Wednesday 2 January 2019

Truth and Ideology

Nowadays it appears that ideology has trumped common sense and natural instinct in almost every area. Why is this and how has it taken place so rapidly in that what were extreme views a decade or two ago are now not only part of the mainstream but to contest them is to be branded as one who is motivated by hatred? What has happened to human beings? 

Two things come to mind. One is the fostering of resentment and envy by various groups who identify themselves (for reasons of self-advancement) as victims. Another is sentimentalised pity and guilt by those identified as descendants and beneficiaries of the supposed oppressors.  To describe things in these terms does not mean there weren't victims and oppressors but the overall picture is considerably more complicated than that, and to reduce the past exclusively to these concepts is to radically distort it. 

So now some groups seek power because of perceptions of past injustices (ignoring the fact that the power they seek only exists as it does because of the achievements of those they seek to wrest power from), and others lack both the confidence and the substance to resist this, especially given the relentless propaganda directed towards them pointing out their faults; propaganda ultimately instigated, as I believe, by supernatural powers dedicated to the destruction of goodness and truth as these things are understood spiritually.

Which point leads me on to something else. Education. I consider that the modern education system has become one of the sharpest tools in the devil's toolbox. Today more children stay in education for longer, up to their mid-twenties in many cases, and they are more exposed to the leftist ideology with which the academic world is rife. They don't encounter the real world until they are quite old by which time their views have often become settled.

I know someone whose 17-year-old daughter told him that she didn't think she could love him anymore because he wasn't a feminist. I imagine that part of this is down to typical teenage self-importance and narrow-minded idealism, but it is still a rather terrible thing to put an ideology, indoctrinated into you by your teachers at school, above familial love. Honour thy father and mother - but only if they behave as you wish. She said that feminism meant equality and if he didn't believe in the former then he couldn't believe in the latter, the truth of which she took to be so obvious it didn't need defending. He countered that for one thing feminism was not now about equality at all but about the promotion of women at the expense of men, and that, anyway, equality was neither a real nor a desirable thing. Men and women were different, with different roles in life, and though they might have equal worth as human beings that did not translate to equality in the sense of each being equally adept as the other in all fields and circumstances. 

This was something that all previous generations just knew. The sexes were complementary. But she was having none of it. Men had oppressed women for centuries and now they were fighting back. This is the ideology she had been taught by her school teachers and she took it as authoritative truth. The fact that there had been some suppression in the past had been blown up out of all proportion and assumed to be the main factor in all male/female relationships until recently. The basis of any interaction between the sexes had been reduced to power in the good old-fashioned Marxist style. The possibility that there had been love or mutual help involved or that, until recently with the rise of liberating technology (invented by males for the most part), both sexes had had a pretty tough time of it was completely glossed over

Why are ideologies bad? It is because they replace natural perception of reality with a thought or theory about it and then everything has to fit into that. If it doesn't fit, it is just cut down or changed until it does. If the ideology is based on a false premise, such as materialism, that is even worse. Your ideology becomes the truth and nothing is allowed that does not conform to that.

People say everything is an ideology of some sort. No one knows truth. This is false.  Common sense and instinct, and even tradition tested by time and experience, can all be based on truth. Not truth intellectually formulated but actually perceived and experienced. And then you have Christianity, another ideology its enemies affirm. I admit that Christianity can certainly become an ideology when subjected to human interpretation. However, in itself and as instigated by Jesus, it is based on revelation. It is not an intellectual theory and it is not built on artificial foundations. It is actually built on love but divine love not human, the difference being that the first is reality while the second is mere feeling.

The rise in mental development of the human race has led it further from truth than it has ever been before. We have become corrupted by ideas because we are clever enough to have them but not clever enough to see through them to the truth that stands above them as the sun does above clouds. This is not meant as recommendation to abandon intelligence and return to an ignorant state. The development of the mind was a vital step in our spiritual unfoldment. Nonetheless, the mind should not be the primary organ of perception. That honour belongs to the intuition but we will only start to develop this higher faculty when we learn a little humility. Our mental powers have led to pride and the sense that we are able to understand the world and ourselves through our own abilities. Nothing could be further from the truth. We can only understand anything properly when we open ourselves up to the love of God.

At the beginning of a new year, totally false thing that it is, this is something we should reflect on deeply.


Bruce Charlton said...

It is pretty clear that when God has been subtracted and the spiritual excluded from human thinking, then people can (temporarily, but fanatically) become convinced about almost anything, and any number of starkly contradictory things - as in the case of the modern ideology of sex and sexuality.

But once enmeshed in this morrass of confusion, the capacity to escape is destroyed by the same factors that cause the confusion. Pseudo-social, fake-peer group pressure make people (esepcially women) afraid to disengage from the mass media - for fear of becoming socially incompetent and excluded.

None of this could happen without a tendency to correction when the mind has a centre and potential for coherence; but the modern mind lacks this.

Moonsphere said...

You describe the situation very well. Whilst this has been a long time coming - a huge "leap forward" for this inhuman ideology has occurred only in the last 3 or 4 years. It is quite a thing to experience intense nostalgia for times as recent as 2014! We have moved into a demonically inspired phase of human existence that is no passing fad.

As a student of Rudolf Steiner, I can't help but think that we now live in times where a substantial minority of western humans exist without a fully embedded "I". The result is this zombie mindset that characterises the western world today.

In an online debate recently I was accused of "personal incredulity". I asked if there was any other kind. This was met with blank non-understanding. This outsourcing of ones own judgement to external authority, especially to Science, is now mandatory. What one could think and say freely just a few years ago, I fear may even lead to actual loss of liberty today.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Moonsphere - "This outsourcing of ones own judgement to external authority, especially to Science,"

Science would be bad enough, but this is not real science, which has (for some thirty years) almost completely died out, to be replaced by bureaucratic careerism controlled by The Establishment - mainly by controlling grants and making grant-income the basis of jobs, promotions and status. Also by subjecting scientific communications to the full intensity of political correctness.

But you basic point of 'outsourcing' is surely correct. This is the Achilles heel of traditional, mainstream, church-rooted Christianity as well - the expectation that the adherent should outsource judgment to the institution.

However, Anthroposophy has utterly failed to do anything different! - and the Anthropos Society is as converged to political correctness as the very worst actually-political, pseudo-Christian churches - such as Unitarians, The Episcopal Church in the USA, or the Methodists. This is partly due to faults and contradictions in Steiner himslef, and partly to the selective and distorted misreading of Steiner; contrary to his own wishes and instructions.

At any rate, nowadays a serius Steiner scholar needs to set aside the Anthroposophical Society, much as a serious Anglican needs to set aside the Church of England.

William Wildblood said...

I think you are right, Moonsphere. As people have become separated from the idea of God they have developed what you call a zombie mindset. No God ultimately seems to lead to no real individual self.

Moonsphere said...

@Bruce. Indeed, modern Science has become no-less zombiefied. I should have scare-quoted the word lest it seemed I give it any honour or status.

On the question of Anthroposophy - I can only sadly agree with you. But I found my way to Steiner independently of any official organisation. It has been said that Anthroposophy currently lies entombed. The concrete Goetheanum is the perfect symbol of this, preceded by the Wood of the First Building and the Death of its burning. It is to be hoped that some form of Resurrection may take place in the future.

This imagery may sound somewhat sacrilegious as I know you have deep reservations regarding Steiner, but it does represent my own view of his legacy and his value to future humanity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MS - "It has been said that Anthroposophy currently lies entombed. The concrete Goetheanum is the perfect symbol of this, preceded by the Wood of the First Building and the Death of its burning."

I agree. From the photos and movies I have seen of the concrete Goetheanum, I regard it as a truly horrible, soul-crushing edifice; the effect amplified by the surrounding campus.

I am, in fact, either indifferent to, or mildly repelled by, Steiner's artistic legacy - the original Goetheanum, the sculpture, artwork, eurythmics, music etc. If people enjoy it - this is fine by me!; but it would be an error to claim an intrinsic spiritually ennobling quality in Steiner's Art.

Some kind of Steiner rebirth (focused on his core philosophical and spiritual ideas ideas, and rooted in Christianity like Steiner; but setting aside the great mass of applied stuff related to education, medicine, agriculture etc.) would indeed be a great thing - in a sense it is almost an essential thing. It is not quite essential because the necessary insights might come indirectly. For example, Owen Barfield or Jeremy Naydler might be a better way of learning Steiner than reading the man himself.

Others seem independently to have reached the needful insights as articulated by Steiner (or some of them) by honest intuition. William Arkle is an example - although Arkle did, in fact, know a lot of Anthroposophists in Bristol during the 1950s-70s, and probably absorbed what he needed from them.

Adil said...

I think this goes back on a collective inflation of the scientific mindset, which then backfired. Our age gives primacy to objective explanations, interpratations and descriptions of the world, not the subjective experience of it. From this comes ideology, which posits a consensual reality branded as "objective", where opposing views become merely "subjective", which in turn throws actual truth out the window because it can't be experienced anymore. This is why the poetic spirit is higher than the scientific mindset, because it senses the whole picture instead of pausing and analysing its parts. Man is not a fully developed creature. Psychology is the youngest of sciences and perhaps only the development of real spirituality will complete the pyramid and fully enlighten our being.

edwin faust said...

"Man must confront ideas as master, lest he become their slave." - This is the last paragraph in the opening section of Philosophy of Freedom. It endorses William's point that we have become cowed and enslaved by ideologies, even in the religious sphere. All of the comments concerning Steiner are interesting and, I think, accurate. I spent a few weekends at a Steiner farm and was saddened to discover how little anyone there knew or cared about Steiner's principle work. They were all left-wing ideologues. I never went back and, at the time, abandoned Steiner ("by their fruits, etc.") But I am rediscovering the value of his concept of freedom. It think that Christianity is the truth that will make us free, but it is not a set of propositions but a way of living, and no church or group can take the place of a freely chosen moral act.

Thomas Michaelson said...

I was wondering if you'd come across this in your internet travels?
It seems relevant to some of the things you discuss here.
Keep up the good work!

William Wildblood said...

No, I'd not seen that but I'll have a look. Thanks.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

"It is pretty clear that when God has been subtracted and the spiritual excluded from human thinking, then people can (temporarily, but fanatically) become convinced about almost anything, and any number of starkly contradictory things - as in the case of the modern ideology of sex and sexuality."

To be fair, Bruce, people can also be fanatically convinced of almost anything, and any number of starkly contradictory things, by means of the concepts of God and spirituality. The issue here is not really religion vs. irreligion, or spirituality vs. materialism, but, as William says, truth vs. ideology. Religious ideologies can be every bit as insane and toxic as secular ones.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - It's a question of the necessary but not sufficient kind. A religion is necessary, but not sufficient, for basic, commonsensical sanity.

Of course a person, or a society, does not go fully mad in the instant they exclude God and the spiritual; but the process begins.

I find it amazing to observe how so many people go insanne through life, even in middle and old age, nowadays; so that instead of wise old men and women, there are throngs of absolute crazies, caricature teenagers in their sixties and seventies.

(Actors and actresses etc. have apparently always been that way, but now ordinary people act like thespians.)