Arkiv for ‘Bøger’

Lenin og undertrykkelse

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

I en tidligere analyse kiggede vi på kulturkampen gennem Nietzsche (https://bit.ly/2vNVEls). Nu vil vi gøre det samme men i stedet med inspiration fra et af det 20. århundredes absolut største a-holes: Lenin.

Lenin fortsætter i samme spor som Nietzsche, nemlig med at skære sin analyse helt ind til han sidder og snitter i knoglen. Det er de helt grundlæggende forudsætninger for eksistens, vi skal se på. Det handler om rå magt og intet andet.

Vi starter med den observation, at den progressive politiker til hver en tid vil have en dagsorden, der er forskellig fra den jævne borgers. Grundlæggende har den politiske klasse en interesse i at udvide sine magtbeføjelser samt gøre det svært for outsidere at true deres privilegier. Borgerne har derimod en interesse i, at deres land bliver regeret besindigt og jævnt, sådan at de kan passe deres arbejde og opfostre deres familier i relativt trygge og traditionelle samfund. Stod det til dem, skulle politikerne blot sørge for grundlæggende lov og orden, for at offentlige institutioner var pålidelige, og for at statens finanser hang nogenlunde sammen.

Men fik borgerne deres vilje, ville politikerhvervet være verdens kedeligste job. Enhver politiker, der fik store ideer på samfundets vegne, ville hurtigt blive stemt ud. Vi ville være tilbage i samfund som det 18. århundredes England, hvor politik ikke var en karrierevej, men en slags tillidshverv; en tjeneste man gjorde sit samfund, og som primært varetages af dem, der allerede har deres på det tørre.

For at sikre politik som levevej samt udvide deres beføjelser, er det derfor nødvendigt for den politiske klasse at rette et angreb mod kernen i et samfund, nemlig småborgerne; det snusfornuftige folk, der stilfærdigt passer deres arbejde og er præget af traditionelle værdier. Det er her, leninismen kommer ind: I perioden efter den russiske revolution var det nødvendigt for bolsjevikkerne at finde allierede, der kunne støtte den politiske klasse i deres anslag mod konservativt sindede borgere – almindelige mennesker, der egentlig helst var fri for alt det der kollektivisering af ejendomsret og at skulle omformes til at det nye sovjetiske menneske. De allierede fandt man ved at tage homoseksuelle, ateister og fattige fra fremmede etniciteter og udstyre dem med politisk magt. Folk, som intet havde, og som før havde stået udenfor det borgerlige samfund, blev gjort til håndlangere for den politiske klasse i den nyslåede orden. Ikke alene sikrede man sig derved en uhørt loyalitet fra de nye lakajer, man knægtede også det jævne folks traditionelle sensibiliteter.

I dag snakker liberale og konservative ofte om, hvem der er ydere og hvem der er nydere i det store skatteomfordelingsshow. Det er også interessant at se på, men som vi ved, fattede Lenin ikke meget af økonomi. Derfor er den væsentligste lektie, vi kan lære af ham, heller ikke økonomisk, men kulturel.

Hvis vi antager, at der stadig findes en kerne af snusfornuftige mennesker i moderne samfund, så skal disse menneskers sindelag løbende kues for at forhindre dem i at indrette det politiske system efter deres småborgerlige ønsker, snarere end efter den politiske klasses ønsker. Derfor må man løbende tilbyde politisk patronat til grupperinger, der instinktivt krænker det jævne folks sensibiliteter. Før i tiden var det homoseksuelle, ateister og fattige fra fremmede etniciteter. I dag kunne det være transseksuelle, som krigerisk kræver at blive tiltalt med obskure pronomener, kunstnere, der ikke producerer kunst, normalt mennesker finder skøn og folk fra fremmede etniciteter, der nægter at lade sig integrere. Den politiske klasse ønsker at skabe loyale håndlangere, og de marginaliserede grupper ville intet have uden den politiske klasses patronat. Derfor har de forskellige periferier i samfundet en interesse i at rotte sig sammen og udøve strukturel vold mod midten, dvs. den snusfornuftige småborger.

Man kan selvfølgelig sige, at midten også udøver vold mod periferierne ved ikke at stemme på politikere med store progressive visioner; ikke at købe eller respektere konceptkunstneres kunst; samt ved at diskriminere mod transseksuelle og medlemmer af etniske minoriteter. Men ligesom spørgsmålet om hvem der er ydere, og hvem der er nydere i det store omfordelingsshow, kender vi denne fortælling til hudløshed. Det er derfor langt mere interessant at se på, hvordan periferierne undertrykker midten.

Noget af det mest interessante, der er skrevet om, hvordan midten fungerer, når den politiske klasse er relativt svag, kan man læse om i David Humes og Edmund Burkes analyser af de borgerlige dyder, et grundsyn som også refereres fra forskellige vinkler i (den i øvrigt transseksuelle) professor Deirdre McCloskeys bog ’The Bourgeois Virtues.’ Den småborgerlige moral er indledningsvis skeptisk og diskriminerende overfor det nye og ukendte, men som tiden går, vil mere og mere af det, der før lå udenfor den borgerlige moral blive accepteret, i takt med at almindelige mennesker erfarer, at outsiderne ikke var så slemme, som de troede. Således er homoseksuelle og ateister noget nær fuldt integrerede i samfundet i dag, mens billedet er mere blandet hvad angår etniske minoriteter.

Formålet med at give patronat til udsatte grupper er som nævnt at skabe loyale håndlangere og kue det småborgerlige folks sensibilitieter. Set med de briller giver det god mening, at progressivt sindede mennesker har tendens til at slå hånden af deres tidligere allierede i takt med, at disse grupper begynder at klare sig godt. Eksempelvis har progressive stemmer afsagt sig hvide mandlige homoseksuelle som allierede (https://bit.ly/2MmerQc) samt støttet diskrimination mod østasiatiske indvandrere, der brillierer i uddannelsessystemet (https://on.nyc.gov/2MrzShO). Det kan umiddelbart synes kontraproduktivt, men for leninister er årsagen åbenlys: Når sådanne grupper bliver accepteret, er deres loyalitet ikke længere garanteret, og de kan ej heller bruges til at krænke det jævne folks sensibilitieter. Det var ikke meningen, at de skulle begynde at fraternisere med midten, få sig et job og bidrage til samfundet. Det var ikke den rolle, de var castet til. Leninismen forklarer således rationalet bag den amerikanske essayist Larry Austers første lov: Jo dårligere en minoritetsgruppe opfører sig, jo mere værdifuld vil den være for de progressive.

”Men hvorfor er det nødvendigt at knægte det jævne folks sensibiliteter?” kunne man spørge. Det er det, fordi man derved demarkerer for dem, at det politiske domæne ikke er deres. Når enhver, der siger, hvad et flertal af småborgerne i deres stille sind tænker, frygter at blive udskammet som racist, rindalist eller transfob, kan de progressive vide sig sikre på at sidde tungt på samfundets kulturelle narrativ. Sveden skal pible frem på panden ved den blotte tanke, at størstedelen af moderne kunst er uæstetisk, at visse etniske minoriteter opfører sig problematisk, og at der kun findes to køn, og lugtesaltet skal være at efterabe den ortodoksi, den politiske klasse har nedfældet.

Ortodoksien er muligvis ikke i overensstemmelse med sandheden, men det gør den blot endnu mere værdifuld. Er man bekendt med dominanstaktikker, vil man vide, at en god måde at kue folk på, er at få dem til at gentage ens nonsens. Enhver kan tro på sandheden, men forbenet loyalitet og underkastelse får man først, når nogen efteraber de usandheder, man vil have dem til. “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” som de siger i ‘1984.’

Således kuet har småborgeren internaliseret dommen over ham: Hans naturlige sensibiliteter er ækle og hans ønsker for samfundet illegitime. Intimideret og domineret har han annammet budskabet om, at det er sikrere for ham ikke at hævde sig, når han ser sit hjemlands gader prydet af kunst, han ikke kan lide, en fortsat indvandring, han ikke støtter, og 57 køn, han ikke forstår. Er han særligt svag, har han endda internaliseret periferiernes angreb mod midten i en sådan grad, at han ikke længere har adgang til sine sande følelser desangående, da frygten for at blive stemplet som rindalist, racist eller transfob er blevet for overvældende. Uforvaret er han således blevet agent i sin egen undertrykkelse.

Lenin and modern SJWs

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Lenin continues in the same vein as Nietzsche, that is, by reducing analysis to the very point where he has cut away all flesh and finds himself scratching at the bone. An analysis looking only at the most basic prerequisite for existence. An analysis that deals with raw power and nothing else.

We start with the observation that the progressive politician will always have an agenda that is different from the regular citizen. Basically, the political class has an interest in expanding its powers and making it difficult for outsiders to threaten their privileges. Ordinary citizens, on the other hand, are simply interested in having their country governed evenly so that they can mind their jobs and raise their families in relatively safe and ordinary societies. If it were up to them, politicians would simply make sure that basic law and order were in place, that public institutions were reliable, and that the public finances were largely balanced.

However, if the citizens were to get their wish, this would make the politician’s job the dullest in the world. It would also render politics a risky career path, as politicians would often be voted out of office when they did do what the ordinary citizen wanted them to do. It would be a throwback to societies like 18th century England, where being a politician was not a career path so much as it was simply a kind of public trust; a service one does for his society and which is primarily handled by those who already live a financially-secure existence.

In order to secure the office of politician as a viable way of life, and to extend their powers, it is therefore necessary for the political class to undertake an attack on the core of a society, namely the ordinary citizens — that is to say, those snuffy people who quietly mind their work and just want to lead a life in tune with traditional values. This is where Leninism comes in. In the period after the Russian Revolution, it was necessary to find allies for the new political class that could support the new Soviet regime in their efforts against ordinary, conservatively minded citizens — commonplace people who would rather have opted out of the collectivization of property rights and the political class’ wish to transform them into the new altruistic Soviet human being. In doing so, they found new allies by taking homosexuals, atheists, and poor people of foreign ethnicity and propping them up with political power, ordained by the system. In other words, people who hitherto had nothing, and who had stood outside the sphere of bourgeois acceptance, became the allies of the political class in the newly created political order. Not only did the political class thereby ensure unprecedented loyalty from their new henchmen; they also succeeded in offending the traditional sensibilities of the regular people.

Today, Liberals and Conservatives often talk about which societal groups are net tax beneficiaries and which groups are net tax burden bearers in the grand redistributive scheme that goes on in modern economies. This is an interesting question but, as we know, Lenin was pretty economically illiterate. Thus, the most important take-away of this analysis is not economic; it is cultural.

If we assume that there is still a core of traditionally-minded people with petty bourgeois values ​​in modern societies, the minds of these people must be constantly cowed by the political class to prevent them from setting up the political system in accordance with what they want and not what the political class wants. Thus, political patronage must be continually offered to groups that instinctively violate the sensibilities of the common people. In the past these groups were homosexuals, atheists, and poor people of foreign ethnicities. Today, these same groups could be transsexuals, who aggressively demand to be addressed with obscure pronouns, artists who do not produce art normal people find pleasing, and people of foreign ethnicities who refuse to integrate into Western societies. The political class needs loyal supporters and these marginalized groups would have nothing without the patronage of the political class. In this way, the different peripheral groups of society have an interest in banding together and exercising structural violence against the core of society, that is, normal, traditional, petty bourgeois-minded people.

One can, of course, say that the core also exercises violence against the peripheries by not voting for politicians with great progressive visions, not buying or respecting the art of postmodern artists, and by discriminating against transsexuals and members of ethnic minorities. However, like the question of who are the net tax beneficiaries and who are net tax burden bearers in the great taxation and redistribution scheme of modern societies, we know how the core suppresses the peripheries, because we’ve all heard that analysis a million times. It is therefore far more interesting to look at how the peripheries also suppress the middle.

Some of the most interesting writings on the middle works when the political class is relatively weak, and can be found in David Hume’s analysis of the bourgeois virtues, a view that is also referenced and explored from different angles in professor Deirdre McCloskey’s book The Bourgeois Virtues. The bourgeois morality is initially skeptical and discriminatory against the new and unknown, but as time passes more and more of what originally stood outside of bourgeois morality will be accepted by ordinary people as they interact with peripheral groups and discover that the outsiders were not as bad as they thought. Thus, gays and atheists are almost completely integrated into modern societies while, however, the image is more mixed with regard to ethnic minorities.

As said, the purpose of extending patronage to marginalized groups is to create loyal henchmen for the progressive political class on the one hand, and to the cow the sensibilities of petty bourgeois people on the other. Viewed through this lens, it is interesting to note that progressives tend disown their allies as soon as these groups begin to be accepted by the petty bourgeois. For example, progressive voices have recently distanced themselves from white male homosexuals, saying that they no longer belong in the left’s alliance. As well, they openly supported discrimination against East Asian immigrants who excel in the educational system. I’ll put links to this in the video description below. This may initially seem hypocritical, but viewed through the lens of Leninism, the cause is obvious. When such groups begin to be accepted by the core of society, their loyalty to the political class is no longer guaranteed, nor can these peripheral groups be used to offend the sensitivities of traditionally-minded people. Leninism thus explains the rationale behind the American essayist Larry Auster’s first law: The worse a minority group behaves, the more valuable it will be for the progressive; conversely, the better it behaves, the less value it will have for progressives.

But why is it necessary to cow the sensitivity of normal people?, one might ask. It is a good tactic because it proclaims to ordinary people that the political domain is not theirs; that they should stay out of it. When a majority of the traditionally-minded people are frightened to speak their minds — fearing to be branded as racists who don’t like foreign people, hillbillies who are not sophisticated enough for modern art, or transphobes — this is a sign that progressives know that they are dominating the cultural narrative in society. The petty bourgeois must be afraid to say and think that modern art is unaesthetic, that certain ethnic minorities behave problematically, and that there are only two genders. They must be made to follow the orthodoxy that the political class has set before them.

This orthodoxy may not be in accordance with truth, but that just makes it even more valuable. If you are familiar with domination tactics, you will know that a good way to bully people is to make them repeat one’s nonsense. Anyone can believe in the truth, but boundless loyalty and submission will only be obtained when someone accepts the untruths you want them to. “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” as they say in 1984.

Thus, cowed in this way, ordinary people have internalized the judgment that their natural sentiments are loathsome and that their wishes for society are illegitimate. Intimidated and dominated, they take on the message that it is safer for them not to speak up; to simply mind their jobs and families while leaving political power, control of their tax money, and dominance over the narrative to the progressive political class. Some may even have internalized this attack against them to the point where they are no longer able to access their true emotions for fear of being called out as racists, transphobes, and the like. They have thus unwillingly become agents in their own oppression.

Boganmeldelse: ‘Very Short Introduction’ serien fra Oxford University Press

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

af Majken Hirche, biolog, KU

Brillante og koncise introduktioner til næsten alt! Sådan lyder sloganet fra Universitetsforlaget i Oxford – og sådan bliver du med garanti på rekordtid familiemiddagens sprudlende og intellektuelle fontæne af vedkommende og imponerende viden!

Anmeldelse Scient Very Short Introductions

Boganmeldelse: The Road af Cormac McCarthy

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

Boganmeldelse: The Road af Cormac McCarthy
af Majken Hirche, biolog, KU

Klimaet er både blevet kaldt vor tids vigtigste spørgsmål og et anfald af kollektivt massehysteri. Hvor bekymrede skal vi være? Spørger man Corcmac McCarthy, forfatter til The Road og en af de vigtigste nulevende amerikanske forfattere, er svaret klart: Be very afraid!

Læs Artiklen: Anmeldelse Scient The Road

Is Kreia a Mary Sue? [KOTOR2]

Monday, July 30th, 2018

This time we’ll be looking into whether Kreia is a Mary Sue.
A Mary Sue is an overpowered and perfectly good character with no explanation given for that power level. A Mary Sue is typically instantly liked by all of the established characters, yet at the same time a Mary Sue doesn’t have much of an actual personality. Mary Sues are also instantly liked for no apparent reason, and because of this Mary Sues feel like a wish-fulfilment fantasy more than they feel like actual characters in the story. Finally, being perfectly good and overpowered, typical Mary Sues are also never embarrassed and never fail in important ways, which is one reason Mary Sues are typically considered bad screenwriting.
So let’s find out if Kreia is a Mary Sue.
[New File]
First, we’ll look at whether Kreia is overpowered. This answer is clearly in the positive; as seen when she one-shots three Jedi masters with a single force power. She can also overpower Atton’s mind, even though Atton is trained in resisting Jedi mind probes. She manipulates others easily, brings people back from death, and manages to conceal herself from the Jedi council throughout most of the story. We are also repeatedly given hints that Kreia is very powerful, such as when we are told that only the strongest force users fought in the Mandolorian Wars, which is something that she did. And the official game guide even tells us that Kreia has access to many esoteric Force Powers that are not known by the Jedi and Sith.
So Kreia is clearly very powerful. But is she also overpowered? We’ll answer that in conjunction with our next point.
[New File]
Our next itinerary on the Mary Sue index is to find out whether Kreia’s power level is unexplained. Here, we could say that, yes – Kreia is shown to be very old. Her past is shrouded in mystery, and even the things we do know of her do not tell us why she should be so powerful. So it seems that Kreia’s power level is indeed unexplained.
However, even though her powers are unexplained, Kreia doesn’t fit the Mary Sue mold all too well. A Mary Sue is typically young and/or the main character. In the original Mary Sue story, A Trekkie’s Tale, which coined the term “Mary Sue,” the Mary Sue is only 15 and a half years old. If you have a character who is older and wiser, and fills the function of acting as teacher to the main character, that character is typically not a Mary Sue, but a paragon.
Obi-Wan and Yoda are paragons to Luke in the original trilogy. Both are older and wiser, and teach Luke as Kreia teaches the main character. And both are shown to be more powerful than Luke. Likewise, though some of their backstory is later reveled in the prequels, their past and the way they acquired their powers are still shrouded in mystery. By itself, this doesn’t make Obi-Wan and Yoda Mary Sues, since as characters they don’t fulfill the same role in the story that Luke, Anakin, Rey, or the main character of KOTOR2 do.
Going strictly by the numbers, we could therefore say that, yes, Kreia does have an unexplained power level, but no, that does not count towards her Mary Sue-ness. But you know what? Just to be extra fair, let’s just say it counts anyway and give Kreia a point for having an unexplained power level.
[New File]
Next we will look at the question of whether Kreia is perfectly good. Throughout the game, Kreia is repeatedly shown not to be perfectly good. Then again, she isn’t exactly evil either. She gives the main character a barrage of lessons, all from different points of view. She aims to broaden one’s view of the implications of one’s actions, and views both good and evil as faulty extremes. She will scold you for committing overly strongly to either the light or the dark side of the force. And she teaches that there is value in deception, suspicion, and betrayal, just as there can be value in preventing suffering. Thus, for our purposes, we can clearly conclude that Kreia is not perfectly good.
[New File]
Let us look at whether Kreia has a personality, then. There are many ways to answer this question, and all of them lead to a definite yes. Kreia is intelligent, haughty, disagreeable, immodest, nonconforming, rational, intellectual, strong-willed, goal-oriented, and individualistic. If we take someone whom we would say had no personality, we would think of someone who had few definite or unique characteristics; someone who seems to drift along, acting on default instinct and morality without adding much in terms of personal values or atypical reasoning to their actions. We would think of someone like Rey. Kreia is the complete opposite of that. She is modeled on the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who said that most people’s lives are a quotation; an imitation of the values and expectations that have been handed down to them and taught that we need to go beyond these defaults to become who we truly are. Fitting in with neither Jedi nor Sith, this is exactly what Kreia has done, whereas Rey, on the other hand, has so far spent two movies just drifting along, letting herself be defined by whatever conditions she finds herself in.
[New File]
We also have to answer the question of whether Kreia is instantly liked for no apparent reason. Here it is clear that she is not. Most people who come into contact with her dislike her. We have already mentioned that both the Jedi and the Sith cast her out. We can add that she must manipulate the people around her in order to get them to do what she says. She also manipulates the main character of KOTOR2 into believing that their force bond is lethal, so that the main character will stick with her and protect her, even though it is not. In general, Kreia tricks people and uses her power in order to get others to accept her and stand her company. Kreia even tells us herself that she is not well-liked. So the answer is clearly in the negative here.
[New File]
Does Kreia feel like a wish-fulfilment fantasy then? A wish-fulfilment is like a daydream where the typical frustrations of life are turned upside down. Someone who is not very beautiful, rich, powerful, or well-liked experiences a fantasy where they have all these qualities in abundance. However, as we have already touched upon, Kreia’s role in the story is that of paragon, not main character. It is difficult for the audience to identify with her in the same way that many might be able to identify with Luke or Rey. Likewise, though she may be powerful, Kreia is old, not beautiful, not well-liked, and has several alienating qualities. We have already mentioned how her personality does not fit the bill of a wish-fulfilment fantasy. And likewise, her indifference to her physical health, her inability to make true friends, and her lack of sympathetic qualities all count against her seeming to be a wish fulfilment too.
[New File]
Finally, we must turn to the question of whether Kreia is embarrassed or fails. Here it is clear that she fails a number of times. She is rejected by both Jedi and Sith, she loses her hand to Darth Sion, she loses the final battle against the main character, and she fails in her ultimate goal of bringing death to the Force.
[New File]
Thus, tallying up the final score, Kreia gets 2 out of 7 for being overpowered and for having an unexplained power level. But that is only if we are being generous and following the letter of the law. If we allow for the fact that Kreia is a paragon, not a main character or everyman, her true Mary Sue score is 0 out of 7, leaving her final Mary Sue score at 28.6% — or 0%, depending on how you look at it.
[New File]
“But wait!” you may say, “I thought the reason people don’t like Rey was that they were afraid of strong woman characters; that they feel threatened by strong women. I mean, JJ Abrams and Daisy Ridley, , basically told us as much. So isn’t it odd that Kreia is one of the most well-liked characters among the fanbase – and a woman? It’s almost as if people’s problem with Rey isn’t that she is a woman, but that she is a horrible, boring character and a perfect Mary Sue. But what do I know? I mean, *I* wasn’t the one who came up with the masterpiece that was The Force Awakens.

Mindfulness

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Ifølge amerikansk forskning er de primære årsager til stress jobusikkerhed og bekymring over personlige finanser. Det overlapper til dels med den “stigende grad af valgmuligheder hvor intet er givet,” ja. Men hvor jeg ikke er med er:

(1) At meditation skulle være med til at fastholde individualisering. Hvorfor skulle det det? Som Sigrid siger, er der forskning, der tyder på, at meditation styrker din empati, og dermed din forbindelse til andre mennesker. Det er misvisende at sige, at meditation sætter fokus på individet, blot fordi det foregår i stilhed. Meditation handler lige så meget, eller enddog mere, om den tilstand, man opnår _efter_ meditationen som under den. Den tilstand styrker som sagt ens forbindelse til andre mennesker. Man bliver ikke kun bedre til at “se indad.” Man bliver bedre til at se indad _og_ udad.

(2) At meditation er en uhensigtsmæssig løsning givet den samfundsorden, vi har i dag. Det er helt fint med normer og rødder og kontinuitet. Jeg ville da også gerne leve i et samfund, hvor togkontrolløren var ligeså stolt af sit job som en eller anden 23-årig CBS’er, der lige har tjent 22 millioner på en app. Et samfund hvor togkontrolløren fandt glæde ved sit arbejde fordi andre støttede ham i at være stolt af den rolle, han udførte for fællesskabet. Men det beviser jo ikke, at sådan et samfund ikke ville være _endnu bedre_, hvis folk også mediterede i dét. Jeg ser med andre ord ikke dikotomien i meditation på den ene side og normkritik på den anden. Det er ikke enten-eller.

(3) Der rettes en kritik af en kultur, hvor man konstant skal opfinde sig selv, samt være smartere, rigere og mere unik. Og det er rigtigt, at meditation under tiden præsenteres som en forlængelse af denne kultur. Men her må man adskille præsentation og substans. En anden typisk effekt af meditation er nemlig dyb eksistentiel accept af de vilkår, man er blevet givet i livet. Hvilket synes at være netop én af de ting, du efterlyser.

Nu må vi lige have noget terminologi på plads, inden det stikker helt af. Jeg snakkede om meditation, som er en religionsneutral disciplin, der kan tilpasses enhver metafysik, og som afstedkommer positive helbredsmæssige og neurofysiologiske ændringer, der ikke er sammenlignelige med afslapning. Mindfulness er en delmængde af meditation, som findes i en videnskabelig-vestlig og en oprindelig buddhistisk form. Ingen af de to forudsætter eksistensen af det indre og mere sandt selv (ātman). Hele buddhismen er bygget på et opgør med ātman-taken, som du ukorrekt beskriver som synonym med mindfulness.

Den oprindelige buddhistiske mindfulness-praksis (sati) handler på ingen måde om at finde ind til et indre selv, der står udenfor de empiriske betingelser. Det handler om at være opmærksom (mindful) på altings foranderlighed og forgængelighed, inkl. selvet, der ligesom alt andet antages at være et konglomerat af skiftende empiriske betingelser. Det er det fuldstændig modsatte af den ātman-metafysik, du siger, mindfulness kun er afslapning uden. Årtusinders buddhistiske tænkere og praktikere nok blive kede af at læse dit indlæg.

En anden gruppe, der ville blive kede af at høre, at mindfulness forudsætter en ātman-metafysik, er læger, psykologer og psykiatere, som anvender disse teknikker på alt fra stress, angst og depression til søvnproblemer, stofafhængighed og OCD. Det er selvfølgelig korrekt, at man kan finde gajolpakkeundervisere derude, men den vestlige og videnskabelige version af mindfulness skal spores tilbage til Kabat-Zinn, der personligt er/var zen-buddhist. Hans “opfindelse” bestod i at tage zazen-praksis (hvor man heller ikke tror på et indre sandt selv) og fjerne den buddhistiske tankeramme (ja faktisk enhver dybere filosofisk og spirituel underbygning), sådan at hans kolleger på MIT ville acceptere hans resultater. Senere begyndte han at bagatellisere den buddhistiske forbindelse, men eftersom meditation i sig selv gør dig mere åben overfor præ-tingsliggjorte og ikke-dualistiske virkelighedsopfattelser, er det uundgåeligt, at en vis procentdel vil opleve en spirituel komponent ved denne praksis alligevel. Det har vist sig overordentligt genstridigt at adskille de positive livsstils- og helbredseffekter fra spiritualiteten. Men det bør man ikke nødvendigvis være ked af — der er i princippet ikke noget i vejen for, at den spiritualitet, man bringes nærmere på via disse øvelser, kunne være kristen.

Så alt i alt ser jeg det sådan, at du ikke rigtig kritiserer mindfulness eller meditation. Du kritiserer de poppede, platte og ignorante måder, som bundskraberne indenfor disse discipliner af og til fremturer på. Det er lidt ligesom at afskrive alt ved et politisk parti, fordi et medlem af dets ungdomsorganisation engang har sagt noget dumt.

A Buddhist Take On Cognitive Functions

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

The Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna, whom some consider to be the most important person in Buddhism besides the Buddha himself, sums up his view of reality in the following statement:

In teaching the doctrine, the enlightened ones rely on two truths, empirical and transcendent. Those who do not differentiate these truths do not understand the profound reality of the doctrine. Without recourse to empirical truth, the transcendental truth cannot be shown. Without the transcendental truth, ultimate reality cannot be realized.

This statement is remarkably close to some of the things Jung said about the cognitive functions, and which the Jungian analyst and philosopher Marilyn Nagy have explored in her book, Philosophical Issues in the Psychology of C. G. Jung.

This way of viewing cognition holds that reality cannot be known apart from mental consciousness and that the mental processes inherent in consciousness predispose us to view reality in certain ways. I have explored this theme further in my own article, Determining Function Axes, Part 6, which is available to members on our website.

According to this way of viewing the functions, as long as we are bound by our functions, we can never really know the nature of reality, but only partial appropriations of it, which are determined in part by our mental processes. But all mental processes have two weaknesses:

1: They are prejudiced to experience reality in accordance with their overall nature, preferences, and biases.

2: All cognitive functions presuppose conceptual bifurcation, that is, dividing things into subject and object, while the true reality, which we are synthesizing in our minds by way of cognitive processes, is really free of such contradictions.

It is thus only by going beyond our functions that we can be allowed to see reality in its true transcendent state, free of our own biases. But we all start out bound by our functions. That is why Nagarjuna said that without recourse to empirical truth, the transcendental truth cannot be shown. We must start with a conditioned understanding of how our empirical consciousness is limited before we can reach the transcendental stage and see absolute reality for ourselves.

But it is very hard to reach this stage, since, to the untrained mind, the distance between seeing reality and epistemically dividing it into subject and object is so short that most people never notice they are doing it. They end up believing that their own mental constructions are ultimately real and thus become entrapped by their own functions. The cognitive process becomes the arbiter of reality, rather than reality in itself.

In his work, Jung appeared to be split between a purely diagnostic approach to typology, which we have linked to the work of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. In Psychological Types, just traces another approach to typology, where the diagnostic phase is succeeded by the need to liberate oneself from the functions to Taoism and the Upanishads. At the time where he wrote Psychological Types, he did not appear to be familiar with Mahayana Buddhism, but had he been, he would no doubt have recognized that this was, in a sense, the same thing Nagarjuna was talking about, and which certain Zen masters have taught. I have also personally suggested that one might find some inkling of this mindset in the heritage left to us by the Greek philosopher Anaximander. I explored this theme in my article The Anaximanderian Conception of Function Axes.

In a way, you could say that the task of explaining this point to people who are not in tune with the primordial cognitive state extolled by Buddhism is a bit like the task of trying to explain to someone who is sober what it is like to be under the influence of mind altering drugs. Only from the Buddhist point of view, it is man’s everyday empirical consciousness that corresponds to being under the influence while the primordial state of consciousness corresponds to sobriety. Or as the Buddhists like to call it: The true nature of reality.

That is why most expositions on the merits of such cognitive states will invariably have a bit of a bait and switch flavour to them: If the listener has not undergone serious meditative training, he or she will only have a vague idea of what such a state is like. He will most certainly not have the first-hand phenomenological experience of what it is like to undergo such a vision, nor the completely doubt-less feeling that accompanies it which tells you that what the Buddhists have been talking about for aeons is correct and that this state of consciousness is far more in tune with the true nature of reality that the empirical understanding we construct for ourselves by way of our functions and that most people live under through their entire lives. Only when we liberate ourselves from the functions; from the dichotomy of subject and object; from the narrative fictions we spin for ourselves, and from the lie of thinghood will we try be able to go beyond our functions and see reality as it truly is.

That is why the Zen master Pang Yun said that the essence of awakening to true reality is to eat all day and not swallow a grain of rice; to walk all day and not tread an inch of ground; to have no distinction at all between subject and object and to be inseparable from all things all day long; this is the nature of true cognitive liberation.

Hvad er der egentlig galt med islam, sådan fagøkonomisk set?

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Hvad er der egentlig galt med islam, sådan fagøkonomisk set?

Det har den amerikanske økonom Timur Kuran sat sig for at finde ud af. Hans paper, der udkommer i 2018, er det første studie i 20 år, der søger at danne sig et overblik på baggrund af den databaserede forskning på området.

Den muslimske civilisation har som helhed lav levealder, høj analfabetisme samt en lav grad af økonomisk og menneskelig udvikling. Hvorfor er det gået så galt i en periode, hvor andre ikke-vestlige civilisationer har udviklet sig til det bedre?

Her er fire af Kurans konklusioner:

Mangel på uddannelse

Mange forældre i den islamiske verden nægter deres børn (især pigebørn) en uddannelse. Ofte er det hverken penge eller muligheder, der mangler. Nej, en prominent årsag er, at man i mange muslimske lande forbinder fraværet af uddannelse med høj social prestige. Det anses simpelthen for finere – og mere korrekt islamisk praksis – ikke at uddanne sig.

 

Det muslimske uddannelsessystem mistænkes ofte for at forringe den generelle uddannelseskvalitet i den islamiske verden. Her viser data dog, at islamiske skoler mange steder ikke er værre end alternativerne i den del af verden. Det er ikke så meget islamisk skolegang, der er problemet, som de islamiske sociale værdier, der fraråder formel uddannelse, spørgelyst og individuel kreativitet. Det kan være svært for vesterlændinge at forstå, at uddannelse ikke skulle være attråværdigt, men den muslimske afsmag herfor kan sandsynligvis spores tilbage til den islamiske tradition for at overlade avancerede arbejdsopgaver til slaver. At være samfundets dygtige opfindere, kunstnere og bureaukrater – sågar også elitesoldater – var i mange tilfælde noget, man lod slaverne tage sig af.

Omstændelig finanssektor

Mens resten af Asien har overtaget vestlige finanspraksisser, står mange i den islamiske verden stejlt på nødvendigheden af en særlig islamisk økonomi, der først og fremmest karakteriseres ved at søge at undgå rente. Det har ført til et halvt århundredes eksperimenteren med særlige former for islamisk kredit, islamiske obligationer, islamiske derivater og lignende ”Sharia Banking.” Økonomer, der har undersøgt disse praksisser, har konkluderet, at disse særlige islamiske instrumenter alligevel altid ender med at bero på rente. Blot må man omfortolke, hvad der kvalificerer som rente, eller pålægge kunden skjulte omkostninger, der i praksis skal gøre det ud for rente.

Sharia Banking kan have en positiv effekt, såfremt det får velhavende muslimer, der ellers ikke ville have aktiveret deres kapital, til at investere. Som helhed betragtet medfører Sharia Banking dog et anseeligt dødvægtstab, sammenlignet med hvad samme midler ville have udrettet i et mere kompetitivt finansielt system.

Fosterskader

Siden 2000 har flere videnskabelige studier undersøgt de samfundsmæssige konsekvenser ved den islamiske faste. Især gravide kvinders tendens til at faste under Ramadanen har dramatiske omkostninger. Børn, hvis mødre fastede under graviditeten, har generelt kortere liv, flere helbredsproblemer og dårligere kognitive evner. De er også mindre produktive gennem hele deres arbejdsliv, og så er faste under graviditeten i øvrigt årsagen til 15% af alle mentale handikap i den islamiske verden.

Undersøgelser fra muslimske lande viser, at befolkningen generelt er uvidende om den skade, fastende kvinder påfører deres fostre ved at nægte dem næring under graviditeten. Denne problematik skal igen ses i forbindelse med det ringe uddannelsesniveau i muslimske lande.

Forældet retspraksis

Islamisk retspraksis udgjorde som helhed betragtet et fremskridt, da den blev indført i Mellemøsten for 1400 år siden. Kvinder, der før ingen rettigheder havde, fik nu delvise rettigheder, og stridsmål, der før ville være blevet afgjort med krumsablen, kunne nu afgøres ved en sharia-domstol i stedet. Visse forskere har anført, at islamiske domstole agerede arbitrært, men det synspunkt understøttes ikke af data. Sharia-domstolene agerede generelt konsistent – måske endda mere konsistent end domstolene i datidens Europa.

 

På sigt har sharia-domstolene dog holdt den islamiske verden tilbage. Deres hjemmel er religiøs, ikke sekulær, og den dag i dag mener mange muslimer, at innovation i retssystemet er det samme som apostasi og bør straffes med døden. Det var først med europæernes indtræden i regionen i 1800-tallet, at korporationer, aktieselskaber og et egentligt bankvæsen blev anerkendt, og at kontrakter mellem firmaer (og ikke blot privatpersoner) blev understøttet af retspraksis.

***

 

Kuran er ingen islamhader. Han forsøger at give en balanceret kritik og at forstå fremfor at pege fingre. Den islamiske despekt for avancerede arbejdsopgaver var f.eks. næppe vedblevet uden den righoldige adgang til kompetente slaver, der kunne kidnappes fra andre civilisationer. Denne praksis kan godt have været økonomisk rationel, i hvert fald på kort sigt. Kuran forsøger også at vise, at man kan tolke på, hvad Koranen egentlig mener med rente (‘ribah’ er ikke nødvendigvis synonym med al slags rente), og at Koranen netop siger, at man ikke behøver at faste, såfremt man er i en tilstand, hvor man ikke kan tåle det (så længe man kompenserer ved at faste et tilsvarende antal dage på et senere tidspunkt eller brødføde en fattig). Kuran viser også, at mange af de strukturelle problemer, der plager den islamiske verden, ikke nødvendigvis gælder for muslimer, der lever som minoriteter i andre civilisationer. Ikke desto mindre er det dog ikke til at komme udenom, at der er alvorlige problemer og kun få tegn på bedring i den islamiske verden. Og som Kuran lakonisk konstaterer, så findes der ingen hurtige løsninger.



Vi bruger cookies. Mere information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close