📙 Imagined Communities

nationhood’s a falsehood.

In Imagined Communities, a widely acclaimed work that was first published in 1983, Benedict Anderson (1936–2015; Irish political scientist and historian) examines the creation and global spread of the ‘imagined communities’ of nationality. The media also creates imagined communities, through usually targeting a mass audience or generalizing and addressing citizens as the public. Another way that the media can create imagined communities is through the use of images. The media can perpetuate stereotypes through certain images and vernacular. By showing certain images, the audience will choose which image they relate to the most, furthering the relationship to that imagined community.

To have one nation means there must be another nation against which self-definition can be constructed. Anderson is thus arguing for the social construction of nations as political entities that have a limited spatial and demographic extent, rather than organic, eternal entities. Further,

It is imagined as sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm … nations dream of being free … The gauge and emblem of this freedom is the sovereign state.
— Anderson (1991, p. 7 original emphasis)

Imagined Communities
What makes people love and die for nations, as well as hate and kill in their name?

Anderson argues that the concept of the nation developed in the late eighteenth century as a societal structure to replace previous monarchical or religious orders. And arguably then, falls into the “historicist” or “modernist” school of nationalism along with thinkers like Eric Hobsbawm. Simply put, this school of thought argues hat nations and nationalism are products of modernity and have been created as means to political and economic ends.

Regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.

Immanuel Kant

[German | 1724–1804]

Immanuel Kant was one of Europe’s most influential philosophers and is credited with changing Western thought with his examinations of reason and the nature of reality.

Dare to think!
Dare to think!

Kant’s comprehensive and profound thinking on aesthetics, ethics and knowledge has had an immense impact on all subsequent philosophy.

Key point:

Kant reasoned that to be truly enlightened, we must all have the freedom and courage to use our own intellect.

This is witty:

I had therefore to remove knowledge, in order to make room for belief.


p.s.
The roots of modern liberal international relations theory can be traced back to Immanuel Kant’s essay Perpetual Peace (1795). In that essay Kant provided three “definitive conditions” for perpetual peace, each of which became a dominant strain of post–World War II liberal IR theory. Neoliberal institutionalism emphasises the importance of international institutions (Kant’s ‘federation of free states’) in maintaining peace. Commercial liberalism stressing the importance of economic interdependence and free trade (Kant’s ‘universal hospitality’) in maintaining peace. Democracy, which argues that democracies rarely, if ever, go to war with each other, and thus an executive accountable to the people or the parliament is important to maintain peace (Kant’s call for all states to have ‘republican constitutions’).

A related post: Common Goodness
All things political: Politics etc.

📙 The Magic of Reality

O. J. ( as in, “Oh, Jay!” )

This book really and truly fascinated me:

The examples and illustrations are mind opening and mind blowing, respectively.

96
p. 96

Richard Dawkins (see full profile here) is an English evolutionary biologist, author and professor at Oxford University. His seminal work The Selfish Gene (1976), popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term meme. Here are a few extracts from The Magic of Reality that I feel it is okay to share as editable .pdf files:

pp. 12-13 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)


pp. 32-52 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)


pp. 118-139 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)


pp. 246-265 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)

📙 The Outsider

(Albert Camus | 1913–1960)

Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.

Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.

The laconic masterpiece — The Outsider — by Albert Camus is about a Frenchman who murders an Arab in colonial Algeria. The work is famous for the way it diagnoses the state of alienation and spiritual exhaustion which sociologists sat summed up the mood of mid-twentieth century Europe. To this day, the book continues to be relevant and remains one of the most widely read and influential works of the 20th century.

Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He was also a philosopher and journalist.

His other notable works include:

* The Rebel is a philosophical exploration of the idea of ‘rebellion’ that ooks at artistic and political rebels throughout history, from Epicurus to the Marquis de Sade.

** The Myth of Sisyphus is a summation of the existentialist philosophy threaded throughout all of his other writing. Camus poses the fundamental question: is life worth living? If human existence holds no significance, what can keep us from suicide? As Camus argues, if there is no God to give meaning to our lives, humans must take on that purpose themselves. This is our ‘absurd’ task, like Sisyphus forever rolling his rock up a hill, as the inevitability of death constantly overshadows us.

Friedrich Nietzsche

[German | 1844–1900]

The problem of how to live a life with meaning has puzzled philosophers since the days of ancient Greece, China, and India. Yet, for Nietzsche, the problem took on a new importance in the aftermath of the Enlightenment and what he saw this as resulting in; the death of god.

It is often said that Nietzsche is a nihilist but, it’s not so simple. In fact, much of his work is concerned with the problem of overcoming nihilism despite all the things (life problems) that drive people towards acting in a nihilistic way.

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster… if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Nietzsche’s was focused on this: in an increasingly secular and scientific society we humans could no longer turn to god/religion to find meaning. In the past (or for religious people today( the meaning of everything was assured by God. So, Nietzsche pondered, without the ability to turn to god, where could we find meaning?

Nietzsche argued that there were two fundamental types of morality: “master morality” and “slave morality”. Master morality values pride and power, while slave morality values things like kindness, empathy, and sympathy.

Key point:

Nietzsche believed that the Christian morality, with its emphasis on kindness, meekness, subservience to a greater good, and a focus on the afterlife rather than the present condition, did not reflect how the world actually works.

Instead of relativism, Nietzsche advocates for something that has been called “perspectivism.” Simply put, perspectivism means that every claim, belief, idea, or philosophy is tied to some perspective and that it’s impossible for humans to detach themselves from these lenses in order to learn about objective Truth.

According to Nietzsche perspectivism isn’t the same as relativism because unlike relativism (which says all views are equally valid because they’re relevant to each person) perspectivism doesn’t claim that all perspectives have equal value — some are in fact better than others.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

— my why is you J and that is how I can bear the now (which basically is hell).

✍🏻 1+1=1

11:11 (mine’s made)

  My reason for Being is you
  & it’s Nothingness without you.

In love, one and one are one.

— Jean-Paul Sartre

No one is more arrogant toward women than the man who is anxious about his virility.

— Simone de Beauvoir

The phrase, “love kills” sounds like an emotional over exaggeration. It is. It is until the day your true love leaves you that is. Only then will the phrase be seen as a valid statement of fact. (It is bitterly ironic that you’ll almost certainly not know that they were and ‘are’ your true love until they’ve gone and left you.)

I’ll argue here that ‘true’ love—love of the passionate & romantic kind—can only be experienced once in a lifetime. I’ll also argue that it is almost always our own actions that result in true love being lost.

It is invariably the case that in passionate romantic relationships, we turn the person that we love into an object. This ‘object’ is not only a projection of what we think that person wants to be but also, a reaction to our own insecurities and repressed desires. We try not to, but we end up trying to control our lover. We try not to, but we end up trying to shape our lover. We adopt a different persona to be what we think they want us to be and, we try also to be who we ourselves really want to (but can never actually) be.

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre argue that these are the reasons for why truly passionate relationships almost always fail. Indeed, one of their central philosophical arguments is that we, as post-faith humans, need to come to terms with the fact that we ourselves are responsible for the consequences of our actions (e.g., the hurtful and horrible words we type and send).

Inescapably, our actions in acts of passion and love are our own. We cannot blame destiny, fate or some form of invisible hand that mysteriously controls us from above. The guilt trips, ego trips and insane irrational jealousies are of our own making. Our self-centred, short-term actions can, and often do, have long-run catastrophic consequences.

Does, as some have argued, knowledge of this agency and responsibility help us deal with our true love leaving us? I’ll say no. Indeed, knowing just how big a role our own actions played, makes the situation even more heart wrenching; the what ifs are rendered less abstract. Had we acted differently (e.g., shown more appreciation and understanding), we’d likely not have lost them in the first place.

I believe that true love can only be experienced once because all previous experiences of love pale to nothing in the aftermath of losing your true love. I believe that true love can only be experienced once because no alternative or future love can be contemplated in the everlasting aftermath of your true love leaving you.

The way true love kills us is unique for unlike other modes of death it keeps us alive to experience the depths of despair and desperation on a daily basis. We are condemned to this undying death minute by minute, endlessly and perpetually. This mode of death is all the worse for knowing that, had we acted differently, we would most probably still be hand in hand and side by side with our retrospectively realised One&Only.

From you to me
Our eyes locked. They locked for far longer than was culturally appropriate.
From me to you
These were consumed. They were consumed with the lights on and, with the lights off.

p.s. To grasp and pay heed to the logic of de Beauvoir and Sartre would be of real benefit to those who have yet to find true love.

La Ville Lumière

💀 The dead control the living.

There are various influential French philosophers and the following are amongst the most prominent /

In no particular order /

René Descartes
In his seminal work, Discourse on Method, Descartes defined thought as the essential human quality — “I think, therefore I am” — and sets out one of the key characteristics of the French style of thinking: the deductive mode of reasoning. That is, one which starts with a general, abstract proposition and then works towards a specific conclusion.

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.

The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.

Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.

Voltaire
Voltaire was an outspoken advocate of civil liberties, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time. Voltaire believed above all in the efficacy of reason. He believed social progress could be achieved through reason and that no authority — religious or political or otherwise — should be immune to challenge by reason. Voltaire frequently made use of his works to criticise intolerance and religious dogma.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Rousseau’s writings on human freedom, equality, popular sovereignty and the return to nature challenged the social and political conventions of 18th‑century French society, and founded the radical republican tradition. His Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought.

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.

Nature never deceives us; it is we who deceive ourselves.

Jules Michelet
Greatest French historian of his time, whose blistering account of the French revolution dwelled on the importance of emotions, myths and symbols; he championed the cause of “the people”, arguing that history is decisively shaped by the interventions of the masses.

He who would confine his thought to present time will not understand present reality.

Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre confronted all the powerful institutions of his time (the bourgeois state, the Communist party, the university system); his writings on existentialism and Marxism in the post-second world war decades marked the pinnacle of the French traditions of republican universalism and philosophical radicalism.

When the rich wage war it’s the poor who die.

Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.

Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir was well versed in philosophy, politics and social issues. Her seminal work was The Second Sex (1949), which drew on existentialist philosophy to offer a ground-breaking account of women’s oppression. It is a pivotal contribution to modern feminism.

No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility.

All oppression creates a state of war.

Claude Lévi-Strauss
An ethnologist who became the most important exponent of structuralism, a philosophical movement that challenged the linearity of Cartesian rationalism by questioning its assumptions about progress and the fixed nature of meaning, and stressing the importance of dissonances and the unconscious in human thinking.

The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, [they are] one who asks the right questions.

Michel Foucault
Foucault’s theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. His work explored the ways in which modern societies imposed various forms of intellectual and physical control on their citizens, ranging from dominant norms and coercive state controls to medical and sexual practices.

What desire can be contrary to nature since it was given to [us] by nature itself.


Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité

Richard Dawkins

[English | 1941– ]

Richard Dawkins is an English evolutionary biologist, author and professor at Oxford University. His seminal work is The Selfish Gene (1976), which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term meme. His book, The Magic of Reality (2011), really fascinates me!

The Magic Of Reality By Richard Dawkins - dust jacket
The Magic Of Reality: How we know what’s really true

PDF extracts:
¶  pp. 12-13 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)
¶  pp. 32-52 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)
¶  pp. 118-139 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)
¶  pp. 246-265 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)


Here are some more of his books:

Richard Dawkins

Climbing Mount Improbable
How could such an intricate object as the human eye – so complex and so precise – have come about by chance? In this masterful piece of popular science, Richard Dawkins builds a powerful and carefully reasoned argument for evolutionary adapatation as the force behind all life on earth. The metaphor of ‘Mount Improbable’ represents the combination of perfection and improbability that we find in the seemingly ‘designed’ complexity of living things. And through it all runs the thread of DNA, the molecule of life, responsible for its own destiny on an unending pilgrimage through time.

Science in the Soul
This book is a series of essays and letters written by Dawkins. Topics range from evolution and Darwinian natural selection to the role of scientist as prophet, whether science is itself a religion, the probability of alien life in other worlds, and the beauties, cruelties and oddities of earthly life in this one. Critics have said that this collection is a, “sparkling showcase for Professor Dawkins’ rapier wit and, the beauty of his prose.”

Unweaving the Rainbow
Keats accused Newton of destroying the poetry of the rainbow by explaining the origin of its colours. In this text, Dawkins argues that Keats could not have been more mistaken, and shows how an understanding of science enhances our wonder of the world. He argues that mysteries do not lose their poetry because they are solved: the solution is often more beautiful than the puzzle, uncovering even deeper mysteries. Dawkins takes up the most important and compelling topics in modern science, from astronomy and genetics to language and virtual reality, combining them in a landmark statement on the human appetite for wonder. This book has been labeled:

A dazzling, passionate polemic against anti-science movements of all kinds.

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, shook society to its core on publication in 1859. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke but he would surely have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later. Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity. In The Greatest Show on Earth Dawkins, like a detective arriving on the scene of a crime, sifts through fascinating layers of scientific facts and disciplines to build a cast-iron case: from the living examples of natural selection in birds and insects; the ‘time clocks’ of trees and radioactive dating that calibrate a timescale for evolution; the fossil record and the traces of our earliest ancestors; to confirmation from molecular biology and genetics.

The Blind Watchmaker
Acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution written in the last hundred years, The Blind Watchmaker offers an inspiring and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. A brilliant and controversial book which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection – the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially non-random process discovered by Darwin – is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist?

The Four Horsemen
This is an edited work. Known as the ‘four horsemen,’**** these four big thinkers of the twenty-first century met only once. Their electrifying examination of ideas on this remarkable occasion was intense and wide-ranging. Everything that was said as they agreed and disagreed with one another, interrogated ideas and exchanged insights – about religion and atheism, science and sense – speaks with urgency to our present age.

The Four Horsemen

The dialogue was recorded, and is now transcribed and presented in this book. Questions they asked of each other included: (1) Is it ever possible to win a war of ideas? (2) Is spirituality the preserve of the religious? (3) Are there any truths you would rather not know?


Notes
**** “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible (the Book of Revelation). According to the main modern interpretation, this prophecy describes a period of time when a quarter of the population of the earth would be killed by a combination of wars, famine and disease. It is the precursor to the myth of armageddon.

Cavaleiros
In the Book or Revelation we watch the end of times beginning with the opening of the Seven Seals. The first four seals reveal the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse , leaders of disgrace.

Apocalypse
— The complete final destruction of the world, as described in the biblical book of Revelation.
— An event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale. “The apocalypse of World War II.”

Armageddon
— In the bible, the last battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgement.
— A dramatic and catastrophic conflict, especially one seen as likely to destroy the world or the human race.
“nuclear Armageddon”

On being Stoic

Stoicism 101

“The endurance of hardship without complaint.”

1.

Stoicism does not focus on complicated theories, it focuses on how one can overcome one’s own destructive emotions and act upon what one can actually act upon.

2.

Three individuals helped create and shape stoicism, they were: Marcus Aurelius, an emperor of the Roman Empire (he is said to have sat down each day to write himself notes about restraint, compassion and humility. Epictetus the Slave, who endured the horrors of being a slave but later went on to set up a school where he taught many of Rome’s VIPs and intellectuals. And another Roman great called Seneca the Serene.

3.

Stoicism’s key points: (a) it sets out to remind us of how unpredictable the world can be (b), how brief our moment of life is (c), how to be steadfast, and strong, and in control of yourself and (d), that the source of our dissatisfaction lies in our impulsive dependency on our reflexive senses rather than logic.

stoicism--01

The free & exploring mind

is the most valuable thing

 


And this I believe:

that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.

And this I would fight for:

the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.

And this I must fight against:

any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.

This is what I am and what I am about.