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> Can We Create A New Age Of Enlightenment?
coberst
Posted: Oct 20 2009, 07:32 PM


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Can we create a New Age of Enlightenment?

If one half of one percent of the population acquires the hobby that I call the ‘intellectual life’ such a group could be the foundation for a new Age of Enlightenment.

The original Age of Enlightenment occurred in Europe during the eighteenth century. “The men [in the 18th century the enlightened were still only half enlightened] of the Enlightenment united on a vastly ambitious program, a program of secularism, humanity, cosmopolitanism, and freedom, above all, freedom in its many forms—freedom from arbitrary power, freedom of speech, freedom of trade, freedom to realize one’s talents, freedom of aesthetic response, freedom, in a word, of moral man to make his own way in the world.”

It appears to me that following the completion of our schooling the normal inclination is to pack up our yearbook and our intellect into a large trunk and store it in the attic. Occasionally one might go up to the attic and reminisce about the old days.

What I propose is that following the end of our school days we begin a gradual process of self-actualizing self-learning.

This period of our life is generally filled with our duties to family and career so that not a great deal of time is available for extraneous matters. However, time is always available for important things and the important thing is to ‘keep curiosity alive’.

I suspect that if one does not engage in non job related intellectual efforts for the twenty years between the end of schooling and mid-life that the curiosity with which we started life will have dried up and blown away.

What are non job related intellectual activities? Such activities are what I consider to be intellectualism. Intellectualism is active engagement with ‘disinterested knowledge’.

There is in industry the concept of ‘applied research’, which is research looking for a good way to build a new mouse trap; there is also a concept called ‘pure research’, which is a search for truth that may or may not lead to an enhancement of the ‘bottom line’.

Interested knowledge is knowledge we acquire because there is money in it. Disinterested knowledge is that knowledge we seek because we care about understanding something even though there is no money in it.


The goal of intellectual life is similar to the goal of the artist "the artist chooses the media and the goal of every artist is to become fluent enough with the media to transcend it. At some point you pass from playing the piano to playing music."

I think it is possible for a significant portion of the population of every nation to become intellectuals. What do you think?

Quotes from The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism by Peter Gay
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light in the tunnel
Posted: Oct 20 2009, 11:12 PM


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The question is why it makes so much sense to you that knowledge is clearly divided into interested and disinterested forms. From an anthropological point-of-view, this distinction seems more indicative of a rite of passage between school and work, which compels people to view work activities done for financial interest differently than those done for learning.

Theoretically, there is only one mode for human thought and action. Your brain functions cognitively the same way when you are in school, doing research, or philosophizing, as it is when you are at work trying to get tasks accomplished. The major difference is in the materials and concepts you are working with an applying. So, in all likelihood, everyone in the world is already intellectually active, in the sense that they have to exercise cognitive creativity to function in whatever they are doing.

Still, this does not prevent people from avoiding creative and innovative thinking. I don't think it's so much that people succeed at avoiding it as such, but they do succeed at avoiding consciousness of it. I believe this takes place out of risk-aversion. Making a decision based on creative or innovative thinking makes an individual more accountable for her/his actions than if s/he claims to have based a decision on orthodox protocols or procedures. Eventually, people begin to believe themselves that this is what they are doing, and they are no longer aware of their own creative and innovative thinking.

This is a pity, really, because it causes a sense of anxiety when one feels the potential to be caught in the act of creative ingenuity. Sometimes this anxiety can be positive, if someone believes their creativity is going to be rewarded, for example. But it can also be negative, when people are afraid of being held accountable for mistakes that are entirely their doing.

Of course, what solves this problem completely is to hold all individuals accountable for their actions individually, whether they follow a protocol or not. A precedent for this was set during the Nuremberg trials following WWII, in which it was not accepted for military personnel to claim that they were "just following orders" as a defense. This "Nuremberg defense" is still controversial, and I believe it came up again during the War on Terror- Abu Grave I believe it was. Anyway, far more interesting is the general question of why people attribute their individual decision-making to authority-delegaton in various situations instead of taking responsibility as freely acting individuals.

This post has been edited by light in the tunnel on Oct 20 2009, 11:13 PM
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Alaxir Zoa
  Posted: Oct 21 2009, 12:52 AM


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If you don't have a whole of people with purpose, and that do what they love, and do it well, what enlightenment is there to be had? Actually, that is a good question. What enlightment is there to be had and in what direction? What type of enlightenment? It is a statement that pleads for pondering and thought and something out of the ordinary.

Man, i love your new idea. Please, please, please give us more on this.

Q: Does this have to do with a certain type of morals that will be changed, the general idea of a large group of people, or what? Does this have anything to the old "paying forward" idea, the utopia idea, the perfect order idea, or what?
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coberst
Posted: Oct 21 2009, 10:13 AM


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“The capitulation of Western man to his technology, with its crescendo of specialized demands has always appeared to many observers of our world as a kind of enslavement.”

No more are intellectuals focused upon the nature of man in society. Intellectuals have become non intellectual specialists—hired guns of CA (Corporate America)—Vulcan

Vulcanization—the process of treating crude or synthetic material chemically to give it useful properties.

All thought is saturated with egocentric and sociocentric presuppositions. That is, all thought contains highly motivating bias centered in the self or in ideologies such as political, religious, and economic theories. Some individuals are conscious of these internal forces but most people are not.

Those individuals who are conscious of these biases within their thinking can try to rid their judgments of that influence. Those who are not conscious, or little conscious of such bias, are bound to display a significant degree of irrational tendencies in their judgments.

“Can the intellectual, who is supposed to have a special and perhaps professional concern with truth, escape from or rise above the partiality and distortions of ideology?”

Our culture has tended to channel intellectuals, or perhaps more properly those who function as intellectuals, into academic professions. Gramsci makes the accurate distinction that all men and women “are intellectuals…but all do not have the function of intellectuals in society”.

An intellectual might be properly defined as those who are primarily or professionally concerned with matters of the mind and the imagination but who are socially non-attached. “The intellectual is thought of not as someone who displays great mental or imaginative ability but as someone who applies those abilities in more general areas such as religion, philosophy and social and political issues. It is the involvement in general and controversy outside of a specialization that is considered as the hallmark of an intellectual; it is a matter of choice of self definition, choice is supreme here.”

Even anti-ideological is ideological. If partisanship can be defended servility cannot; many have allowed themselves to become the tools of others.

We have moved into an age when the university is no longer an ivory tower and knowledge is king but knowledge has become a commodity and educators have become instruments of power; the university has become a privately owned think-tank.

“A profound change in the intellectual community itself is inherent in this development. The largely humanist-oriented, occasionally ideological minded intellectual dissenter , who saw his role largely in terms of proffering social critiques, is rapidly being displaced either by experts and specialist, who become involved in special government undertakings, or by generalist-integrators, who become house-ideologues for those in power, providing overall intellectual integration for disparate actions.”

The subordination to power is not just at the individual level but also at the institutional level. Government funds are made available to universities and colleges not for use as they deem fit but for specific government needs. Private industry plays even a larger role in providing funds for educational institutions to perform management and business study. Private industry is not inclined ‘to waste’ money on activities that do not contribute to the bottom line. ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.’

Each intellectual is spouting a different ideology, how does the individual choose what ideology? Trotsky once said “only a participant can be a profound spectator”. Is detachment then a virtue? To suggest that intellectuals rise above ideology is impractical. Explicit commitment is preferable to bogus neutrality. But truth is an indispensable touchstone.

I think that the proper role for the intellectual is commitment plus detachment. Do you think many of our present day intellectuals qualify as committed and detached?

Quotes and ideas from “Knowledge and Belief in Politics” Bhikhu Parekh


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John Galt
Posted: Oct 21 2009, 03:37 PM


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QUOTE
Anyway, far more interesting is the general question of why people attribute their individual decision-making to authority-delegaton in various situations instead of taking responsibility as freely acting individuals.
There appears to be a tendency for most people to adopt a herd mentality. I recall some experiments in which individuals thought they were administering increasingly powerful electric shocks to test subjects who got questions wrong. The test subjects were actors and the there were no shocks. Almost all were willing to apply what - were it real - amounted to totrture just because they were instructed to do so by authority figures.
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buttershug
Posted: Oct 21 2009, 04:15 PM


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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

I believe this is the experiment you mean.


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If you want to keep believing in the Wizard, never look behind the curtain. You will be disappointed.
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TracerTong
Posted: Oct 23 2009, 12:05 AM


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QUOTE (John Galt @ Oct 21 2009, 03:37 PM)
There appears to be a tendency for most people to adopt a herd mentality. I recall some experiments in which individuals thought they were administering increasingly powerful electric shocks to test subjects who got questions wrong. The test subjects were actors and the there were no shocks. Almost all were willing to apply what - were it real - amounted to totrture just because they were instructed to do so by authority figures.

Speaking of herd, thought this was funny
http://www.uncommondescent.com/humor/neura...sm-made-simple/

Be a revolution (decenter)... Don't be Norm

Here's another link on Milgrams Experiment. http://www.intropsych.com/ch15_social/milg..._obedience.html

This post has been edited by TracerTong on Oct 23 2009, 12:56 AM


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Nothing is nothing; therefore nothing creates nothing, and nothing can cause nothing
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