't go on autopilot on this one.

    ....is that what you meant by planet and it's problems? It is incredibly frustrating, but at you aren't apathetic. I think outrage, anger, and zeal do have uses. The problem is maintaining that long enough to effect change, esp since coercive harmony practices pretty much put a stop to that.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2005
  11. Oct 4, 2005 #10
    I believe you hit the nail on the head with that comment.

    I believe that the planet is currently being subjected to individuals, that hold office and do not hold office, that are on autopilot. Slaves to habits formed that may or may not be right, and usually not right.

    Without conscious effort to do "right", there is not consciousness.

    And if there is not consciousness, there is but a vast wasteland of robotic individuals, that may or may not be aware that their 'self' has imprisoned them, doing actions that are not only taking them 'down', but also other individuals that are making a conscious effort to do right, not to mention the planet (biosphere) itself.
  12. Oct 4, 2005 #11
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  13. Oct 4, 2005 #12
    what is an "ent"?
  14. Oct 4, 2005 #13
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  15. Oct 4, 2005 #14
    yeah, and I now I do recall those slow tree things.

    My favorite was Return of the "King".
  16. Oct 6, 2005 #15
    When you say, "Everywhere you look...", actually it is not that way for me, we all see the world with are own tinted glasses...Why do you say "you"?
    "And if there is a 'real' world behind this temporary facade that I believe people are in, what is needed to get us into it?" Question your life, the universe, and everything, and have an open mind, for example there are maybe a dozen reasons why you said "you" it's as complex or simple as you want it to be, but hardly anyone has ever really thought about it, if you truly understood it and got it on your own well who knows what it would be worth... it's actually a method that I suspect was used by Plato, ask a question find multiple answers analyze the results, but the effect of this is very different from the singular question and answer most brains are accustomed to...see for yourself. You know what else, everyone thinks in singularity and cooperation, depending on when and where they live usually.
  17. Oct 6, 2005 #16
    Everyone may see the world with their own tinted glasses, but you, and I am not you, are getting your unique perspective by looking from "inside" the box.

    I am outside the box.
  18. Oct 6, 2005 #17
    From your perspective:wink:

    Your claims seem to work like counter-hegemony movements - they still work within the system they are resisting and point to the fragility of that system. But you are still using the concepts and framework of that system, so you're actually not outside of it.

    (and Return of the King was scrumdidliumpcious, tho I still prefer The Fellowship since I hadn't read the books before seeing it)
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  19. Oct 6, 2005 #18
    Yes, but, I know of no other way to communicate with "you" without speaking your language.
  20. Oct 6, 2005 #19
    lol, I speak through emoticons :rolleyes:

    The very fact that you're aware of and understand these concepts proves you are still a part of the system.
  21. Oct 6, 2005 #20
    Another lame attempt at philosophical thought :(
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