Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Dean Mullen

The officail illusion

Recommended Posts

There is a big illusion that mankind currently drown in. the illusion of officialism. We people feel the so-called "officialism" of our society and our societies methods. On New years eve we can feel the exhilaration of that rare transition. It really feels as if the whole world is changing. But in truth relative to nature, the laws of physics and the true officialism if you may it is just another random event. Although this is enjoyable and I don't criticize people enjoying the illusion of societal officialism, I think this is the reason for many major ethical problems.

 

We sometimes ask what is the best thing a person can do? what is the best way to live our lives? who is the best person ever? what is the meaning of life? what is the greatest blight of humanity? many claim to have it but in truth I don't think anyone can know the answer. Because society is just random relative to nature, so is all the order is appears to hold. So in truth there is no answer to these questions but there seems to be because of the great illusion of officialism. Just as we really feel the day is the day it is and we really feel that it is the year 2011 and we really feel we live in the country we live in we believe there almost certainly must be answers to these questions but in truth ethics itself is just an illusion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ethics need not be an illusion. What you're calling "officialism" is what I would call "institutional realism." "Institution" refers to patterns of behavior and knowledge that get recognized and viewed as independent realities, almost like physical objects. The calendar is an institutionalized quantization of the year into days. If you didn't focus on a specific moment of transition between days, months, seasons, or years, you would just gage the weather for trends. E.g. you might think it's getting colder and the days seem shorter so fall started or that the days were starting to get longer so it was winter. Without the institutionality of the calendar and clocks that count seconds, you could not count down to new years. Thus by doing the new year's countdown, people are real-izing ("reifying" is the correct term, I think) the time-measuring institutions as realities in and of themselves. Yes, I agree it creates all sorts of problem, including much obfuscation, that people think like this. It diverts them from more direct consciousness of the realities that the institutions are supposed to help them control better. It's great that the calendar has been refined to such precision, but the point of refining it was to track trans-annual phenomena, not count down the seconds until the new calendar starts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most people know very well that all our 'official' celebrations are nothing more than an agreement between a group of people, and have little to no astronomic or geographic meaning anymore.

 

Most people know also that our society is only one way to approach the problem of living long and prospering. There are other ways to do that.

 

Previously, the events were governed by the moon and sun... and that made sense. And then the whole world started to adopt a single system, and New Year came quite close (but not exactly on) the Solstice.

 

It's just practical to leave things as they are. But I am happy for you that you also saw the light and realized that all that is 'official' is just an agreement between some people.

 

And regarding the celebrations? Hey, it's just fun to party... and any excuse will do. I also go and watch sports in a pub, and I celebrate a victory: I cheer for about two dozen men running on a field with a ball. I think that's a whole lot more pointless than celebrating an arbitrarily chosen midnight very near the solstice. I know it's pointless. But I like to party, and as I said: any excuse will do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most people know very well that all our 'official' celebrations are nothing more than an agreement between a group of people, and have little to no astronomic or geographic meaning anymore.

 

Most people know also that our society is only one way to approach the problem of living long and prospering. There are other ways to do that.

 

Previously, the events were governed by the moon and sun... and that made sense. And then the whole world started to adopt a single system, and New Year came quite close (but not exactly on) the Solstice.

 

It's just practical to leave things as they are. But I am happy for you that you also saw the light and realized that all that is 'official' is just an agreement between some people.

 

And regarding the celebrations? Hey, it's just fun to party... and any excuse will do. I also go and watch sports in a pub, and I celebrate a victory: I cheer for about two dozen men running on a field with a ball. I think that's a whole lot more pointless than celebrating an arbitrarily chosen midnight very near the solstice. I know it's pointless. But I like to party, and as I said: any excuse will do.

Have you ever seen the episode of the original Star Trek series called "Return of the Archons?" It is about a totally authoritarian society where people celebrate "festival" by engaging in the wildest behaviors in order to let go of all their pent up energy that's been repressed by the rigor of structuring every other aspect of their lives to a tee. I agree that social coordination can be good in many ways, but it causes problems, imo, when people start viewing the institutions as fundamental realities in themselves and defend them like a permanent womb they can't survive without.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Which is more true? The Newtonian laws of motion (for ordinary contexts) or the fact that murder is evil? Following Kant, you could justly say that both truths are of equal certainty and status, though each comes from a separate context, one from nature and one from the world of human values. There is no reason why the world of human values has to be treated as less meaningful than the world of physical truths: for many people, human values are much more important than the laws of physics, which they seldom even think about, in contrast to moral values, which arise almost every day we socially interact with people.

 

Conventions such as when the year changes or whether it is a holiday or not are of course of a distinctly lower level of value and reality, and they shouldn't be confused with much more solid ethical commitments. This is why so many Christian sects which make a gigantic fuss over which is the proper Sabbath day to celebrate seem so ridiculous, since there is no way that calendar records since the start of Christian time (ca. 6000 B.C.) could have been kept so accurately that we could today really know which was the real 'day of rest.' Similarly, the fact that so many people in Christian Europe went streaming to the hills at the beginning of the year 1000, convinced as they were that the world would end in that year, were just indulging in a superstitious belief in conventional measures.

 

As you reach various embarrassing milestones of aging, it is always reassuring to tell yourself that if you were using a base 6 number system like the Aztecs you wouldn't be facing a very significant birthday at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is no reason why the world of human values has to be treated as less meaningful than the world of physical truths:

 

I think that King Kanute showed the fallacy of this idea.

 

I do sometimes wonder if the idea of having a "Sabbath" came about through a desire for simplicity. The idea came from the Hebrews who wrote the Torah in circa 800BC, but civilisation and religious holidays were much older than that. The Sumerians, Babylonians and the later Egyptians all had religious holidays and festivals, but that was all. The people worked every day between festivals.

 

By the time we get to the Hebrews, whose scribes were all trained in Egypt, they would have been aware of the myriad problems the various festivals entailed. You're juggling multiple calendars here. You have the annual calendar, which gets further out every year due to a lack of a leap year, you have the seasonal calendar for exquinoxes and solstices and you have the Sothic calendar based on Sirius. The calendars were constantly getting out of sync and hours or days would have to be added or subtracted to make them line up again, which messed up the timing for the festivals. Co-ordinating all these to have your festivals and holidays in some sort of logical order must have been difficult. Not to mention the various extra festivals for the Pharoahs birthday, ascencion to Godhood and any others that he/she might think appropriate to throw in now and again.

 

Remember that the common man was illiterate and only had basic numerical skills. The people relied on the Priesthood to tell them when the festivals were going to be, they couldn't work it out for themselves.

 

In some ways it would be quite human for a High Priest somewhere to think "Bugger this for a lark, we'll give them every seventh day off and call it a Sabbath. That way we can tell them that the next festival is on the fifth Sabbath from now. At least the uneducated twits can count to five and it takes a load of my priests."

 

And Lo, the "Sabbath" was born. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.