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Problematic Thinking about Iran

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posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 04:47 PM
One could well argue that the problem of Iran can be reduced to how people think about other peoples ways of thinking.

I was watching the Natanyahu speech and then listened to a quick commentary from Christianne Amanpour, which got me thinking. Amanpour reduced the issue to:

1) those who want to allow Iran to develop a nuclear program - with international oversight

2) those who want to deny Iran any opportunity to develop a nuclear program.

Put this way, were left with a more nuanced situation that is neither simply political or strategic, but also largely psychoanalytical.

Ultimately, what matters here is HOW human beings think. And who would know more about human thinking than a psychoanalytically informed, anthropologically and evolutionarily astute, "social scientist". That is, someone who understands that

a) human beings have built in action-tendencies that emerge in response to environmental elicitors

b) and that a human beings ability to 'respond differently' is dependent upon environmental inputs.

Without a sophisticated theory of human motivation (modern day psychoanalysis), you can hardly be depended upon to understand how another person is likely - that is, probabilistically - to respond towards any particular input.

Now lets explore the two main features of this Iran situation and their pursuit of nuclear energy.

The first factor is:

1) Iran is made up of human beings. This is simple and directly relates to my point above about evolutionarily evolved strategies towards environmental inputs.

2) The 'environment' or culture, that the human being functions within.

In order to properly predict a persons response, you cannot do so without exploring the environment - ideas, emotions, affects - that the persons "self-structure" becomes built around. Because of this, a westerner born in a society which privileges humanism - or the well being of individuals - will experience the world differently, think differently, and feel differently, about matters of existential relevance (such as the purpose of living) from someone born in a society which privileges autocratic religious ideals (theological notions about the human purpose) above all else.

Now, with this preamble in place, we can at least appreciate the logical cogency of Israels discomfort with a nuclear Iran, and in particular, Natanyahu's concerted emphasis of the religious fervor - the affects and meaning-structures of Irans regime - and how this presents a very deep issue for those of us who see the world differently.

Oftentimes, people will mention the Soviet Union and the idea of mutually assured destruction in defending Iran, but this is an inappropriate comparison, again, because it is not merely human beings were talking about, but human beings and the cultures which influence their behavior.

Theological Islamism is an altogether different beast from Soviet atheism. And so, it would be wrong-headed to extrapolate from the latter towards the former. Islamists - or militant muslims - genuinely believe in the fantasies that they weave for themselves and amongst themselves, as were seeing daily with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Make no mistake about it, these guys are living in a fantasy world, where theological and metaphysical ideas about reality supplant direct evidence for how reality actually operates (this being the provenance of western humanism).

While it is important that a solution should be reached on political and diplomatic grounds, I think it is equally vital that we not be naive - or hope for results that occur in other contexts - when the party we are speaking about is PERMEATED by a culture that privileges fantasy (eschatology/theology/metaphysics) over reality; and it is important, even more importantly, to not mislead ourselves about how different Iran's way-of-being in the world is from ours. One could argue that Americas belief of 'exceptionalism' is fantastical; it may be, but it is of a far lower order - inasmuch as most western leaders understand that brute force NECESSARILY provokes opposition - and thus, a sort of quagmire of endless confrontation. Conversely, a nation governed by eschatological promises about certain end-of-the-world scenarios, such as Irans leadership, is fundamentally more dangerous.

Thus, we need to elaborate our thinking and exercise a more mature theory-of-mind in imagining what Irans leadership might be thinking when it comes to their nuclear program. It would be simplistic to say that they simply want to build nuclear bombs so they can 'wipe Israel off the map'. But it would be equally naive to believe that they aren't stipending resources and future planning towards finding a way - quite plausibly a nuclear way - to "eliminating the Zionist presence from the holy land".

In thinking this way, you preserve what you already know about Irans regime: their ideological, affective, and SPIRITUAL dependency to what they believe about the world (what they've grown up within) while also admitting that pragmatic exigencies may extend, and indeed, obscure, Irans super-ordinate religious concerns about itself and the Jewish state.

posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 05:13 PM
Very thorough and well worded analysis.

Any thoughts on solutions that all could live with besides war?

Just let them have nukes because it is their right as a nation?

Or prevent them, in some as yet undetermined way, from acquiring such weapons?

posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 05:16 PM
it would take a week for me to comprehend you position on this and I please don't take that as an insult. Can you give the cliff note version of the above?

posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 05:40 PM
a reply to: stosh64

Any thoughts on solutions that all could live with besides war?

Describing the problem is much easier than finding a solution that doesn't involve going to war (a very bad option).

Ideally, we want regime change in Iran - since it is only by relating with a nation governed by realistic and humanistic principles that we can truly trust their intentions, and not be hamstringed by the realistic worry that they are embedding their superordinate goals within a pragmatic work-schedule.

I think a way forward may involve continued economic pressure on Iran, and pretty much anything else which prevents Iran from effectively managing a nuclear program, up until, hopefully, some grassroots revolution occurs that dethrones Islamists from power.

Just let them have nukes because it is their right as a nation?

That cant be a welcomed option. Again, for any person with any sense of what motivates human behavior, the last people we want having nukes are Islamists; nukes in general are a bad idea, but the chances of their being used are limited by the realistic assessment of the consequences i.e. mutually assured destruction. Such considerations become less plausible when dealing with people who posit some special purpose in the world.

Question is: how crazy are Irans Islamists? This is a question people who think about this issue tend to ask, but again, I don't think it is the right question as the framing seeks to exclude plausible scenarios from consideration. That is, Iran can be very disciplined and patient. They can bide their time - take care of practical economic issues, while secretly developing a nuclear program which they can utilize when the time comes.

What we want to avoid doing is projecting i.e. employing OUR way of thinking in thinking about them. Instead, if I were Irans leaders, how would I maintain the militant and eschatological goal of gaining nuclear weapons, yet still present my aspirations as noble and decent - and indeed, to pursue those civic options (developing nuclear energy) in an economic spirit.

The idea that every nation has a right to 'nuclear weapons' is just dumb. That they haven't been used to date is more a consequence of a realistic assessment - which in turn is dependent on philosophical and cultural biases - than some ontological principle that human beings are wise enough not to use nuclear weapons. Combine the power of nuclear weapons with a certain type of personality (and we see how extreme such Islamist personalities can be) and you will see them being put to use. And if that ever happens, I am too afraid to even think of what the consequences would be.

We need to avoid war and we mustn't allow ourselves to be baited into a scuffle by Israel. Yet, we also need to acknowledge the very realistic picture Israel has of Iran - and what, I know it is disturbing to think - Iran would be capable of doing if they ever had that capability.

posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 05:53 PM
I don't remember Iran starting any recent wars. Maybe the US can learn from them and mind our own business for once. Anything other than a peaceful solution is not an option.
edit on 2015/3/3 by Metallicus because: sp

posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 06:03 PM
Have you been to Iran. I am starting to develop a keen sense of distrust of anyone with opions that are cultivated by media and not personal experience. Not saying you are wrong or right, but, have you been to Iran?

posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 07:09 PM
a reply to: Metallicus

Yes, I agree, but the problem is the mindset of the party in question. How people are is an important aspect of how we should think about the matter. So I wonder why you so easily gloss over that?

Imagine someone you consider virtuous beyond any doubt - this person has demonstrated, again and again by how they act and how they relate with others (and yourself) that they are sincere and honest in how they act. Now imagine this person is accused of raping and killing a little boy. Would you believe it? Don't you think all you knew about the person - how you felt them to be should take precedence? Or do you think the menace of doubt - which can make you paranoid and cynical - deserves attention?

Its also funny that these generalized "orientations" to the world - a desire to emphasize the good and optimistic - or a desire to emphasize the depressive or cynical position - have their origins in the first 2 years of life, where the brain grows 100% its volume (in the first year) and 15% (in the second year), mostly in the right hemisphere - this being the hemisphere with the richer connections with the brainstem (metabolic areas) - essentially defining your emotive and affective stance to the world. Development unfolds along attractor points, with the various motivational systems dialectically constructing "who you are", how you experience yourself to be with others, what you fantasize about, what you dread. If you can take anything away from this knowledge, its that without attending to this fact, you are liable to be - arbitrarily - relating with the world in a needlessly negative way. But you have to first pay attention to the constructive nature of the self. It is not some "fixed" thing we inevitably are; rather, unconsciously, we evolve to become as our relational environment induced; The habits of my countless ancestors - and their habits of activity - induced in me the same behaviors. Emotions aren't merely emotions, but action tendencies. We are prone to act this way because we do not deliberately attend to ourselves in our acting. It's funny, because the very 'witnessing' consciousness we so reflexively live within can be developed so that you can act, over time, with more 'awareness'. Neuroplasticity.

Anyways, back to this thread: the leaders of the Islamic Republican of Iran - Khameini and the other ayatollahs - basically keep the republic on track in its fundamental religious identity. It's disturbing to think about this, and to really imagine what these men think and feel about, more generally in their day to day lives; the theology of Islam and its panoply of concepts and tools they evolve in constructing the outer and inner worlds along some arbitrary metaphysical theme (such as the oneness of God, ergo, the finality of Islam and the ontological obliteration of 'others'). And the politics of life, which they must learn about. In growing up, just like us, the meanings coalesce around Islam and Islamic ways of thinking. When they think about us, just as when we think about them, they feel a desire to oppose. For us, we feel a sense of opposition (or you SHOULD feel a sense of opposition) towards their autocratic fundamentalism, their abuse of gays and women, and other minorities. As well as their abuse of the political system i.e. lack of openness, subordination of liberals and free thinkers, an intolerance towards secularism etc.

Libertarianism fails on this account alone: we do not live in a bubble. You are not actually, in any way, independent from what goes on around you. Libertarianism is extreme in its obsessive insistence on one 'principle' of being. It is linear and therefore, doesn't reflect the way the human society actually works.

So you cannot, on any ethical level, take an attitude of indifference (or approval) of what Iran represents. If you take any displeasure in seeing innocent people, just trying to live and enjoy their one life, forced to suffer shame, indignity, abuse, incarceration and even death, than you will reason about Iran along the lines that I have described in this thread.

1) they are emotionally unstable because their feeling aligns along religious ideational categories with extreme implications for others.

2) Nuclear bombs are bad; we shouldn't even trust ourselves with them. Ergo, it would insane to let Iran pursue nuclear capabilities.

Unless you think the feelings of Irans leaders don't revolve about religious feelings (and I think you would be stupid to think that) but rather are exactly like yours (ignoring the projection that unconscious feelings create for us) I literally can't go any further. This isn't psychotherapy (although I think many people could use help in becoming more aware of how they think and feel and how it relates to their past, to help grow "mindfulness").

posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 10:19 PM
You want me to believe something that hints towards a negative bias about the leadership of Iran and the citizens of its country. You seem to allude you may know exactly how each and everyone of them is thinking, as well as their general population. I assume this is either because you have spent a lifetime, or even a few years directly embedded into their culture, or you are psychic.

Please give me a breakdown of their entire senior administrators/clerics and a brief summary of what they are thinking and how they view the world. Then another one in regards to the general line of thought something stereotypical would suffice).

At which point maybe I can just take your word for it. or your talking out your arse and you really dont know crap.

The usual Israel election time social media campaign I see. A war for your mind indeed.

posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 10:28 PM
this is all i really have to say ...

and before you throw in the iraq/Iran war ...
keep in mind they were fighting in defense
edit on 3-3-2015 by Kapusta because: (no reason given)

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