Saturday, April 26, 2008

Meditation Two

So I wished to spend this meditation dwelling upon the relationship between how we know what we know and modern politics. However, it seems that in my zeal I had forgotten a fairly critical step: taking how we know things and making others believe they know it too.

Let us dismiss the idea of a deceiver from here, for now. We can do this because it does not matter whether the people we interact with are illusional or not, it only matters that they react when effected.

Anyway, let's begin by assuming that one projects a zone of ideas about onself. These are the ideas the one believes, for whatever reason. This zone is, in effect, a little 'hegemony'. It is the homogonous beliefs of one individual. If a one was the only thinking being in existence, then this would suffice as an explanation and the meditation ends here.

However, let us mediate on the what if: "What if other entities I encounter actually think?" What then is the hegemony of this group of thinking beings? Before we can answer this, we need to make several distinctions.

First, the hegemony of an individual should more properly be called an 'ideology': the super-structure of ideas that dominates an individual's mind.

Second, we must make a distinction between a hegemony of ideas and the hegemony of an idea. In the first, we are talking about a super-structure of multiple ideas forming the basis of beliefs for multiple people. In the second, we are talking about one idea that is present within the ideologies of multiple people.

With that established, let us return to our ideological spheres that surround each person and ask: what happens when two come into contact with each other? Obviously, their differences shall be exaggerated in contrast to their similarities as what is 'out of place' is what the human eye, and the mind's eye, is drawn to. Depending upon the degree of divergence (i.e how different and aggressive their ideologies are) they shall either respect each other or dominate each other.

Should they respect each other, they have jointly come to the conclusion that their ideologies match each other enough that there should be no worry. This is an example of a hegemony of ideas: the value of their shared principals is greater then the value of their non-shared principals. Thus, they may co-exist peacefully due to this similarity. They do not, however, have one dominant hegemony over themselves as there are still differences in their ideology.

Should they become aggressive to one another, then either one or both of them has decided that the other's ideology is too different to allow to remain. Thus, a battle for dominance ensues. This need not be a real battle with weapons, though it certainly can take that form, but can also be a battle of words, of writing, even of art. Eventually, either both sides shall destroy the other completely (so we need consider them for analysis no longer), they shall go their seperate ways (in which case the analysis returns to the beginning as they interact with new entities) or one shall dominate the other (i.e one will attempt to establish the hegemony of an idea, or an ideology).

However, now we must wonder, can such domination really occur? If the defeated entity switches to passive resistance, after all, it shall not truly be embracing the idea and may subvert it, when it can. Indeed, even if the entity whole-heartedly embraces the idea then it shall still fail to truly follow it. The reason for this is because of interpretation.

Again let us return to those initial ideological spheres that surround each of us. No matter what happens, we interpret all of the events that happen to and around us through the light of our own constructed sphere. Thus, even if another entity is giving an idea to another, the receiver shall still only be able t0 understand the transmitted idea within the framework established by the receiver's intial ideological sphere. Since this sphere is different then the transmitter's sphere, the idea will be understood differently: even if only slightly differently. This is true even in scenarios of willful domination, like a teacher and a student's relationship.

Thus, a full-fledged hegemony of ideology cannot truly occur unless we are dealing with merely a single thinking entity. No matter how hard anyone tries.

This type of framework can easily be used to make sense of historical events, international relations and studies of culture if one wished to apply it to something more practical.

All of this may seem kind of out there now, but I feel that it will become most important when we venture into real politics in the next meditation.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Meditation One

I thought I would ease my mind into this with something simple: how do we know what we know?

Of course, it was in an effort to settle this question that Descartes proclaimed "I think therefore I am" or, more accurately translated, "I thought therefore I was". His basis for this seems sound though, doesn't it? If one is thinking, then one must exist in some way. Either that or one is being deceived by some other force. But how could one be deceived if one did not exist? Therefore, thanks to Descartes hard work, one can be assured that one exists. Can we get further then this, however?

Let us follow this path. Suppose one exists, this is proven by one's ability to think. Ergo, our thoughts are real as well. Meaning that the feelings we put into each thought are, themselves, real. Alright, so our thoughts are real, can that go further as well? Well, if thoughts are one's mind summoning forth a feeling, not a feeling like sad or like happy, but the essence of an 'idea' or mood, then what one associates with those feelings (the images that the mind represents them with) must be real too. One perceives them and then one's mind associates them. The only way these things could be perceived without being real is if the one is being deceived, much like before.

The next step is to see if we can cancel out the deceiver again, as was done previously. Suppose oneself was continuously being fed false information by a deceiver. One then could be presented with a great multitude of things, but in the end, there would only be oneself and the deceiver. Resting in a void as it were. If this scenario were true, then the knowledge of this should ruin the deception. If one knows that one's thoughts are being deceived and that one's thoughts exist much like oneself, then one should be able to find where the taint of a deceiver enters and seperate it from one's own essence.

Thus, since no dispelling of all things can occur, there can be no deceiver here. One is really perceiving these things. A quick recap is in order here I think. Following this logic, it seems as if we can say the following things:
1. It is true the one exists.
2. It is true that one thinks.
3. It is true that these thoughts are real.
4. It is true that one associates their own perceptions with their thoughts.
5. It is true that these perceptions are real.

Major questions that are still in the air:
1. Does one interpret their own perceptions correctly?
2. Does anything else that one can perceive think and have thoughts?
3. If the answer to 2 is 'yes', do these 'others' perceive things the same way as onself?

I will not answer these other three questions just yet, instead, my next meditation will, I hope surprisingly, show how the principals that have already been discovered can be used to truly understand the American presidential race specifically and human politics in general.