(Paradigm, Assignees’ Prerogative and Authentic Self)
(note: these articles were written using the odd picture and symbolic equation that will not show up here, a thousand apologies)
The larger a society or confederacy, the greater the amalgamation of collusive factors – which is typical of every large organization – the more aggravated the moral and spiritual degeneration of the individual.
The absurd depends as much on man as it does on the world. For the moment it is all that links them together. It binds them one to the other as only hatred can weld two creatures together. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.
1. The Philosophy Generator.
Most philosophies that get published are arguments intended for other philosophers to contemplate. This book is not just that. This book is for adults interested in gaining an understanding of the Human condition via a simple, yet scientifically thorough method. Examining typical scenarios from ordinary circumstances, this book, while a legitimate philosophical proof, is intended as self-help. The proof has no requirements nor expectations of you. Anyone can gain from understanding the diagram above.
2. The Black Sheep says, No!
Human ability to interfere with our own ideas gives us the unique power to work against ourselves or defy what nature would likely do. It doesn’t seem logical when stated as such, nevertheless, to date, we are the only species we know of to act in this way. Through my interests, hobbies and eventually my studies since 1995 I have come to understand at least a part of why this has happened, how it works and what can be done to help facilitate the necessary corrections. I am not alone in claiming this feat, there are many books, films, classes etcetera that can help you find peace, understanding, knowledge, strength, God, whatever it might be that you find yourself lacking. There has been self-help type books and seminars for thousands of years. The philosophy generator should prove to be more of a habit of consideration than a recipe for success. Success is a matter of opinion and we are primarily concerned with fact. This is of a different sort of self-help type information, it doesn’t promise to give any warmth, hope or even strength. It is quite probable that some readers may even become upset with the understanding that can be achieved by the following chapters, for it is within you that you must find it.
…and we, you and I, my friend, are a mess!
This is a primer that, in plain and efficient language, with a tireless commitment to reason, can provide you with nothing less than an original point of view. A way to find a place to come from that will, if you need it to, change the way you experience everything. A new standard by which you can measure truth or worth and thereby decide smartly, or not at all. After we’ve established the standard, we will use it to re-examine our realities. Other procedural manuals are composed by authors often specializing in one discipline. Many of these fine lessons illumine my chapters. The difference being that we will be examining these lessons from both sides of the story and ultimately from within ourselves.
The term Authentic Self is valid and there is certainly a very real opportunity to make money by selling pathways to it, but the definition being touted by its proponents is inaccurate. So you have Dr. Phil talking about Authentic Self as who you were created to be instead of who you were taught to be… (from his website.) You may have seen Eckhart Tolle, spiritualist and author on the Oprah Winfrey show teaching that our ego’s are products of our experiences and possibly should not be trusted, certainly at the least scrutinized. Both basically the same argument, ‘you are a product of your paradigms and they require evaluation.’ It turns out that we agree with each other, even to the point of creationism. But the problem with many of these works is that there is still a leap of faith insisted upon us. Not that my issue is that Dr. Phil uses the word created, (he could after all mean ‘biologically created,’) or that Mr. Tolle goes on to re-interpret the New Testament Bible to apply validity to his theories. I’d be guilty of wearing the same blinders as they if I were to argue with them and I’m not here to take anything from anyone. (Neither of us can prove or disprove the existence of God.) Is a classical psychotherapist’s opinion any more valuable than a spiritualist if the topic is the human worth of globalization with centralized governance?
The individualistic approach of the new age self-help movement, also denies much of the source of our self-defeating behaviour, namely societies influence. It’s important to stress that I am not claiming that the tenets of any particular faith are invalid, I’m arguing that the requirement of faith in order to explain fact is. (Besides, you’re going to find that even the facts are very strange…)
You are now, and will remain eternally, entitled to believe whatever nonsense you like. You’re going to do it anyway. You can’t help it. It comes at you from all angles, twenty-four hours a day. Don’t bother trying to blame T.V. or other modern distractions for the consistent barrage of often questionable information. It’s been this way for all of recorded history. This is right, this is wrong, this was bad, this will be good, you are this, I can’t be that… Only the delivery vehicles have changed. It is now systemic. It is automatically ingrained, as you are, after your birth, by practice and by influence, dragged unhappily away from purity and into reality. As are your children, as are your grandchildren, until someone, perhaps the black sheep, says No!
Have you ever thought about why it is that reality must be taught? Furthermore, why is it that what we learn is so very often different from what we use? Who decided that the lessons we receive are better than the pure existence we are borne into? Have you ever wondered about the origin of the rules: how or why a particular, seemingly unconscious moral finds it’s way to be expressed through your personality? Do you have the courage to take a long look at ideas that go directly against what you’ve come to understand as truth? Can you summon the foresight to imagine that you are not, in fact, fully in charge of your thoughts, then contemplate what that means? These are not light questions and shouldn’t be thought of as such. They are extremely and equally powerful personal affronts. They are akin to the great questions of all time, Why are we here? Is there a God? Is there a purpose?
There are tangible answers to be found within this new awareness. Not that anyone but you could decide upon them but everyone deserves the opportunity to understand themselves and their environments. If the veil of other people’s ancient thoughts and opinions can be known it can be made transparent. Then you can, perhaps for the first time in your life, make up your own mind. The word ‘philosophy,’ like a lot of words, has more than one definition. We are concerned with mainly three: 1.) A person does philosophy by logically examining ideas with fair but critical eye. (Reasoning.) 2.) A person has a philosophy, an outlook, a position, an opinion on any particular subject. (Paradigm.) 3.) Calmness in temper and judgement. (To be philosophic is to be contemplative.)
In a way, The Matrix, as depicted in the Wachowski brothers’ trilogy of films, is true. Not that humans are full grown embryonic batteries fulfilling some necessary mechanistic energy need, rather that humans go through the motions of life, barely contemplating the steps we take. We never mind at all why we take them. That is not to say we don’t plan things. We do, despite our plans not necessarily being in our best interest. Yet even our plans are not our own, in most instances. Within this Matrix, there are forces that, by being aware, are able to have some form of control, or more precisely, a usable understanding of the true nature of reality. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet figured out how to warp time or space like Neo and Agent Smith, (see next book.) I can tell you that most modern humans are in a near constant state of trance and you can use nifty Jedi mind tricks in your daily lives.
The popularity of the ideas expressed in the Matrix films, the paranoia epitomised at the Y2K non-phenomena and the events of September 11th, 2001 are social manifestations of forced paradigm shift. The term paradigm shift was coined by Thomas Kuhn. It is used to describe a broad stroke changing of minds on any given idea. For instance; Before air travel was common the idea of getting from Europe to America in one day was unthinkable. These paradigm shifts can also be different ways of exposing the lack of control we have over our own existence. In the Matrix films, every human, thinking he or she is alive, is actually a computer program with all the events of a life predetermined. At midnight January 1st, 2000, no planes fell out of the sky, no bank machines started spewing money due to the roll-over of old computer clocks. Almost nothing out of the ordinary happened. Yet, it was all we could talk about, millions of dollars were spent preparing for it and millions of dollars were made selling the fear of it. In Manhattan, on September 11th, 2001 a lot of minds were changed all over the world on a good number of ideas. Since that day, minds continue to change and be changed to such a marked degree that it may someday be hailed as the largest contributor to the new enlightenment.
Exciting, isn’t it?
The place where many of your decisions are made is built from concepts that have been exposed to you. Some things you will have decided upon but for a large part, you know things because somebody wanted you to. Accepting this as fact is a good and necessary start. However, it is as liberating as it is frightening to take the next step and ask, Is it right? This is where the argument currently begins and ends. For you will fight forever with the demon and angel on your respective shoulders trying to separate ideas or ideals with the confusion that clouds your mind from years of indoctrination. Herein lies an unfortunate Human truth: Until there is a drastic change not only in what we think, the way we think as well as the way we learn to think, the deciding over ideas/ideals will remain left to opinion, be it falsely developed, socially engineered or naturally exposed. It was this belief, through my discovery of self, what self entails and by my own curiosity that I began to discover what I might come to believe if left to my own devices. Is that not our ultimate goal? To make up our own minds and trust the decision?
In the nineties, in my hometown, we experienced an explosion of information. It might have occurred earlier for you, but for my family, 1995 was the year we got the internet and doubled our cable t.v. channels. There seemed to be a myriad of distractions on t.v., a channel for everything and a simple name for each: The Food Channel, The History Channel, The Speed Channel, etc. In 1995, online, there didn’t seem to be much more than websites catering to the novelty of the internet itself. The internet was another new idea to absorb, and I, along with everyone else, was making it up as I went. Through this new, steady stream of information I began to unconsciously expose myself to alternative concepts. Then I began, out of interest, to seek them out. I didn’t have to look very hard or long to find a plethora of viewpoints evolving from without and within, which is in and of itself an important lesson.
The hardest mind to change is your own, not because you’re right or wrong, but because you’re proud and vain. This leads to the conclusion that the most logically open minded approach to that which must be left to opinion for lack of empirical fact, is one where NO decision need be made. This philosophy dares to leave the question open ended until any or all evidence has been presented. It states, in the absence of convincement, that It’s okay to not know, and unlike the humanist movement, it refuses no claims – be they spiritual leanings or supernatural curiosities. The ultimate viewpoint is that where assignment in unnecessary. When this viewpoint is assimilated to the point of replacing the varied, yet somehow narrow, viewpoints of modern societies, anything will be possible. I call it Assignee’s Prerogative. It means you’re aware that you give your paradigms their amount of influence. Awareness of Assignee’s Prerogative has been dubbed Authentic Self and I’m happy with this term as well, I just defer to the causation . Assignee’s Prerogative reminds the Authentic Self of how and why it became established.
The inciting incident that set me on the path to this conclusion came in the form of documentaries I watched in 1995. The Learning Channel and The Discovery Channel seemed to me to be at a loss for programming, and would often repeat the same shows, or at least the same subjects. Through these programmes with titles like, The Riddle of the Sphinx and The Quest for the Lost Civilization I came to learn of Graham Hancock, Robert Bauvall, Dr. Robert Schoch and John Anthony West. These men, some actual scientists, some investigative authors, were studying subjects that had interested me for years, but they were looking at things with new eyes and came to conclusions that I found fascinating. Briefly, these men, each in their specialty, had come together with some seemingly unrelated observations that came to a consistent conclusion. Namely, that our ideas about ancient time-lines are most likely dangerously out of kilter, at least in terms of the amazing monuments of our planet.
John Anthony West noticed one day, while looking at photographs of the stone enclosure that surrounds all but the front face of the Sphinx, that the wall had an undulating profile of wear indicative of weathering by water. As the story goes, he took his photograph, covered the head of the Sphinx and showed it to some Geologists asking, What type of weathering is seen here? Without fail the Geologists would claim, This is perfect example of rock wear due to heavy rains. Mr. West would then peel off the post-it note covering the head of the Sphinx and the Geologists would say, Oh, and that was about all. No one wanted to play ball with his theory until he found an open minded Geologists named Robert Schoch. They went to the Giza Plateau and did extensive studies of the Sphinx and it’s enclosure. They found what they considered irrefutable evidence, and to this day, the only rebuttal has come in the form of disbelief, a seeking for more physical evidence beyond that of geology, rather than a denial of the Science Dr. Schoch was presenting. Geologists, for the most part would defer, no matter how intrigued, to the Archeologists who only wanted a piece of pottery from the same time frame. The inner workings of the how, when and why of the Sphinx weather wearing pattern came through the teamwork of imagination, astronomy and climatology by Robert Bauvall and Graham Hancock. They started to poke around with the obvious question, So when were there torrential rains (or any form of consistent rain) on the Giza Plateau? The answer found in climatology models was that of around ten thousand BC to twelve thousand BC. The argument of these for men then became that if the Sphinx enclosure suffered such noticeable weathering it must have been constructed well before the rainy period. Therefore, the Egyptologists who claim the Sphinx was built around four thousand B.C. must be incorrect, and in all likely-hood that would be the time that the stone creature was remodeled or repaired.
Now, I freely admit, that at this time, and for no short period afterwards, I was downright gullible. To be honest, I, like my fourteen year old son admitted to me recently, like knowing secrets, even if they’re not true. I have come to be a much better scrutineer since those days, but only very recently. I was of the opinion that if these Scientists, even if being persecuted by fellow Scientists, were underdogs and should be rooted for, believed and trusted. So I did. I became excited at the knowledge I could absorb. I began watching the excellent program NOVA on PBS. I began studying physics, cosmology, psychology, philosophy. I made myself familiar with ancient cultures, ancient practices. I began to wonder about the stranger things in life, God, Aliens, Atlantis, existence itself….
I began to seek out knowledge of these subjects through empirical science wherever possible. For instance, Physicist Stephen Hawking proved in a very brief paper that some things can escape the gravitational pull of black holes. This discovery, like the weathering of the Sphinx enclosure are two examples of ideas we used to have and are unable to have anymore. We were wrong. If we were wrong about the age of the Sphinx and about the inescapability of black holes, what else are we wrong about? I didn’t know it at the time, but the decision not to decide was staring me in the face. Is it not better to just let information in and not bother to judge whether it is true? Truth of the easily proven is most often self-apparent and each of us will decide what leaps of faith we are prepared to take. (Assignee’s Prerogative.) More and more as Science progresses the list of things we take on faith is getting shorter and the list of empirical fact grows.
As much time as I spent studying Hawking, Sagan or any of the classic Science papers I also read Castaneda, Von Daniken and the more fringe theorists, because who am I to argue that these are ridiculous fantasies? Let’s not forget that fiction can also teach you a lot about reality; Huxley, Orwell, Camus, Sagan, Asimov. (There will be an extensive bibliography at the end.) More recently, since the moment my curiosities began to develop a direction of study, I have had to further hone my studies. I found that I could notice and comprehend these more alternate concepts, even appreciate their validity, but I couldn’t prove or even express any real understanding. Enter the study of Philosophy and the use of symbolic logic. It is hoped that by the end of this book you will have learned enough symbolic logic to have developed at least an appreciation of it’s utility. Perhaps having the validity of my theories proved to you will entice you to undertake further study. Please don’t let the algebraic look of logic frighten you. The letters are representative of ideas, not the words that represent the ideas. I find one of the more fun aspects of this book is that once you wrap your mind around this stuff you do feel somewhat empowered and as I hinted at earlier, I’m sure you’ll find reality to be as entertaining as any imagination.
I happen to believe that a God in my Universe makes sense. I don’t know if any interpretation of who or what God is that has yet or will ever be expounded is correct. I only have the argument that there can be no effect without cause. What caused God is not a concern for me, as where my God resides is also where I allow logic to break down. As I am aware of the duality of the Universe, (something that is empirically provable ie: matter/antimatter,) there must be a degree of opposition. If there is opposition then, literally, anything is possible. Perhaps we will get into this later, but for now, understand that whether or not I believe in God shouldn’t be part of your decision to accept or deny my philosophy. (If it is you really need to keep reading.) Besides, I haven’t always believed in God. As a teenager, perhaps because I was a teenager, like so many others filled with angst and disillusionment, I spent many years as an existentialist atheist of sorts. Perhaps someday some new information or theory will change my mind again, or even confirm my current indulgence.
To reiterate, and hopefully encapsulate, time is going to change you as it does all things. It does so by changing your opinion about things and as change is the only thing that remains constant, to be narrow-minded in your approach in counter-productive. The ultimate open mind is achievable and is not an unreasonable place to be. Prove what can be and only decide on the unprovable when you must. Strive to always consider things from your own, original viewpoint. At first it sounds so simple, but as you will learn, it takes remarkable effort to sweep out the cobwebs created by outdated modes of thinking. We must purge any old misconceptions and formulations. We must first gain an understanding of what many will find to be a variety of unrelated subjects from psychology to cosmology, philosophy to physics. We need to have a shared vocabulary of concepts that are already in our toolkit or we won’t be able to get any work done. I humbly submit my philosophy generator as an instruction manual for individual social responsibility. I realize the awesome arrogance of this statement but please remember that none of these ideas are original. I’ve just assembled a workable collection of concepts to a conclusion that, while productive and logical, is clearly not yet the norm of society. I believe it should be.
It’s not only ideas and reactions that are not your own, it’s everything, including language. Often, you’re surprised to find what a word actually means when you ignore what you’ve always thought it meant. For instance the word, Conspiracy (taken from the french, it literally means to breath together) was in no way attached to it’s modern negative connotation when born in the fourteenth century until it became married to the concept of Assassination in the twentieth. Originally conspiracy was understood as just to plan or plot, together. You could conspire to have your family survive the winter after a failed crop. As you can see, it fits well, but the assignation of the negative concept overwrites our past understanding and produces a new opinion of the word. Soon thereafter, we will have taught our children about conspiracy, they won’t even be aware that it was once clear of any negative OR positive attachments. ‘Conspiracy’ had a much longer peaceful connotation that it’s latter punished one. Such is the difference between Assignee’s Prerogative and our current insisted upon reality. We mustn’t let that happen.
3. Putting Paradigm in it’s Place.
A paradigm is defined as a model or pattern. For our purposes consider it a way of thinking about any given subject. A paradigm is a way to understand something through associative groups of ideas. So to change your mind is to change your paradigm. It’s not that simple of course, but it will be after your Paradigm paradigm is in place.
Paradigms are built out of networks of associations. You might think you’ve decided that your favourite colour is blue, but it’s been decided for you by the mess of associations you have for the concept of blue. An example of an association could be a memory, or just a simple thought. Imagine that inside your brain there is a complicated three dimensional web of tiny blood vessels that connect to each other at millions upon millions of junctions. A junction could have many blood vessels coming in and out of it, or it might be dangling by itself at the end of one vessel. In our metaphor, inside each of the junctions is a single purpose, it could be an idea, concept, thought, or memory. The complexity of the web develops as associations physically link junctions together. So, in a simple scenario, the child understands that cookies taste yummy because some sensory junctions have connected the concepts of cookie to the concepts of yummy. (Bypassing the obvious associations of cookie to food, eat, grab etc.) Or rather, Cookie > Yummy. The horseshoe symbol creates an if… then statement. So C > Y means if it’s a cookie, then it’s yummy. A complete statement with subject and predicate, following rules very similar to grade school English grammar. To change the child’s Cookie Paradigm, bake cookies out of something less delicious, say sourdough/asparagus flavour. Now the child has difficulty accepting that this new thing is even a cookie at all. Perhaps, this new thing > Not Cookie, or Cookie > ? The child’s cookie paradigm has shifted.
Thomas Kuhn opened minds to both ideas of ‘paradigm’ and ‘paradigm shift.’ He also commented on how paradigm could get in the way of communication. If two scientists had different ways of looking at a problem, different paradigms about the same subject, they might have trouble communicating. He called it scientific paradigm incommensurability. Kuhn, in my opinion, kind of missed the boat by limiting his definitions. It was as if he wanted to keep the ideas of paradigm for the exclusive use of scientists. I can’t speak to his motives or otherwise, but by not realizing the social benefit a utilitarian appreciation of ‘paradigm’ provides, Kuhn lost any chance to define its boundaries. Also fascinating to assume is Kuhn’s apparent ignorance of the real power his little idea contained. He would later acknowledge its takeover, by further narrowing his view, to coin exemplars: paradigms generally accepted as rule.
The differences of ‘paradigm’ are the differences of language, of lesson, of opinion, of desire, etc. They are the very stuff that makes us individual. My rules for paradigm have been borne of the failure of Kuhn to extrapolate the social potential of his idea. I’m not alone in having done this but I seem to be in my definition. The Anti-Social movement is strong. After the idea of paradigm was modernized by Kuhn, even it’s limited infancy, how could scientists, authors, corporations, et al not borrow its universal nature and hone it as they required?
Science goes through stages, much like all things do. A natural lengthy phase where the norm is established then a more exciting, revolutionary phase where Things Change. Then the change becomes the norm. Thus the birth of the shift, but where is the overall acceptance of its power? We come to a shift, we accept the shift, we change our paradigm. If we are lucky we realize we just made the shift. If we are brave we examine what it means to have made ANY shift and how it might empower us to make pre-emptive shifts where necessary. (Thomas Kuhn rolls over in grave.)
Let’s look at another common paradigm, the idea of Bed. Be it an extravagant, luxurious set up at a five star hotel or a dirty horse blanket in the desert, bed is a concept that you began to understand before you can even remember. At first it was probably associated with sleep, comfort, warmth, perhaps even love as your parents may have read you stories, kissed you and tucked you in. Your associative group is made up of a few junctions. Within a few years, it is likely that ‘bed’ might run a fresh line to a new junction, ‘punishment.’ Maybe you are sent to bed without dinner, or you feel that your bedtime is unfair. Later still in life the idea of bed will most likely become linked to many other junctions; Romance, sex, power, misery, laundry, whatever… You can see how the list can be as lengthy as the newly forming associations in your mind. (Incidentally, my metaphor isn’t too far from the physical truth of your brain, this is the way it actually works!)
By the time you are in your mid twenties your mind is essentially made up. (A little bit earlier than that for females.) That is not to say that you can’t make new junctions, in fact, very recent studies have shown that neuro-plasticity, or your brains’ ability to physically change remains healthy throughout most of your life. However, you are not going to make as many new associative connections in the remaining seventy or so years of your life as you did in the first twenty because the ‘forming’ brain is the most pliable. Fret not, for you can take comfort in the fact that you are much more likely (in your wisdom) to recognize epiphaniacle experiences as new junctions are created or connected to create A-ha! moments. These moments of strong realization, something almost all humans can relate to, are associative networks of ideas that are connecting into super highways of thought, built of blood flow and tiny discharges of electricity.
Let’s argue that in whatever world I live, the concepts of bed and sex are connected but the idea of prostitution is a complete unknown. In such a paradigm there is no link between bed and income. Then, one day through no fault of my own, I become aware of prostitution. Suddenly, I am able to link bed to sex to income. Perhaps I’ll become involved in prostitution in such a way that I become unable to think of bed in my old paradigm. It’s possible that, after the paradigm shift, and suffering the lifestyle of a typical prostitute, I will forever look at bed with negative feelings, and not at all remember the comfort or warmth of my earlier associations. I say, This life stinks and I’m trapped in it. Such is the nature and the power of paradigm shift. (This was a long term case example, a very similar effect could be achieved in one horrible evening of abuse.)
Now let’s imagine I latch onto prostitution with a lively vigor that will eventually lead me to become the Madame of the largest whorehouse in the world. I’ve had my scrapes and paid my dues much as the first prostitute did, but I never let anyone change my spirit and now I look at beds and see them as puffy white clouds taking my clients to Heaven. I am successful, healthy and happy. I happen to love sex, I’m good at it, I’m good at business, therefore ‘Bed’ > ‘Success.’ The outlook of the first prostitute was exactly the same as the second ones’ at the beginning. They both just became aware that prostitution existed. They both decided it was for them. The first one had experiences that lead her to associate ‘bed’ with ‘pain.’ The second one had similar experiences that lead her to associate ‘bed’ with ‘success.’ The difference being that the second one had an understanding of paradigms. Sure, she didn’t call it that, she just never let anyone ‘change her mind.’ She was going to be successful and she was. It could have gone the other way despite her attitude, but it didn’t. The first prostitute has no idea of paradigms. She lives in a reality where things happen to her. She has no control over her life. She had (unconsciously) decided that things were going to be bad in this life, and (surprise!) they are.
I use prostitutes in my explanation because they are an ancient idea that is still commonplace today and they bring morals into the equation. Let’s call the first one, the unsuccessful, unhappy one, Britney. And let’s name the second, successful whore, Christina. So far Britney has demonstrated Paradigm Ignorance, (or unconscious paradigms,) by not accepting responsibility for her positions, (she’s a person that things happen to.) She’s had small but relevant paradigm shifts and used Assignee’s Prerogative to her disadvantage by attaching negativity. (She considers her experiences to be sufferances.)
Christina has illustrated Paradigm Cognition by her decision to not allow her paradigm to be displaced and by not assigning negativity to unpleasant associations she used ‘Assignee’s Prerogative’ to her advantage. If you had to decide between them both, surely all would agree that by any standard Christina was a happier, more successful and more productive hooker.
Yeah, but, she’s still a hooker!
Exactly! So what? What do you think of that? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why are you deciding on that? Do you have to? Is your life going to be altered in some way if you just let the idea of prostitution be and assign nothing to it’s paradigm? Do you know any hookers, is your sister a whore? No, then what bloody difference does it make? Let it go! This is not possible for the vast majority of humans because we must decide. How can we help but form an opinion? How can we truly know anything if we can’t have an opinion of it? Some of us might even go so far as to believe ourselves when we say we have no opinion of prostitutes, (we’re not judgemental.) Then we cross the street to avoid the busy corner. In the preceding example of ‘bed,’ we were able to successfully join the concept to ‘income’ through ‘prostitution.’ This paradigm shift (the realization of the concept of prostitution,) is a side effect of maturing, or rather becoming knowledgeable, that I call Paradigm Tarnishing. It’s taken your positive connotations of bed and attached them to something you find uncomfortable. The effect is probably more recognizable in the common lessons of disappointing ilk, Your parents lie. Your teacher is an idiot. Your cat ate its kittens. The experiences happen without you knowing the how or why, once you are aware of these you’ll be able to do something to control your self, presuming you can’t already.
The connections of the junctions linking the simple concepts, (bed + sex + income) > prostitution are only the core of the association. On top of that are many other pathways to junctions varied by each individual and formed uniquely to build your own ‘prostitution’ paradigm. I can only guess at what weird or wonderful things are rattling around in your head when you think of bed. (Incidentally, there is no Paradigm Polishing, the opposite of Tarnishing because Paradigm Cognition polishes approaches by default and attaching positive associations to negative concepts is stupidly dangerous. It does, however, try to get presented to us constantly; Friendly Fire…. Near Miss… Acceptable Losses…) And we do it to ourselves by, for example, enjoying a delicious cigarette.
One thing certainly experienced by modern humans is the urgent desire to form an opinion of any given subject, immediately and often in spite of not having any foreknowledge or understanding of it. If you wish to test the hypothesis just ask anyone what they think of anything, especially if they have no way of knowing it. (Here the language gives away the nature of the question. There is a marked difference between questions that start either: Tell me what you think about… and Tell me what you know about…) This enormous egocentric fault is demonstrated by our ability to work against our own best interests. It is also at the core of my argument.
So, I ask you now, think about your bed. Think back to all the beds you’ve had. Remember all the associations you have made with ‘bed.’ What do you think about when I suggest you think about ‘bed’ I bet it’s quite a bit different from what you would if I asked you to think about prostitution. If you were to jot it all down in two columns and then beside, make two more columns cataloging everything you knew about ‘bed’ and ‘prostitution,’ the latter list would be much shorter. The difference between the two is opinion formed, and strongly held. Think of it this way, your paradigms are built up of what you have learned through experience. They are not your opinions, they are what form your opinions, networks of associations. The paradigms are meat and the opinions created are the gravy. With apologies to vegetarians, I’ve certainly experienced that gravy can make your meal better or worse. You probably have a healthy, normal paradigm where you think very banal thoughts about ‘bed.’ It’s almost nothing, barely registers on the emotional radar. ‘Prostitution’ gets a stronger response because there are morals attached and therefore more junctions involved. The cascading avalanche of connectivity leads to a stronger mental reaction.
If the person holds powerful associations within their paradigm they may be physically manifest in discolouration, outbursts, violence, etc. It’s as complicated as they need to make it. I remember when I came to understand what I’ve explained to you thus far. It was a moment of empowerment. As Spalding Gray says in Monster in a Box To name it is to claim it and to claim it is to take away it’s power. Once I understood Paradigm, opinion, the physical work occurring in the brain much as I’ve described, I thought I was so much wiser than my friends. It turned out that wisdom runs faster than I can and my friends were happier than I was. It’s important that we understand the significance of the concept of Paradigms for five reasons: 1.) We can understand our thoughts are formed by associations. 2.) We can examine the constructive associations of our paradigms and evaluate their validity. 3.) We can assign or re-assign importance or value to our paradigms using Assignee’s Prerogative. 4.) We can reclaim identity through the formulation of our own, original opinions. (Authentic Self.) 5.) If the examination exposes previously unconscious paradigms, you have by definition, discovered at least some of your Authentic Self.
Or: ‘If exposing Paradigm creates Authentic Self and Evaluation is the key to exposing paradigm, then Evaluation is the key to Authentic Self.
E > P
P > AS <- line means therefore. E > AS (If you’re with me so far, congratulations, you’re a philosopher.)
Let’s return to our original metaphor and discuss this final point to conclude. If, shortly after my discovery of prostitution, I am asked What do you think of it? The best answer, rarely heard, is Well I just found out about it didn’t I? Why don’t I get back to you after I’ve formed an opinion. More likely I am to form an instantaneous opinion based on other peoples’ ideas, what I’ve learned, what I’ve heard, what your facial expression tells me I should think, or whatever else I’ve got to work with inside my experience. So I shout out, No! That’s disgusting and demeaning. Yet, obviously we have prostitution. Some humans have looked at their bed/income association and found it appealing. It’s been around forever, so how can it be that I am so eagerly ready to denounce it? The point is, understanding something and forming an opinion of it are two separate functions of mind that aren’t always copacetic. As I have never known a prostitute, nor had any dealings with, nor even known anyone who’s had dealings with one, how can I possibly understand? I can’t, yet I form an opinion. It’s completely illogical and probably unjust. I have used other people’s opinions to set a paradigm for myself. (Granted, this paradigm will likely remain harmless, but can you see the danger?) Now I’m stuck with a paradigm I don’t even know I agree with, don’t know I can change and won’t know how it’s going to change me. Currently, almost everybody falls prey to this phenomenon, which is terrifying.
A paradigm should be a flexible entity, able to shift, grow, shrink, even disappear. If I was exercising my Assignee’s Prerogative I would say my Prostitution Paradigm is that they exist, I don’t have to bother with them, so I don’t. If I ever do, then I guess I will. This, in our current reality, is unacceptable. Our paradigms must be known. How are we to know who you are if we can’t know what you think? Furthermore, due to the long rampant influx of generated opinion, our paradigms are the facts. Our opinions become the object. We have become unable to separate our associations from our subjects. Our beds are this, our beds are that. Prostitution is this, prostitution is that. We must communicate every experience, if even to ourselves, because we have been indoctrinated to categorize everything. It is just how we relate sociologically. Language is partly to blame too, but let us get into the philosophical habit now of remembering that words are just symbols for the ideas they represent. Therefore, we don’t support the war but we support the troops. We abhor murder as executed by group A and tout group B heroes for doing the same thing. We drive home drunk and smash up our bumper sticker that reads Support the war on drugs. We are unable to even recognize the ‘double-think’ of our everyday life.
Humans don’t bother to think. They just regurgitate what they’ve already decided and they’re more than happy to bark out fabricated ideas without even contemplating the why. It doesn’t have to continue this way. That little word why is the key. Asking why leads to the places opinion is born. Asking why an opinion exists leads to measuring it’s value. Knowing the value will help you decide if it’s time to change your mind or attempt to change someone else’s. Logic and reasoning can help us along the way to bypass the traps of language and work only with concepts.
4. The Way of the Why and the Death of a Pig.
Once you understand paradigms and what their existence means you are in possession of a primer to deeper understanding. You can begin rustling around in your own ideas. Kicking over the stones of opinion to expose why you think as such. You can use the knowledge of your associations to solve problems perhaps you didn’t even know you had. There are always reasons for behaviours, habits, phobias, prejudices, fears, etc. Sometimes they are purely chemical, natural responses such as fight or flight, or imbalances of hormones that could exemplify the cause(s). More often these responses are just the result of a self-defeating paradigm but we mustn’t forget that there are always unknowns. Later we will discuss some of the unknowns that are now known but these are the influences that are not paradigms and are therefore, outside our jurisdiction.
Even the most aware of us fall prey to the unconscious placement and/or demonstration of counterproductive opinion. Contemplation is the way to catch yourself. Consider our earlier example of prostitution. Is prostitution right, wrong, just, cruel, immoral or natural? Why do you have that opinion and why do you have any opinion? Does it feel to you that your position is a fair and/or appropriate way to be thinking? Does it make sense, do you have specific experiences, or other reasons to feel the way you do? Are you only having an emotional reaction? What associations are connected to your thoughts about prostitution? Perhaps you have no opinion on prostitution. If you look at it as merely a fact, it simply is. If you have no relationship to it you have no decision to make. Yet person after person will decide that they do have an opinion without the need for one. Most often this unnecessary paradigm comes from our rendition of morality. Some people, lacking in their understanding, vehemently argue points for which they have absolutely no reason to believe. Perhaps ignorance isn’t bliss.
Of course, it’s easy to say that understanding is empowerment. Understanding even the simplest subject to it’s fullest extent is not easily achieved. The enlightenment you seek will hide very well and the enlightenment you need will present itself whether or not you want it to. How many of us have said something stupid to someone we love for no good reason? We hit our thumb with the hammer and it’s our wife’s fault for wanting the picture hung? The paradigm you need to work on will rear it’s ugly head and you will react. It’s too late to address it now, just remember to contemplate it later and say, I’m sorry to your wife.
Tibetan monks, monks of all sorts spend their lives dedicated to seek out the deep, true, pure understanding that is appropriate for their efforts. An alcoholic may have to hurt himself or the ones he loves before he comes to realize it’s the booze that makes him abusive and/or destructive. It doesn’t matter how understanding is achieved despite how honorable you consider one methodology over another. It would be mere speculation for you to assign importance to someone else’s understanding. A monk may die an old man without being satisfied by his lifelong achievements. An alcoholic may, in one moment of clarity, change his entire life, even deciding to attempt to correct the mistakes in his past, changing the lives of others. So it seems that it is natural for us to be presented with solutions. We get in the way of ourselves and others by expressing opinion. The monk who cannot achieve enlightenment is the monk who doesn’t believe it’s possible for him to. The alcoholic who cannot control his drinking, doesn’t want to. Short of a lifetime of meditation or life altering emotional instances how can we eke out any palpable self control? How can we recognize the need for change when in the midst of the paradigm that is lacking? How can we have 20/20 hindsight, in the present? As silly as that sounds I think it is the attainable goal of the new modern enlightenment. Hindsight always seems to make so much sense that we wonder, looking back, how we missed the revelation while we were in the thick of it.
That leaves us with a present sight, an Awareness with a capital A. The “Authentic Self” used like a separate entity, you looking at yourself. Maximum awareness, purposeful contemplation, flexible paradigms while the calling cards of existentialism are not limited to that somewhat misunderstood disposition. Existentialism emphasizes the individual as a free and responsible agent as existence itself is all that is known. A philosophy that I think sounds good on paper, and to a certain degree do subscribe to but is not without it’s pitfalls. Unfortunately over the course of the years since the French revolution, the common opinion of existentialism has gone from seeing things as they are rather than as they should be, to pure nihilism. Nihilism or nothingism expounds that existence is meaningless, substance-less, senseless and useless. This misconception was drawn out of the interpretation of existentialists as athiests, which many of the first were. Nevertheless, this Existentialism is not Nihilism, it is just a murky comfort zone. Today, it may prove to provide the key to quelling the unbearable angst of the modern, quasi-existentialist existence. It, having gone from, God is great to God is dead to God never was to God may be and I’m okay with not knowing.
Also, and we will discuss this further, the people who desire control over you don’t want you to be a free and responsible agent. They may even argue that it’s impossible to be both simultaneously. If you are free, it is understood that you are accountable, but to whom and by what standard? You can have faith, as you are a free agent but how, if you don’t attach yourself to some sort of standard of measurement, (morality,) will you know if you’re being responsible? If you’re being held responsible how are you free? It’s easy to see where the paradox lies but it gets even worse. Existentialism is too convenient. You have the beauty of freedom and the safety of responsibility (provided it’s measure is somehow qualified and quantified.) However, it’s a sort of a lazy temperament, literally hopeless. You just let everything slide by, not that you’re incapable of highs or lows, but that you are accepting of them regardless of merit. I say, keep the calm, analytical nature of the spirit of existentialism and dismiss the lack of imagination expressed as being a responsible agent of change. Inspiration comes from without. There are too many unknowns for classic existentialism to be useful without due diligence. We still need to separate existentialism from humanism further. Those unknowns, the ideas we are unable to yet explain, keep getting in the way. Humanists claim total responsibility. They say, ‘There is an explanation for everything. Anything that is beyond our explanation is either discoverable or it doesn’t exist.’ Our new Existentialism needs to loosen philosophy to the acceptance of the existence and influence of the unknowable. It needs to also develop a direction, a goal conducive to that of our species. Namely, the expected continuation of said species.
Furthermore, as we begin to understand these concepts better, we’ll see that true freedom is the default position, it can’t be given or taken. We are all born free in terms of what we can think. True responsibility is to accept that freedom and use it to your utmost, despite the absurd influence of the world.
‘Memory’, ‘experience’, and trust in ‘lessons learned’ are the building blocks of paradigms but language is the most powerful trap that controls them. We think in terms for ideas. They don’t have to be words. Symbols and signs for instance, are equally powerful. They can be used to induce memory, opinion, even experience but they must be achievable expressions. We understand complicated concepts but only if we can express them. If we can’t express them, we can’t understand them. Language is necessary at this point in our evolution. Perhaps someday all communication will transcend language the way emotions like love and fear can. Until then we must use language to both express and comprehend. Questions are the vehicle that will drive you to understanding any definition of terms further.
Sometimes the questions will impose themselves as banalities, White or brown bread? or as necessities, How am I going to survive on this deserted island? Sometimes you will desire answers and seek them out willfully, Who am I going to vote for? or unexpectedly, Who the hell is in bed with my wife? The point is that if you’re asking the question because you want to make a decision, form an opinion, set or change a paradigm. It doesn’t matter if you’re asking the question of yourself or someone else, be warned that you might get answers you don’t like. The knowledge you can glean from self-examinations can also be less than fruitful. It could even be that you are ill-prepared to deal with the things that you come to learn. This is no reason to fear change. In fact, as we’ll discuss later, you should seek it. Exercise your ability to change your mind because it’s healthy. Examine your paradigms because it’s beneficial to know thyself. Be aware of the mind-set of others as well, for as assuredly as there are people who seek change there are those who despise it, fear it and may well destroy its chances of success. Quentin Tarantino has a great line in the film Four Rooms, his character claims his wise, old grand-pappy used to say it, The more apt you are to make declarative statements, the more likely you are to look foolish in retrospect. Or as I sometimes remind my sons, If you don’t answer anything you can’t be wrong. Sometimes you have to choose your moments.
Paradigm resistance is as rampant as paradigm ignorance. Somewhere between paradigm resistance and utilization is paradigm tolerance. This is when you know the paradigm is unhealthy, (unproductive, illogical, destructive, etc.) yet you do nothing to correct it, either in yourself or others. For instance, you have probably known someone that you didn’t really like because of his paradigms, yet you treated him as a friend because you couldn’t blame him and he wasn’t doing anyone specific harm. He is almost completely incapable of an original thought but he’d give you the shirt off his back. A decent, normal guy, but the type of person who sleepwalks through life. A worker bee. A drone. He parrots out opinion and seeks it out in others. He begins sentences with phrases like What do you think of… and ends them with, Am I right? He probably slaps you too hard on the back if you’re a man and makes sure you know he’s censoring himself if you’re a lady. Maybe you work with him and his name is Dennis. Maybe you think the patience you demonstrate in not administering daily admonishing alone warrants entry into heaven, possibly Sainthood. You may be right! You’re the one that knows him. You may even say to yourself, if it wasn’t for the fact that we have to work together I would put the kibosh on the amount of time we spend together, tout suite. Yet you tolerate his opinion because the options available are far too daunting to deem effective. You lazy cow!
Let’s take a look at our good buddy Dennis, keeping in mind that language exploration, paradigm contemplation and why are our most valuable tools to understand him. Let’s listen to what he is saying without deciding if it’s true, instead let’s contemplate his paradigms on the subject. Let’s watch how he reacts to situations where he has to make decisions. He holds the door for ladies, obviously ogling. After she is gone, (and hopefully out of ear shot) he makes a suggestive comment that requires your response. (It is far too rude to be printed.) If you react in a negative fashion he might say, I’m only kidding. If you don’t laugh, he thinks it has to be because you are in a bad mood. If you disagree that you are in a bad mood, it’s because you’re wrong. Everybody has bad days. Now Dennis is a philosopher! (Phew, an easy out…)
One day while leaving work you notice Dennis has a bumper sticker that reads, Support our troops. So you ask him why we should. He says, Cause that’s what you do! What? You don’t support the troops? (Your answer is irrelevant.) Dennis won’t help customers that wear turbans. It’s not because I’m a racist though. I don’t have anything against Hindus personally, I just don’t want to deal with them. (No further excuse is given.)
You ask Dennis what he thinks of the war on terror and he recites the mantra of the middle ground, Saddam had to be taken out. War is hell but you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m willing to give up some freedoms for security. We’ve all got to do our part. Those guys are crazy… Dennis goes to church fairly regularly. You’ve seen him drunk on a Friday afternoon, pick up a hooker in a mini-van with a baby seat in the back and drive away. (No, I’m not obsessed with hookers, they are just a very common, ancient paradigm that people are affected by and have opinions of.)
All of Dennis’ paradigms are set deep and have hardened into inflexible concrete into which he has carved everything he believes for all to see. He doesn’t know that paradigms exist, he thinks that life is the way it is, because it is. (He’s right, as it is up to him to experienceit.) He believes there is nothing wrong with him, it’s the rest of the world that causes any problems he might have. For example, he feels it’s Hindus’ fault that his dealings with them have not worked out, not the fact that he doesn’t trust them and can’t take them seriously because he wants to laugh when they speak because of their bubbly accents. That, to him is their weakness, not his. He supports the troops because not supporting the troops is unthinkable treason! There is nothing wrong with Dennis’ appreciation of women because he is a man. He is entitled to his superiority. It is God given. How anyone could argue any different is a sure sign of one of three things in Dennis’ faultless position: 1.) You must be a feminist and are probably a gay hippy. 2.) You must be Godless and are probably evil. 3.) You must be ignorant because anyone with half a brain can just tell that men are superior to women. It’s Nature! In short, Dennis cannot accept other points of view. He can hear them, he can comprehend them but he is not going to change his mind just because of the opinion of someone else. He has, after all, got it all figured out.
How is it that you and Dennis have such different positions on so many topics? Let’s start with Women. Let’s presume that you have a healthy relationship with the opposite sex by the following standard: you are fair. In the past, sometimes the opposite sex may have hurt you but you understand that both sexes can hurt equally so it doesn’t influence your opinion of either. You’ve cared for your oppositionally sexed parent, siblings, lovers, children, friends and they’ve cared for you. You don’t see women as subservient, weaker-than, less-than. No one has ever taught you this, and if they did, you didn’t listen. Dennis does. Likely Dennis has had, at some point in his life, a powerful relationship with someone, something(s) or some situation(s) that established that point of view. It doesn’t mean that his Mother abused him, although we can’t rule that out. It could mean that his Father treated his Mother that way and she accepted it. There are limitless possibilities.
We’re not here to psychoanalyze Dennis. I, for one, am not qualified. We’re trying to understand Dennis with the tools we have. The point to be taken here is that Dennis’ paradigm inflexibility could be dangerous and counterproductive. We’ve noticed that he has what we consider issues and we are attempting to assess them. We’re not doing it for him, we’re doing it for ourselves. His paradigm ignorance is sad and his resistance to change, while typical, is no less pathetic. Thankfully, our knowledge of the power of paradigms can help us understand, hopefully tolerate and possibly even curb his buffoonery.
Through knowing him we can tell Dennis is also a reluctant racist. As he is unable to form his own opinions, all of his paradigms are established by outside sources. Therefore the reluctance isn’t real, it’s because he knows that this paradigm is frowned upon and he wants to be liked. He tries to disguise it with back-peddling over his real thoughts, uttered before his weak filter could stop his mouth. He’ll also tell you one thing and then act out the exact opposite. Actions speak louder than words and as my wise old Mother taught me, Believe what people show you, not what they tell you. Dennis is also a Nationalist, Patriot, Husband, Father, Mason, Bowler, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Therein lies the point, it’s not the who or the what, it’s the why. You can know everything you can observe about a person, you can work with them eight hours a day for five years and quickly come to dislike them. You can continue to work with them, continue to dislike them and possibly develop a negative reaction. You can begin to suffer because of this bonehead at the office but only if you let it happen. A person who doesn’t know about paradigms will always feel that life is something that happens to them, rather than something they make happen. As your awareness grows you understand more and more there are reasons for everything, even why Dennis is such a pain in the ass. It doesn’t mean you have to like him. It doesn’t mean you can or should try to help him. It means you can see his point of view. You can dig into his why’s and have an understanding that could prove useful. You can even be apathetic to his paradigm and use that knowledge to annihilate him. How you choose to use your awareness is up to you.
For the sake of argument let’s assume you decide you’re going to steer conversations with Dennis into the areas where these Why’s can be discovered. Let’s pretend that you’re motivated not to help him but to maintain your own sanity. You’ve already sussed out what it is about Dennis that drives you crazy now you need to know why it is that he holds those opinions. Over the next days or weeks you try to ask innocent sounding questions that poke around in Dennis’ paradigms of racism, sexism, patriotism, ism-ism and uncover the following: Dennis’ Father was a soldier who was gone a lot and then one day was killed in the line of duty by an Arabic suicide bomber. His Mother was always a good care-giver and stuck by her husband even though when he got drunk he would brag to Dennis and his brothers about having a woman in every port. If his Mother acted hurt, his Father would laugh saying, You know I’ll always come home to you, Hon! After his Dad died his Mom worked two jobs to finish raising the kids and Dennis, as the oldest went to work too.
How do you feel about Dennis now? I’m betting that his opinions and actions make some sense, or at least it’s easier for you to know where he’s coming from. Don’t get sucked in, don’t start feeling sorry for Dennis, he doesn’t want any help, remember? There’s nothing wrong with him. Just because you’re empathetic doesn’t make you a sucker. Besides, he has no reason to believe you and you just want to make your life with Dennis’ paradigms easier. You have to follow the logic of each paradigm to it’s very core or it’s of no use, and let’s face it, Dennis’ paradigms are not logical or original.
So why is it that we can’t bring ourselves to help Dennis? We’ve established he is unwilling to examine himself so the effect of beating our head against a brick wall is certainly a likely deterrent. Beside human laziness we might also feel we are not qualified to help. As I said earlier we are not here to psychoanalyze Dennis. I use the story of Dennis to illustrate that you can use you’re knowledge of paradigms to help you deal with common situations. Dennis, while annoying, is a relatively low threat, so we needn’t interfere for the sake of our conscience or anyone’s well-being. If he was an addict, abusive or otherwise more markedly counterproductive then it might be right or logical to intervene. As it is now, due to our knowledge of Dennis’ paradigms and his ignorance of them, we now may know more about why Dennis is the way he is than he does. We can use this knowledge to begin arguing consciously and introducing him to some new paradigms. Maybe we’ll be successful, probably not. Dennis is fifty years old and set in his ways. If someone wants to learn about the reality of the power of paradigms, then they should be able to and you’d gladly help. So let Dennis have it with both barrels if it’s going to make the difference. If he’s obtuse be arrogant! There’s still no guarantee it’s going to work but successful interventions happen all the time. You can’t help those who won’t help themselves and you even tried, to be sure.
The fault of a policy of non-confrontation is the rule of fire together, wire together. If Dennis keeps thinking within the confines of his dusty old paradigms he will get forever bogged down in them. (He probably is already, he’s so comfy.) You run the risk of doing the same if you don’t confront the problematic paradigms you have. For instance: Why didn’t you use the five years you’ve been working with Dennis to perfect your patience? The difference is in that you gave Dennis the opportunity to learn some information that could make a noticeable difference in his life and he rejected it. He’s not going to accept any of this psychobabble, that’s his prerogative and you can blame him no more for that than you can blame a blind man for not being able to see. You, on the other hand, are awake. If you are too squeamish or are just otherwise unable to confront your own paradigms you have no one to blame but yourself. Let’s look at how minds change and what should change about them.
When I learned that my understanding of ancient Egyptian monuments could be, at the least, partially incorrect I went through a variety of emotive thoughts. (Never forget, we are now ultimately open minded, because for us the facts are still in dispute we remain the resigned undecided.) At first I was In awe. Wow, I thought, that changes everything! (At the time, in my naivete, I just believed it.) I didn’t realize it but I had shifted several paradigms at once. Looking back on it now, it seems to me that I could physically feel the change in my mind, perhaps a slight dizziness. The first paradigm shift that I could discern was the obvious one, there were civilized people on this planet way before I previously knew. As I stated, at the time, I just accepted these theories of ten thousand B.C. to be true. (By the way, it’s likely that the theories are true. If ever I must decide I will favour agreeing with them.) Obviously, this idea of man being civilized earlier sent a fresh jolt to a lot of my paradigms. Surely it must have touched my ideas about religion, archeology, pre-history, etc.
Then there was the second shift, If they were wrong about the ages of these monuments, what else are they wrong about? Which of course enters into my trust paradigms and I begin to wonder about my teachers and other groups that up until that moment had been authorities. Then a third shift, That makes it even less likely for the resources or technology to exist for the construction of these monuments? Or does it? This one is more the conceptualization of Paradigm without knowing what it was called because it put the onus on me to doubt myself. I had discovered that facts could be accepted as such for years, by basically, everyone and then be smashed in one hour long t.v. show. I now knew that I could be duped right along with everyone else. So, how can I say that anything is a fact, anything is known, anything is possible?
Then the final, and most fun shift for a young man, These guys are just dorks from four different disciplines that looked at something with new eyes, drew some conclusions, went hunting for questions that led to those conclusions, and found them. They could have been anybody. They could have been me. It did dawn on me at the time that is was the alternative perception of these men that made the difference. The people that would normally be looking at these sort of questions were finished looking at them a long time ago. Thus, having blinders on is proof that subjects in question should be answered with interdisciplinary considerations. I hadn’t yet heard of thinking outside the box but now it had been demonstrated and experienced. It’s important to both consider and employ alternative perception as it forces paradigm shift. Human history is full of sufferances due to ignoring the worth of keeping an open mind. Alternative perceptions sometimes are scary or embarrassing, depending on how far outside your paradigms you have to stretch and if you are the one asking someone to do the stretching, it can be equally trying. But try you must. Or better yet, as Yoda tells Luke in the Empire Strikes Back, Do not try. Do! Or do not do. There is no try.
I’m not asking you to convince people that aliens built the pyramids, I’m suggesting that there are people on this planet that would never listen to a word you said if you tried to and that’s illogical.
Did IBM know there was going to be a computer revolution and home computers would become as common as toasters? Yes. They knew there a tiny movement afoot that claimed it was coming. Did they believe it was a threat or even possible? No. Apple did, in fact, they set out to make it happen and succeeded. (The beauty of this example is that nobody needed a home computer, Apple created the need by making it useful.) Seiko Japan did the same thing by buying the quartz watch movement that the Swiss didn’t see the value of. (Look at your watch, does it say quartz?) Bill Gates bought the DOS operating software that makes Windows possible for the price of a decent used car from a man who couldn’t envision its utility. The list goes on and on but those are instances that had a positive outcome for the people that saw the value of the paradigm shift. The people who couldn’t see the value in these new ideas, yet had the time to think about the paradigm, suffer from Contemplative Paradigm Paralysis, and lost out. (Swiss watch companies have since embraced the quartz movement, but Japan still dominates the timepiece industry. Bill Gates is still in the top ten richest men in the world, almost nobody has heard of the man who invented the DOS operating system.) But what of the dangers of ignoring crazy new ideas in everyday life. Not all of us are meant to be on the cusp of innovation. Let’s examine some more mundane degrees of paradigm paralysis.
In Joel Barker’s The New Business of Paradigms he relays the following story. One beautiful sunny afternoon, a young man is out for a leisurely drive in his beloved sports car. He is enjoying himself as he speeds along a curvy country road. Suddenly, at the last second in a blind corner, he sees another car coming at him in his lane. He swerves slightly as does the woman who is in his lane. They avoid each other without incident but as the cars pass each other, the woman yells out the window at him, Pig! In that instant the young man becomes angry. This woman was in his lane, endangering both of their lives yet she has the audacity to call him a Pig! He has enough time to come up with Cow! which he shouts at her before she is out of earshot. He feels a little better because he was able to zing her back then runs directly into the pig that is on the road. He kills the pig, ruins his car and hopefully learns the lesson of his Autonomic Paradigm Paralysis. (Although probably not, it is much more likely that he understands that it was a warning, yet thinks something to the effect of, How the hell was I supposed to know it was a warning?) This is the most rampant type of paradigm paralysis. Whereas the aforementioned contemplative paradigm paralysis does not present itself as readily or as frequently. They are both equally dangerous, the difference being that you are much more able and likely to do something about Contemplative Paradigm Paralysis because you have the time to. If you have the ability to think about a new paradigm yet still reject it, you have made that decision and have no one to blame for it but yourself. If, however, you have to make an instant decision there is no contemplation and you are less in control. You are reacting from a place that you may or may not have established.
The young man driving made a conclusion that led to an unfortunate event. He misunderstood the intent of the woman coming the other way, most likely out of the common, trance-like paradigm we often experience with repeated activity. In other words, he was on auto-pilot and was used to drivers reacting negatively rather than positively. The lack of assessment and the creation of his anger stem from the same place, habit. If the young man had time to examine the situation, perhaps he would have realized that it doesn’t really make sense for the woman to be in his lane, yet angry at him. It is a much more likely situation that the scenario that did play out, would. Because the young man has had plenty of experience with being and observing frustrated, angry drivers, his reaction emanates from this ‘driving’ paradigm.
All reactions (that are not ‘fight or flight’ autonomic) stem from Paradigm. You cannot change your reactions without changing your paradigms. For example, a different young man, may have seen the woman coming toward him and respond with curiosity rather than anger, Why is she in my lane? This thought implies there is a reason for the fact, it might even be something he wants to know. Perhaps this young man would apply the brakes and even upon hearing the word, Pig! consider it a warning that there is a pig on the road. That certainly would explain why she was in my lane.
This young man’s car would be fine and the pig would live another day. I’d also be willing to bet that this young man would be a lot happier, healthier and more productive in life than the first young man. I’d further wager that the first, typically reactionary young man outnumbers the other one hundred to one. Let’s recap…
Paradigms are sets of rules that you use to think. Each paradigm is a network of associations on any given topic with which you have some kind of understanding. Paradigms can be experientially created or be ‘taught’ by outside sources. They are built of experience, memory and opinion but can most easily be manipulated with language. The examination and evaluation of paradigm is the most powerful tool for understanding and the most commonly used question to do so is Why? A paradigm shift occurs when you change your way of thinking about any given topic. This occurs most often when you either don’t have an answer to the Why? or when your answer is deemed more illogical than the new paradigm. The ‘why’s’ must be followed to the core of their existence. Remember we are not psychologists or cosmologists! We can no less decide the worth of someone’s mental state than we can truly appreciate the cause of creation. We are not here to answer any impossible questions. We can just accept the unknowns as unknowable at present. We are here to understand ourselves. To understand the why of you, the why of Dennis, the why of the young man driving on the country road, etc.
We have learned that paradigm can be ignored, rejected, absorbed, accepted, tarnished either with or without knowing it’s happening (Autonomic vs. Contemplative.) We can keep our paradigms flexible, even undecided or we can nail them down and stick to it, again with or without awareness. Assignee’s Prerogative, (hereby referred to as A.P.) is the understanding and use of paradigm contemplation. We can accept that there are going to be times when we are reactionary but the number and severity of these reactions can be reduced with practice. There are also going to be instances where you can find no answer to the question, What is the worth of this paradigm? It’s an acceptance of logic as a personal decision of what it might mean, per paradigm. If that means that we have to make a leap of faith to be comfortable, so be it. I think we should be allowed that privilege as there are many deep running unknowns and we’ve been so wrong, so often before. After all, we have only our perceptions and our paradigms to go on, and there seems to be little to no actual logic being demonstrated by our commitment to them.
There are also paradigm that are going to be harder to shake regardless of our desire to. For eg: To this day I harbor a distaste for ‘loud’ people. I am aware of the causation, some of the greatest pains I have felt in my life have been associated with ‘loud’ personalities. Is it logical? Of course not! I’m sure there’s some really groovy loud people out there. But I’m aware of my bias and I can make a concentrated effort to be equally open to loud people. I can realize that these loud people who have hurt me have reasons for being the way they are. It doesn’t make it right or wrong, but understanding paradigms means I pretty much have to forgive them. They’re just like everybody else, they live the life they’ve created. They may or may not be aware of that fact.
Paradigm Pliancy, Utilization with a lack of Assignation except when necessary is good, healthy, valid. Paradigm Paralysis, Ignorance and unquestioning Assignation is dangerous, illogical, counterproductive. It is a far better thing to be able to recognize, assimilate and unbiasedly decide for yourself on any given subject than it is to miss, ignore or decide from a place of ignorance, possibly someone else’s. Don’t fear Alternate Perception, examine it. Notice that I didn’t say Paradigm Rejection or Resistance were either good or bad. That is because it is often just as useful you reject or resist new paradigms contemplatively as you accept them. Take the case of zeppelin travel as an example of a paradigm that proved better to reject, or the medieval idea that bleeding could expunge illness.
Nevertheless, new paradigms will always come from the fringe and so to look out to that fringe is to see the future. It takes only a little imagination to see it clearly and if you use a lot of imagination it’s possible to create it. Life in the fringe is a place where you have nothing to lose, where brave meets crazy and crazy comes true. It’s the only place to be…
5. Conservatism is Unnatural
People look back on the societies of the past with a type of amused superiority. They wonder how we could have ever been so silly. Without even a consideration of what it means to live in a present as a product of its past, it’s as if they have no doubt of their perfection. Despite this commonality it remains difficult to affect change in this flesh bound paradigm. To have opinions different that the norm is to be branded as having some form of deficiency. People who currently look at the human condition with even minimal awareness can see it as lacking. Yet we do or are capable of nothing to facilitate any change. Why? Is it that we hide our alternate views from others for fear of persecution? Is it that the change that is required is too great to be formulated, packaged and distributed, except perhaps through the acceptance of a religion or other collective movement?
Of course, you can’t start an alternate religion or political party either. Politicians who stir the pot don’t get voted in and if they do, they’ll shortly be killed by professionals just doing their job. Start a religion and you’re immediately reduced to a loony tune, likely to be killed by anyone and perhaps rightly so. You are, regardless, no less dead either way. So the most common way to affect change is to find how to change yourself and then share the knowledge with others, leading by example. The widespread individual shift becomes the social shift. (Enter the Author, Preacher, Teacher, Artist.) If ideas and concepts are understood in networks of relations, can an ideal series of correlations be achieved? Attempts to do so by outside influence are the domain of social engineering, whether or not those influences are clandestine.
New paradigms in our understanding of the evolution of everything have led to the development of new concepts and the redefining of old ones. Continuously and with an increasing rate of intention there have been large scale shifts in what people know. In, for example: psychology, technology, politic, economy, ecology, bio, chem, geo, socio, this list includes nearly every subject. Unfortunately, the surge of society as an organism thinking lends itself to find controls, whether or not it seeks them. We can then use these controls for our own detriment or gain. Interesting that by also studying other societal systems, like that of insects, we can see that there are illogical steps taken to cause systems of a counterproductive nature to fail, or force change. In other words, if an ant colony is getting too big it will sacrifice a part of itself for the good of the whole. That is not the nature of our conundrum for we, lest we forget, are the species that doesn’t always work in its better interests. We can, at the least, gain an ability to recognize when we’re being handed our hat. (Anti-Social Engineering…)
In this chapter we will further diverge from the new-age or psychological efforts of those who lay claim to the pathway of Authentic Self. None of them removing their own blinders to look at sociology and history with a reasonable philosophical eye. We will begin to understand the influence of Social Norms as well as their difference from eXperiential Norms. (The S and the X are underlined to remind you that these are the terms under Paradigm in the philosophy generator.) In the generator, P is split into either X or S. This means that paradigms can be only from Social Norms or eXperiential norms. They have to be one or the other, they cannot be both. In symbolic logic the word or is expressed as a lower case v so we now can symbolize:
P > (X v S) If it’s paradigm it’s either experiential or social. This is an idea old as
Aristotle, we’re just redefining terms to examine a current phenomenon. Think of it as either I eXperienced it myself or somebody told me so. (There is little room for arguing that being told so is, in itself, an experience. It is, but without the direct stimulation of the actual experience, you are without proof. We will cover this paradox in greater detail soon enough.)
Change always waits until the last minute. Whatever shift is required will only occur when it becomes a necessity. In a natural system the preceding (repeated) statement is true. This means we can deduce that change is a necessity. If there is human interference then change can be created, destroyed, controlled, etc. It was this realization that caused the first Enlightenment at the last half of the eighteenth century. French philosophers, unhappy under what they considered the tyranny of their own leaders, woke up and started asking questions. Why does the church have to be linked to the state? Why do our young men have to join the campaign or be labeled traitors? Why does one who has worked hard to gain stature fail and those who are merely born into it succeed? How did we get to this point? To put it bluntly, the Enlightenment came from the realization of philosophers that common people didn’t have to be the way they were because anyone said so, yet they were. It wasn’t just the French, there was a vast uncorking of new ideas all over Europe, into Russia and carried over into the New Land. Stemming from the growing ease of travel, the printing press, the chemical, medical and mechanical advances in industry and other conveniences, a new society of powerful people was created, the individual, the person. Modern philosophy was born from realizing the quick, rampant influence of unavoidable change and shortly thereafter, secret philosophy came along too. For if the masses decide they are going to be aware, if they are going to literally revolt in the streets to get what they want, then control seekers must find a subversive way to tell the people what they want. And so now, in an American court, you put your hand on the Bible to pledge your honesty oath and church based movements elect presidents. We are, to this day, still trying to rid ourselves of this veil.
During the Enlightenment questions were posed of the implications of mixing church and state in ways that go beyond allegiances in courtrooms and politic in sermons. There was the realization that it was morality legislated and categorization by belief. I like to imagine it this way, for thousands of years, peoples all over our lovely little planet have been experimenting with types of societies. After all that time, a system began to be duplicated, by desire or by force, that was able to have control of it’s people while giving them the opportunity to live happy, healthy, productive lives. The system was, in a word, Money. ‘You use your skills to earn your living’ rather than, ‘you live off the flora and fauna.’ This system had been used for quite a while before the enlightenment turned it into the physical manifestation of the middle class. Controls move from the church to state. Money is worshiped. The lines blur.
The difference between the old Enlightenment and the new is that we now are waking up from our subconscious servitude (social engineering) whereas during the Industrial Revolution we were waking up from our conscious servitude (serfdom.) We have now caught up to Philosophers of our past. Therefore, back then we learned that we were real individuals, that if any human had rights then we all them. Now we wake up to learn that we’re being controlled with ideas, our rights aren’t really ours and we are only allowed to exercise them within a fairly rigid framework , society.
The powers that governed over this transformation sought out controls that could be accepted by the masses. They hid them in the morals of church, law, and the accoutre that complicates the logic of trying to correlate them. They set into church and state rules that made it seem we wanted to follow them, because it seemed right, even though we’re not sure why. For eg: In most countries it is against the law and it is morally wrong to kill a person. (Of course I mean a person who doesn’t deserve it, both religion and governments have people who kill in their names.) Just generally, Murder is Illegal and Wrong. I think a lot of you will agree with that, but why? Because it ends the life of someone who could have done good, been loved and will be missed. No! Stop it, don’t think that way, you’re categorizing him. By doing so you induce that there could be a circumstance where murder could be right if he couldn’t have done Good, been Loved and no one M2issed him. You’re completely missing the point as well as being illogical. (The M has the 2 after it because we have two terms symbolized by M.)
[ M > ( W . I ) ] > [ P > ( L . M2 . G ) ] [ M > ~( W . I ) ] > [ P > ~(L . M2 . G ) ] M > P
This rather complicated looking syllogism is nothing to be frightened of. The brackets group ideas together. You remember, the > creates the conditional statement if… then. The dot . simply means and. The squiggly minus sign, called a tilde, as you would guess, attaches negation. The first statement says, ‘Murder is wrong and illegal if the person is loved, missed and good.’ The second statement says ‘Murder is not wrong and not illegal if the person is not loved, not missed and not good.’ Common sense tells us that this isn’t true, so does the equation. The positives in the first statement, (W and I) as well as ( L, M and G) get cancelled out, like they would in any math solution, by the negation of themselves in the second statement. (~) All that’s left is ‘If it’s murder then it’s a person.’ Which, while being true, (with apologies to all other species and those who love them,) it in no way expresses our point that murder is wrong because the person killed could have done good, been loved and would be missed. Therefore, it is an invalid syllogistic argument. It doesn’t mean we’ve proven ‘murder’ right or wrong. It means that our ‘murder’ paradigm, built on the argument above, is invalid. If indeed this is what we believe, we have no explainable reason for thinking the way we do about murder.
It isn’t about deservedness. Rights have been created. You’re judging things by standards that are going on three hundred years old, and they were based on standards that came from two thousand years ago. To say “Yeah, but it’s working so well,” is to deserve a smack upside the head! So I ask you, if the man who was killed was a wife beating child molester would he then deserve to die? Of course not. He could be treated and go on to make amends with all those he hurt, even help others, so inclined, turn their lives around. Who are you, judge, jury and executioner? Yes actually, you are but you’re off the hook because you’ve been made that way. The decisions made in the establishment of the Establishment have decided who you are and what you believe. (Sanctioned killing is okay, murder is abhorrent.) Nature tells us that we can and will kill whatever we want. We know this is true. Consider believing what you’re shown, not necessarily what you’re told. These passages are neither an endorsement of murder nor an admonishment of religion. The statements are made in keeping with the overall theme of my theory that missing or misdiagnosing influence is dangerous.
Is it natural or instinctual to know to allow certain impulses or emotions and suppress others because of a set of predetermined guidelines? If you answer yes, you’re buying into what they’re telling you. If you answer no, you’re denying all the evidence around you and within you. People today allowing and suppressing because of their paradigms. That means that in order to rid us of these binding perceptions we must consider all paradigms, even and especially disturbing ones. The reasons are twofold: Firstly, a healthy, open mind can only gain strength from that which makes it uncomfortable. (More on that later.) But we must also question every paradigm because the foundation of our personal natural instinct could be a fabrication. How are we, as individuals, supposed to know after thirty years, or a lifetime, or after three hundred years, or two thousand years if a particular set of guidelines have steered us well? Despite our ever quickening pace of advancement we are still idiots. What I know compared to what I don’t know could be expressed in the same ratio as my lifetime compared to the eternity before and after it.
To contemplate the ancient concept of self with a being that is truly not-self without even the ability to conceptualize having rules put upon you is to perpetuate ignorance and demonstrate the absurdity of modern human existence. To even achieve the question requires a paradigm shift that instantly opens an endless stream of possibilities. Furthermore, paradigms once found, put the mind into the flow of enlightenment. It is this new modern enlightenment that will spread the understanding to the point of beginning to answer difficult questions, and undoubtedly pose new ones. This point is all but completely accepted by contemporary authors, be they ripe with opinion or strictly empirical. Because I have picked on Dr. Phil and Eckhart Tolle for being right for the wrong reasons, let’s pick on some others for being wrong for the right reasons. Dan Dennett is a philosopher and author. So is Andrew Cohen. They are at opposite ends of a spectrum. Dan’s position is summed up nicely by his opening comments at Beyond Belief 2 (an annual conference of scientists concerned with enlightenment.) He called it, The difference between diplomacy and dishonesty. He said, Excuse me Sir, but do you realize that your entire life has been constructed around you through a fantasy based belief structure and by passing it on to your children you are exacerbating a dangerous continuation of nonsense. Andrew Cohen, someone who specifically uses the term, Authentic Self, claims to have insight to the ultimate causation. That is, where Dan will not give an inch on his Atheism and his distaste for the idea of faith; Andrew will neither yield his Theism nor his interpretations of God as the act of creation, itself. To be fair to Dan Dennett would probably argue that he was referring to religion and not God specifically. To be fair to Andrew Cohen, he could be right. As I’m sure you are growing accustomed to, you and I can’t answer either men. The fact that we recognize our limitation is our reward. There can be no blinders on the open mind. Apparently it’s not enough for the new modern Philosophes to acquaint you with yourself, they want to push into the unknowable and declare the fantastic, most doing so vehemently. Despite the lack of comfort provided by the truly reality-based point of view, the empowerment of understanding validity outweighs the need for faith. Faith, however biased, is still welcome with your Assignee’s Prerogative, as it is your own. Have all the faith you want, just know that it’s faith. Be mindful of influence and determine it worthy or dismiss it as irrelevant. Herein also lies the beginning of appreciating the difference between eXperiential Norms and Social Norms.
We’ve examined only one aspect of morality, murder, or more rightfully, killing. There are many more ill defined morals in our modern society from ancient times. Ideas like the sanctity or purity of places, people or objects. Automatic respect or reverence for authority figures is still expected from most human citizenry. Ideas of class, race or kin being of some worth or relevance to anything are all still prevalent. In fact, we use this standard of Fairness, Harm, Ingroup, Authority, Purity as the measuring stick of our sociological or moral makeup. It’s important that we understand the categories of this moral scale. This scale has been in development for hundreds of years and those who wish to follow it’s history should also look up David Hume, Lawrence Kohlberg and Elliot Turiel.
The five categories are the Definition of the Domain of Morality by Elliot Turiel. They are referred to as the Foundations of Morality. To be most concerned with a particular single branch or group of branches points to your morality. The stronger the assignation of importance to the beginning of the list, the more left leaning, liberal, democratic, etc. you are. You are a two foundation person. The more importance you assign to the latter three the more right leaning, conservative, authoritative, etc. you are. I’m sure we can agree that the utilization of judgement where Fairness and Harm are the standards is much more logical and productive than using the considerations of Ingroup, Authority or Purity. In fact, the latter three paradigms should be almost entirely dismissed, most are antiquated and spent. Ingroup leads to nepotism, racism, classism. How many of us have helped a friend do something illogical? Authority is weighed well by many still, despite murderous cops, self-serving politicians, and abusive priests. Purity doesn’t refer to the wholeness or correctness of something, but it’s deemed worth. Questions of Sanctity are of value. The Dome of the Rock is one of the most traveled to places on the planet. It is a manmade structure where people come to pay homage to a meteorite. Were they able to, the pilgrims could pick up any rock build a temple around it and assign the same purity to it. They can’t because they’ve been instructed that this rock is special and deservedly so. In fairness, this last point is why I say we should all but dismiss Ingroup, Authority and in this case, Purity considerations, for what if I am wrong and someday an irrefutable force proves to me that the rock is ‘special.’ Furthermore, Ingroup facilitates family responsibility and cultural comfort which are not unhealthy. There is also Authority in the Universe as there is Purity, I just haven’t found either yet. I know they exist because their opposites are so prevalent. (I wish to point out, just for clarity, that my singling out of any one religion, God, artifact or geographic location are for illustrative purposes only.)
It seems, therefore, that Nature is left leaning. If considering Ingroup, Authority and Purity is far less important that considering Fairness and Harm, society is in a state of illogical, counterproductive denial. We now begin to just see the tip of the iceberg now, breaking above the water. The monster begins to take shape: Individuals are more to blame than society is more to blame than we. Except that, for the most part, we’re doing what we’re told. If we can accept that Nature’s default is that of an open, flexible, dynamic system, then we should be able to accept that we are working against it if we are not doing the same. It’s a coincidence that as we move from the moral/political left to right under the philosophy generator we get away from paradigms that are eXperiential and into those that are Social. If we know that we have been socially engineered to be the way we are, then the forces that made us that way, want us that way. So why do they want us to work against nature? Does that mean we have been programmed to fail? Why? What else have they programmed us to do? Who are these people? These are also the questions of the new enlightenment, but they are not being asked by the spiritualists and the social psychologists. They are being asked by the two philosophers present…
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