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Thread: What is the American frame of mind?

  1. #1 What is the American frame of mind? 
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    What is the American frame of mind?

    I would say that a culture consists of the complex of ideas that a group of people hold dear. One can speak of the culture of a small group or of a very large group.

    In the United States our culture is determined to a large extent by how we hold "these truths to be self-evident"; we are held together by ideas perhaps more than other societies. Next, religion plays a great role, and in our case it is the mixture of Protestantism, Judaism, and Catholicism. Following this is our infatuation with capitalism; following that is our narcissistic view of our uniqueness and greatness.

    Our culture is a general attitude toward our self and toward the world based upon these four ideologies.

    To what powers have wo/men given allegiance in order to solve the paradoxes of life? To what or to whom have each of us given our uncritical allegiance? “Into what hero-system do I fit the expression of my talent”? What or whom has become my fetish-god?

    It is possible for the adult to choose which power s/he will serve; however, to do so, when the choice is contrary to one that has resulted from the family and community clan, is an extremely unusual and heroic act. “The great tragedy of our lives is that the major question of our existence is never put by us--it is put by personal and social impulses for us.”

    Very few of us discover our authentic talent—if it is ever found it is generally found accidentally through plain fate by us in our social milieu as we tap...tap...tap our blind way through life.

    From a personal point of view our principal task is to somehow find our way out of the fate that we stumbled into and to grow out of our idol worship and fetishism and to expand our horizons, allegiances, and to drop our mere preoccupations. We need to free our self from the opinions of others.

    “Since aggression is a reaction to frustration, by remaining tightly bound to the success of our social world we increase our aggressiveness, life invariable frustrates us.”

    [b]Disinterested knowledge is the energy bunny. It generates the energy for exploration and for overcoming some of the inhibitions conscious reason places on the unconscious.

    Studying disinterested knowledge is like taking off a month every year to visit a strange new land. Curiosity is reinvigorated and new meaning is created.[/b

    Knowledge is like a jigsaw puzzle. We have created many puzzles in coping with reality and when we received a new piece (knowledge) that does not fit our present puzzles we forgetaboutit. However, if through disinterested knowledge we have created new puzzles we might find a place for this new fragment of knowledge to fit; thereby this fragment becomes our new knowledge.

    Our mind is constantly working for us and when we do not give it a worthwhile project, i.e. a new puzzle, it will just waste away in boredom or worry.

    In America one might best see this attitude manifested by this frame of mind “I’ve Upped My Income; Now Up Yours”; a manifestation of this attitude may be seen in concrete form by the fact that 45 million citizens are without proper health care.

    Do you think that the attitude “I’ve Upped My Income, Now Up Yours” is an American frame of mind?


    Quotes from The Birth and Death of Meaning: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Problem of Man by Ernest Becker


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  3. #2 Re: What is the American frame of mind? 
    Lyn
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Studying disinterested knowledge is like taking off a month every year to visit a strange new land.
    Exactly so. Both presuppose a certain minimum of leisure time and financial stability. Not everyone has it, which is why the question "What is the American frame of mind?" is misleadingly simplistic. A more nuanced approach would require some study of social demography, or at the very least an acknowledgment that not every American is privy to the economic status that the question presupposes. But these kind of data are the very things that philosophers, who deal primarily with abstractions, habitually ignore.


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  4. #3 Re: What is the American frame of mind? 
    Forum Freshman Jake Boyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyn
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Studying disinterested knowledge is like taking off a month every year to visit a strange new land.
    Exactly so. Both presuppose a certain minimum of leisure time and financial stability. Not everyone has it, which is why the question "What is the American frame of mind?" is misleadingly simplistic. A more nuanced approach would require some study of social demography, or at the very least an acknowledgment that not every American is privy to the economic status that the question presupposes. But these kind of data are the very things that philosophers, who deal primarily with abstractions, habitually ignore.
    So maybe there are two questions:

    1) What is the mainstream cultural frame of mind?
    2) What relation does the usual practice of philosophy have to that frame?
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  5. #4 Re: What is the American frame of mind? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    What is the American frame of mind?
    Surely this question validates the concept of stereotyping.

    Throughout American history we see repeated examples of enormous diversity of views of various constitutencies within the country. From the civil war, to the civil unrest durung the Vietnam war, to the dichotomy of views during the Bush presidencies, there often seem to have been more differences between opposing American viewpoints than any similarities they have in common.

    In short, I think before you ask the question, you need to establish that there is an American frame of mind. How would you do this? What evidence do you have that this is true in any significant way? I don't mean commonly held thinking such as pledging allegiance, or speaking well of the Constitution, that are arguably trivial.
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  6. #5 Re: What is the American frame of mind? 
    Lyn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyn
    philosophy has very little to say or offer on the matter besides the usual clichés about the dumbing down of American culture.
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    1) I've upped my income now up yours.
    2) The Lord helps those who help them selves.
    Told ya.
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  7. #6 Re: What is the American frame of mind? 
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    [quote="Jake Boyd"]
    Quote Originally Posted by Lyn
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Studying disinterested knowledge is like taking off a month every year to visit a strange new land.
    So maybe there are two questions:

    1) What is the mainstream cultural frame of mind?
    2) What relation does the usual practice of philosophy have to that frame?
    1) I've upped my income now up yours.
    2) The Lord helps those who help them selves.
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  8. #7  
    Lyn
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    (Oops... I thought I was posting a new response, not editing my previous one.)
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