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On Determinism…

The majority of humans will get caught into basic routines of social expectations; the brave may escape the monotony of scripted existence, the worship of the status quo.

  • Anonymous

    First time reader, just passing through. Sorry for being a graffitist, but thanks for allowing anonymous posting. I confess when I saw that the blog was on politics, philosophy, and art, I found myself intrigued by the discussion under ‘LSD Male Feminists’. It only took a few minutes to see the error of my interpretation. My bad.

    On the other hand, determinism is an important concept for the issues that you associate with this blog and I hope you will give it more considered thought. This heading caught my eye because, in part, I am a researcher on labour issues and, in part, a lecturer in politics. If you think through determinism more carefully, you might find that your understanding of institutions, such as the Church, will be suppler. I will explain using both of my hats: why would we find it remarkable that any institution is sexist? Civilisation itself is sexist. The initial impetus to settle and begin farming divided labour between ‘productive’ activities socially rewarded and ‘reproductive’ activities, defined rapidly as women’s burden. Evidently there are biological reasons why it is women and not men who must bear children; there are only social and cultural reasons why women have the primary task of rearing them. But do you want to live outside of civilisation? Or do you, like many of the rest of us, think it better to try to change to rules? Here my commitments to workers and the labour movement will allow me to paraphrase Marx: people make their own history, though not in the circumstances of their choosing. (You might have modified this to sound more like script writing.)

    My other hat reminds me that many of my students – and my wife, who is a political theorist, has the same experience – like Plato’s Republic. The sentiment that divides the world between an enlightened few and a dithering many is shared by you and the ancient one. But my students assume that in the Republic, they would be the Guardians. For them and, as a cautionary note to you, I find it useful to cite Lennon: ‘And you think you’re so clever and classless and free/But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.’

  • Anonymous stated: First time reader, just passing through. Sorry for being a graffitist, but thanks for allowing anonymous posting. I confess when I saw that the blog was on politics, philosophy, and art, I found myself intrigued by the discussion under ‘LSD Male Feminists’. It only took a few minutes to see the error of my interpretation. My bad.

    What was the error of your interpretation?

    Anonymous stated: On the other hand, determinism is an important concept for the issues that you associate with this blog and I hope you will give it more considered thought.

    I fully intend to. 🙂

    Anonymous stated: If you think through determinism more carefully, you might find that your understanding of institutions, such as the Church, will be suppler.

    I don’t criticize institutions in a vacuum; I do so in a context of competing institutions and philosophies of social institutions. Some are better than others, based upon my system of values.

    Anonymous stated: why would we find it remarkable that any institution is sexist? Civilisation itself is sexist.

    Certainly; however, the social governing systems we choose to implement will either exacerbate or work to minimize sexism.

    Anonymous stated: But do you want to live outside of civilisation? Or do you, like many of the rest of us, think it better to try to change to rules?

    I want to ensure that our social governing systems are best suited to exalting social justice and equality for all. I do not want to live outside civilization, but rather, to reform civilization by choosing that which minimizes the difficulties of civilization.

    Anonymous stated: Here my commitments to workers and the labour movement will allow me to paraphrase Marx: people make their own history, though not in the circumstances of their choosing. (You might have modified this to sound more like script writing.)

    Insofar as Marx would posit that “people” are individuals and not a definable group, then I’ll go down this path; however, my (admittedly scant) readings of Marx point to his view of “people” as a category, transcendent of individuals. He’s an idealist, and sought to impose his ideal upon the people, much in the way that he felt that bourgeoisie did to the proletariat.

    Anonymous stated: My other hat reminds me that many of my students – and my wife, who is a political theorist, has the same experience – like Plato’s Republic. The sentiment that divides the world between an enlightened few and a dithering many is shared by you and the ancient one.

    Ah, yes, but he and I part company, in dramatic fashion, when it comes to the implementation of a social structure. Plato would impose his ideals on society through authoritarianism. I reject this system, and think Plato’s Republic represents one of the worst-possible scenarios for communal governance.

    Anonymous stated: But my students assume that in the Republic, they would be the Guardians. For them and, as a cautionary note to you, I find it useful to cite Lennon: ‘And you think you’re so clever and classless and free/But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.’

    I take the cautionary note seriously. I not only don’t consider myself of the so-called guardians, I despise such a system and would seek to destroy it. Lennon identifies the reality that there is no silver-bullet solution to the problems faced by society and the masses.

    To this end, I exalt pluralistic secular democracies, seeking to empower the individual, to the greatest degree possible, in order to allow them to exalt their own lives; not to the end of dominating another, but to the end of controlling, as far as is possible (a nod back to the problems of determinism here), their own lives on their own terms.

    Thanks for the discussion.