The Cesspool of Information: The Internet and the Alt-Right

“The internet is a mistake”

I spent a good part of my early 20s being angry. That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. Angry because I wasn’t masculine enough, because I wasn’t the best looking guy, because I couldn’t meet women that I wanted to meet.

It sounds horrible now, but I did get caught up in the “pick-up artist” movement that was blossoming in the late aughts. Not that it ever got me anywhere, it only further contributed to my isolation and entitlement. But thinking back on it now, it’s difficult for me to believe that I once listened to garbage being peddled by the likes of Tucker Max and David D’Angelo.

Times change, of course. The older you get, the more you realize that none of that shit matters. However, because of this Travis Bickle-like isolation, I have this strange empathy with the alt-right movement. Don’t misinterpret me, I don’t agree with anything they say. But our internet age is producing a whole generation of Travis Bickles. And the failure to recognize that is allowing this movement to flourish.

Angela Nagle is an expert in these internet subcultures that she claims doesn’t have any consistent ideological foundations. In fact, they appear to hate each other as much as they hate the Left, SJWs, etc. And they diverge from the traditional conservatives in rejecting any Judeo-Christian ethic, almost appearing to embrace a nihilistic worldview. Nevertheless, they champion a return to a form of patriarchy, MINUS any of the responsibilities that have traditionally came with such a tradition. So although they embrace a male-dominated society, they’d rather sit at home playing video games than going into the world and experiencing actual stress.

From a leftist perspective, we can point and laugh at this all we want. But in doing so, we risk further contributing to this isolation that fosters alt-right ideation. Leftist taboos have prevented liberals from engaging in any sort of meaningful debate with the alt-right. There’s a fear within the Left that prevents any sort of debate because the appearance of doing so might be viewed as “legitimizing” alt-right concerns. So by ignoring this movement and manufacturing “outrage” against their beliefs is, in fact, contributing to their growth.

And as you can imagine, much of alt-right discussion is directed at feminism. This has infamously led to the formation of the “men’s rights movement”. Again, this is a misguided concept, but paraphrasing from Nagle (in the interview above): “imagine growing up with liberal parents, in a liberal neighborhood, and being unable to find a date. Then you have to listen to the Left mock male concerns.” (Which Nagle would seem to suggest that feminism should spend its time building up women rather than tearing down men). Even though some concerns might be misguided, nevertheless people ACT on these concerns and they appear to become legitimized when mocked.

So much of the alt-right movement consists of young men that aren’t successful with forging sexual relationships with women. Which, as I can attest to, is a debilitating thing. It doesn’t justify embracing a return to patriarchy or disregarding feminism and all the struggles that women face daily. However, instead of getting bogged down in what the alt-right supports, perhaps it’s time to examine what the alt-right represents. And that is a generation of socially ill-equipped men that are acting in angst. And the movement is filling a void via the internet, that can’t be found in the real world which is seemingly becoming more hostile to their pleas. Because of an inability to find a mate, they are forced to seek help from an online “pick-up” community, which somehow becomes a bridge into alt-right delusion.

I’m not exactly certain on how we address this problem. But having a generation of socially-inept men, which can often lead to violent conclusions, is cause for alarm. If the Left is smart and truly interested in attracting new followers, they should be willing to engage in an intellectual conversation with members of the alt-right. Even if their arguments are misguided, we shouldn’t ignore the source of their grievances: a lack of success with the opposite sex. So while men’s rights movements are invalid, desiring and failing to find a sexual relationship is an issue that needs addressing.

But again, I don’t know how we address THAT issue in a POLITICAL sense. In fact, that’s not a political issue at all. But it IS a social and mental health issue that needs addressing. And establishing alternative routes for helping those that struggle with this problem need to be investigated by the mental health community…SO THAT those that are struggling don’t have to resort to the “pick-up” community for help.

I know that not everyone within the alt-right fits this description. Many are these Trump-like alpha males that drive large trucks and watch MMA. They just want to feel good about being a MAN. But they share the same concern with their beta male brethren. They rallied around Trump because of a lost sense of ‘American Machismo’. For one reason or another, they felt emasculated by the bleeding-heart liberalism that flourished under the Obama years, and became especially threatened by the prospect of living under the first female president. When Donald Trump emerged in 2016, this strange congregation of alpha-males and socially-inept internet trolls rallied around him. This would explain the almost schizophrenic nature of the alt-right movement, where everyone hates each other but remain united under the “strongman” politics of Donald Trump.

Many believe that this movement will ultimately cannibalize itself. And we can hope that that will be the case. But wishful thinking doesn’t usually save the day. In the English-speaking parts of North America, we’ve managed to avoid a dictatorship. Although large scale conflicts have occurred on the continent, save for a few confined instances (September 11th, Pearl Harbor, etc), it’s been awhile since there’s been generationally-scarring event.  Compare this to the European continent, which during the 20th Century saw two large-scale wars, rise of dictatorships, holocausts, and the Iron Curtain. And not just Europe, but nearly every continent (except maybe Australia) has experienced a degree of large-scale and violent political instability over the last 100 years. But again, not English-speaking North America. We have it good, and we continue to believe that this system will continue indefinitely. Therefore, no idiotic movement can take down the UNITED STATES, we’re too great for something like that to happen!

And this is the assumption that the Left takes when regarding the alt-right. Now I’ve been on record saying that “history doesn’t repeat itself”. But it can provide us with a few warning signs. And, I don’t know, perhaps this might be misguided… But I don’t quite feel comfortable with a young generation jumping into hard-right politics. Additionally, American politics walks a slippery slope with its nationalistic overtones. We might dodge a bullet with a Donald Trump presidency potentially going down in flames, yet we may not be so lucky next time.

In fact, the blatant anti-intellectualism of Donald Trump should terrify everybody.

Not that the Right has ever really been an “intellectual” movement. It’s always been somewhat hostile to academic consensus. But this new right seems to be completely disengaged with policy making…and far more interested in “shock value” or offending others. Their primary thinkers don’t offer much in thought. They mostly prefer designing content that will help boost their Twitter followers.

The internet had dumbed down our political discourse. It’s no longer about learning and shaping ideas. It’s now about getting likes and followers. It’s about seeking information that will confirm our deranged beliefs. It provides a reality that simply allows us to escape the actuality of the physical world.

Unfortunately this alternate reality is fueling the worst parts of human nature: hatred and narcissism. And out of this cesspool of false information, the alt-right was born. The internet is a mistake.

Expect More Out of Politics, and Yourself.

There’s a lot to unpack here.

But my apologies to the few readers I have, you guys are the best. But I’ve been distracted lately, so I haven’t really dug into philosophy much. I’ve been trying to prepare for a post on Edmund Husserl for like, I dunno, two weeks now. Yet every time I sit down to prepare for it, my mind wonders off. So I suppose I’ve just been “burned out”.

And in order to keep my mind stimulated, I’ve been going a bit heavy on politics. Which, as I stated earlier, really makes me feel like a piece of shit.

Because politics is pornography.

Especially in our internet age. What the hell is Twitter even good for? You can’t post a meaningful and well-constructed critique of something because you’re only allowed 140 characters. So its only use is to hurl insults at each other. Which is enough to get your jollies off, but then you feel like an asshole afterwards.

That’s indeed what I did yesterday when I insulted Laura Ingraham’s dog and audience. Finally, I felt so disgusted with myself that I deleted my account. Mind you, not that I should feel guilty about insulting people that want to take away health coverage from the poor. I mean, seriously? America REALLY hates poor people. But did I really think that those insults would change anyone’s mind? There has to be a better way to engage your opponents.

But in doing all of this, you begin to realize that there are SO many bad arguments out there. One which really drives me crazy is this “appeal to the past” that the right often invokes.

Awhile ago, I was reading something that was written by an atheist biologist. Apparently he got into an argument with a Bible-thumping fundamental Christian, and the Christian just couldn’t believe that the biologist never read anything by Charles Darwin. Because to this fundamental Christian, Darwin’s Origin of Species was supposed to be the ‘Bible’ for atheists.

That’s this ‘appeal to the past’ that’s so idiotic.

And this argument takes on many forms. Some you might be familiar with are: “The Founding Fathers never intended this country to be….”, “If it’s not found in the Constitution, then the government doesn’t have the authority to….”, “Make America Great Again!”, etc etc.

This is why the National Review LITERALLY can’t go a day without mentioning how great Ronald Reagan was. Why George Will can’t stop writing about baseball. And why the Founding Fathers are considered divinely ordained prophets.

For the Conservative Movement, history ended in 1989.

And like the Bible, The US Constitution gets thrown around like it was written yesterday and not nearly 250 years ago. It’s a holy document, and all arguments begin and end with it. And also like the Bible, conservatives have probably never even read it. Look, I’m not bashing the Constitution. It has provided some relative political stability since it’s been enacted. HOWEVER, it’s idiotic to suppose that it’s infallible. And it’s even stupider to believe that we should continue to shape this country in the way the Founding Fathers intended it to be.

I don’t suppose that ALL conservatives think this way. The movement itself has been undergoing some changes, as the rise of Donald Trump indicates. So the Right ranges from old, white, baseball-obsessed men to young, white, MMA-obsessed men. The old guard is still trying to uphold the Reagan tradition, while the younger have become fixated on “strongman” policies. This younger generation are the “bros”, who spend too much time in the gym and get upset if they see a woman that isn’t attractive. This generation doesn’t have much of an intellectual base, unlike their forebears. The only policy they have is “might makes right”.

Because of a lack of intellectual restriction, the new generation of Trump conservatives can run roughshod over the country. Traditional conservative ideas like cutting taxes and fiscal responsibility are irrelevant. As long as it’s “America First” by kicking ass and building walls, then Donald Trump can do no wrong.

Politics is pornography. Public discourse has been reduced to 140 characters. And because of this dumbing down of political engagement, we have elected an impulsive, narcissistic, idiot with that has a terrible hair cut. And this, coming off the historic presidency of Barack Obama. I’m not sure if the gravity of this situation has hit the American public yet. We have descended into the world of Idiocracy hundreds of years too early.

Was the election of Barack Obama so psychologically damaging that the Right had to turn to a dipshit TV personality to save them?

I know that I’m arriving late to the scene. Smarter people than me have been outraged over this for quite awhile. I once thought of myself as an ‘independent’, that thought political engagement was for assholes. I know that I wasn’t the only one. And because of this delusion, we now have Donald Trump for president.

Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to be engaged in politics. It’s our responsibility to raise the bar. We can’t keep attacking our opponents with low-brow comments (like I was doing yesterday). We have to be smarter.

If you’re not alarmed by the fact we have Donald Trump as president, then you need to go into deep reflection. You’re alive at a time when America took a dark turn. You may think of yourself as just one citizen of many…one voice that seemingly doesn’t matter. But you have little choice. Now, more than ever, that voice needs to be heard. So keep shouting…find a platform where your voice will be heard.

Because now we need dignity in politics.

Even if you’re a Republican, do you want Trump to be your legacy? We are living in a unique time, where both sides can come together and say “we expect more out of our leaders”. And expect more out of yourselves. Twitter, and bullshit, cheap media outlets are just out there to get clicks.

Expect more out of yourselves.

I Share the Blame for Donald Trump

After spending the last couple days buried in National Review, Huffington Post, Slate, and a host of other nonsensical outlets of information, I feel the need to take a shower. I even went so far as to cause a Twitter battle with a couple of established commentators. Now that especially made me question myself.

(And by the way, if you’re a conservative born before 1965….claiming that you’re NOT obsessed with Ronald Reagan like he was the second coming of Christ is an argument you will always lose.)

But what did I learn in this process?

Absolutely nothing worth knowing. I learned that American political discourse is disgusting, cynical,  and pathetic process. And NO ONE comes out looking good.

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself: “You just now noticed this?”. And I think that question warrants an answer.

When I was a teenager, I was OBSESSED with politics. And being in a Bible-thumping Christian, private-school…you can probably venture to guess which side I found myself on. I wrote letter to my favorite governors, George W. Bush, and a number of other conservatives because they were my heroes. I even attempted (and nearly succeeded) to start a Young Republicans group in my county. Go ahead and laugh.

Of course, when I started college, I drifted leftward and got caught up in the Obama Revolution. Yet in my mid-twenties, I somewhat returned to a libertarian-like perspective. And I’m not going to lie, it sort of felt good to watch Hillary Clinton lose this past election. Yet, following politics got tiresome. I remember getting into online arguments where I literally felt sick afterwords. After the 2016 election, I swore to myself that I would never pay attention to politics again.

I was going to just be a casual observer…occasionally dropping in from time to time…but never fully immersing myself.

That is until yesterday.

Have you ever had a momentary lapse of judgement and fell back into your old, bad habits? Did it make you feel like a piece of shit? That’s how I feel today.

This is, of course, a philosophy blog. And I tend to it daily. So when one immerses oneself into the rigorous study of philosophy…normal things that people do start to look crazy. And it’s because being in constant engagement with philosophy causes you to question EVERYTHING. Plus, once when you realize you know NOTHING, the world becomes a bigger place and you start to feel kinda dumb.

So mainstream politics start to look idiotic, because you see people using arguments and “facts” improperly. And it all just ends up sounding like empty rhetoric. It doesn’t matter which side you agree with, they all sound like they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

And deep down, I think everyone knows that mainstream politics is bullshit. Even the people that peddle this crap would agree. If you take Alex Jones, isolate him from everything, and ask him if he truly believes the shit he says… I have no doubt that he would say “no, this is all entertainment.”

That’s what the “masses” don’t realize. Or they are denying it to themselves. When we turn on Fox News, CNN, or whatever the hell is out there…it’s all showbizz. You can hate Glenn Beck all you want, but during his primetime days, that mother fucker was an incredible showman! They all are.

And we all love a good showman. I’m not going to point fingers here, but clearly a certain segment of the population likes showmanship because that’s exactly what we have in the White House!

And for some reason or another, people actually believe that Donald Trump is genuine! I remember seeing a painting of Donald Trump where Jesus Christ was guiding his hand while signing a piece of legislation! What the fuck! I know that most people are over the initial shock of all of this, but I’m not! Holy shit! Just look at the man!

If you saw someone walking down the street that looked and acted like Donald Trump, would you trust that man with ANYTHING?! And yet we elected that guy into the White House!

In fact, EVERY article that talks about Trump should begin and end with: “what the fuck just happened?!”

But look, I’m not the one to point fingers. There was a lot more that I could have done, and I didn’t do any of it. So I share the blame for Donald Trump. Everyday that he remains in the White House, the shittier I feel. Perhaps when all of this is over, and Donald Trump is facing a tribunal for crimes against humanity, I wouldn’t blame any of you if I have to testify for my crime of inaction.

Yet if we can all admit that this was just one major, collective fuck-up… then we can turn this into a learning experience. Of course, one side can say “It was pretty fucking obvious that he was a psychopath”….and yes, it was pretty damn obvious. And you know what? All of us that voted for him or did nothing to stop him, we are ALL fucking idiots. So if a liberal tells you that you were stupid for voting for Trump, they’re right. Learn from it.

Anyways, I keep getting reminded of the infamous Karl Marx quote: “religion is opiate for the masses” (paraphrasing). It’s easy to see the truth behind that. But it’s harder to see that same mechanism in our politics. Religion is rooted in mysticism and, at one time, it served to distract us from the reality in front of us. We like to think our politics are rooted in fact and logic, it’s just that the “other side” is in complete denial about those facts. (Which is why I think it takes a lot of gall for Ben Shapiro to say “facts don’t care about your feelings”) The priest and the preacher no longer hold the sway they once did. Because we’ve replaced the minister with Brietbart, InfoWars, Fox News, Huffington Post, Salon, CNN……  

The Problem With “The Problem of Evil

You know, I’ve never really cared about the problem of “evil”. It’s never kept me up at night. It’s never really shook my philosophical convictions. It’s just something that sort of permeates all of reality. Asking me how I feel about evil is like asking me how I feel about time.

It sucks, but what can I do about it?

The reason I bring this subject up is because the question keeps getting asked. When I’ve been doing research for the last several post, the “problem of evil” seems to be a lingering issue. I got rid of the problem by stating something to the effect of “there is no good and evil, only KNOWLEDGE of good and evil.”

And I understand that that might sound crazy. Honestly, I don’t even remember what I meant by it. If I had to venture a guess, it probably means that good and evil don’t exist without a human mind. They aren’t things that are found “out there”, but are transposed onto the world by human rationality. So we don’t have knowledge of the “things-in-themselves”, we just have knowledge of the things we perceive.

Make sense? No? Oh well.

Basically evil can’t possibly exist without a human to say that it exists. And this is a position that most philosophically and scientifically minded people can agree upon. BUT, even though evil doesn’t actually EXIST, meaning that it’s not a material or demonic force at play, it is still something that we recognize and have to reckon with.

If you put a bunch of atheist philosophers and scientists into a room and ask them if they thought the Holocaust was an act of evil, all of them would probably emphatically say YES. So even though evil itself isn’t a part of a material reality, IT IS something EVERYONE recognizes. Exact specifications and definitions of evil vary among individuals and cultures, but there is a direct sense of “good and bad”, “right and wrong”, and “good and evil.”

So even though evil isn’t a part of physical existence, everybody (in their own way) recognizes it. Therefore we can’t just “wave it off” because it’s only a mental construction. Or, in other words, it’s a ‘real’ phenomenon. And the dichotomy between “good and bad” is something that we act on.

Yet even at that, it’s hard to demarcate where bad end and evil beings.

But, to me, the biggest problem with evil is that most of us think we’re incapable of it. We make a major assumption in thinking WE’RE good, and everything that acts against us is bad.

I like to think that I hate politics. I like to think that I can rise above that nonsense and see the goodness in both sides. Yet I found out that I’m not immune to any of it. I wasted a good part of my day getting into Twitter arguments.

Why?

Because I wanted to WIN

And that’s the real mechanism behind our American political discourse. Nay….ALL of political discourse.

I’ve mentioned before how, at least with the left-right spectrum in the US, politics make little sense. Issues that should be LIBERAL are CONSERVATIVE and vice-versa. Take the issue with guns. In my reasoning, liberals should be supportive of gun-rights because, in the name of freedom, safety cannot be guaranteed. In fact, an appeal to safety over freedom sounds pretty damn RIGHT-WING to me. But it doesn’t work that way. So American politics is just a clusterfuck of ideas. If you agree with ONE issue, you have to accept all the other issues that are linked to it. So nothing ends up making sense.

And because Americans see politics as a sporting event, we become DIE-HARD fans of one team. And OUR TEAM is always right and can do no wrong, and it’s all the information outlets that support our team… THAT’S where we get our news. So instead of making decisions and supporting ideas that will help ALL Americans, we say ‘fuck the other side’ because they aren’t a part of OUR TEAM.

But what does this have to do with evil?

Evil on a grand scale is conducted because separating ourselves into camps ends up causing dehumanization of the other side. Those on the Left see those on the Right as supporting racism and suppression of the poor, while those on the Right see the Left as…I dunno…hating the rich? I guess that goes to show you which side I’M on. But even I have the ability of dehumanizing those that disagree with me. So being in denial about our own abilities of evil, contributes to the problem of ongoing evil.

It’s often stated in my philosophical code to only concern oneself with the present. But I look at the state of modern politics and I wonder: “what the fuck are people going to think of this shit 100 years from now?”. Could people really not come to a consensus on climate change, gun control, abortion, etc?

And in our age of the internet, where it’s so easy to not have to interact with people on the other side, is it only going to become EASIER to dehumanize others. There’s so many platforms that only conform to one side of the political argument, that it should become a concern for the future of American political discourse. Hell, we can’t even tell what is ACTUAL news anymore.

Right-Wing pundit Ben Shapiro’s most used quote is: “facts don’t care about your feelings”. And that’s true. But what Ben fails to realize is…facts don’t care about HIS feelings either. Everyone has their own biased perception of a thing or event, and the reality is that it favors no one. Being chained to the left or the right requires a degree of self-denial. My most used quote is: “No one has a monopoly on truth.”

So undo this ‘problem of evil’, we must first realize that we are not always right. In fact, most of the time: WE ARE WRONG.

Ben Shapiro: In Search of White, Hot, American Machismo

As a disclaimer (because Shapiro has a law degree and probably googles himself) Ben probably did none of the things that I briefly describe in this post. I’m going through writer’s block, and I needed to do SOMETHING to get out of this rut. So Ben Shapiro, if you’re reading this (and I’m certain you will at some point), this post is my half-assed attempt at humor. If you don’t like it, you’re a public figure that’s better educated and makes more money than I ever will. You’ll get over it. Enjoy.

Welp, I’m officially out of ideas!

So what does one do when this happens? You talk about something you hate.

Now to be clear, I don’t hate Ben Shapiro. I don’t wish him ill-will, I just can’t stoop myself to those levels of wishing physical harm to someone. That’s just not my thing, you know?

But I do hate everything that has ever been said by Ben Shapiro.

Now I’m not going to lie, Ben is a smart guy. Talented, decent writer, etc. The man graduated from college at 20 and went on to Harvard Law School. You can’t be stupid and do those things. BUT, and this is probably why Ben utterly pisses me off, how could someone so smart be dedicated to something so stupid?

Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t disagree with everything that the Right has to offer. I might draw some hate for that, BUT I don’t tend to look at the world through a Right-Left spectrum. The reason I don’t identify as “conservative” is because, at least in America, conservatism is tied up with religious fervent. So even if their conclusions are sometimes correct, their reasoning is almost always flawed. (The modern Left, meanwhile, appears to have correct reasoning but dipshittery conclusions.) But the Right is concerned with appealing the worst aspects of the American psyche. Even though the politicians themselves rarely openly embrace a racist or nationalist agenda, they are appealing to those instincts. So whatever “good” ideas they might possess, almost always get overshadowed by the fact that they are appealing to a religious, racist, and nationalistic agenda.

I’m amazed that politicians are still regarding the Founding Fathers as some mythical beings. Almost as if the Bible itself promised the coming of America. And even though the man has been out of office for nearly 30 years, conservative media can’t go a day without mentioning Ronald Reagan. It’s the appeal to the past, which deceives us into believing that the olden days were better days (“Make America Great Again!”), that I believe is just plain asinine. Ronald Reagan might have been nice, but the Founding Fathers were all drunken slaveholders.

If America is to be ‘great’ (whatever that means), looking to the past is just plain idiotic. The past wasn’t great. It sucked and no one wanted to live during that time.

But what does  all of this have to do with Ben Shapiro?

Great question! (And I may or may not answer it!)

If you ever type in Shapiro’s name into YouTube, you’ll find that he routinely “wacks”, “dominates”, “shreds” and just about kicks every liberal ass that he finds. Why? Because Ben Shapiro is the Chuck Norris of political punditry. If you tell him that women have the right to do what they want with their bodies, he’ll promptly tell you to SHUT THE FUCK UP.  He’s so fucking sexy, only HE can tell women what to do with their bodies.

Ben Shapiro is so tough that when he saw of kid crying because his parents couldn’t afford health insurance, he yelled at the child saying TOUGH FUCKING LOVE KID, YOUR PARENTS ARE PIECES OF SHIT! And then stole his bike and robbed a pawn shop.

So don’t FUCK WITH BEN SHAPIRO.

Don’t believe me? Watch him BODY SLAM some poor unsuspecting college student for supporting transgenderism:

Believe in white privilege? You better fucking hide your ass because Shapiro will put you in a choke hold:

Want to gang up on him? Shapiro can fucking roundhouse kick your asses into submission:

It doesn’t matter if you’re a high school student or a college student, Ben Shapiro will fucking take your stupid ass downtown. So clearly he isn’t afraid of children.

On a serious note, I don’t know if I should feel sorry for Shapiro. He claims to have been bullied in school, so the only way he could presumably win fights is not through physical confrontation, but by simply using facts and rhetoric. So if anything, there’s a real anti-bullying lesson we should learn here: if you bully kids enough, they might turn into someone like Ben Shapiro.

Which  might explain his turn towards right-wing politics. Left-wing politics is more bleeding heart. You have a degree of empathy towards those less fortunate. You have to have an awareness of the injustices that permeate society and believe that something must be done about it. Conservatism, as it’s generally understood, is more individualistic and yet at the same time reinforces the old order. As long as your’re a part of the ruling class, you don’t have to have a lick of concern for those less fortunate: because (in this view) the poor just have to pull themselves up by the bootstraps.

This likely explains why so many that are trapped in white American machismo are linked to the Right. It allows them to feel powerful. It makes them feel great because they became great from their own innate abilities. Not because it’s a system that favors them. Once when you’re in power, you don’t want that taken away. In a sense, aligning yourself to the Right allows you to BE a bully.

So I have no doubt that Shapiro knows a thing or two about bullies. But he might have been projecting onto the Left what he himself was feeling when he wrote Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America.

Facts don’t care about your feelings. Because feelings are for the WEAK. And the weak are easy to defeat. Which is why Shapiro likely spends so much time on college campuses.

 

 

A New Theology: Part V- Revelation

 

Okay, this is the final chapter on this subject. I promise!

There is no Good and Evil. There is only knowledge of Good and Evil.

Knowledge itself is a problematic thing. As it is sometimes thought of, there’s the knowledge we receive through the senses, or a posteriori in Kantian terms. And then there’s a priori knowledge that is not dependent on sense experience.

(Of course an infamous example of an a priori statement is “all bachelors are unmarried”…because it’s true by definition. As where the statement “all bachelors are unhappy” is an a posteriori statement because the state of unhappiness is not found in the definition of ‘bachelor’ and would require a degree of sense data to justify.)

But how could we KNOW anything about God, IF such a Being actually governs over existence?

I stated prior that if God exists outside of our phenomenological field, we can’t know anything about Him. In a nutshell, we don’t have to rely on sense experience to arrive at knowledge. It is entirely possible that we can use our intuitions to gain higher insight. Because our mental phenomenon would be the one thing we share with God, our internal truths would be far more valuable for our spiritual well-being. Therefore we don’t have to rely on ancient texts or any sort of church-supported doctrine.

We are our own church.

So now the question we must ask ourselves is: how can we access and isolate this knowledge?

Perhaps not without controversy, Gnosticism as generally defined spoke of this “secret knowledge” that could liberate the “Divine Spark” within each person. This Spark is, I suppose, not necessarily a ‘soul’ that exists independent of God, but is actually a part of God Himself. So we all have access to God because WE ourselves ARE God. However, unlike the Gnostic tradition of frowning upon material existence, the physical world is a part of this Divine structure.

This means endorsing a pantheistic-like theology. Or, as I like to think of it, affirming a Spinozist-like God, where all substance IS made up of God. To clarify, not that God and material substance are the same thing, but that material substance (and indeed ourselves) are just modes of this Divinity. And each individual is a SPECIFIC mode, meaning that no two people share the exact same representation. Our internal revelations are specific to US, and only we have access to them. If we are to engage this Divine Spark, we must conduct rigorous reflection.

But does this Spark need to be liberated?

Is liberation what we are really seeking? Can we escape a material existence? The answer to the latter question is seemingly ‘no’. Because the material structure is embedded into our mode, an escape would be apparently futile. The only way “out” would not mean to retreat into “otherworldly” pursuits, but to find acceptance in this physical existence. Our demiurge-like deceptions (or the processes of the mind) tell us that we are in discord with nature, or we are not a part of it at all. We shouldn’t seek refuge from nature, but to engage this Spark, we must find our accord within material reality.

And material reality is not, as understood by human nature, a series of distinct causes and objects…but one continuous flow. If we consider Adam and Eve, and their fall from unity with God and Nature, their “knowledge” prompted them to view the world as a struggle between our nature and the Will of the Universe. This myth shouldn’t be considered a “true account” of the fall of man, but is instead a symbol of mankind’s attempt to rise above their nature.

Within us, are a set of truths which reveal something TO US. We don’t have to seek divine knowledge from a church, a priest, or even ancient scripture. Whatever we seek, we can find within ourselves, provided we are listening. When or where knowledge might reveal itself cannot be “predicted” I’ll say, so it requires us to remain ever conscious of reality. This Spark can be ignited at any moment. Provided we are in-tune with with this flow of reality, we can become enlightened at any moment.

This is why it’s important to not shut our minds off to certain ‘philosophies’, for a lack of a better description. It doesn’t mean to endorse those views, but it does mean to allow lessons and teaching to flow into your mind. Even ideas that are wrong, might reveal a shred of knowledge that was previously unnoticed. Ideas that support evil must also be examined, so that we may not venture down that path again. We cannot simply look the other way when knowledge and conceptions that contradict our worldview is presented. To combat problems, we must face them head-on. That’s the only path to find growth and acceptance within this ever-changing universe.

We deny the capabilities granted to us. We ignore the power of logic and reasoning, and just how powerful they are at presenting revelation. For a good part of life, we remain unconscious of our activities, non-curious about the reality around us. In short, we take life for granted.

But we don’t need a clergy to do our thinking. The great thinkers of antiquity have no greater insight into the universe than what we have. Whatever tools they used to arrive at their truths are available to us. We just need to empower ourselves, and engage our understanding to light our Divine Spark.

In summary, I’ve combined several philosophies and religions. Why? In short, because I can. But it has always bothered me to find people seeking inspiration from some charismatic source. Sources that are clearly just trying to sell books or peddle bullshit to the masses. And while ancient texts certainly contain nuggets of wisdom, those texts were written for an audience of a certain time. It’s the glorification of the past, and this false belief that the ancients were smarter than us, that is in fact HARMING us. Whatever tools they had, we can argue that we have better ones. But knowledge and inspiration isn’t limited to the ancient philosophers and the charismatic, it is embedded in all of us. We just have to open our minds to see it.

A New Theology: Part IV- The Gnostic Lens

The reality is that I write A LOT. I’m sure this New Theology seems somewhat perplexing. That’s understandable. But this is only my musings on how to rethink normal theology. I don’t know if it will make sense, and frankly I don’t care it does. To me, philosophy is supposed to be challenging and daring. Through it, we are to find our own voice. And I believe that I have found that by entertaining this New Theology.

I doubt that I’ve constructed any sort of consistent “theology”, if you will. In the post regarding stoicism, I stated that passiveness is not a virtue. If we want to extend that out, I suppose we could argue that we should engage in the physical world rather than remain a mere passenger. Therefore, this allows us to create our own paths and maximize our “freedoms”.

And there are many variations that we could derive from that maxim. Yet I suppose that some might see it as an endorsement of the material world. Even though the skeptic within me wishes to err on the side of materialism/physicalism as the basis of all reality, the human side of me doesn’t want to reduce it to that end. As I’ve joked before, “I want to deny physical reality.” And as the history of knowledge has shown: we cannot wholly trust our senses and methodologies to arrive at “truths”. Old scientific systems get replaced by new ones,we find more truths buried under established truths, etc. Yet our inductive methods of learning the world are the best tool we have. And if we wish to discredit this tool, we have to apply more inductive research. Additionally, the senses we use to construct methodologies of research and understanding are notoriously misleading.

How we developed our sense of phenomenological perception is presumably due to evolution adapting us to a set of noumena (or the Kantian “things-in-themselves). It’s entirely possible that a different set of “intelligence”, which developed at a different part of the universe, would have a completely different phenomenological experience. And therefore having a different set of maths, sciences, etc. If ants grew to take over the world instead of us, would they have arrived at the same conclusions we have?

It appears that we are being “deceived”. We don’t actually have “true knowledge” of the real world.

Now I don’t want to venture off into the mystical, and then say that we are being actively deceived by some demonic force. But if I may steal some Gnostic terminology, our phenomenological field is our own “demiurge”; a misleading characterization of the things-in-themselves. Our perceptions may reveal qualities of the noumatic reality, but are not full and complete representations. EVEN THOUGH they are presented that way. And our minds appear to be limited by this demiurge. Any knowledge that we may receive should be questioned, or at least not taken at face value. I would even venture to say that we can apply that logic to, well…logic itself.

Now clearly we are coming across a MAJOR problem. The only way to refute the methodologies of the mind is to USE the methodologies of the mind. If we have to accept this, we might as well stop doing philosophy because it will reveal nothing real to us. So out of a lack of a better argument, I’ll just ignore this fact.

BUT, we can apply this line of skepticism down to traditional theology. If God exists, and there are things that we can know about Him, then we would have learned those things through our demiurge (i.e. our mind). And our mental capacities, as previously demonstrated, are fallible. Whatever supposed “facts” that we learn about God (either through ancient scripture, logic, or even empirical evidence!), we can question its validity. So whatever God or deities that might exist independent of perception would presumably go above and beyond any sort of human comprehension. A being that is not bound by our phenomenological existence would simply be…unfathomable. Therefore, in all likelihood, whatever information that WE HAVE received about God would be false or misleading regarding the totality of His existence.

Again, no demonic or mythical force is necessary here. Our minds simply act as our demiurge. And because of our finite and fallible capacities, it is likely that we are “cut-off” by a mind independent reality. And so we have yet to escape Kant’s philosophical conclusions: we don’t have knowledge of things-in-themselves. We are essentially “cut off” from God. Therefore there’s little sense in speculating about His existence.

UNLESS, we take certain presumptions about the capabilities of God. Namely, that God is capable of OUR phenomenological capabilities. Or, more specifically, our abilities “branch” out of His. If we are to take a physicalist/materialist assumption (and say that our minds are generated from a material substance) we could argue that, out of God branched out material substance. Or, perhaps more importantly, God is embedded into reality. The material world IS God. This would mean embracing a near (or total) pantheistic or panpsychic view of the universe.

Therefore, the demiurge-like deception lies not in the material world, but by providing an illusion that God is “out there” rather than “right here”…that God is somehow not a part of His creation.

I suppose we can say there’s an almost Manichean-like duality that permeates physical reality. This isn’t a battle between the material world and a supernatural world of ideas, but the struggle itself is firmly embedded into perceptual existence. And we directly take part in this battle. BUT (and here’s where I might completely derail if I haven’t already) this duality only exists within human consciousness. “Good and Evil” are the constructs of the mind. Obviously. And exact definitions of these two extremes vary among cultures. But, if I may make an assumption about all of humanity, such demarcations are made by all peoples. Somewhere, somehow, these two polar extremes become separated. Such constructions may have always existed within high-functioning minds. And if that were the case, is unification the end objective?

Again, I’m falling into a Hegelian-like argument that I wish to avoid. There isn’t an end objective for all of history. Good and Evil are not thesis and antithesis, which will later be synthesized. Instead it’s through our deceptive minds that such distinctions get made. It isn’t a case of HOW to unify, it’s a case of how to get RID of Good and Evil.

Mich has been made about mankind’s fall into damnation…how we somehow fell out of accord with nature. Perhaps the most famous mythical account is that of Adam and Eve: Once unified with nature, but through deception, they ate of the tree of knowledge and all subsequent generations were DAMNED. This burden of knowledge has been both our blessing and curse. Instead of living in accordance with nature, we’ve made ourselves a beast above it: dividing our knowledge into extremes…forever separating it into distinct phenomenological events. On and on this goes, with no end in sight.

It’s not as simple as turning back the clock. The knowledge we have gained cannot be put back into Pandora’s Box. It has become an extension of who WE ARE. So we could argue that this knowledge should not be forsaken. But because of our self-delusion, we have failed to understand what we DO know. We perceive the world as distinct and separate objects, and that they hold no relation to one another. So we ourselves have become distinguishable from nature. Clearly, to move past this barrier…the barrier must be removed.

A consistent theme with this “new theology” is the flowing stream of the universe. I’ve said previously that it was flowing FORWARD in time, yet it could be flowing in all directions. Yet our perceptions might only reveal a “forward only” direction (which may or may not conflict with traditional physics). But we apply division to physical reality because evolution needed to help us navigate a mind-independent world. Unfortunately, this division of material has brought us to near conflict with nature, each other, and ourselves.

As some quote that I recently heard stated (and I’m paraphrasing): “A flower doesn’t compete with a flower next to it. It just blossoms.” The only objective that we have in life (if we choose to accept it), is to blossom and grow.

And even though there appears to be many inconsistencies and contradictions embedded in phenomenological experience, it appears that mind shouldn’t be. There simply isn’t a reason for our reasons. Yet…they’re there. Descartes may have made many mistakes, yet the cogito ergo sum seems to be on to something. I may not be able to prove that “I” exist, but something is going on.

If I can’t know anything outside of this something, we may not know God. But if God isn’t capable of OUR something, could He really be considered all Powerful? Reality, or our existence, is a difficult thing to explain. And we often fail to appreciate how incredible this experience is. If we desire to understand something about God, we can’t search beyond to some supernatural world. If such a thing were possible, we couldn’t access it. The only direction to go isn’t “outward”, but to reach within. Because indeed, this consciousness would be the only thing we could have in common with God. If we are to know God, we needn’t look farther than our own material existence.

So do we actually possess this Knowledge?