Archive for November 2, 2012

Best Friend

Forever is a very long time.  How is it that people can talk so casually about a concept that we cannot even wrap our minds around? Sometimes we have a friend and we sense that our souls are very closely connected.  We know that the connection is above time and space.  We know that wherever we are in our lives we will always remain friends.  Even if we do not see each other for years we are able to pick up right where we left off.  This is what people mean when they say friends forever.  True friends are hard to find, but there you are you came into my life.  You came to me in a perfect time, I'm so happy you're my Best Friend Forever.


Posted November 2, 2012 by dranilj1 in Photography

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Academic Integrity

All parents want to help their children succeed in school. I consider helping kids with homework a fundamental duty of parenthood.  It’s just another way to ensure that they develop into fully realized, mostly literate adults.  But might we, instead, be corrupting their academic integrity? According to Teddi Fishman, director of the International Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University, it depends – not only on the teacher’s specific instructions for the assignment, but also on the way we deliver help.  Are we grabbing children’s laptop and simply inserting the commas and relocating the misplaced modifiers? Or looking over shoulder while explaining the rules of punctuation, and then letting child make the corrections himself? If I’m honest, I must admit its closer to the former than to the latter.

Academic integrity has become a major issue in schools at every level, and parents are hardly its worst enemy.  The International Center for Academic Integrity, a consortium of roughly 300 universities and secondary schools, educates students, faculty and administrators on the nuances of upholding integrity on campus, and offers an assessment guide so they might evaluate their current practices.  Most universities, secondary schools and even middle schools articulate a clear policy and make students sign an honor code pledging their intellectual honesty whether solving a math problem, writing a research or critical paper, or writing an exam, as MIT’s elegant manual puts it. The manuals tend to do everything from teach proper footnote citation to detail the punishments for rules that are breached.

But having a well-articulated policy is certainly no guarantee of rectitude.  The number of students who cheat is staggering; according to International Center for Academic Integrity research, of roughly 40,000 students polled between 1990 and 2009 at 70 different high schools (21 public, 32 private and 17 parochial), 72 percent of public school students said they’d cheated on an exam or test and 59 percent said they’d plagiarized a paper.  Among private school students, 49 percent admitted cheating and 47 percent confessed to plagiarism; for parochial students, the numbers were 68 and 63 percent, respectively. The bad news, says Fishman, “is that these are self-reported numbers so it’s probably a little higher.

Surprisingly, the rise of the Internet is not the main culprit in these statistics.  It hasn’t changed as much as people think it has, says Fishman, who maintains that the number of students admitting to plagiarism has held steady at around two-thirds since the Center was founded 20 years ago. It used to be that if you were going to copy, you had to copy from your neighbor or the encyclopedia.  Now, thanks to technology, you can copy from someone halfway around the world.

The bigger problem is the rapid rise of our hyper-competitive culture, in everything from sports to college admissions.  I would be very willing to speculate that the prevalence of cheating reflects the increased importance of high-stakes testing.  When kids see only the grade or the score as the goal, the method of achieving it – even if it means lying or cheating – is irrelevant.  Educators, on the other hand, are far more interested in the process.  We are looking for their development.  We have to communicate that better in a culture that says, “The only thing that matters is results.”

It doesn’t help that expectations vary wildly from class to class, even in the same department at the same school.  In one class, it might be perfectly all right for students to help each other, and the teacher encourages collaboration.  In the next class, the teacher wants every student to work on his or her own.  It would be okay if those differences were clearly articulated, and students heard. But they’re not.

At my cousin’s high school, several students were recently reprimanded for letting their parents read their biology papers before they handed them in.  Perhaps some corrected grammar or punctuation, or made suggestions on organizational structure.  At least one, a scientist, proposed some information that hadn’t been learned in class.  I don’t know whether the kid accepted the input, and whether the father was credited in the footnotes.  But if the students were told not to seek any outside help – and there is some confusion as to whether they were or not – then they were being dishonest by turning to their parents.

Kids themselves have vastly different views of what’s permissible.  I did not know how great the range was in what students thought until I took Attending Physician job.  I had one student who honestly thought that if something’s on medical encyclopedia, it counts as public knowledge.  After all, there’s no author attribution, and it’s in the public domain.  I don’t know how they came to think that but it’s important to tell them that that isn’t correct.

What’s the best way to teach?  Most important, start when they’re young.  Students understand fairness very early.  By third or fourth grade, it’s completely possible for them to understand what it feels like to have someone take their stuff and not credit them for it.  Students get panicky when they’re told they need to do original work.  It’s important to make clear that knowing how to incorporate and cite other people’s work is just as important as having your own ideas.

As for homework, the International Center for Academic Integrity encourages students to seek writing help but not let someone else take over.  As long as no one else controls the keyboard or the pencil, you’re getting the benefit of another tutor.  I think reasonable people under almost any circumstance would want their students to be helped in that way.  As an attending physician, I wholeheartedly concur.  As parents, we are steeling ourselves for the battles our children will have when we insist on teaching them how to use commas instead of just sticking them in for them.  Child’s integrity depends on it.

Posted November 2, 2012 by dranilj1 in Social, Social Media

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Love Generates No Shadow

Jealousy has nothing to do with love.  In fact, your so-called love also has nothing to do with love.  These are beautiful words which you use without knowing what they mean, without experiencing what they mean.  You go on using the word ‘love’.  You use it so much that you forget the fact that you have not experienced it yet.  That is one of the dangers of using such beautiful words: ‘God’, ‘love’, ‘nirvana’, ‘prayer’.  You go on repeating them, and by and by, the very repetition makes you feel as if you know.  What do you know about love?  If you know anything about love, you cannot ask this question because jealousy is never present in love and wherever jealousy is present, love is not present.

Jealousy is not part of love, jealousy is part of possessiveness.  Possessiveness has nothing to do with love.  You want to possess.  Through possession, you feel strong; your territory is bigger and if somebody else tries to trespass on your territory, you are angry.  If somebody has a bigger house than your house, you are jealous, or if somebody tries to dispossess you of your property, you are jealous and angry.  If you love, jealousy is impossible.  If you love your woman, how can you be jealous? If you love your man, how can you be jealous? If your woman is laughing with somebody else, how can you be jealous? You will be happy; it is your woman who is happy; her happiness is your happiness.  How can you think against her happiness?

The wife even becomes jealous of the newspaper if the husband goes on reading it too much.  She comes and snatches it away; she becomes jealous.  The newspaper is substituting for her. While she is present, how dare you read your newspaper? That is an insult! When she is there, you have to be possessed by her, not the newspaper.  The newspaper becomes a competitor.  If the wife is present, and the husband starts talking to another woman and looks a little happy – which is natural because people do get tired of each other sometimes, and anything new gives a little thrill – the wife will get angry.  You can tell that if a couple is going by and the man looks sad, he is the husband married to that woman.  If he looks happy, he is not married to the woman.  She is not his wife.

You are not really in love with your woman, or with your man, or with your friend.  If you are in love, then your lover’s happiness is your happiness.  If you are in love, then you will not create any possessiveness.  Only love is capable of giving total freedom and if freedom is not given, then it is something else, not love.  It is a certain type of egoistic trip.  You have a beautiful woman in your life.  You want to show her off to everybody in town – just like a possession, just as you would do with your Ferrari.  The same is the case with your woman.  You bring diamonds for her, but not out of love.  She is a decoration for your ego.  You take her from one club to another, clinging to you to show that she belongs to you.  Any infringement of your right and you are angry you can kill the woman…whom you think you love.  There is great ego working everywhere.  We want people to be like things.  We possess them like things, we reduce persons to things. Our attitude towards things too is the same.

The only truth is love.  The ego knows no love, friendship, or compassion.  The ego is aggression, violence.  Why does jealousy always follow love as a shadow?  It never does.  Love is so transparent that it makes no shadow.  Love is not a solid thing, it is transparency.  Love is the only phenomenon on earth which creates no shadow.

Devine Cleansing

It is customary for us to spring clean our homes during this festive season, in the run-up to Deepavali (Festival of Light).  Cleaning is essential activity.  All unwanted stuff is disposed of; what can be given away is set aside and homes are given a good wash and some get painted, too.  So pick up a vacuum cleaner and as you sweep the dust away, tell yourself that this is your consciousness that you are cleaning.  Internalize the outward process.  We’ve heard it said that cleanliness is godliness.  It is, for when we live in clean surroundings, don’t we feel happy and energetic? Isn’t it ‘heavenly’? But when we are in dirty places we feel miserable.  We want to get out as soon as possible.  We cannot feel peace, so too with our internal state of affairs.

Nature teaches us all the time to engage in cleaning.  Dust here, pick out the weeds here, wipe off the stains there; cleaning is an endless process because this is nature’s way of ensuring we do not go to sleep; we do not slip into complete inertia.  But how often do any of us undertake to clean something ourselves? We delegate the job.  We busy ourselves in gaining knowledge or so we think.  So much we read and study, all the time — but how much of it is really relevant to our life? We are constantly gathering information; we need to stop and do some spring cleaning here.  All that information is useless if it does not help you uncover your consciousness.

There are three types of dust that we gather within ourselves.  One is our own negativity.  We think negatively, act and perceive negatively.  This accumulates inside of us, changing our responses.  Secondly, we gather negative influences from our surroundings, from the people we meet, and pick up negative vibrations from them.  Sometimes we let ourselves slip into unethical activities because we have cluttered our lives; hence we need to clear the clutter and confusion to be able to think and act with a clear conscience.

The third type of dust is perhaps the hardest to get rid of – misuse of powers vested in us.  We use our senses to fulfill our instant pleasures.  We know it is wrong, but we seek immediate gratification, for selfish ends.  In this manner we cause great injury to not only ourselves but to all of society.  We each of us have tremendous potential within us.  We have the divine within us.  Once we know that we have allowed soot and dirt to accumulate inside and that it is obstructing us from experience the divinity within, we will instinctively know how to do it.  There is no one method that can be applied externally.  The first step is to be aware that we need to initiate the cleansing process.  The process of cleaning outside and suggesting to yourself that you are also cleaning within will help initially to actually get it done.

A selfless attitude is helpful in cleaning out the consciousness.  In fact, it is the best form of cleaning.  When you give, you recognize the universal divine nature.  Just like nature gives of herself at all times, when you give, you automatically get cleaned.  In today’s world of competition, people fear that if they give, people will exploit their kindness and walk all over them.  This will not happen.  Human progress takes place only when the consciousness is clean and disciplined.

Truly Believe to Your Core

There is power in purposeful positivity.  Find the gems buried in the dirt of the situation and move down the road you choose.  I have come to learn the power of belief in self.  I didn't realize the significance or the true power of this until I was forced to face extreme stress stemming from my Rehab after I sustained a car wreck. The message that I have only recently really heard is belief becomes reality.  It is absolutely true that your belief in something will come to be, if you have a definite, genuine conviction of it and the dedication to work toward it.  Wishing something to occur is very different from an inner core knowledge that something will absolutely happen, acting as if it is inevitable, and putting you out there, laboring to make it reality.

During the midst of chaos and sadness, I have witnessed first-hand the power of true belief.  It can help you overcome the most impossible of challenges.  True belief in your abilities and any subsequent hard work needed can alter your path in a purposeful way, in the direction you desire.  Instead of stressing about the negatives of a situation, purposefully focus on the good of the situation, reframing your thoughts for calm and success, and you can accomplish seemingly unattainable outcomes.  As an additional bonus, it turns out that with such perseverance and determination, unexpected gifts appear on your path. Friends show extra care and kindness, strangers surprise you in nice ways, and a new view on life is realized.

Maintain your core belief. Stay true to it, regardless of what other naysayers may say.  Know that you can overcome the adversity-hand you have been dealt and know there is power in purposeful positivity.  By focusing on the gems buried in the dirt of the situation, you can decide to move down the road of your own choosing.  Rather than relying on people to tell you X, Y, and Z about what you should do or what is going to happen over time, know that you have more power. These people just have a small snapshot of the complete story.  You have all the information since you have been there from the start of the whole ordeal.  You, therefore, have the power to consider where to go and then to steer things in that direction.

If you believe, truly believe to your core, that you can do this, you can.  You absolutely can. Don’t be doubters; be a doer.  Don't let adversity control you; use adversity to focus and use it to accomplish positive.  I dare say you can.

Posted November 2, 2012 by dranilj1 in COGNITION

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Rational Self-Interest

Regard exclusively to one's own advantage.  The false belief that rationality and self-interest is the same thing has bedeviled rational-choice approaches.  Because examples of altruism are all around us, many people have rejected rational choice out of hand.  Some careless or provocative statements encouraged this misconception. A better approach is to say that, until evidence to the contrary is produced, it is best to assume that people are neither more nor less self-interested in politics than in the rest of social life.  It is possible to achieve the best benefit for all even when, and in fact because, individuals tend to act in their own self-interest.  It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest.  Through the self-interested actions of dozens, hundreds and even thousands of people, without any centralized planning, goods and services get created that benefit both producers and consumers.

The meaning ascribed in popular usage to the word “selfishness” is not merely wrong: it represents a devastating intellectual “package-deal,” which is responsible, more than any other single factor, for the arrested moral development of mankind.  In popular usage, the word “selfishness” is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment.  Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word “selfishness” is: concern with one’s own interests.  This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests.  It is the task of ethics to answer such questions.

There is a fundamental moral difference between a man who sees his self-interest in production and a man who sees it in robbery.  The evil of a robber does not lie in the fact that he pursues his own interests, but in what he regards as to his own interest; not in the fact that he pursues his values, but in what he chose to value; not in the fact that he wants to live, but in the fact that he wants to live on a subhuman level.  If it is true that what I mean by “selfishness” is not what is meant conventionally, then this is one of the worst indictments of altruism: it means that altruism permits no concept of a self-respecting, self-supporting man—a man who supports his life by his own effort and neither sacrifices himself or others. It means that altruism permits no view of men except as sacrificial animals and profiteers-on-sacrifice, as victims and parasites—that it permits no concept of a benevolent co-existence among men—that it permits no concept of justice.  To redeem both man and morality, it is the concept of “selfishness” that one has to redeem.

The first step is to assert man’s right to a moral existence—that is: to recognize his need of a moral code to guide the course and the fulfillment of his own life.  The reasons why man needs a moral code will tell you that the purpose of morality is to define man’s proper values and interests, that concern with his own interests is the essence of a moral existence, and that man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions.  Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men’s actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to the non-actors, of the moral to the immoral.  Nothing could ever justify such a breach, and no one ever has.  The choice of the beneficiary of moral values is merely a preliminary or introductory issue in the field of morality.  It is not a substitute for morality nor a criterion of moral value, as altruism has made it.  Neither is it a moral primary: it has to be derived from and validated by the fundamental premises of a moral system.

The ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest.  But his right to do so is derived from his nature as man and from the function of moral values in human life—and, therefore, is applicable only in the context of a rational, objectively demonstrated and validated code of moral principles which define and determine his actual self-interest.  It is not a license “to do as he pleases” and it is not applicable to the altruists’ image of a “selfish” brute nor to any man motivated by irrational emotions, feelings, urges, wishes or whims.  This is said as a warning against the kind of “Nietzschean egoists” who, in fact, are a product of the altruist morality and represent the other side of the altruist coin: the men who believe that any action, regardless of its nature, is good if it is intended for one’s own benefit.  Just as the satisfaction of the irrational desires of others is not a criterion of moral value, neither is the satisfaction of one’s own irrational desires.  Morality is not a contest of whims.  A similar type of error is committed by the man who declares that since man must be guided by his own independent judgment, any action he chooses to take is moral if he chooses it.  One’s own independent judgment is the means by which one must choose one’s actions, but it is neither a moral criterion nor a moral validation: only reference to a demonstrable principle can validate one’s choices.

Just as man cannot survive by any random means, but must discover and practice the principles which his survival requires, so man’s self-interest cannot be determined by blind desires or random whims, but must be discovered and achieved by the guidance of rational principles.  Since selfishness is “concern with one’s own interests,” the ethics uses that concept in its exact and purest sense.  It is not a concept that one can surrender to man’s enemies, nor to the unthinking misconceptions, distortions, prejudices and fears of the ignorant and the irrational. The attack on “selfishness” is an attack on man’s self-esteem; to surrender one, is to surrender the other.  Do you ask what moral obligation I owe to my fellow men? None—except the obligation I owe to myself, to material objects and to all of existence: rationality.  I deal with men as my nature and theirs demands: by means of reason. I seek or desire nothing from them except such relations as they care to enter of their own voluntary choice.  It is only with their mind that I can deal and only for my own self-interest, when they see that my interest coincides with theirs. When they don’t, I enter no relationship; I let dissenters go their way and I do not swerve from mine. I win by means of nothing but logic and I surrender to nothing but logic. I do not surrender my reason or deal with men who surrender theirs.

Men have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue.  But the creator is the egoist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge or act. These are functions of the self.  Here the basic reversal is most deadly. The issue has been perverted and man has been left no alternative—and no freedom. As poles of good and evil, he was offered two conceptions: egoism and altruism. Egoism was held to mean the sacrifice of others to self. Altruism—the sacrifice of self to others tied man irrevocably to other men and left him nothing but a choice of pain: his own pain borne for the sake of others or pain inflicted upon others for the sake of self.  When it was added that man must find joy in self-immolation, the trap was closed.  Man was forced to accept masochism as his ideal—under the threat that sadism was his only alternative. This was the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on mankind.  This was the device by which dependence and suffering were perpetuated as fundamentals of life.

The choice is not self-sacrifice or domination.  The choice is independence or dependence.  The code of the creator or the code of the second-hander is the basic issue. It rests upon the alternative of life or death.  The code of the creator is built on the needs of the reasoning mind which allows man to survive.  The code of the second-hander is built on the needs of a mind incapable of survival, all that which proceeds from man’s independent ego is good and all that which proceeds from man’s dependence upon men is evil.  The egoist in the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner. He does not function through them. He is not concerned with them in any primary matter. Not in his aim, not in his motive, not in his thinking, not in his desires, not in the source of his energy. He does not exist for any other man—and he asks no other man to exist for him. This is the only form of brotherhood and mutual respect possible between men.

The moral purpose of a man’s life is the achievement of his own happiness.  This does not mean that he is indifferent to all men, that human life is of no value to him and that he has no reason to help others in an emergency.  But it does mean that he does not subordinate his life to the welfare of others, that he does not sacrifice himself to their needs, that the relief of their suffering is not his primary concern, that any help he gives is an exception, not a rule, an act of generosity, not of moral duty, that it is marginal and incidental—as disasters are marginal and incidental in the course of human existence—and that values, not disasters, are the goal, the first concern and the motive power of his life.  Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character. Only a brute or an altruist would claim that the appreciation of another person’s virtues is an act of selflessness, that as far as one’s own selfish interest and pleasure are concerned, it makes no difference whether one deals with a genius or a fool, whether one meets a hero or a thug, whether one marries an ideal woman or a slut.  In spiritual issues, a trader is a man who does not seek to be loved for his weaknesses or flaws, only for his virtues, and who does not grant his love to the weaknesses or the flaws of others, only to their virtues.

The first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man’s first duty is to himself. His moral law is never to place his prime goal within the persons of others.  His moral obligation is to do what he wishes, provided his wish does not depend primarily upon other men.  This includes the whole sphere of his creative faculty, his thinking, his work.  But it does not include the sphere of the gangster, the altruist and the dictator.  A man thinks and works alone.  A man cannot rob, exploit or rule—alone.  Robbery, exploitation and ruling presuppose victims. They imply dependence. They are the province of the second-hander.  Rulers of men are not egoists. They create nothing. They exist entirely through the persons of others. Their goal is in their subjects, in the activity of enslaving. They are as dependent as the beggar, the social worker and the bandit. The form of dependence does not matter.

Passivity to Conceptualization and Fundamental Principles

The main characteristic of this mentality is a special kind of passivity: not passivity as such and not across-the-board, but passivity beyond a certain limit; passivity in regard to the process of conceptualization and, therefore, in regard to fundamental principles.  It is a mentality which decided, at a certain point of development, that it knows enough and does not care to look further.  What does it accept as “enough”?  The immediately given, directly perceivable concretes of its background.  To grasp and deal with such concretes, a human being needs a certain degree of conceptual development, a process which the brain of an animal cannot perform.  But after the initial feat of learning to speak, a child can counterfeit this process, by memorization and imitation.  The anti-conceptual mentality stops on this level of development; on the first levels of abstractions which identify perceptual material consisting predominantly of physical objects and does not choose to take the next, crucial, fully volitional step—the higher levels of abstraction from abstractions, which cannot be learned by imitation.

The anti-conceptual mentality takes most things as irreducible primaries and regards them as “self-evident.” It treats concepts as if they were memorized percepts; it treats abstractions as if they were perceptual concretes.  To such a mentality, everything is the given: the passage of time, the four seasons, the institution of marriage, the weather, the breeding of children, a flood, a fire, an earthquake, a revolution, a book are phenomena of the same order.  The distinction between the metaphysical and the man-made is not merely unknown to this mentality, it is incommunicable.

This type of mentality has learned to speak, but has never grasped the process of conceptualization.  Concepts, to mentality, are merely some sort of code signals employed by other people for some inexplicable reason, signals that have no relation to reality or to himself.  This mentality treats concepts as if they were percepts, and their meaning changes with any change of circumstances.  Whatever it learns or happens to retain is treated, in such mind, as if it had always been there, as if it were an item of direct awareness, with no memory of how he acquired it like a random store of unprocessed material that comes and goes at the mercy of chance.  Passivity does not seek knowledge—it “exposes himself” to “experience,” hoping, in effect, that it will push something into the mind; if nothing happens, it feels with self-righteous rancor that there is nothing it can do about it.  Mental action, i.e., mental effort—any sort of processing, identifying, organizing, integrating, critical evaluation or control of his mental content—is an alien realm.

This mentality is not the product of ignorance nor is it caused by lack of intelligence:  It is self-made and self-arrested.  In the brain of an anti-conceptual person, the process of integration is largely replaced by a process of association. What his subconscious stores and makes routine is not ideas, but an indiscriminate accumulation of sundry concretes, random facts, and unidentified feelings, piled into unlabeled mental file folders.  This works, up to a certain point, so long as such a person deals with other persons whose folders are stuffed similarly and thus no search through the entire filing system is ever required.  Within such limits, the person can be active and willing to work hard.  A person of this mentality may uphold some abstract principles or profess some intellectual convictions without remembering where or how he picked them up.  But if one asks him what he means by a given idea, he will not be able to answer.  If one asks him the reasons of his convictions, one will discover that his convictions are a thin, fragile film floating over a vacuum, like an oil slick in empty space—and one will be shocked by the number of questions it had never occurred to him to ask.

He seems able to understand a discussion or a rational argument, sometimes even on an abstract, theoretical level.  He is able to participate, to agree or disagree after what appears to be a critical examination of the issue.  But the next time one meets him, the conclusions he reached are gone from his mind, as if the discussion had never occurred even though he remembers it; he remembers the event, discussion, not its intellectual content.

It is beside the point to accuse him of hypocrisy or lying though some part of both is necessarily involved.  His problem is much worse than that.  He was sincere, he meant what he said in and for that moment but it ended with that moment.  Nothing happens in his mind to an idea he accepts or rejects; there is no processing, no integration, no application to himself, his actions or his concerns.  He is unable to use it or even to retain it.  Ideas, abstractions, have no reality to him; abstractions involve the past and the future, as well as the present; nothing is fully real to him except the present.  Concepts, in his mind, become percepts—percepts of people uttering sounds; and percepts end when the stimuli vanish.  When he uses words, his mental operations are closer to those of a parrot than of a human being.  In the strict sense of the word, he has not learned to speak; however, there is one constant in his mental flux.  The subconscious is an integrating mechanism; when left without conscious control, it goes on integrating on its own and, like an automatic blender his subconscious squeezes its clutter of trash to produce a single basic emotion: Fear.

It is the fundamentals of philosophy; particularly, of ethics that an anti-conceptual person dreads above all else.  To understand and to apply them requires a long conceptual chain, which he has made his mind incapable of holding beyond the first few rudimentary links. If his professed beliefs, the rules and slogans of his group are challenged, he feels his consciousness dissolving in fog; for this reason, his fear of outsiders.  The word “outsiders,” to him, means the whole wide world beyond the confines of his village or town or gang—the world of all those people who do not live by his “rules.” He does not know why he feels that outsiders are a deadly threat to him and why they fill him with helpless terror.  The threat is not existential, but psycho-epistemological.  To deal with them requires that he rise above his “rules” to the level of abstract principles.  He would die rather than attempt it.

“Protection from outsiders” is the benefit he seeks in clinging to his group.  What the group demands in return is obedience to its rules, which he is eager to obey: those rules are his protection—from the dreaded realm of abstract thought.  Racism is an obvious manifestation of the anti-conceptual mentality.  So is xenophobia—the fear or hatred of foreigners “outsiders.”  So is any caste system, which prescribes a man’s status; assigning him to a tribe according to his birth.  A caste system is perpetuated by a special kind of snobbishness (group loyalty) not merely among the aristocrats, but, perhaps more fiercely, among the commoners or even the serfs, who like to “know their place” and to guard it jealously against the outsiders from above or from below.  So is guild socialism.  So is any kind of ancestor worship or of family “solidarity” (the family including uncles, aunts and third cousins).  So is any criminal gang.

Tribalism is the best name to give to all the group manifestations of the anti-conceptual mentality.  Observe that today’s resurgence of tribalism is not a product of the lower classes of the poor, the helpless, the ignorant, but of the intellectuals, the college-educated “elitists;” which is a purely tribalistic term.  Observe the proliferation of grotesque herds or gangs—hippies, yippies, beatniks, peaceniks, Women’s Libs, Gay Libs, Jesus Freaks, Earth Children—which are not tribes, but shifting aggregates of people desperately seeking tribal “protection.”

The common denominator of all such gangs is the belief in motion, mass demonstrations, not action—in chanting, not arguing—in demanding, not achieving—in feeling, not thinking—in denouncing “outsiders,” not in pursuing values—in focusing only on the “now,” the “today” without a “tomorrow”—in seeking to return to “nature,” to “the earth,” to the mud, to physical labor that is to say to all the things which a perceptual mentality is able to handle.  You don’t see advocates of reason and science clogging a street in the belief that using their bodies to stop traffic, will solve any problem.

Posted November 2, 2012 by dranilj1 in OBJECTIVISM

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