Category: Philosophy

Perceptional Responsibility In The Age of Information

In a recent podcast interview, the libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson spoke about some of the issues of running for the U.S. presidency. In particular, he spoke about the fact that if you’re not in the polls and not in the debates, you’re unable to have any standing to win the presidency since you’re not able to obtain enough influence and not even capable of entering the paradigm of electability. In that way, the U.S. presidency is controlled by third party entities that create a stranglehold over the perception of the masses. It is no wonder, therefore, that a former president would claim the U.S. is an oligarchy and a study from Princeton University would provide evidence for it.

A great example of how these third parties can control the perception of the masses is the blatant media bias and neglect that was displayed during Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy. It was so blatant that it was even featured as a skit on The Daily Show.

Perception becomes reality. That’s the problem. However, this is a problem that can be solved through perceptional responsibility. It is the responsibility of individuals to correct disinformation and subversion. Unfortunately, since people aren’t well-versed in these matters, they do not understand how to prevent these issues. In their eyes, to ignore these things would only permit them but in reality, ignoring these matters is what disempowers them. To defeat the perception that comes to inform reality you must ignore that perception or not allow it to become accepted as reality.

For example, if theoretically, I don’t support Hillary Clinton then I won’t acknowledge her existence. I will not protest her presidential candidacy. I will not transfer information about her even if it were information that mocks her. In that way, I am not empowering her. Likewise, if I believe the U.S. is an oligarchy and therefore, feel no necessity to be involved in politics, then I do not speak about politics nor do I bother to vote or even talk about voting or not voting. By agreeing or disagreeing with it, you’re still perceptionally democratizing it into reality and therefore, empowering it whether you agree with it or not. It becomes the old cliche, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” The mere exposure whether it’s good or bad allows for support to gather.

This type of thinking is always met with denial and resistance because people do not understand that the name of the game is perception and not necessarily the objective reality that we want to imagine when we envision these things. Even more complex is the irony of having to acknowledge these things so that others understand that they should not acknowledge them.

That is the biggest problem in the age of information, understanding how to navigate it and how to take perceptional responsibility.

These matters extend far beyond the political arena and enter our daily lives on a regular basis. If say, you share nothing but unverified news stories from fraudulent sources, constantly post negative thoughts, never contribute to the world in a positive way, etc… then you are lacking perceptional responsibility and are only harming other individuals who may be subjected to the false information and perception that you’re projecting.

Continue Reading

The Leadership Facade & Initiatory Act

From our favorite sports stars, music idols, to leading politicians, we accept a strange facade; the idea that someone just as fallible as we are has transcended our own capability. By accepting this, we surrender to the facade of leadership and become convinced that only they can do or be something which we cannot. It is, therefore, no wonder that so many accept the path of vicariousness and knowingly vote for the lesser of two evils as if there were no other option.

According to anthropologist Ernest Becker, the reason we are willing to surrender and accept the leadership role of another is because we allow ourselves to become seduced by their status since “they do not have the conflicts that we have; we admire their equanimity where we feel shame and humility… the leader wipes out fear and permits everyone to feel omnipotent.”[1]

In Fritz Redl’s perspective on leadership, he believed the importance of leadership was in “the simple fact that it was he who performed the “initiatory act” when no one else had the daring to do it. Redl calls this beautifully the “magic of the initiatory act.” This initiatory act can be anything from swearing to sex or murder.” [2]

The initiatory act can work in many ways. For example, if an employee takes one more sick day off than allowed but isn’t punished then suddenly, several other employees will do the same. The employee commits the initiatory act and thus empowers the other employees to challenge the power dynamic of the employer. After all, what are they going to do, fire them all? On the flip side, it was once considered impossible to complete a four-minute mile but once it was finally completed, many other runners were suddenly breaking this supposedly impossible task, too. [3]

It would appear that someone committing the initiatory act almost magically makes it possible for others to do the same or allows them to be complacent within the comfort provided through the leadership asserted in the act. For most, the empowerment of the act is superficial and does not confer any real power but in some cases, such as the four-minute mile incident, it does through belief and inspiration. That is, after all, what leaders of our world provide to us, a sense of belief and inspiration in the direction that things are being taken or are promised to be taken.

Understanding this facade of leadership and the initiatory act can be very empowering and enlightening in your personal life. You will find that so often, all it takes is enough bravery to do a particular thing for it to suddenly and almost magically become possible and acceptable. If you learn how to wield the initiatory act in a responsible way, then you’ll find yourself the confident and active force in an often insecure and very passive world.

References:

1. Becker, Ernest., The Denial of Death, pg.135

2. Ibid., pg. 135

3. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-four-minute-mile

Continue Reading

Resisting the temptations of inner weakness

Have you ever disagreed with the majority, but publicly conformed to the popular opinion regardless? Have you ever given into peer pressure, had sex with someone you shouldn’t have, been ashamed to own your personal taste, given into emotional vampirism, or wrongly allowed someone to make you feel ashamed or guilty?

If you’ve experienced those things, it’s a consequence of abandoning your integrity. Of course, it happens. We’re fallible beings and those mistakes often teach us the most about ourselves, but that’s precisely the point. We’re supposed to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. That’s where integrity makes the difference.

Giving into these temptations of inner weakness are a detriment to the world. People will literally abandon all that is good and true for a sense of self-righteousness or belonging. That’s what the Asch Conformity experiment and the Milgram experiment show us, that people are completely willing to betray their own conscience.

When you have a strong sense of integrity you value yourself enough to remove those unhealthy situations from your life by resisting them. Instead of succumbing to emotional vampirism, you cut it off. Instead of abandoning your beliefs, you stand by them. That’s the power of integrity, which carves the path to personal liberty.

It only takes practice in order to become more comfortable with resisting. Remember the saying, “neurons that fire together wire together” and learn to train your brain to resist inner weakness.

The next time you feel strongly about something, stand by that belief instead of conforming to the majority if they so happen to disagree. If someone tries to guilt trip you, confront them about it and let them know that you’re willing to cut that type of unhealthy negativity out of your life. If you’ve convinced yourself that you’re a sex addict or a drug addict, challenge that belief. Instead of giving into everyone and everything, try to resist it for once. That’s the key.

The more you practice resisting that weakness and urge to fold under pressure, the better you become at resisting it and establishing a true sense of integrity.

It’s our ability to rise above our own fallibility that makes us special and powerful. That’s the idea. That’s the goal.

 

Continue Reading

Is the search for immortality in our nature?

  Anthropologist Ernest Becker, in his 1973 book The Denial of Death, argued that “the idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is the mainspring of human activity — activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny for man.”[1] In other words, civilization itself is driven by our fear of death, as are many aspects of our lives, especially heroics. By doing or being a part of something that seems to outlast our mortality, we are symbolically transcending our death. The symbolic transcendence of death is our primitive solution until we can obtain the real solution, which is immortality or to satisfy pedantic transhumanists, mere life extension.

Freeimages

Does it seem far-fetched that the fear of death could be a primary driving force of civilization? If it does, consider this. In ancient Egypt, over thousands of years, the belief in immortality and the hope to preserve the dead, slowly transformed basic burial pits into mastabas and those mastabas transitioned into step pyramids, which lead to “true” pyramids.[2] In the attempt to immortalize the pharaohs in stone and to assure the preservation of their body, architectural advancements were made and greatly influenced civilization. In fact, Imhotep might be responsible for the first use of stone columns to support buildings.[3] The underlying philosophy driving these developments were the afterlife and hope for immortality.

Freeimages

The awareness of our mortality directly challenges the idea that life has meaning and purpose. For this reason, death and the mere thought of it are often repressed and ignored. Fear is the most common and natural response to death. Gregory Zilboorg suggests that this fear is an instinctive expression of self-preservation and becomes a perpetual drive to survive and overcome that which threatens our lives.[4] If true, that perpetual drive is just as natural as the fear of death itself.

The evolutionary and biological explanation is that animals had to develop fear responses for the sake of survival. In humans, who are more susceptible to death in their infantile states, that fear of death is increased. Therefore, early Darwinians believed that early men who were most afraid were also most in tune with their surroundings and passed such awareness to their offspring for its survival value.[5] Our heightened fear of death could be what essentially saves us from death and leads to our effort to enter the “afterlife” or obtain immortality through transhumanism.

Ideas about the afterlife and immortality have long been assumed to stem from cultural exposure and religious instruction. However, a developing body of work has begun to question if these beliefs are instead, hardwired into our brains.

On January 16, 2014, a Boston University study led by Natalie Emmons was published in the online edition of Child Development. The study examined children’s ideas about life before conception by interviewing 283 subjects from two separate cultures in Ecuador. The results suggest a bias toward the belief in immortality that arises early in life from our natural human intuition. This bias may indicate that our search for immortality is in our nature, which explains the aforementioned results as well as the widespread cultural and religious significance of the belief in the afterlife and immortality, which could date as far back as the first intentional burials.[6] If these things are any indication, our search for immortality might be a part of our nature and natural evolution.

This post was mirrored from my Medium article.

Sammy R. LaPoint © 2015

References

  1. Becker, Ernest., The Denial of Death, p. ix
  2. Lehmer, Mark., The Complete Pyramids
  3. Baker, Rosalie; Backer, Charles., Ancient Egyptians: People of the Pyramids
  4. Zilboorg Gregory., Fear of Death, p. 467
  5. Becker, Ernest., The Denial of Death, p. 19
  6. Lieberman, Philip., Uniquely Human
Continue Reading

Ernest Becker’s “Immortality Project” Hypothesis and The Pyramids

Feartured Image: Wikipedia Commons

As quoted from Disinformation and written by our very own Sammy R. LaPoint.

Anthropologist Ernest Becker proposed a particularly interesting premise in his 1973 book, The Denial of Death, which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1974. The book proposes that civilization is driven by a symbolic defense mechanism created by the awareness of our mortality, which acts as an intellectual and emotional response to our survival mechanism. In other words, people attempt to outlive their own lives by doing or becoming a part of something that will symbolically transcend their own death. It reminds me of the eerie quote at the beginning of the movie Troy.

“Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone, and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved?” — Odysseus in the movie script of Troy

Becker suggests that there exists a fundamental duality between a symbolic world of human-defined meaning and the perceived physical world of objects. He refers to this attempt to transcend our own mortality as an “immortality project,” in which people essentially fight their inevitable death by symbolically escaping it. He states that this is most often achieved through acts of heroism that perceivably allow us to become a part of something eternal; something that won’t decay like our bodies.

I found this concept of an “immortality project” very interesting, but wondered if there were any conclusive examples. Perhaps, a significant object or structure that not only created developments in civilization, but was specifically created to immortalize someone. It dawned on me many years later that the greatest example of this is the great pyramids. The pyramids were not only developed by a religious philosophy of an afterlife and hope for immortality, but were used to immortalize the pharaoh it was constructed for. In fact, the whole evolution of pyramid building in ancient Egypt perfectly matches the “immortality project” concept proposed by Becker. To understand, you have to take a brief look at the physical and philosophical evolution of ancient Egyptian pyramids.

The dead were buried in very basic and shallow burial pits for thousands of years in Predynastic Egypt, but this wasn’t adequate considering the religious philosophy of the ancient Egyptians. Their belief in the afterlife or hope for immortality created a necessity to preserve the human body. So, what you see is a very long evolutionary process that extends from basic burial pits to mastabas, step pyramids, and finally to the “true” pyramids that we commonly recognize. In fact, mastaba means “house of eternity” or “eternal house.” So, underpinning the entire burial process is the religious philosophy of an afterlife and each pharaoh’s hope to immortalize himself in stone. In a way, immortality was achieved considering the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only intact wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The pyramids of ancient Egypt are a prime example of Becker’s “immortality project,” in which societal and architectural developments that were vital in the creation of civilization were sparked by a symbolic escape from our own mortality. In fact, the successful utilization of stone building is often accredited to Imhotep, the designer of the pharaoh Sneferu’s pyramid at Djoser, and he is often considered the first architect and engineer. His designs were crucial in developing the pyramids, but consider for a moment, why? This was all done to essentially preserve the pharaoh’s path into the afterlife and to immortalize him. As Becker describes, that’s precisely how this symbolic defense influenced various aspects of civilization.

This whole concept isn’t only limited to architectural developments. The economy itself was influenced by the belief in the afterlife or hope for immortality. For example, gold was viewed as a durable or “immortal” substance, which is why it was buried with ancient Egyptian pharaohs. It wasn’t merely a pompous display of wealth, but was to be taken with them into the afterlife for all eternity. These examples are proof of Becker’s theory. In the wake of our own inevitable death, we seek to immortalize ourselves, thus informing the development of civilization.
“Why do you weep? Did you think I was immortal?” — last words of King Louis XIV

Sammy R. LaPoint © 2015

Sources:
(The History of Ancient Egypt – Ph.D. Bob Brier)
(The Denial of Death – Ernest Becker)
(The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt – Ian Shaw.)
(Egyptian Mythology – Geraldine Pinch.)
(The Pyramids Of Egypt – Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen Edwards.)
(The Pyramids – Ahmed Fakhry.)
(The Ideology of the Superstructure of the Mastaba-Tomb in Egypt – Alexander Badaway.)
(The Complete Pyramids – Mark Lehner.)
(Gold in Antiquity – Mark Cartwright.)

Continue Reading

The Irrational Stigma Against Conspiracy Theories & Alternative Thinking

There is an irrational stigma against conspiracy theories and alternative thinking. The word “conspiracy” has become infected. The moment someone brings up the notion of conspiracy, many individuals have an immediate knee-jerk reaction and that’s irrational. A rational individual will rationally dispute something and will attempt to remove emotional bias from the equation. In fact, an individual who is truly confident in their stance of a given subject should maintain emotional stability. Unfortunately, that’s not generally the case. It’s common to see people have a strong and childish knee-jerk reaction to any opposing ideology and that’s indicative of an ignorant mind.

Continue Reading

The Philosophy & Evolution Of Egyptian Pyramids

The confusion over how the pyramids were built is mostly due to an isolated view of the Giza pyramids and the tendency to insert alternative theories where there is simply no necessity to. However, new insights of the possible construction methods of the pyramids have put most alternative theories to rest. For example, the recent discovery of a method of moving massive stones by watering sand to create less friction or W.T. Wallington’s method of lifting and moving giant stones. In other words, it wasn’t aliens, but it did require sophisticated techniques and was a gradual process of development.

The evolution and philosophy of Egyptian pyramid building stemmed as far back as basic oval burials.

Continue Reading
Skip to toolbar