I would like to say a few things about the “rules of governing”, continue with my thoughts from “About ‘Emma’ (VIII)”. I want to say first that this is obviously a very big subject, so I cannot cover everything about it. I will only write what follows from my thoughts about “Emma”.
In “About ‘Emma’ (VIII)”, I mentioned it is quite impossible for Mr. Knightly to truly “love” Harriet Smith (even though I repeatedly said that Mr. Knightly is as “perfect” as anyone could), and being altruistic or not really will have nothing to do with being in “love” or not. I then said this basically proved that it is impossible for “Jesus” really “love” us, which also means the bases of “governing” is also very unreliable.
So, as I said in that post, trying to find “rulers” that are like “philosopher kings” and also “love” as “Jesus” is simply impossible. So, what the “rule of governing” could be? First of all, I think what we are talking about is not just about “governing” (establish legal and economical systems), but the establishment of social systems as well.
I think the relationship between the “rulers” (including everyone who is “part of the system”) and the “people” would more likely be as the relationship between Emma and Harriet Smith at best. Emma was really trying to help Harriet Smith (she acted with “good will”), so she was very “kind” to her. But when her interest was in direct conflict with Harriet Smith, what would she do? In Emma’s situation, it was really not up to her, because it is in the matter of “love”. Mr. Knightly cannot force himself to “love” Harriet Smith, and it does not make any sense for Emma to give up Mr. Knightly for the sake of Harriet Smith.
My point is, there could be conflicts between “rulers” and the “people”, and there usually are. I want to emphasize the difference between “love” and “kind” here. What I mean is, at least in “ideal” situations (I am planning on write about this later), people in “love” do things for each other out of necessity, not out of “kindness”. I am not saying “kindness” is bad. What I am saying is, people can choose to be “kind” and they can choose not to be “kind”. So we cannot build the foundation of any system based on “kindness” alone because it is not reliable. When people’s interests are in conflict with each other, can we rely on “kindness” only?
Then what can we rely on? As I said, Love and Reason. In my last post (“About ‘Emma’ (IX)”), I suggested we can build a “moral system” based on “love” (“intimate love” between two people), with each person being the “watch dog” of the system and given incentive for doing so (finding someone that will treat one with the principles of Love and Reason). In an “ideal” world, this could be enough. If everyone could act according to the principles of Love and Reason, then I think there would not be many problems left in the world. In the case of “rulers”, if they can act based on Love and Reason, then there might not be much problems left either. But we are not in an “ideal” world.
In fact, I think I probably can say that people are living in different worlds, because the rules that people are operating with are quite different. In the “real” world we are living in, people are often measured by wealth, power, etc., and the faults of people are deemed to be more “worthy” are often not only being “overlooked”, but also being accommodated. More often than not, people (probably especially women) focus more on their “love interests’” wealth, power, etc., than their personalities, etc. In fact, one can even argue that is basically the whole point of being wealthy, powerful, etc., to be treated differently, and treat others differently.
Here I want to say a few words about Existentialism. In a first look, Existentialism seems to be pretty tempting. Existentialism basically replaced “Happiness” with “Freedom” to be the foundation of the “moral system”. But as I just said, since in the “real” world, people are restricted by their “social conditions”, and Existentialism did not provide a systematic way to make any changes to the “social conditions”, “Freedom” often reinforce people’s “social conditions”, thus an “exploitation” force, rather than a “liberating” force. This is especially the case with the relationship between man and woman.
Don’t get me wrong. When I complained about the “Lost Century” (in “About “Emma” (VIII)), I am not saying that the Twentieth Century is worse than any centuries before it. What I am saying is, much of the promises of progresses in modern era did not get materialized, especially with the social conditions of women. “Freedom” often are interpreted by men as “sexual freedom” (because other types of freedom are quite limited), which is interpreted to be acting upon (or even enhancing on) every bit of “animal instincts”. As the results, people (men and women alike) often acted the opposite of the principles of Love and Reason.
So, in “reality”, “love” as the foundation to establish a “moral system” is not as easy as it sounds. Then what? So, the “people” can only take the “rulers” as they are? Not necessarily. I want to revisit the subject of whether the “rulers” can “love” the “people”. I think if we are willing to reconsider what “rulers” are and what “people” can be, then the relationship between “rulers” and the “people” could be something like “love”.
Let me explain. If we think “rulers” are “experts” (or “Philosopher Kings”) and “people” are very much different from the “rulers”, then “rulers” and the “people” cannot really identify with each other, and there cannot really be understanding between “rulers” and the “people”. Interestingly, this actually contradict the assumption that “rulers” are “experts” about the “people”. This means, fundamentally, there cannot be “Philosopher King” at all, because division itself makes it impossible for the “Philosophy King” to understand the “people”. And would a “Philosopher King” be a “Philosopher King” if he cannot understand the “people”? No.
So, the first “rule of governing” should be, there should not be a division between the “rulers” and the “people” in mentality, which is exactly my point about “Barefoot Philosopher”. A well functioned society should not be divided by the “rulers” who assume they are experts about the “people”, while being experts about the “people” would necessarily means they are separated from the “people” thus cannot fully understand the “people”, hence cannot be the “experts” of the “people”.
What I mean is, though people may have different knowledge about various things, the thought process they adopt should be similar, so they would be able to understand each other. The principles for this thought process is Love and Reason. I think people should have general knowledge and ability to understand fundamentals of all things in the world(this is what “Barefoot Philosopher” means), while each people could have special knowledge in various detailed area of studies.
I want to say a few more words about the concept of “expert”. As I said, I think most of time we treat the concepts too much in the absolute sense. It is the case with “expert”, as we “need” certainty. The truth is, the “experts” do not know everything, and “experts” could be wrong from time to time (at the very least, development in various areas of study means knowledge and understandings of the “experts” would need to be updated from time to time.)
I also want to say a few words about “education” and “common sense”. I think the problem with the “knowledge system” provided by “education” is it is an inaccurate reflection of “reality”. Concepts and phenomenon are inevitably simplified, and the accumulated effects could cause great differences between “theories” and “reality”. [I will explain in more details on this subject later.] This problem occurs without considering the problems with confusions about concepts and errors in fundamentals I talked about in my posts. With the consideration of the effects of all these problems combined, people could often find that “education” could often lead to conclusions that are in conflict with “common sense”.
I also want to say a few words about “common sense”. What I want to say is, we cannot completely trust the “common sense” either. Or at least we should be willing to go beyond the “common sense” as well. I think the experience of Harriet Smith is a good example. As I said in previous post (“About ‘Emma’ (VIII)”), although generally speaking what Emma did for Harriet Smith seems to be very foolish, if we really think about it, what Emma did is not completely in vain. And, if we think about the symbolic meaning of her actions, what she did actually is very “ground breaking”.
What I mean is, “common sense” is another type of simplified knowledge system, and the values of this system would also depend on each individual circumstance. The consequences of people’s actions can be extremely complicated. So, we do need to look at the intentions for actions to see if there is any merit in their actions as well. I want to emphasize this point because I think confusions about concepts are the most fundamental problems in the world, and the desire to simplify things is the most common causes of confusions of concepts (or at least it is the cause for people to accept the confusing concepts). This is why principles of Love and Reason are important. These simple principles can help to clear our heads to deal with complicated situations in the world.
I say what Emma did for Harriet Smith is “ground breaking” because what she did is based on an assumption that fundamentally they are not very different, because she think Harriet Smith can become what she want to become through “education”. This is the true base for humanism. What makes things complicated is that “in the real world”, there are many problems to make things complicated. First and foremost, it is people actually live in “different worlds”, rules can be applied to one does not necessarily can be applied to another. This problem is base for the debate about “elitism” and “populism”. But how the problem has been twisted and manipulated is truly astonishing.
Well, it seems I keep getting in complicated problems in my little posts. I will continue in my next post.
November 13, 2017