Friday 23 November 2012

Is the illusion enough?


If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.” B.F. Skinner


If the above is added to nihilism - the belief that reality is not real; that there is no eternal truth which humans can know - then that's modernity - in a nutshell.


To modernity, Man is born wanting stuff he cannot possible get - real freedom, real happiness, peace. God, Heaven, to become divine.

To modernity none of this makes any sense - people can never get what they want, because it does not exist to give them.

But Leftism deceitfully pretends to offer them what they want - Yeah, sure, we'll give you what you want; you deserve it; the only reason you don't have it is that they are keeping it from you - we'll take it off them and give it to you - as is just and proper.  


However, all the time, the Left leaders believe that really they cannot give freedom, happiness, peace - because they are an illusion: so they provide illusions.

The Left robs and bribes and calls it freedom, provides distraction and calls it happiness, turns the world upside down, and calls it peace - but does all this with a clear conscience and indeed moralizing zeal.

They know they only offer illusions, but they regard illusions as infinitely better than the 'reality' which is nothing.


For the Left, at any price, people, everybody, including themselves must be protected from the lived awareness of that nihilism which they 'believe' but which would - if experienced, destroy everything within minutes or hours...

The Leftist prayer: Oh God, make me a nihilist - but not yet.  


Because illusions are addictive.

Illusions are not what people want - of course they aren't (even the partakers of hallucinogenic drugs claim that they are experiencing reality) but illusions are better than nihilism.

How much better? Infinitely better.

Because, in a deep sense, the belief in the necessity of illusions is the only non-nihilistic belief of modern mainstream culture.

Having rejected God as their primary decision, their core conviction; illusion is, they sense, the only thing which stands between them and the void: that is utter, despairing, unbelief - which state is, in fact, belief in the rule of evil. 



Deogolwulf said...

"If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.” B.F. Skinner

As it stands, the consequent does not follow from the antecedent, though it perhaps reveals something about Skinner's mindset, e.g., that he already assumes "freedom" in the antecedent to mean an illusion (and of course "happiness" in the modern subjective sense to mean pleasure).

Bruce Charlton said...

@D - Exactly. It is not that Skinner is correct in his reasoning, but what that reasoning reveals of his (widely shared) assumptions.

George Goerlich said...

Is this perhaps why people act so stupid, but so much effort and money into distractions? Hollywood, Video Games, Television, Football - so much effort, time and money poured in yet nothing intelligent or worthwhile. No goal, just distraction.

baduin said...

For me, at least, this is the most instructive and important of your remarks up to now.

Some other things I knew already, others I at least dimly suspected, or read in other places more or less at the same time. With yet others I do not fully agree.

But this is a clear and short observation of supreme importance. About this one must think, and think a lot, because it can serve to change many of the assumption about the system of the world.

AlexT said...

@George: Exactly. I believe Pascal said something very much like this all the way back in the 17th century. In other words, it's nothing new. The devil is always trying to use shiny objects to distract you from what you should be concentrating on: the state of your soul. With the recent increase in shiny objects, the problem only gets worse. That's the real reason technological progress is so conducive to secular thinking. There is simply less time for contemplation.