On Interestingness


“There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.”

– G.K. Chesterton

Erroneous Priorities


People have different opinions. Now, interesting as this may be, learning how to determine the fact that certain convictions are actually ‘more relevant’, no discussion will ever have to be wearisome and pointless. – Relevant, that is, in the sense that ‘it has its base in reality’, i.e. ‘holds (more) truth’.

There are truths to be known about the world we live in, and since our opinions relate to that world, a number of convictions can correctly be labelled ‘irrelevant’ since they are not based in reality i.e. not related to a verifiable truth in any way.

Opinions and Issues

1.1. Fact:
Opinions can relate to issues i.e. a topic which can be approached from different angles.
1.2.1. Fact:
Concerning one particular issue: One can either do something or nothing.
1.2.2. Hypothesis:
There probably is an infinite amount of something.
1.2.3. Hypothesis:
There probably is only one kind of nothing.
1.2.4. Hypothesis:
There could be no such thing as nothing.

Human Well-Being and Problems

2.1. Fact:
Human well-being concerns objectifiable effects on consciousness.
2.2.1. Fact:
A phenomenon which negatively impacts the standard of human well-being is a problem.
2.2.2. Fact:
By default, a phenomenon which does not negatively impact the standard of human well-being is not a problem.
2.2.3. Fact:
It is true to say there are issues in society which can be identified as problems.
2.2.4. Fact:
By default, it is true to say that some issues cannot be identified as problems.
2.3. Conclusion:
The severity and number in which problems exist in society effect the total amount of human well-being and happiness in that society.

Problems and Solutions

3.1.1. Fact:
It is true to say that actual problems may be assigned different solutions which realise varying degrees of human well-being and happiness.
3.1.2. Hypothesis:
It is probably true to say that here are an infinite number of ways to solve a problem.
3.2.1. Conclusion:
There are solutions to problems which realise a greater amount of human well-being and happiness than other solutions.
3.2.2. Conclusion:
There are solutions to problems which are more relevant than others.

Problems and Priorities

4.1.1. Fact:
Actual problems have a degree of priority i.e. one problem is more relevant than another.
4.1.2. Fact:
The degree of priority of a problem is determined by the quantity of verifiable negative impact on human well-being.
4.2. Fact:
It is empirically true to say that one problem is more conducive to degrading human well-being than a another.
4.3.1. Fact:
The rate or amount of degradation with regard to human well-being is known as the scale of the problem.
4.3.2. Fact:
The scale of the problem determines its priority.
4.4. Conclusion:
Different priorities are assigned to a problem; these priorities can be misplaced in relation to the scale of the problem i.e. erroneous.
4.5. Conclusion:
Worse still, certain priorities are assigned to issues that are not actual problems. These priorities are erroneous.

On Freedom Of Thought


“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”

– Søren Kierkegaard

Harem (iii)


‘Lady Shiel, wife of the British minister to Persia in 1849, who lived four years in that country, says that Persian women of the upper class lead a life of idleness and luxury, and enjoy more liberty than the women of Christendom. They consume their time by going to the bath and by a constant round of visits, and frequently acquire a knowledge of reading and writing, and of the choice poetical works in their native language. Cooking, or at least its superintendence, is a favorite pastime. In populous harems the mortality among children is very great, owing to the neglect, laziness, and ignorance of the mothers and nurses.

An American lady, Mrs. Caroline Paine, who travelled in the Turkish empire, says in her “Tent and Harem” (New York, 1859) that she made the acquaintance of Turkish women who were “wonderful instances of native elegance, refinement, and aptness in the courtesies, ordinary civilities, and prattle of society.” She says: “Turkish women are by no means confined to a life of solitude or imprisonment, and they would be scarcely tempted to exchange the perfect freedom and exemption from the austere duties of life, which is their acme of happiness, for all the advantages that might be gained from intellectual pursuits or a different form of society.”’

– Ripley. G., Dana. C.A., Ed. (1879) The American Cyclopædia – A Popular Dictionary Of General Knowledge New York, United States: D. Appleton and Company (Entrance: “Harem” [between “Hare Lip” and “Harfleur”], written by Parke Godwin).

Modernism vs. Postmodernism


The Self
Modernism: Existence of stable, coherent “self”, independent of culture and society.
Postmodernism: The “self” is a myth and largely a composite of one’s social experiences and cultural contexts. The “self” is an Ideology.

Reason
Modernism: Reason and science provide accurate, objective, reliable foundation of “knowledge”.
Postmodernism: Reason and science are Ideologies in the Marxist sense; myths created by man.

Feminism
Modernism: Women are oppressed by patriarchy and can use Reason to achieve both independence and regain their “authentic selves”.
Postmodernism: The categories male/female, masculine/feminine are themselves culturally constructed and/or Ideology. Gender roles are culturally relative in all cultures and contexts.

Objective Truth
Modernism: Reason transcends and exists independently of our existential, historical, cultural contexts; it is universal and “true”.
Postmodernism: There is no universal, objective means of judging any given concept as “true”; all judgements of truth exist within a cultural context (cultural relativism).

“Modernism had two great wishes. It wanted its audience to be led toward a recognition of the social reality of the sign (away from the comforts of narrative and illusionism, was the claim); but equally it dreamed of turning the sign back to a bedrock of World/Nature/Sensation/Subjectivity which the to and fro of capitalism had all but destroyed.” – T.J. Clark, Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism

Freedom
Modernism: Reason and human independence/freedom are inherently linked; just laws conform to the dictates of Reason.
Postmodernism: The application of pure Reason (predicated Cartesian Radical Skepticism) disproves the universal nature of a priori human freedom. Independence/Freedom are Western Ideologies used to colonize foreign cultures (i.e. Belgian Congo, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan).

Universal Truth
Modernism: Because it is universal, Reason can help us overcome all conflicts. Reason will lead to universal truths all cultures will embrace.
Postmodernism: Reason is no more universal than is any other culture’s definition of “truth”.

Science
Modernism: Science is the paradigm of all true knowledge.
Postmodernism: Science is Ideology.

Language
Modernism: Language is transparent; a one to one relationship between signifier (word) and signified (thing or concept).
Postmodernism: Language is fluid and arbitrary and/or rooted in Power/Knowledge relations. Meaning is fluid and arbitrary. Meaning is “messy”.

Connotations
Modernism: The application of Reason leads to a progressive movement toward civilization, democracy, freedom, scientific advancement. The Enlightenment is prescriptive: a means of building a better society.
Postmodernism: There is no objective means upon which to predicate morality and right/just governance. Postmodern theory is descriptive of the human condition; it describes an impasse in philosophy and social relations.

“There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” – Harold Pinter

In Sum
Modernism: Truth exists independent of human consciousness and can be known through the application of Reason. All Enlightenment conclusions lead from this assumption.
Postmodernism: Truth may exist independent of human consciousness but there is no objective means of nailing it down. All Postmodern conclusions lead from this assumption.

On Teacher’s Advice


“When you meet with opposition, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.”

– Bertrand Russell