Posts Tagged ‘David Brooks’

All We Need Is Truth

June 2, 2015

PHILOSOPHICAL CORRECTNESS BASED ON TRUTH, NOT HURT

What is humanity based on? It’s obvious: truth. Truth teaches what is. Hurt feelings are nothing relative to truth. When one has to survive, it hurts. A baboon troop going to water in a military fashion, fascist instinct fully deployed, is ready to hurt, and be hurt, but it has no choice.

Life is not just, no pain, no gain. Life is actually a bath of pain, to some extent. We don’t have to be in the bath all the time, but sometimes we need to.

No pain, no bain.

Truth’s Value Is Found In Its Offensive Character

Truth’s Value Is Found In Its Offensive Character

[Hitchens, born British, but a honorary American, a dedicated atheist to the bitter end, and excellent polemist, died of brain cancer a few years ago.]

Excellent editorial by David Brooks in the New York Times, The Campus Crusaders. In it Brooks points out that: “Right now, college campuses around the country are home to a moral movement that seeks to reverse centuries of historic wrongs.

This movement is led by students forced to live with the legacy of sexism, with the threat, and sometimes the experience, of sexual assault. It is led by students whose lives have been marred by racism and bigotry. It is led by people who want to secure equal rights for gays, lesbians and other historically marginalized groups.

These students are driven by noble impulses to do justice and identify oppression. They want to not only crack down on exploitation and discrimination, but also eradicate the cultural environment that tolerates these things. They want to police social norms so that hurtful comments are no longer tolerated and so that real bigotry is given no tacit support. Of course, at some level, they are right. Callous statements in the mainstream can lead to hostile behavior on the edge. That’s why we don’t tolerate Holocaust denial.”

So far, so good, but Brooks points out: “…it sometimes slides into a form of zealotry. If you read the website of the group FIRE, which defends free speech on campus, if you read Kirsten Powers’s book, “The Silencing,” if you read Judith Shulevitz’s essay “In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas” … you come across tales of professors whose lives are ruined because they made innocent remarks; you see speech codes that inhibit free expression; you see reputations unfairly scarred by charges of racism and sexism.”

Interestingly, Brooks comes across, without saying so explicitly, a major deficiency of academia in the USA: a lack of acknowledgement of the importance of sociology (there is no sociology Nobel Prize):

“The problem is that the campus activists have moral fervor, but don’t always have settled philosophies to restrain the fervor of their emotions. Settled philosophies are meant to (but obviously don’t always) instill a limiting sense of humility, a deference to the complexity and multifaceted nature of reality. But many of today’s activists are forced to rely on a relatively simple social theory.”

According to this theory, the dividing lines between good and evil are starkly clear. The essential conflict is between the traumatized purity of the victim and the verbal violence of the oppressor.”

That naivety is directly imputable to the lack of teaching of sociology in the USA.

Old style sociology and its great names (including Marx, Comte, etc.) and theories is all but unknown in the campuses of the USA.

One needs a new anchor. Hint: it’s not “settled philosophies”. What’s needed is new philosophy, and that, by definition, is always unsettling.

Thus, as Brooks points out:

“According to this theory, the ultimate source of authority is not some hard-to-understand truth. It is everybody’s personal feelings. A crime occurs when someone feels a hurt triggered, or when someone feels disagreed with or “unsafe.” In the Shulevitz piece, a Brown student retreats from a campus debate to a safe room because she “was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against” her dearly and closely held beliefs.

Today’s campus activists are not only going after actual acts of discrimination — which is admirable. They are also going after incorrect thought — impiety and blasphemy. They are going after people for simply failing to show sufficient deference to and respect for the etiquette they hold dear. They sometimes conflate ideas with actions and regard controversial ideas as forms of violence.”

This attitude, let’s notice in passing, is directly up with the success of Islamist terrorism, which conflates “impiety”, “blasphemy”, against their Holly Qur’an, and racism. Thus handily recruits among the preceding naïve crowd (which is not just found on campuses; Daesh/Islamist State has recruited around 20,000 Western youth so far; in the most general sense of “Western”).

Brooks reveals how easily one can slip off the deep end:

Laura Kipnis is a feminist film professor at Northwestern University who wrote a provocative piece on sexual mores on campus that was published in February. She was hit with two Title IX charges on the grounds, without evidence, that her words might have a “chilling effect” on those who might need to report sexual assaults… A student at George Washington wrote an essay on the pre-Nazi history of the swastika. A professor at Brandeis mentioned a historic slur against Hispanics in order to criticize it. The scholar Wendy Kaminer mentioned the N-word at a Smith College alumni event in a clearly nonracist discussion of euphemism and free speech.

All of these people were targeted for purging merely for bringing unacceptable words into the public square. As Powers describes it in “The Silencing,” Kaminer was accused of racial violence and hate speech. The university president was pilloried for tolerating an environment that had been made “hostile” and “unsafe.””

***

So what’s the philosophy we need? No reconciliation without better truth.

Truth. ALL WE NEED IS TRUTH.

What should be discouraged is the telling of lies. How to discard lies? By rolling out theories. “Theory” means actually, point of view. Thus the rolling out of point of views ought to be encouraged.

However, when something is certain, say the deliberate assassination of most of European Jews by the top leadership of the Nazi Party in a semi-secret program, it should be labelled officially as a truth.

So there is a need for an official department, A DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH, a state agency giving, tentatively, various shades of truth and truthiness. A bit such as http://www.politifact.com/, but generalized to all fields. No sanction, just indication.

Yes, I read “1984”, long ago. Therein a “Ministry of Truth“. And it’s not what I have in mind. And yes, Ministry of Truth, 1984 style, are already operating all over, most from huge capital from plutocrats (and that incorporates what is going on in Russia, where inexhaustible capital comes from Putin and, or, his associates; like Ukraine, we have to re-establish an appreciation for denouncing all sorts of lies, dissemblances, fabrication, non-saids…)

The “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” in South Africa worked because, before being reconciled, in depth and permanently, one has to build from the ground up, on solid ground, the ground of truth, that is reality. The reality of what happened which was injurious, and who, what led to it. This, this search for truth, is what has to be generalized.

One absolutely cannot use the “feel good factor” as the way to find the truth. Why? Because finding the truth is brainwork, therefore it always requires work, an effort, thus, it’s guaranteed to be always painful. Those who refuse, at the outset not to pay the price, not to do the work for truth, those who confuse reality and feel-good-now need to understand that being driven by their comfort zone makes them intrinsic enemies of truth. They can be, but they do not deserve more respect than drug addicts, as they work from the same basic principle.

All we need is love, sang John Lennon. Well, he was pierced by several bullets. Coming from someone who, not only was an insane maniac, but, decisively was animated by erroneous philosophical theories. However, Lennon himself had fed the psychological machinery which cost him his life.  (Oh you think all you need is love? Here, get a few bullets, you hypocrite. The killer did say, initially, that he killed Lennon because he felt he was an hypocrite; he has changed his tune now that he wants to get out…)

Love does not bring water to baboons. If baboons need water, they need the truth about the positions, and dispositions, of the predators. You want human? That’s what it is all about.

All we need is not love. Love, in human beings, is rather automatic. One cannot teach truth, without love.

Love of ego is not love of truth. Love of ego not dominated by the love of truth, is hatred of humanity.

Patrice Ayme’


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