January 16

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Collective Reality, Ignorance, Religion, Science, Materialistic Progress, Nihilism

The goal of many collective realities: Compete subjugation or annihilation of all other realities. Subservience of all men and women to the collective reality. The goal is rarely a furthering of truth (ie a correct connection to actuality), although this may be a stated goal, or the original goal. The goal is power and control. It is a furthering of the truth so far as the reality believes itself to be the truth, and that by spreading itself the truth will grow. This is false, there is no reality that encompasses the actual.

Ignorance: A force akin to faith. They are both words for the same faculty. One has a positive connotation while the other a negative. Both are the means by which we bind ourselves to our conceptions of reality. Faith is the positive force that binds us to our reality – faith in what we see and experience. Ignorance is the negative force that lets us ignore other realities, binding us to our own reality. It occurs when we purposely close our eyes to alternatives.

Faith is a power: Those most faithful to their realities attract followers. Loyalty is the force that binds followers to the leader’s reality. Strong faith attracts weak faith and strengthens it. It creates loyalty. Strong beliefs fortified by faith can be wielded as weapons. Men who shape faith, who know how to do so in others, are better off for it. I think that the world’s great soldiers, prophets, and statesmen, probably also had great faith. Their belief in their reality was unshakeable. They may not have been right, in fact, they may have been terribly wrong. Their will and belief was so strong that this didn’t matter, actuality bent towards them as they acted on their realities.

Competing realities: When realities compete for the minds of men, they grasp for any means to pursue this end. The best way to attract the crowd is to put forward cures and explanations for man’s innermost fears and anxieties. A universal salve, a cure-all. Religion fell on this as a means to attract. They found man’s greatest fear – death – and claimed a cure for death – belief in God leading to an afterlife, or proper conduct leading to reincarnation. The most successful realities have found imaginative and intelligent ways to quell fear. Early Greek philosophy claimed immortality of the soul, therefore man need not fear death. Christianity shackles man to his religion by positing a hell to which those who choose to not believe are destined. If one believes in a religion, one is saved, if one does not, one is damned. A believer can never leave. And why would he want to, when if he believes through his faith he will never die but have eternal life? Quelling fear. This is one way realities perpetuate themselves.

Competing realities: Realities posit different ways of dealing with suffering (in addition to curing death). Suffering is alleviated, enjoyment encouraged. Those who deal with suffering the best gather the greatest following. Religion, for instance, specifically Christianity, helps out the sufferer, the man at the bottom, by saying “the first will be last and the last first.” They condemn excess, “the rich have as much chance of reaching the kingdom as a camel through the eye of a needle.” The sufferer is aided. Therefore, the sufferer has his faith bolstered and his belief in the Christian reality strengthened. Another way of dealing with suffering is de-individualizing it. Religions brings sufferers together so they may deal with pain together, as a group. Men find comfort in joint suffering. To sum up: a reality comes up with a method to deal with suffering, and followers are attracted. Once followers have reached critical mass, new followers are attracted to it not so much because of the original method to deal with suffering, but the fact that a group has congregated in which the burden of suffering may be shared.

The image on the right demonstrates the idea of competing realities. All three realities focus on the same part of actuality - but each arrives at a different viewpoint - their own take on actuality. Thus their different colours.

The image on the left demonstrates science. If multiple scientists observe the same thing and arrive at the same reality, than scientific truth has been arrived at. Until another scientist comes with a better reality, the theory will hold.

Science and materialistic progress: Science is a reality like religion and ideology, but depends much more on formalized processes, the senses, and the power of reasoning to build connections to actuality. Science is concerned with the aligning of realities, for if realities align consistently over time (ie. if experiments are successfully repeated) then actuality can be discovered. It seeks to organize all of reality and make it consistent, change it from a jumble of competing viewpoints to something more orderly. How close to actuality science gets depends on how well our reasoning powers and senses can approach actuality. If actuality includes things that we will never be able to sense – like ghosts or a god – then science can only get so close.
Since its inception science has acted like the other collective realities, dealing with suffering and death. Science is more rational than religion in dealing with death. There is no afterlife in science. Since one is not observable, it cannot exist, say the scientists. Yet science has still alleviated this fear by consistently arriving at ways to extend life, therefore beating death. Life expectancy has increased, infant mortality decreased, and fringe scientists study cryogenics and death avoidance. The idea of materialistic progress – a descendant of science - takes this history to an imaginative conclusion – eventually science will discover everything there is to know and we’ll never have to die. This viewpoint can be found among young people who believe that by the time they are 80 all the causes of death – cancer, AIDS, etc. will have been conquered and death defeated. In sum, science, and its offspring materialistic progress, deals with the human fear of death by extending life and offering a golden future of omniscience, this is how it attracts believers. This is a half way effort, there is no attempt to deal with actual death. In today’s world, religion and science seem to meld, science and its offshoots, materialism, dealing with the waking world, and religion the world after death.

Competing realities, science and materialism: Science breeds ways of producing new things. This is how the idea/reality of materialistic progress, an offshoot of science, deals with suffering. An ever widening field of ‘things’ is created which the ordinary man may purchase. By doing so, he alleviates his suffering. This collective materialist reality places value on acquiring, progressing, and ownership. Therefore, subscribers to the collective reality value the constant acquisition of things, and then better things, since this gives them comfort. The initial salve for suffering: progress by buying new things. The subsequent salve for suffering: progress by buying new things because we all are doing it.

Competing realities: Bringing faith and ignorance into it. For a lot of us, the most successful realities are marked by the greatest number of rabid believers. Belief is inspired by faith and ignorance, therefore realities must marshal faith and encourage ignorance. The more faith inspired in its supporters, the stronger a reality will become. A reality attacks another by undermining the faith of its supporters, and revealing its ignorance. Moses attacked the faith of the supporters of Baal by doing miracles when the priests of Baal failed. Science attacks the ignorance of religion by parading new truths and discoveries before the eyes of believers, forcing them to question entrenched values. Osama bin Laden attacked the faith of the consuming American by destroying one of their greatest symbols, the World Trade Towers.

Scientific faith: Use of the senses to discover truth. Repeated testing of a hypothesis. Because a theory is never disproved, it must be true. Therefore, the scientist can have faith and establish a reality in which he believes. Collective science, the gathering of all proven theories under the banner of science, is one of the most massive attempts to understand actuality. How close does science come to understanding actuality? Is it as infallible as it claims? Should one put faith in science? The unstated goal of science is omniscience. Science propels us forward to this goal. Is it achievable? Philosophy and religion have never achieved truth, can science?

The scientific religious alliance: Science and materialism deal with human suffering during life by extending life, combating disease, and creating things which can be aspired to and purchased. Through materialistic endeavour and living for the moment we all forget about death, or put it out of our mind for as long as possible. Yet death still hovers at the door, and science has not found a way to explain what happens after we all pass away. That is why Christianity still exists in America, why it has not disappeared. The scientist has not been able to cheat death. The Christian, on the other hand, or any other believer, cheats death by living the Christian life and reaching eternal life after death; heaven. The believer posits that God does exist. There is currently a tendency to mix the two – science and religion - in most of us. We believe in what science tells us about something like evolution because it has been repeatedly proven, and we also believe in God – not because God’s existence has been proven, but because science fails to sufficiently quell our fear about the afterlife. Though religion has been displaced by science in many spheres, we still need it, so a strange alliance has been signed in our minds such that we accept them both.

The myth of the individualist: The myth – a large part of the American psyche, literature, and art - goes something like this. The collectivist does not form theories but subscribes to them. The individualist forms theories. Therefore, certain natures are more prone to forming unique realities than others, after all, we all have a bit of individualism in us, even the most populist of us. The individualist in us is not encouraged by the collective reality since individualism poses a threat to the collective reality. We cater to the populist in us, society expects it of us. We conform to the collective reality. The individual in us is plowed under the ground and forgotten. It is only brought back into use when it can serve the collective reality and perpetuate the system. The constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and America all stand for this repressed individual – they will set him or her free. At least, thus goes the myth.

Collective vs individual realities: It is often more efficient to subscribe to collective realities than form them individually. The process of creating one’s own distinct reality through experience and thought requires time and energy. A reality is not costless. If, for example, you find out you have fleas and you what to get rid of them, how would be the best way to proceed? You could go the individualist root and rely on your own experience and knowledge of fleas – but this could be miniscule. If you had a lot of time you could devise your own method through trial and error. But wouldn’t it be easier to find out what the collective reality is regarding getting rid of fleas, the body of ideas arrived at by others who have had the same problem?

Nihilism: A reality fades as faith crumbles. People who believed in this reality no longer have a lens through which to perceive actuality. They realize their delusion. They are deadened, powerless, lacking a will. This is nihilism. This is similar to my effort to understand madness, but not quite. A madman still has belief in his bizarre reality. A nihilist no longer has belief in his belief, and this is a terrible place to be.

Recap: What have I posited up till now. An actuality. Imperfect senses, feeling, and thinking that connect man with actuality. Realities form which are imperfect. Man must choose, make a unique reality or turn to an existing reality. To survive, man has faith, that which binds him to his chosen reality. Faith is blind. The collective reality dominates, co-opting even the individual. Realities compete, the strongest survives and becomes the collective reality.

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