I want to continue my thoughts in my last post, on the subject of “Love”. But before I do so, I want to go back to a topic I discussed in my early posts, which is “idealist and realist”. I want to say I am a realist in the sense that I think results count (in the end, they are the only things that count, although different people could count different things as results), but I don’t think one should “bow down” to “reality” that is unreasonable no matter how “inevitable” it appears to be. Ideas do matter. It is the wrong ideas that lead to so many unreasonable things in the world. But with the right ideas, nothing is unchangeable. I would not say all we need is Love, but we do need Love to see us through this daunting task.
Now, I want to start with the subject I touched on at the end of the last post, which is “identity”. “Identity” is one of the hot topics in the world, if not the hottest topic in the world now. So, I want to offer my opinion here. This is a very complicated subject, contains many twists and turns, and I think it will be very helpful to clear up many misunderstandings within this subject (although I am not saying I can accomplish this task completely here), and this subject is also very relevant to the subject of “Love”, especially to the subject of “understanding”.
I want to add a little “disclaimer” here, and it is not just for this post. I write to offer my opinions that are mostly different from what are heard commonly, because I think only at these points, I need to say something. It does not mean I am in different “camp” (often I offer my opinion when I am more in agreement with the general direction people are taking, depending on the subjects). But I am trying to avoid “group thinking”, meaning I don’t want to limit my thoughts in order to “line up” with particular “ideology”. I want to keep my mind free of any predetermined limit, only use Love and Reason as principles to guide my thoughts.
“Identity politics” has some problems because it is somewhat self-contradictory. In a nut shell, people feel they are being treated differently because of their “identity”, but many would also want to emphasize their “identity” (in other words, confirm their “differentness”), which could contribute to “divisive politics”.
Despite of this problem, this subject is very popular. Why? Because if we focus on “equality” and “fairness”, “identity politics” could be the most powerful argument in some sense (and without addressing some fundamental problems that they are not willing to face).
Although I often talk about subjects related to politics, I often deny I am political, because I want to disown “group thinking” (acting together is not exactly the same as thinking as a group with limitation on boundaries), and more importantly, I think politics as we know it emphasizes too much on “self-interests” (self-interests in narrow sense), hence almost always led away from the “truth”.
I think the concept of “equality” is not very clear (this is why I insist on Love and Reason should be the only basic principles in the world, and for “Humanism”, as I have defined it). If we define “equality” in its narrow sense, it does seem to run directly in conflict with “merit based society”, and it seems that no one is willing to disown the “merit based society” completely.
But discrimination based on “identity” does seem to be against the current social structure that claims to be based on merit. People in “minority” groups often possess “merits” that should be recognized by the society (“mainstream society”) but otherwise are mistreated because of “who they are”, thus they are not treated equally with people who have the same “merits” but are not “minority”.
We can look into this further. Basically, it reflects the “power structure” of the society. There is no doubt the current society (no matter where we are) is not really “merit based”. In certain narrow sense, the reward and punishment system responds to “merits”, but the overall system is not. I am saying this with absolute confidence, because there is no independent and unbiased system to make determination on who have “merits”, and what exactly is merit is not very clear either (for example, as I have pointed out in my earlier posts, rules and principles of “Ethics” are quite confusing, and there is no convincing evidence to indicate that there is a “God” to enforce them, and the social structure that claims to perform this role is often self-serving). So, at most, the “merit based” system is very loosely defined. This means individuals who are unfairly treated often are unable to clearly identify the problems, and even if they can, they might not be able to make their cases, and be heard and be judged fairly. This often comes down to economic power and political power. It seems now that economic power are directly translated to political power, so people who’s “merits” are denied often become powerless to be heard, and become “invisible”. “Identity politics” could survive because they are people who possess some economic powers (thus still have the voices) to sustain it. But for how long, in the direction things are going? I don’t know.
We can also look closely at “merit”, and how “merit” should be awarded. The problem with “merit based” system starts with what constitutes “merit”. Since people are situated differently, how much “accomplishment” is based on “merit” and how much of it is due to social (or other) advantages? Strictly speaking people simply cannot be treated equally, even if people are awarded the same with the same “accomplishment”.
As I said, I want to do an in depth analysis, so I will try to “shake things up” in some fundamental level. I kept insisting on Love and Reason because we really need to come back to them all the time. Instead of focusing on “equality”, we should focus on “Love” (“Love” for humanity) and “Reason” (fairness). As I have said, “Love” is based on “self-love” (although I said “intimate love” could be somewhat different from “self-love”, eventually I realized “self-love” is quite fundamental for “intimate love” as well, it is just it could be manifested in different ways. I will talk about this this point in my later posts.) So, instead of emphasis our differences, we should focus on our commonality, on being humans and how every human being should be treated. But what does being a human mean? I don’t think we have a ready answer to this question with all the details at this point. (It means to use Love and Reason as basic principles for everything. Emma and Mr. Knightly could be examples, so we could analyze their thoughts and behaviors. But we still need to see where they cannot measure up to this standard.)
At this point, I realized that there really is very little civilization in the world. We are actually living in a quite “barbarian” world no matter where we are, despite the appearances. For example, there are talks among women about “thinking like a man”, or “acting like a man”. What does it mean? Does it mean that women need to be aggressive, dominating or even predatory like “men”? At the very least, there are quite a bit of ambiguity about it.
I have already questioned whether the society we lived in is “merit based” in my earlier posts (no matter where we are). There numerous examples to indicate it is not, but is often “dressed up” to be. But here, I want to go further, put more emphasis on questioning the hieratic social structures in the society.
To continue this thought, I want to go back to the issue of “identity”. The reason I think there is a “grand conspiracy”, and the reason I think we are still in a “barbarian” society is because even in the most “progressive” mentality, there are things that are quite “unreasonable”, and lack of “Love”. It is a social reality that discrimination not only exists, it is very wide spread even without people actually realizing it. But “Identity politics” often turns into “shouting match” of “who is better” (at least in its underlining mentality), and which often led to people feel the need to assert their “identities” by subscribing to “group thinking” which would have certain elements of stereotype thoughts.
I think the most harmful results of this kind of politics are inflated egos. To think about this will lead to further consideration of what is “self-love”, and the issue of what is “true love” also comes up here. To summarize, “true love” is the Love of something for its true merits. Here, I want to go further and add that “true self-love” is the kind of Love that will (and/or should) generate “true good will” in others towards one self (I plan to write about this point in my next post).
The reason I felt the difficulty of keep on writing is because at this point, I felt that many of the concepts I mentioned need to have clear definitions. But I don’t think I can provide clear and accurate definitions without getting the entire picture very clear. But my analysis is a growing process, so I cannot get a very clear picture of everything at this point. So, whatever definitions I provide would subject to future revisions (I want to emphasize that this process is also the process of establishing human knowledge system, hence independent thinking is important).
Actually, this point is also the point I want to make about “merit” and “identity”. As I may have mentioned before, I have invented a system (to be used in computers) to “understand” language, and key the characteristics of this system is its “multi-dimensional” structure of knowledge system. I believe is also the true nature of human knowledge system. However, I have not read anything (from anyone else) mentioned this kind of structures, basically everything I have seen is made of hieratic structures. Is it a coincident, due to technical difficulty (I don’t believe so) or due to some kind of deliberate control?
Ok, going back to “merit” and “identity”. Let me start with “identity”. First of all, I don’t deny “identity” has its purposes. But we use “identity” for different purposes and its functions should not go beyond its purposes, and a person is far more complex than the sum of the “identities”. What more, the commonly used “identities” are mostly physical or external, they do not have direct correlation to people’s minds and their actions. And, what’s in people minds are what really will determine what they think and do. If we say results matter, then whatever “identities” people use would not help to determine the merits of them.
If we admit the existence of “free will”, then what we are should be determined by our minds and actions. And, if we deny “free will”, then any reward-punishment system (including “merit based” system) would not make any sense.
I don’t deny the effect of culture influences. But there are no clear rules of culture influences, and I think there should not be either. I think there could be various elements of cultural influences that may have effects on people, either by chance or by deliberate determination, to their benefits or detriments. I think people should have the free mind of using only Love and Reason as their basic principles to make the determinations, not to be restricted by anything else. Ultimately, it is the success of this combination that determines people’s merits, nothing else.
I think people can attribute their “success” to their culture heritage, but only to a degree, because every culture has elements that could be quite useful or harmful (especially in the wrong combinations). And, many times, what matters is in the difference of the degree as well (as pointed out in Ethics, for example by Kant. I think the difference often rests in the difference of degree is a very important point, I will try to come back to this point later.)
I think the problems with “identity politics” have a lot to do with political nature, as the groups that were wronged need to find their voices in the world by forming groups. But I don’t think “group acting” necessarily should equals to “group thinking”, if the political organizations are not dominated by hieratic structures.
In addition, I think there seems to be some kind mentality of bias for “victims”, in the sense of “victims cannot do wrong”. I think this kind of mentality is very harmful. On one side, “victims” that are lack of sufficient self-reflection could act with the support of “moral superiority” that could over step their boundaries and become the suppressors (what happened in “communist countries” is related to this problem), and eventually lost their moral supports of the society. On the other hand, people could also be very judgmental and picking on victims’ “flaws” in order to undermine or intentionally cover up the wrongs being committed to them.
It seems that victims of discriminations are often in a dilemma. If they want to conform to the “mainstream” mentality, they would often feel rejected by “mainstream”. Hence the resentment alone might become the driving force to assert their “identities” as a way of “protest”. But with these kinds of “identities” often come with their own baggage. Often by assert the “identities”, people could fell into the trap of stereo types that could provide “justifications” for the discriminations (I think this point is especially relevant for women, I plan to write about this in later posts). The truth is, the “mainstream” mentality is quite problematic, not a good model to be adapted to in the first place, and “mainstream” mentality is also at least somewhat responsible for “identities” of “minority”. As I have said, the differences between “advanced culture” and not so “advanced culture” is not very clear. So, the solution is to develop a culture that is based on Love and Reason as basic principle.
I think the biggest problem with victims of discrimination based on “identity” (or for this matter, any kinds of social “injustice”) is they often tend to think within the same mind set of the existing social structure, just acting in different angles. It seems that many people don’t actually think people should be treated the same, they just think they should be treated better, instead of other people. Hence, no matter what, the overall social structure would stay the same, and there will be “injustice” in the world.
I do think it is impossible to treat people equally no matter what (and it should not be, because people do need to be responsible for their actions). I don’t deny “merit”, and I am not “against” (I feel the need to explain the word “against” because at least for the most time, I don’t think I am “against” anything as in the common definition – to reject something completely. In other words, I am basically against the word, “against”, in some sense) “merit based system” completely. But the system we have is not really “merit based” system, that is the point. I also want to say that I disagree with people when they say don’t judge people. As humans, as intelligent beings, making judgment is what we do. But we should not be “judgmental”.
But what is being “judgmental”? The definition I can offer now is, making judgment based on something (often without solid foundation), and use the result of the judgment for all purposes, disregards any circumstantial conditions. But the problem with being “judgmental” also have another aspect that don’t have much to do with the “judgment” itself, but the treatment based on the “judgment”.
I think the most important progress we can make is to judge ourselves often and closely. I kept going back to point out that the world we are living in is not a “civilized society” because this is the problem at the core. If the society is ruled by force, then we cannot expect people to follow the principles of Love and Reason, because judging themselves based on them would not seem to make much, because they could not establish the connection with “real world benefit (meaning only measuring things based on the “cold and hard” results). But can we persuade people to do it anyway? [I have write about this in my previous posts, the most obvious incentive is in “intimate love”, and I will write about this subject more later.]
Now, I want to go back to talk about “Love”. In my last post, I offered a definition of “Love” that it is what commonly called an “emotion” that would leads to “good will”. And, I said, “Love” could lead to “good” results when “Reason” alone could not. But in my earlier posts, I particularly emphasized that we should not put too much emphasis on being “good”. Are there contradictions somewhere? I don’t think so.
I want to point out that I did not reject the word “good”. I only pointed out that what is “good” should only be used in the circumstances that things have been judged for, and not necessarily a definite characteristics for entities, nor should this judgment lead to all treatments related to the entities. Here, I want to use “God” as an example (there is no convincing evidence indicating that “God” exists, not since this does not stop people from talking about “God”, so I will talk about it here again). Is “God” good? How can “God” not be “good” if “God” is Love and Almighty? But does this mean one need to Love “God” by following every word of people who claim they represent “God”?
But is “God” Love and Almighty? There are quite strong evidences indicating “God” is neither. If “God” is almighty, why “God” created mankind that is “defective” (capable and inclining to commit “sin”?) And, if “God” is “Love”, why would “God” punish mankind for this defect (that reflected “God’s” own flaws). Does “God” Love humans? It seems that “God” cares more about punishing humans than taking care of humans. And, when one thinks that “God” should be punishing someone for sure, “God” “perhaps” would rather wait until afterlife, but what is the point of it?
Does “Love” “God” mean following every word of “God”? What is the point of having a brain anyway, if one should not use it? And, how can we know what are “God’s” words, since people who claim that they represent “God” said different things all the times?
Actually, the point I wanted to make focusing more on the word “evil”. How could one make a determination that someone is evil? I guess questioning “God” would be it? But how could one even prove with certainty (lack of certainty is why “faith”, or “belief” is needed) that “God” exists? If not, then someone is deemed to be “evil” could be punished for pointing out the truth! Where is fairness?
The point I want to make regarding “Love” and “good will” is, if one does not “Love” something, then one’s attitude is indifference, not hate. It may be the simplest statement, but it seems that many people seem to forget about it all the time.
I think I would like to further make the point that “Love” “appropriately” (reasonably) is as important as “Love” itself. But I want to emphasize that “Love” “appropriately” (reasonably) does not mean that one should “Love” modestly or mildly, but “Love” according to what circumstances call for.
I feel the need to clarify all the possible misunderstandings, because it is important to make my point clear. I think there might be other points I missed that could cause misunderstanding of what I said. This is what made my writing difficult. Anyway, I want to continue with my thoughts about “Love” and “good will”. If “Love” means “good will”, it usually leads to actions that benefit what is being “Loved”. And, it could generate the same kind of “Love” and “good will” (who would not have “good will” to people who are good to them? This means “Love” could spread among humanity. But with the introduction of jealous “God”, and the teaching of “good” vs. “evil”, this circle of “Love” is broken. I think the creation of religion justified and solidified the emotion “hate”, and I think eliminating “hate” is basically the most important things in the world.
I think in the end, the problem is really rested on the problems of making a judgment without solid foundation, and not acting appropriately based on the judgment. Why should there be jealous “God”? If “God” is not “faithful” to everyone (meaning “loving” everyone exclusively), then why should anyone be any different? Why people have to “love” this “God” but not that “God”, and why loving that “God” is the “source of all evil”? What exactly is the definition of “evil”? And how “evil” should be dealt with?
I am not going to answer all these questions here, as I want to finish up this post. But I want to emphasize that if one cannot feel the “Love” for someone, the correct action is do nothing (at least), not to be hostile to them. I kept on saying there is a grand conspiracy because people just don’t seem to understand this simple principle. Why would people feel the need to be hostile to people that is in some way different from them? We can say it has a lot to do with the concept of “God”. But if we think about politics in the sense of one group of people trying to security more benefits for themselves at the expense of others, it also makes sense as well. But why would people allow this kind of things to happen all the time? I think the only reason is too many people agree with this kind of mentality on principle even if there are being oppressed.
Now as think about it, the word “identity” itself in the context of “identity politics” reflects how serious is the problem. What does “identity” mean? Something unique to distinguish one from all the others. Needless to say this is not exactly what it means in “identity politics”. So, basically, here “identity” means “classification”. Because people are treated differently according to certain characteristics, they are classified according to these classifications. So, “identity politics” basically is “class struggle”. But because “class struggle” is reserved for “economic classes” only, hence the term “identity politics” is used (I have not conduct any historical research on this matter. What I said is simple a guess.) Anyway, by reacting to this social condition, one is basically submitting oneself to this social condition. This is why I don’t like politics very much. Whatever kinds of “struggles” one commits oneself to, they are basically reactive (meaning their actions are still somewhat defined by the very system they oppose because at least most of the time, they are not creating new rules, only trying applying the existing rules differently to their benefit). And, at least most of the time (actually, I cannot find situations where this is not true. I am just being cautious with the term “most of the time”), the more struggle one commits oneself to, the more “struggles” are needed. In other words, the more one “struggles”, the deeper one gets oneself into the problem.
By this, I am not saying do nothing. But instead of being “proud” of “who we are”, we should assert the dignity for each human being. I am at least somewhat suspicious of the word “proud”. I think it somewhat has the meaning of asserting one’s superiority over others. This is probably the by-products of the “merit based” system. But this would only be true if the social structure is strictly hieratic structure.
If we think about market economy in capitalist society, this would not necessarily be the evitable results. Market economy does provide the opportunity to “diversify merit” (for lack of better term), meaning that people each can be awarded for their individual diversified “merit”, no direct comparison is needed. Granted that “merit” can be graded with different “worthiness”, and the rewards for them could be different. But if this system is based on reason, meaning that people agree this system is fair, then there would not be much “struggle”. In the end, the problem is the system is not fair, because in its crucial points, it is maintained by “power” (force. At this point, I feel that “power” is at least somewhat a “dirty word”, because it often means a violent force, which is against Reason), not reason. I think, it is important to identify these points, and transform them into something new based on Reason.
The reason I am not completely hopeless under the force of “power” even though I doubt the effectiveness of the “struggle” is, “power” is a social “force”, sustained based on consent, through complicated accumulating processes (based on false truths and principles, and unreasonable social structures). But I do think it is not an easy task to make meaningful changes, because it requires fundamental changes to correct all of the unreasonableness in the system. I think everyone’s mind is tinted by the system in various different ways, in many different levels. But as long as we are not afraid of asking questions (asking questions is the type of “power” that is not against reason, as it can lead to truth), change is possible.
June 24, 2018