a reply to: Astyanax
Your interpretation of the psychology of social interaction is persuasive, but I'm not sure why you associate the problem with modernity, or the
modern world. This is not new; this kind of interaction has gone on for as long as there have been people.
I concede your point. In general, this has been the modus operandi, I guess, for as long as humans developed civilization (or, depending on your view,
during hunter/gatherer days) has been around. But it's reached such a tremendous escalation that I feel it deserves to be pointed out that todays
world isn't as spick and span as media often presents itself to be.
It's reach truly ludicrous proportions when you turn on the TV or look at magazines or tabloids. It's everywhere. Narcissism seems to be the bedrock
of modernity. Some would say that unbridled capitalism is to blame for this: so long as there is a market for junk, the lowest and most easily
stimulated part in human beings -the part that responds to the allure of sex, power, money - will respond to it. And so long as this continues, the
system will sustain itself in this way until it consumes in it's ravenousness everything that the system depends upon for its inefficient survival.
While you make a point about how narcissism is inherent to the (unmentalized) interactions between human beings, modernity has been so thoroughly
permeated by narcissism - see hollywood, porn industry, etc, for ample evidence of this - that at least metaphorically
it could be appropriate
to consider modernity as representing a narcissistic dilemma.
Do you think the decline of faith has anything to do with it?
Hell no. While a moral christian is preferable (in my eyes) to a narcissistic club-hopper, I do not hope for a return to the pre-science days, nor do
I consider myself very patient towards the way people of fundamentalist positions - Christian, Muslim, or Jew - think.
This applies to any and all ideologies that thinks it knows more and possesses some "inherent truth. Any position that claims revelation as it's
source - and that a-priori discounts other views because they fall outside that frigid epistemology - really deserves to be exposed and dismantled for
what it is: a nuisance that prevents REAL solutions to the problems faced by mankind.
And real solutions should be scientifically tested. Science is an awesome way to work. Both in terms of how we think about situations - within our own
lives - and everything else: how we arrange society so as to increase wellbeing and happiness for a larger number of people, energy consumption, etc.
The point should be "lets make life easier for one another".
When I look at Iraq and Syria right now, it astonishes me that one part of mankind could be so mired in delusion and so dissociated from the real -
scientifically validated facts which should be dealt with - and I get angry. The way they think, their beliefs - its childish nonsense. No. It's
murderous, childish nonsense. And they derail us from whats important and prevent growth.
Truly, the religions of the past need to be revised. The world they grew from represented an entirely different social context. In todays world, given
what we know - it should be extremely obvious to any person that 3 religions claiming the same thing - Judaism/Christianity/Islam cannot all be right,
an in fact, in all probability, given human nature, they are probably all wrong in their historological convictions and eschatological fancies.
My solution, of course, is education. We can't change things unless we change how children are taught. Many things need to change and this is one of
my deepest interests: what do we need to do to change things? First off, and I'm sure you'll agree, evolution needs to be taught in school because
to deny it is wholly unreasonable. In addition, so much in evolutionary teaches us the wisdom within nature. Evolution, as a scientific explanation,
enriches the mind and so enraptures the heart. Nothing in biblical creationism can do the same - it is taken on belief alone. There is no scaffolding
holding the position firmly in place. Only institutional rigidity and the sores that come with it.
I don't want to get into those other issues you mentioned. I more or less agree that religion - taken as a fundamentalist creed - will create
problems rather than solve any. On the other hand, religion can be sanitized, which has happened with Christianity, Islam and Judaism, within it's
different "reform" branches. However, its not a fast process and it's not an easy process. To the orthodox, the reformers are devil-worshipping
heretics bent on preparing the way for the antichrist, or Romulus (Judaism) or whatever crap Islam believes in.
Future society should have evolution as an important concept - it connects us physiologically, but also emotionally and spiritually, with the world
around us. Tribal ideals, as well, in terms of the environment of evolution adaptedness appropriate for human thriving should also be integrated into
curriculums. But most of all, mindfulness, emotion regulation skills, and the ability to experience a stronger representation of the minds of others -
all of which comes from learned experiences - can be taught as a regular part of the school day. Before or After school. It would be good because
it'll help counteract problems like bullying etc, but more importantly, it'll equip young minds with a way of being that considers moral behavior
not merely from the perspective of "thou shall not", but from their own mental experience of knowing
that something isn't right.
I find it strange that depending on experiences, people can be either ruthless with one another, or become caring and affectionate advocates for one
another. It just depends on what you've been exposed to. For many kids, this can't be controlled - because the source of the trauma comes from their
own parents. But if they at least have a stable and coherent atmosphere with teachers and peers who express care - and this physical/emotional
experience of care is given emphasis through meditation periods - I'm sure that over-time society will move away from the rigidity of fundamentalist
religion and the chaos of cultural anomie.
As with everything, it's all about balance. But you need a mind thats well organized to find that balance. So we need to strengthen our schools.