Monday 20 November 2017

The meaning of insanity in persons and nations - the primary need for restoration of sanity

To be sane is to be in touch with reality, to be in touch with reality means (minimally) having a coherent perspective.

To have more than one perspective - to be thinking one way, then another, then another; and to lack a basis for ever combining, sequencing, stratifying these perspectives - is to be insane.

It is to lack any basis for deciding-between persepctives - merely to be trapped by whatever perpective is currently in-place.


There is no basis for deciding the importance of events, neither their absolute nor relative importance - on a scale between overwhelming of everything/ nothing else matters or utterly trivial/ ignored, the same event might be regarded as either - and there would be no coherent argument about which.

Between events, between possible subjects of attention - there is no basis for allocating attention, or resources, or concern.

There can be no long term purpose, no coherent planning - because there is no relative scale of values; no value as higher than another; all are 'ends' and none are means-to-ends; life is merely one thing, then another, then another.

Each specific perspective is partial, hence false; it leaves-out most things (to make it simple) and it is biased (no specific perspective is a microcosm of reality - rather it is a tiny chunk of reality of unknown relationship to the whole - that could only be known if the whole were known: if there was an underlying coherent perspective).


Modern societies are differentiated into perspectives - these are the specialist social institutions - politics, law, military, religion (in the past), the mass media and so on. Each makes its own selection from reality and works by its own rules... There is no underlying master perspective - no meta-narrative.

In other words, in modernity there are many selves and no ultimate real self. Each perspective can be conceptualised as a separate self, processing the world differently.

This happens in modern people, as well as modern institutions. We have many selves. Some we have learned in order to perform certain functions - one self does our work, and within that are several separate selves with various skills, When such a self is engaged, the world is seen and understood from that self.

But whenever another self is engaged - then another and different self becomes the locus of our subjective-self - when watching The News, on Social Media, engaged in sports, with family, engaged with one or another of the many bureaucracies that constitute our world (each with somewhat different rules).


Our subjective self moves between these many selves - some natural, some self-training, some inculcated by socialisation, others by propaganda.

Most are taught that there is no real self - just a sequence of specific selves - to be adopted temporarily then cast aside as another is picked-up. This is the ordinary, unremarkable, universal experience of being-adapted-to modernity. And it is insane.

We are insane, because we move between distinct false selves; and the society is insane because it does the same.

Insofar as there is convergence of social systems to one socio-political system (of secular Leftism) or there is convergence of our personal systems to the one system of political correctness; these are merely establish insanity more solidly; since the ideology on which there is convergence is negative and oppositional. It is an ideology without purpose or aim - except destruction of The Good.

Convergence on evil is not convergence on sanity; it is the active embrace of insanity: a species of value inversion.


So we are, each of us, insane; and we live in an insane society - the the depth of our insanity is measured in terms of tour will assent to and embrace of this insanity. It is not merely that we have not (yet) found coherence and sanity - but that we believe there is no coherence to be found; and indeed we have a morality which would reject such coherence if it did exist.

In a world of actively embraced and aggressively promoted insanity; the one priority above all others must be restoration of sanity: first in ourselves, then in others.


Chiu ChunLing said...

Rather than focusing on the disparity of perspectives (for it is inevitable that we should encounter many perspectives as we move in society and through our own experience), it may be useful to focus on the incompleteness of the perspectives we are offered in the mass media. We are told to look at one thing through a particular perspective, but not given the time to look around from that perspective and see everything else from that perspective. Indeed, this fragmentation of perception of objects is no longer perspective in any true sense, for perspective consists of the relationships among multiple objects of our attention as viewed from a defined relationship to them.

To have viewed a situation from several different perspectives is to have a more complete understanding of what it would look like from any possible perspective, but to have only observed each element of the situation from one perspective, and every other element from a different perspective, is really to have not viewed the situation as a whole in any perspective at all.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - Maybe... but unless there is a single coherent underlying perspective (i.e. the real/ true / divine self's persepctive) then a person is strictly insane - no matter how different views of how many different things they have mastered.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Of course, that is what is meant by having a complete understanding built up from those different perspectives, otherwise what you have is a distorted image that is inconsistent with any perspective.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - But a complete understanding Cannot be Built-Up from several or many incomplete understandings. (We see this failure in modern (pseudo-) science, of innumerable micro-specialisms meaning nothing, going nowehere. Complete understanding can only be attained in an of itself - as reality recognised intuitively, by primary thinking. Of course, because we are limited beings, our complete understanding is constrained in terms of precision and scope - a valid but incomplete comprehension of completeness.

Chiu ChunLing said...

True, and we can only judge the completeness (or lack thereof) of a perspective by comparison to our own original point of view, which is innate to our individuality. To lose the vital knowledge of who we are individually as distinct from all the other perspectives we might entertain is to lose the basis for demanding internal coherence and completeness of them. And thus have no basis for integrating them successfully into a whole.

This then, could be considered a part of the disease of the modern age, people are unwilling to know themselves, face honestly their own motives and biases, instead adopting piecemeal bits of popular perceptions into an irrational incoherence that only distorts reality.