The former is an entrenched societal psychological problem, while the latter is a globally misguided world view. Both are fairly recent arrivals on Earth in terms of serving as functioning crises:
* Extreme pride – as in, an entrenched and inflexible pride-in-all-the-wrong-things (for-all-the-wrong-reasons).
* Materialism – as in, Ã¢Â?Â¦just what you think it probably means.
Both have got to go – or societies as we know them (and maybe even the planet itself) appear headed toward the black hole of their existence: no-longer-there-dom. And this anarchy-like and very final end result isn’t as alarming to most folks now as it ought to be.
As author/social critic Kurt Vonnegut once put it: “Let us be perfectly frank for a change. For practically everybody, the end of the world can’t come soon enough.”
How’s that for dead-pan, dead-end futility?
Despite the many smiles etched across our faces these days, most of us are sleepwalking through our lives in cultural misery – only it’s too-commonly hidden behind masks of bravado and don’t-rock-the-boat fear. Far too many of Earth’s people today have simply given up on any meaningfully positive, hopeful future.
Well – isn’t that pretty much the truth?
To suggest that these issues are deeply rooted (and/or deeply denied) just about everywhere on Earth today, too, is something of a major understatement.
That’s why I’m about to propose the formation of a funded outreach undertaking, The Big Picture Project.
That’s the punchline to this treatise, in fact.
Let’s back up a little here, though, before attempting to further explain all of that.
* * * * *
I have written a number of essays/critiques this year that, while standing alone on their own (I’ve hoped), were intended to be enjoined into a “big picture” collection of articles (with yet more to follow) – that, allowing a foundation of readers have been generous enough with their interest and time to even read through them. (To date, I have no sense of the numbers or identities of readers involved, only that there clearly are Ã¢Â?Â¦ some.)
Regardless, this continuing writing effort has been purposeful in its identifying-pieces-of-the-puzzle intentions – and links to most of those critiques, mentioned above, will appear at the conclusion of this essay.
While they’ve been written with the newspaper-level reader in mind (I’m a former reporter and columnist), my criticisms have been slanted to some degree, jargon-wise, toward their target partisanships – from which few members have as yet responded, not so surprisingly.
My experience with lay readers is that my ideas expressed tend to be viewed as “just another man’s opinion” – and not a unique or very profound one, at that. My B.A. degree in philosophy (University of Maine, 1992) has proven to be about as respected and valued out here “in the field” as a bachelor’s in, say, histrionics.
Even TV’s “The Simpsons” is on record as stating (in one old episode) that about the only thing a philosophy graduate is good for is becoming a bartender.
The show’s writers weren’t far wrong in my case.
In any event, why would people here in the outside world think I was attempting to turn millenniums-worth of formal philosophy upside-down? Grandiose much?
Even when I actually am?
Who on Earth really cares about the formal field of philosophy, much less its acting philosophers themselves nowadays – new, old or whatever – anyway?
Hardly anybody – hardly anywhere.
* * * * *
There is a belief in higher education that all of human knowledge started out in antiquity as a snowball – and so, now, here in the New Millennium, it’s grown to what looks like an iceberg the size of a continent (i.e., really big, which makes us and our ancestors come off as incredibly smart). When it comes to technological development, to cite but one example, this analogy is pretty apt much of the time.
The analogy doesn’t work in the field of philosophy, however. Philosophy made what appeared to be a major jump forward when it embraced “reason,” and then dove, head first, into existentialism and the exaltation of the biological human mind. Unfortunately, in retrospect, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the modern day field, which is all-but exclusively restricted to (and insulated by) our world’s university campuses, made a well meaning (if not admittedly once highly promising) wrong turn, instead.
Worse, it now focuses almost exclusively on the past. In philosophy, it’s like the present isn’t here yet.
* * * * *
Our emotions actually prompt our actions, not our intellects – which commonly concoct what sound like (but actually aren’t) valid justifications after-the-fact.
Logic fails (allowing that it’s even utilized any more) when it accepts givens that are ushered into the mix by the logicians’ emotions – which will pitch one hell of a tantrum if they’re not granted their silent, below-the-radar dark whims. That’s how our emotionally-rooted biases whup-up on reason, control it, and then crush it.
Then our cynicism, a by-product of robotic randomness, sets in, and “end times” such as these are locked and loaded – and even defended (!), by way of reason.
Our faulty ego-driven and emotionally throttled intellects, thus, now appear to be responsible for our impending global demise. It’s our brains that have embraced Materialism, which is fast becoming a chief suspect as the trigger of that potential demise. Our hearts knew better, but caved in to contemporary IQ “intelligence.”
When I’ve been critical of religion – most particularly contemporary Christianity – it has happened as often as not because it got caught in the crossfire from all the arrows and flaming balls of ick I’ve been hurling to date at the field of philosophy.
* * * * *
The results of philosophy’s “wrong turn” are beginning to appear insurmountable.
Much-needed philosophical dialogues aren’t proffered, and so they’re not sought. And what microscopic percentage of college students actually seek to be engaged with long-term, serious philosophical exchanges in the first place? Or how about their parents and grandparents, as far as that goes?
The United States’ public-at-large doesn’t philosophize much any more. It mostly ideologues.
The tragedy of all this is that Earthlings have never been in more need of meaningful philosophical discourse than they are now.
One need only view the posturing, finger-pointing and armed uprisings going on in the world by way of our (relentlessly editorialized – thanks to Pride) TV news.
* * * * *
Materialism, briefly, is simply a view of the world around us as being exclusively material in nature. There are countless symptoms of materialism as a globally misguided world view and illness – like financial profiteering, the aforementioned relentless cynicism, chronic dieting, faux cost-of-living-upgrades, dually trucks that never get near a field, physical addictions of any kind, the human body as a mere would-be biological computer, SETI (oh, what – “intelligent” UFOs aren’t already here?), and so on and so forth.
Extreme pride is but one of countless psychological disorders in the world now, but arguably the most damaging. If one is so sure they’re correct that no counter-dialogues will even be considered, that’s extreme pride in action. The rationale here should be obvious: if both sides in a debate (never mind a fists-cocked argument) are convinced in the absolute and infallible correctness of their one-note stances, no middle ground can ever be reached. When countries behave this way, violence and wars always break out.
I have discussed both topics previously, and am sure to bring them up again. But suffice to say, I believe them both to be so debilitating and dangerous as cultural phenomena, that their respective inflexibilities and capacities for entrenchment alone have tentacles that will reach out and strangle everything of value left, including very possibly our final breaths as human beings – unless something is done. Like really soon.
When I argue for a non-interfering (but still loving) God, or insist that our universe is a secondary construct reality in a non-random universe, for example – these aren’t efforts to be cute, or to step forward as some harsh spiritual guru, or even to come up with intriguing notions to be kicked around during water cooler chats – none of these things have happened, or likely will happen, in the first place – but rather it’s an effort to inspire a view of the Earth and the cosmos around us in a tenable, consistent and complementary loving-universe fashion.
Put another way: it’s an effort to construct a far more useful, never mind far more accurate, view of the world and universe than as yet exists on Earth today.
A view of a far more likely, uplifting and hopeful “big picture,” in other words.
* * * * *
The Big Picture Project I’m recommending – very loosely recommending, at this early conceptual stage – would have as its mandate the initiation of philosophical dialogues that would be undertaken wherever they might willingly be received: be it the streets, the universities, our corporations, the world’s various governments – not only with the intention of inspiring or even teaching, but in particular, with the simple act of listening. That’s how genuine discussions work.
A significant focus of The Big Picture Project would be to always strive to dig beneath the symptoms of our errant beliefs and bottomless-pit crises. That’s simply not being attempted very effectively as yet.
Now, the world view I’ve constructed to date I believe to be completely tenable, and so it would serve as a foundational starting place – and that’s why I’ve added the links, below, at the end of this essay, as a pieces-of-the-puzzle reference. But over the course of these exchanges and discussions, this world view would very likely shift – and the more time that’s devoted to initiating both these actions and this mandate, The Big Picture Project participants – those of us who would like to become involved – the closer we’ll actually come to more accurately defining a realistically supportive planet, as a but a probable blip in a realistically supportive universe.
It’s so simple: how one views the world and feels about it is just about everything.
And right now, there’s not one philosophy or religion in the world today that’s got it mostly right – thanks to extreme pride, and a pseudo-philosophy of materialism.
I put this offer out there for any who might care to get involved or simply respond:
If you would like to join me in this effort, you may reach me at this email address:
firstname.lastname@example.org. I promise to write back to all those who sincerely respond and/or seek to get involved.
My intention is to structure this group around the specific talents of its members – who needn’t necessarily even ever meet – at least not right away.
There must be a funded “main office” for The Big Picture Project – and maybe that’s where an ongoing grant of some sort, say, might fit in. Those who would like to donate in some way to the project’s creation would be welcome, of course.
I plan to continue writing articles that continually refine this tenable “big picture” view of the world, and how selected topics, phenomena or activities fit in it – or how they don’t, and why.
That’s what this ongoing effort this year has been all about for me, from the very outset.
Thanks so much for reading.
* * * * *
To follow are some links to applicable articles I’ve had published to date:
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