Contemporary Gender Distinction - Why?

by rune 17 Replies latest jw friends

  • Narkissos

    Perhaps it is not by chance that theatre and democracy have common origins. Understanding social roles as actors' play, and individuals as characters (personae) on a stage, may be vital to the survival of democracy -- and I hope this will be increasingly acknowledged in education. Heroes and villains, strong and weak, rich and poor, slavish servants and rebels, all are an integral part of the performance. They all salute and are applauded at the end of the play. Nobody is excluded even though exclusion may be played out. A social game is what we learn to play from infancy, and this includes cheating and changing the rules once in a while. Moral seriousness, egalitarian or otherwise, is but one role among many -- and often a comical one.

    The metaphor of the social body, which Paul did not invent (cf. Menenius Agrippa), is another helpful one I guess, provided it is not understood in too much a conservative, static or authoritarian manner.

  • rune

    Wow! Incredible replies. I've been taking a mental vacation the last few days so I haven't been around to read them until now. I am truly overwhelmed by the depth of your opinions, as I am by everything else in life at this very moment.
    Cellist: Thank you!
    Satanus: Hmm...
    AuldSoul: Thanks for reading. Why are these mindsets needed? Perhaps the focus of my discourse was not clear. When I spoke about this, I was speaking only of personal outlook. That is to say, why view men and women like this in your daily life if you don't have to? It just causes problems to save you the work of finding out who each and every person is only by what you notice. It is just realizing what seems to be real about someone rather than inventing things in your mind. So in this area, I disagree that traditional masculine and feminine issues are needed. Nor am I sure that the system society uses for employing people based on their traits necessarily has to stereotype either - it just has to be made aware that there are really more variables than race, gender, age, etc., variables that are the actual measure of the person rather than the ones assumed by a stereotype. When you mention the societal norm, you speak of it as if we all share this idea identically - as if the norm is something collective between all of us. But we are not a hive mind, so each of us has our own idea of what that "norm" could be if we choose to think of things that way. I do not think of them that way. The reason anyone would want to believe a "norm" exists is, in my opinion, probably because they are unable to get comfortable with the fact that there are SO many different people out there and there's no rhyme or reason to any of it. So instead of just accepting all the different varieties of people they meet, giving each a chance, finding out things about whoever you bump into, you "discriminate". People take that word as "hate", but discriminate really means to sort through people in your mind. You bump into one person, they are different in a way that makes you uncomfortable, so you put them in the "I'm not going to treat this person like people I am comfortable to be around" pile in your mind. Or you meet someone you see as inferior - maybe because they're younger, or are dressed in a way that defies your idea that humans should only wear certain clothing based on their sex - and you treat them worse, like they're weird or an alien or they're threatening you somehow. So clearly this way of thinking applies to everyone we meet every day. But think about it - what's the point of using norms? Isn't it just easier to assess everyone at face value, and leave your mind empty of such notions, being on guard or being antagonistic to those who stumble into the pitfall of your own arbitrary, twisted social values? Anyone who takes part in any form of a discriminative, hateful or demeaning act against someone else is committing wrong, plain and simple. Excusing it in any way, such as by social values, no matter how necessary someone tries to make it seem to see the world this way, is wrong too. ("I am sorry. I cannot treat everybody like human beings because that is too much work.") Norms are not necessary for institutions either: We possess the method and the technology to assess every person's traits unique their own individual being rather than to some completely fabricated social structure that some very misguided and no doubt troubled people have perpetuated for ages. As individuals, in our own dealing with others, we do not need to assume about others, for all that needs to be clear will become clear if we look, listen and ask politely. All in all, I agree with most of what you said, but I felt this rant would be necessary to iron out any incongruities between our statements, so thanks for helping me think this over a little more.
    Serendipity: Very good point. Interesting, the reason I know you're correct about women seeming more trusting is because I've noticed it my whole life. Yet, I've never consciously registered it. Weird, here goes... Yes, trusting seems to imply gullibility from stupidity, when that is not so. If you are a person who is emotionally free (able to express any feeling you get without supressing it from fear of it being seen - i.e. what a lot of heterosexual males do because of enculturalization, some think that openly expressing themselves in any manner would imply they are something they hate - a homosexual) then you are going to be someone who is be open to making positive connections with people. This means being more trusting than someone who is withdrawn and scrutinous. Being more trusting means being more vulnerable to being taken advantage of. It may not be that men are as trusting of women because they think they are almost different creatures entirely from themselves. It is a mental construct that obscures women from appearing as human beings just the same as men. I mean really, there is so little difference between the two sexes when you stare at the fundamentals. All of us are female for the first two weeks of conception. And last but not least, man nipples. Realizing that being emotionally free and trusting doesn't make one 'not oneself' (immasculated, or any other hated idea) is one step to men treating women as equals. Men need to be shown that they can feel and trust as women do, and then they won't see how women operate as stupid anymore. Honestly, from my perspective, I see that the only reason a man and a woman act so different is because of ideas. So let us all tear these ideas down in ourselves and hope that others notice and do the same. Wow. Another good line of thought.
    That other mention about many girls not wanting to seem like geeks seems true too, though I'm hard-pressed to say that about Canada now anymore. There are a lot of intellectual girls here. But, Canada is a very liberal place and women's rights have made some tremendous progress here (such as when lobbyists convinced Parliament Hill to pass a bill allowing women to walk around topless in public, since men can do it). Now that Canada has made homosexual marriage legal, it is clear that Canada is slowly progressing towards true freedom of being, so it is not surprising that trends are starting to shift here. It is an encouraging thing because it shows that if similar changes are made in other places, the same results could possibly follow. Thanks a bunch for your reply!
    Leolaia: Funny you should say it's diffuse and complex - I call it Chaos, and I praise its existence every day. I agree with that first paragraph absolutely, and I would love to read more on these issues. If you could recommend some resources I would be very interested in learning more. One thing I noticed is that you said people pick up on how to be a go-getter or an introvert. On this one thing I would have to say that being extraverted or introverted has more to do with socialization and home environment in the way that, each gender is subject to repression of some kind. It doesn't seem to be so much chosen as imposed, is what I mean: Women 'have' to be one way, men 'must' be another, yes, but as individuals each of us deals with these pressures differently. I am not a woman so I can't say what women go through, only what I have observed: That many seem to be ambitious only so much as what a man can provide for them (and so suit their tastes accordingly to make themselves in an image that is promoted in media as a hot woman, not only by looks but by how well she pleases her man), and the others have seen the light and fight every step of the way to be themselves rather than imitate. But that is not to say that women who choose their preferences within the realm of social norms are comitting any wrong; and this is perhaps what hinders the progression of gender equality in an odd way. Many are just too comfortable, too scared or too apathetic to do anything about it. Instead they just adapt to life as life as presented itself; it's natural to do this, but I don't imagine it feels that good compared to being the person that just radiates from inside you no matter how weird to others it may seem. It really boils down to choosing what you care about most, doesn't it? Do I care about feeling like myself, natural and free, able to walk around bright-eyed and smiling and not be harassed in some way by someone else, or do I care more about just co-existing with other people so much as they don't point their finger and laugh so I can feel like I fit in with them some way (even though there is no real connection, it's all mental)? Men's side of this is just as dark. Men are constantly warded away from being homosexuals; a homosexual is seen as someone without strength that partakes in disgusting acts (someone who is hated). The details beyond that may only be particular to one mind, but the regiment becomes the same: "Avoid gay. Look masculine so the chicks won't think I'm a fruit and look the other way when I express myself in a way that doesn't fit the paradigm." (Everything seems to revolve around getting laid because that is the goal men are introduced to by older men and media as they reach puberty is; get the girl, do whatever you can to get her. It's a hunt for trophies; but not to be confused with regular carefree promiscuity. This is the "macho" man, though I imagine that term is growing outdated.) This can cause an intense amount of introversion. Poor misguided souls, men and women are, with these mental constructs shown to them by their parents and at school as they get older. It only seems to be worse in tightly-knitted religious communities like the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses, where religious values supercede the already rigid social values, imposing an even more mentally devastating system of artifical order upon an individual's mind - changing a human being into a robot. ("Artificial" because the Watchtower Society is operated by far fewer people than the amount of people associated with creating or maintaining the social norms everyone faces. Since they are directly controlling it through their intepretation of the Bible, they are directly manipulating peoples' lives. A young girl watching {read: studying} Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera on television is not undergoing quite the same thing, though similar in effect.) Please get back to me about that literature. Thanks a lot! (FYI, a lot of the new vocal trance music that comes out has undertones of shedding the skin society grew on you and finding the beauty in everything by realizing oneself again. There are counter-cultures in existence that subvert all of the socialization we are talking about...people run to these counter-cultures to be free...but I guess the point is that people shouldn't need to run to counterculture to be themselves. The idea "culture" should be destroyed. Praise Chaos.)
    Narkissos: Excellent post!!! Now let me try to make war with it. :) Mathematics do not always need to be applied in situations like these, nor do I see how it becomes a problem: Physics act through us all the time, defining and shaping each of us, is that not an expression of mathematics? All things that occur are mathematically sound in that way. What you speak of is an imbalance in some societal equation; what we are speaking of here is uprooting what has been tradition for ages and creating a new system by completely obliterating the ashes of the old one. This isn't impossible. If you were to write an equation to define society's balance based on how people are acting in this continuum of ours, you would merely be quantifying it in your own terms: That is to say, nobody is going to get it perfect because there is too much that is subjective/personal/arbitrary. Since this is so, then we can subjectively, personally, arbitrarily, choose to say "let's stop this now" and begin to live our lives a different way. By doing this we have already begun uprooting the system of socialization and have started setting an example that others can take notice of. Most people will not change at first. Change is slow. But look at how things are today: A century or so ago, women couldn't even vote. Rebalancing things - rebalancing this equation - means that everyone wins in a way and everyone loses in another. This is foreign, it is change; it is probably beyond our lifetime because humans are slow to adopt major societal changes unless unsavory methods are used. But we must believe in it and try to make it reality, if it is meant to be - if it is mathematically sound - then it will happen eventually. Because we are the same agents as the ones we are trying to subvert into thinking like us from their system of hate and control, we are already succeeding just by changing ourselves. The best you can hope for is to attempt and watch what unfolds. Saying, "Trying won't accomplish anything." is building a mental wall for yourself, imagining a 'likely' possibility that is in fact not actually real because the future is always beyond us. You must try to live in the world as you want it to be, or how can you be happy? This is, unfortunately, what people see as anarchy. But I am not talking about going wild and nuts. I am talking about being free to express and grow into the creature that the universal force - physics, God, mathematics, spirit, whatever - shaped you to desire to be. The truth is that in Chaos, you can be killed, loved, scorned, admired... for it. But all is well; a day in Chaos is filled with those plagued by Order, once adulthood is reached you can simply avoid almost all things unpleasant to you by making changes to your life. But truly, a world where anyone can wander anywhere without fear, discrimination or hate being brought against them is the "unachievable goal": Just because all agents in Chaos do not let go and open to this state of more free, simpler being, does not mean that the attempt has failed. If one place exists on this earth that is free of it then we have succeeded. If one mind experiences bliss because it has cast off all of its chains then I feel fulfilled in thinking this way. This is far too important to trivialize for any reason; happiness is the ultimate feeling in life. Bliss is attained by being completely free of all bonds, physical and mental. History will always inevitably occur as time appears to pass for us, I don't care if it's a great story or not. Being desireless is the opposite of being oneself: being oneself is the ultimate realization of desire. Being free to flourish into the being that nature made you, free of obstructive mental constructs, acting with what flows naturally. When we speak of equality we are not speaking of a goal of a system: We are speaking of a state of being - a feeling inside yourself that is powerful through open expression - attained through agreement between human beings. There is no society that operates this way yet. There is only a vague appearance of it. Chaos is vast and thus no total agreement will probably ever be reached; so what? Then the argument and the struggle for individuality continues forever as we, the individuals, continue to defy all ideas deemed insurmountable by those who would stop us in our tracks. No one should be trapped from being who they are. That is a hell; that is not a life. I would rather live in a confusing disarray of variation (which COULD eventually be quanitified well in every conceivable way mathematically) than a systematic hell of order and complacency brought on by apathy and selfishness. If your idea of entropy stops you from realizing your dreams: Destroy your idea of entropy, or at least dissassociate it from that which it obstructs you from being happy. You can reach Nirvana while alive if you realize you are completely in tune with how you desire to be. Dreaming there will be no end is the same as giving up; why not live your life for what you believe and make even a dent? At least you get to be yourself the whole time. This line of thinking applies to all struggles for freely co-existing in a state of open expression and happiness; I do not speak only of gender distinction in my reply to you. Our ancestors, freshly born of chaos, were wild and untamed, without all the technological gifts of today to keep them safe and sheltered. Their own wild nature had to be subverted into a system of Order - a patriarchal male-bonded society - in order to function and survive against rival humans; in a sense a system of necessity was founded where everyone had to conform with one another in some way to function and be productive. This may have developed initially naturally the same way it did for chimpanzees, before things within humanity became termed "artificial". Living as a group, being part of a group is what makes us strong. Individually we are weak, though today any given human may possess enough knowledge and technology to survive on their own: Just as the free open market economy is a chaotic slew that seems to balance itself, so too can human social interaction on a massive scale when everyone is set loose to do anything they want without fear of reprisal so long as no harm is done to others. We have the means of survival so that now no one needs to be without food and only needs to contribute a small portion of their life to a job of some sort to gain money to exchange for the inputs into a worthwhile life. Those of us who are fed, clothed, and have money in our pockets are ready for this new change, so we should allow ourselves to be! Just because things have performed within an apparent pattern in the past does not mean we cannot shatter that pattern tomorrow. Most of the actors just won't be willing to act in the new play, at first. I am glad you made this post Narkissos. Please find as much as you can wrong with what I said so I can clarify it to a greater extent: It is an invigorating line of thought.

  • Narkissos

    Wow. Rune, what a reply!

    Physics act through us all the time, defining and shaping each of us, is that not an expression of mathematics?

    I would rather think of mathematics (at least at an incipient stage) as an abstraction from physical observation, which then came to lead an abstract life of their own. It takes an idealistic (in a Platonic sense) reversal of this genealogical relationship to regard phenomena as an expression of mathematics. Just like a theist has to forget about the genealogy of the idea of "God" as an abstraction from reality to postulate a real "God" as the cause of reality. Iow, the cognitive distinction and grouping of categories such as trees and animals led to the invention of numbers, but numbers will never exist phenomenologically as trees and animals do. I know it looks that I am splitting hairs here, but I think this is very important to the present issue. Only in mathematical abstraction does one carrot equal another. Only in a further economical abstraction (applied mathematics to the social function of exchange, either in a barter or monetary system) can x carrots equal y sheep. Phenomenologically each being is unique, and only by imposing an abstract scale on them (such as weight or economical value) can they be compared (as equal, superior or inferior). Mental, abstract, cognitive categories are pervasive and without them we cannot know anything. And what we know may not be exactly what is (cf. the difference between phenomenon and noumenon in Kant for instance).

    what we are speaking of here is uprooting what has been tradition for ages and creating a new system by completely obliterating the ashes of the old one.

    As you said in your reply to AuldSoul, destroy the culture? Imo the tabula rasa motto is always shortsighted on a theoretical level, even though perhaps usefully so on a practical level. Your will of change is dependent on a given language, a given cultural, political, social and economical structure, a given history of words and ideas which make you able to think as you do, all of which is inherited from the past. Of course the cultural structure has a potential for change as it always had. Our combined desires and wills work both within and against it and modifies it -- slowly, as you admit. Even the utopia of "fresh start" belongs to this extant structure and ongoing process.

    Don't misunderstand me: I am really sympathetic to most of what you say. I am not a conservative, I just have a more tragic view of history perhaps. I don't profess the impossibility of change, on the contrary I'd rather assert the inevitability of change, with all its consequences, good and bad. The ideas of the Enlightenment led to the French Revolution and to the Napoleonian wars -- one of Hegel's chief sources of meditation. Our present view of human rights, combined with economical globalisation, will achieve good and bad. Some "good" will be destroyed for the "better," but the "better" will never make for its loss. As the Irish song goes, "what is done is done, what is won is won, what is lost is lost and gone forever".

    But I agree with you that this is no reason to do nothing. Anyway we just can't. As I am thinking of that two texts come into my mind, the Bhagavad Gita and Albert Camus' Myth of Sisyphus. Both struggle with the problem of the meaning of individual action within a somewhat fatalistic, be it tragic or absurd, view of history.


  • rune

    What a wonderful series of rants this thread spawned. I'm so glad we all contributed to this discussion.

    You are right, mathematics are an abstraction from physical observation, but what I meant to imply is that even though "our" mathematics may not properly describe the universe yet, there is a system of some kind that works through all things that we do not yet fully understand (and, could possibly never fully understand if we are limited to being subsets of something greater - but there's no point in entertaining that idea). That is what I meant by "an expression of mathematics". It may so much be that what we conceive of as mathematics and what is "true mathematics" (that is, a system of math that is undeniably, absolutely true, which may or may not exist) are very different, but I do not think this is quite so. Namely, the more developments that are made in mathematics, the more mastery of the physical world we have seen humanity gain. So it would seem that in some subjective sense, mathematics and physics are interchangeable as subsets of one another, because they end up being the same thing at some basic level. I do not however try to imply a cause; it may perhaps be that there was no initial cause and that everything started through a wholely incomprehensible 'system' that outlies everything that exists in our universe, or any number of other things. You must question what you choose to decide is concrete in any case; humanity's description of the universe is ever-growing, and there is absolutely no knowledge as to whether anything makes sense outside of what we already "know" - we just assume we will be able to quantify it in some fashion in the future. Nor is the perpetuation of reality in a continuum implied to be 'caused' so much as 'motivated to rebalance'; what is set in motion along a system of rules must run its course when time progresses, or so it would seem. The only questions are; how many rules have we guessed wrong, and how many rules are still unknown to us?

    In fact the "arbitrary" nature of mathematics and physics lessens when you apply it to reality. One carrot equals another before me, not because they are identical, but because one unit of carrot in reality is one unit of carrot, so when I am satisfied with holding two units of carrot then I have 2 carrots. Who decided that? The person thinking about it; but to call this abstraction is to ignore the processes going on in all matter and energy. Just as you think, so do electrons and their smaller units perform operations that function in the same way, with discrete observable units. In effect, either "everything is arbitrary", or "nothing is arbitrary" in this case. It all depends on what side of the coin you choose to stare at. You can't really make a "mistake" quantifying a carrot in your left hand and a carrot in your right hand as 2 carrots instead of 2.1445353 carrots or 0.199999999 carrots, nor would those values necessarily be wrong: It all depends on how you judge something to be 1 unit. At what point does the matter in the carrot satisfy you that it is 1? You could count its molecules, say that this carrot has all the molecules that 1 carrot should have, and then any carrot that has more or less molecules is more or less than 1 carrot. But you are still just 'counting' something automatically, and reaching a decision that a 200 gram carrot = 1 carrot through some other means: probably because it is easiest for you to call the carrot before you 1 instead of searching the supermarket trying to find the perfect one. Have you done something arbitrary here? In one sense yes, but in another no. I see our thoughts and choices as a direct function of a physical structure in your brain - the universe is operating through you, performing calculations which you use in your daily life, many of which you are completely unaware of. Once again the ones you consciously register in your awareness are either then labelled "arbitrary" or "not arbitrary", based on your perspective of this. All of them come from the same thing, some values in your mind just seem to be incongruent with what you try to apply them to in the world. Then, mathematics and physics are arbitrary, and airplanes fly because human engineers' dreams of how they should fly seem to match reality very well: How strange that children of Chaos should create machinations and discover systems that put Order to Chaos itself, unless Order were itself a part of the scheme of things; a systematic rigid way of organizing everything that causes life to go on and humans to find/create patterns. Someone who operates under such a system of Order makes the willing choice to assume basic mathematical principles are true because they are under some kind of influence from the "greater" system that governs them. (In case I have horribly misstated it: '1' only exists in reality where we decide 1 is, even if it is the case that we are caught in the gears of the universe and that everything we think and do is quantified in some way similar to how we do, and that is what makes us so sure of what is 1.) So does it matter if it is arbitrary? Well, you decide.

    It is that strange duality again: Being sure and not being sure, applying logic and being utterly confused, seeing what you can see and not knowing what you cannot, conforming all units as the same thing and seeing them all as discrete. Zero and one, nothing and infinity, perhaps. Chaos and Order are mysterious things. There is no knowing: There is only discovering, and imagining things are ok for the time being until we improve them.


    When you 'destroy culture', you tear down old values and allow people to fill in the blanks however they please, with the one constraint of not allowing them to harm one another. My will of change began from the enculturization I received; but my realization of the need for change came from within. It is realizing the beauty of feeling emotionally free, the bliss of being unrestrained from doing anything in your ability you wish to. When this bliss reaches you, it is so awe-inspiring, simply being is amazing and fulfilling to you. It is the feeling that absolutely nothing is wrong, even if you would like to see some changes. Culture and society did not give me this, but countless times did they try to take it away. Being contained, being cut off, being forced to perform in a way that doesn't agree with you holds you back from the natural creature you are inside. For a rare few this could mean potentially harmful things, but Chaos is tricky like that. And it is doubtful anyone like that would be tolerated by others for long, so such is life. But anyone who is not a threat on another's life should not be tied up in bonds as they are defined by other peoples' ideas. This can be something as commonplace as discrimination against women, or it could be something as serious as police attacking peaceful demonstrators. All of these actions at some point root back to specific people, specific ideas that come from a whole lot of people: These are the minds we must free by setting the example and spreading the word unafraid of reprisal. You may never see a great change in the world for all of your efforts; you will see a great change inside yourself.

    Tabula rasa is flawed: The mind is not a slate on which nothing is inscribed. Totally off!! How can anyone think their mind has or ever had nothing? The universe defines you when you are born. That is what is there. Your basis for emotions comes to you this way; you do not learn to laugh or cry. Hence destroying culture roots from this same place in the mind: The desire to act based on uninhibited emotion rather than based on social programming. It is going, "Ok, that whole culture game is over. Everyone start acting how you feel now, based on how that silly old culture thing left you when we stopped it." The fact that I learned the things I did while subjected to culture does not mean that those things will go away once culture is removed either. Nor would I attribute them to it and say that the culture I was exposed to is absolutely vital for becoming like me. Anyone can free their mind from the things that they have learned by choosing to learn things that nullify them. Remember - the universe is arbitrary, or not arbitrary, depending on how you see it. Knowing you do not really know anything for sure is a powerful gift. (And being yourself may mean repeating many of the things you learned from culture! But only the ones that are right for you.)

    With the inevitability of change comes the endless possibility that eternity offers to our descendants. So "one day, some day" is not just dreaming to those who assert the inevitability of change. Those who say something is impossible are building mental constructs (which is why I think of the mind more as a city or a world than a slate - when I choose to conceptualize it in a metaphor - since we construct temporary structures that stand for as long as we please within it that determine how we act, what we like and so on).

    Sometime I will check those two texts you mentioned out. Thanks!

  • Narkissos

    "Abstract" and "arbitrary" are completely independent notions to me. The symbols of mathematics are arbitrary as any feature of language, but that doesn't make the object of mathematics themselves arbitrary. The amazement at the unvariant although abstract and non-sensorial character of this "object" is the very foundation of Greek philosophy, including Platonic idealism. I think we really agree on that although I nitpicked on your "expression" in my previous post. (That was admittedly a side issue to your topic but still an interesting one imo.)

    As to the idea of "destroying culture," a sobering read to a somewhat anarchist-bent mind (count me in) is Lord of the Flies by William Golding (and the movie by Peter Brook).

  • FlyingHighNow

    Andy recently worked for over a week at a temp job. There was a group of guys his age and younger that he worked with. Every single day they talked trash about women and sex. They bragged about taking advantage of girls and women to get into their pants. Eventually, they admitted to seeing prostitutes and strippers as well. They couldn't get Andy to participate, so they tried to get him to talk about his relationship with me. He would only say that we are very happy.

    Andy influenced his co-workers with his dignity and silence on the subject of women, sex and his relationship with me.

    Finally, after days of degrading conversation, they all sighed and said, "Sex is over-rated." Andy told them as long as they were going to view women as things and have opportunitic, superficial dealings with women, their perception of sex would be poor. He told them that he happily did not agree with them about sex being over-rated.

  • trevor

    Wow Rune!

    I thought only women could type that fast because men have big clumsy fingers but you have debunked that idea.

    Some good thoughts on the sexual divide. I used to get quite worked up about the inequalities and stereo typing in society (no pun intended) but I don’t give it much thought now.

    Society has a way of evolving and finding it’s own level. The sex war seems to be following this path.

  • rune

    Narkissos: I understand that "abstract" and "arbitrary" may seem like independent notions to most people, after all, they are seperate words with seperate definitions. But, at least from my perspective, they are functionally linked ideas. An "abstract" thing is considered seperate from physical existence, but this simply is not so. Anyone who perceives their thoughts to be seperate from their physical being is living in the stone age. This is why Descartes and I never agreed on almost anything. It is clear that your thoughts root from your brain; ingest a drug and your thoughts become altered. Ingest the right random substance and you may be completely changed for better or worse in your mind. Furthermore the mind's link with the body is very evident; when I grow hungry or thirsty the mind progressively degrades its ability to think on any matter unrelated to satiating these needs, and my moods become a little more aggressive. Reading more on the field of neuroscience furthers this opinion; there would not BE a neuroscience field if there was no merit to discovering the physical workings of the brain. Since thoughts can be directly altered by applying cathodes, this to me is enough to say that thoughts - the "abstract" - are not seperate at all, but rather represented by physical matter and energy. You do not have to think about your brain as a big squishy mass of gray matter either, though that is what it may appear to be. We are all configured in specific systems that enable us to function as living beings, and so too is everything not organic structured as well. The only thing is that there is so much going on that it appears as Chaos (and all the underlying unknowns of the universe lie within this scope as well). Our thoughts are represented by structures that function in a similar idea to how computer code functions, though the protocols used may be various chemical interactions, we also use electricity in our bodies to function so that nerves can fire off, such as neurons in the brain. The abstract then, no matter how set apart from reality it may seem in your head, IS reality acting through you showing you something. (I don't imply that it is trying to teach you anything meaningful, unless you get that feeling from it; you just experience thoughts in your head as a result of your configuration as you continue to be alive.) So just as a boulder rolls down a hill because gravity forces it to, so do your neurotransmitters operate just as they must. Just because an abstract idea can be incongruent with situations in the world around you (say it's wrong; like you imagine all tigers are purple). Imagining all tigers are purple does not make the conglomerations of matter that function as what we identify as "tiger" purple, but that does not make your idea seperate from reality. There are no tigers in your mind. There is only a metaphysical symbol or object of "tiger". That is to say, the "abstract" is the "virtual" in our cognition. In fact, I do not think any concept of virtual reality would have emerged if it were not for the imagination to give us a model. The reason "abstract" is also associated with "difficult to understand" is because one might be ill informed of how to relate anything to anything else, or that one is simply not equipped or practiced enough to manipulate a lot of variables in ones head at the same time. The more variables you can manipulate, the closer a simulation to what you see in the world (or something else) can occur. Now that I've gone around the world with "abstract", the reason it connects to "arbitrary" is because when we make decisions, when any thought happens, it happens in the abstract. Yet, even in the abstract, outside of our awareness, everything is operating along a set of rigid physical rules in our brains. The label "arbitrary" actually emerges as a function of your subconscious into the abstract; it is a property like anything else. You feel as though you have made an arbitrary choice, this is true, though ultimately on an inhuman scale you have not ("inhuman scale": imagine yourself as an entity free of everything humans are subject to, except the ability to calculate / judge difference. Now compare your being to a human's.) Since physics determine all of your choices, they are either all arbitrary or all not arbitrary, depending on what spin you put on it. That is to say, everything abstract in your mind is subject to things like this. This is how your thoughts take on properties and grow to a form beyond simple calculations.

    I'd ask you to close your eyes, but then you couldn't read. Imagine a thought. An empty thought. All that should be in your mind is a formless object, an incorporeal-seeming empty vessel. Now add a property to it (even though it already has just been given the properties "formless", "incorporeal-seeming" and "empty" - if you are very literal you may like to remove these properties without destroying the object in order to continue). That is, give the object 'something'. Tell it that it is 'red'. Tell it that it has ten toes. Give it anything you want, be as master to it. You have associated consciously here it would seem. Arbitrarily. I mean, would you have tried this if I hadn't written it? Probably not. But one must not forget that the matter and energy seperate from your brain and body influences you all the time, in ways that you are completely helpless to avoid yet have no problem with enduring since that is how you see as regular life. A breeze tries to take your hat away, so you put your hand to your head. The sun comes up or someone turns on an electric light after dark; now your eyes are bombarded with radiant photonic energy. Now that they are, you can see that your clothing is all colors you do not like, so you change. Yet even looking at your clothing was guided by physics.

    Yes, I'm describing determinism. Now that I've used the word determinism, does my argument lessen? Because what I have told you coincides with a past idea that others do not consider to be true because there are many possibilities, does what I said sound less like how things are? Determinism threatens people because to the untrained mind it appears to suggest that we have no free will, that we are robots and nothing we do makes any difference outside of just "what happens". But that is not so, since we have the gift of not knowing anything for certain. Realizing determinism doesn't mean changing yourself one bit. What I am describing is the system that links everything, me to you in some strange way, you to a grain of sand or drop of water on the other side of the planet, or to the celestial bodies beyond us.

    Now if determinism really bums you out, take comfort in Chaos. There is no knowledge of whether the physics we have observed are at all ultimately permanent, though we assume by a human perspective that since they have appeared to operate along similar lines for billions of years (or more) that they won't change. Yet this is something you can never know for certain. Determinism itself may be a temporary thing, and since it may not be ultimate or absolute, the idea does not need to saturate your thoughts when you make decisions in life (or, more obviously, any idea that seems bothersome can be undermined by remembering that if you had no knowledge of the idea, it wouldn't be affecting you in the way that it is). It is more of an amusing afterthought in passing.

    Since all is either arbitrary or not arbitrary (I'm a fan of leaving this one up in the air), I agree and disagree with you about mathematics. Side issues need to be ranted about too! :)

    Yes, as per my previous post, a situation like what happened in "Lord of the Flies" must certainly be avoided if we wish to live with as minimal threat as possible. People must be stopped from harming one another as much as possible if civilization is to flourish. So police are still necessary for this purpose. Destroying culture doesn't mean that buildings topple or that everyone gets naked and runs around the streets. It means when someone walks down the street dressed like a leprechaun, people have learned the tolerance to react positively instead of negatively. In a sense it is another Order being imposed, but we cannot live in the style we are accustomed to without Order to keep everything from running its course as Chaos would have it if we did not take preventative measures. Chaos is too rampant to ever be fully controlled; there will always be people who want to hate and do malicious things rather than be a part of this. But that does not matter; if they harm anyone, it is a police affair, if they do not, then let them be. There is no way to FORCE this way of thinking upon anyone, and that is how it differs from the existent one: Instead of being born into a system that categorizes you, quantifies you poorly and treats you based on that quantification, you choose to exist as part of a resistance. It is just as simple as changing your mind. Meanwhile, despite this passive idealism, you make steps in your life never to impose your will on another except where it would be funny and not harmful (hey, everyone needs a sense of humour). When an issue arises in a discussion, you take a stance on freedom and liberty rather than opinion-based subjective discrimination and needless control. Since you have chosen, there is no will being imposed upon you. Not only is this method of thinking a 'kinder' way of dealing with others, it is easier too. It is as simple as not thinking too much about things you don't need to, and just appreciating the weird spectacles that life brings to you.
    FlyingHighNow: Yes!!! Andy sounds like he's already got the idea. I imagine many people already have some idea, though not as formal as what I just described. It is important to understand that those men who were doing those things were not "evil" or "wrong", just that they are perpetuating a cycle of hatred and distaste that serves no useful purpose because their lives have developed to a point that made them do this. Instead of making the same mistake and seeing people like this as the enemy, it is important to realize that change can only happen if everyone with the idea sets the example all the time. It is easier to subvert people who are not your enemies. :)
    trevor: Haha. Yes, and that means people like us thinking and doing things. When you do things, you are that society, when you do not, you are just a spectator.

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