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Thread: Real versus Ideal

  1. #1 Real versus Ideal 
    Forum Ph.D.
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    Real versus Ideal

    If we want to understand our self and our world we will necessarily have to learn some bit of philosophy and psychology. We become interested in philosophy when we begin to ask questions that go to the ‘root’ of all matters and we turn to psychology if we want to comprehend why humans do the things we do.

    It appears to me that psychology would say that we are essentially creatures of desire rather than creatures of contemplation; not because we do not have the brain power but because we do not have the courage to throw away our traditional security blanket and face the world with a critical eye.

    Descartes’ legacy to all of us via philosophy can be labeled, I think, as rationalism (discovery of truth through pure reason), dichotomy (mind/body split), and certainty. Even though very few of us know anything about philosophy, almost everything we think results from the philosophy we inherit through social osmosis (unconscious assimilation). Philosophy theory permeates almost all of our mental gymnastics without our conscious recognition.

    In the Gettysburg Address Lincoln developed, in just a few words, his answer to the cognitive conflict between what America displayed in the Constitution as the real law of the land versus the Declaration of Independence that represents an ideal to which all men can embrace as an ideal of government.

    The Constitution establishes a real set of principles defining a real government of, for, and by the people which does, in fact, not meet the ideal specified in the Declaration of Independence. That document, The Declaration of Independence, sets the ideal that all men and women are born equal and must be considered so in that light by a proper government.

    It appears to me that we sapiens need a ‘value North Star’ upon which to fix our voyage. We need a reference point upon which we can focus our attention when trying to determine what of value we can and should do in life.

    Religion, or God, serves as the ‘value North Star’ for some people; for others it is nationalism; for others, that fix is to own as much good stuff as possible; to others it is power; for some it is family; and I guess there are many other such ultimate values.

    The ideal is something that we strive for and the real is something that we have created.

    We need an ideal upon which to focus and to strive for. I think that Lincoln has furnished us with that ideal that has been set forth in the Declaration and the question becomes how well have we followed that North Star and are we gaining or loosing ground in that endeavor.

    I think we are losing ground and if we citizens do not become more alert and responsible we may suffer severe consequences not because we lack the brain power but because we lack the will to be all we can be.

    Someone said that only one person in a thousand ever “strikes at the root”. I do not think a liberal democracy in a hi-tech world can survive if such remains to be true. Hi-tech gives us the ability to easily destroy our self and our world; liberal democracy makes all citizens to be sovereign and thus responsible in some small way for the integrity of our existence.

    We are all in the same boat and if only one person in a thousand accepts the responsibility of democracy I think our species may have a very limited engagement on this planet. I think that we must become much more intellectually sophisticated than we are now and I do not expect that our educational systems can help us much in that effort. We must become independent learners.

    I think that philosophy permeates all avenues of our life, do you agree?


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  3. #2 Re: Real versus Ideal 
    Forum Junior Kolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    I think that philosophy permeates all avenues of our life, do you agree?
    No. Survival/human instincts permeates all avenues of our life. Philosophy might come in as a close second.

    I believe you've made this argument before in a previous but similar thread. Yet I still can't buy into this utopia of intellect that you speak of. Ideology is not gravity. Gravity is a fixed thing; a constant unwavering law of physics that is indiscriminative of people or places. There are no varying interpretations of gravity. It is the same no matter who you are. Idealism is all but the exact opposite. There is no single great North Star of thought by which we can all adhere to without any difference in opinion. A person philosophically interprets the world on his/her own terms. We as a whole might have certain social norms that we live by such as democracy, equality and not killing each other for sport. But these are merely meant to serve as a lubricant for a functioning society - A society that will not explode or fall to pieces on the first lap. And even these standards are nowhere near perfect.

    My own personal ideal-philosophy, if I would even go so far as to categories such a thing, is a hazy mix of egoism, nihilism and free enterprise. So that would definitely count me out.


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