Freedom for The Elite and the Rest of Us

The Elite:  Why are you so angry?

Regular people:  You look down on us.  

The Elite:  No we don’t. You are important, and we want to help you.

Regular people:  Well, we have our own ideas about the kind of help we need!

Who are The Elite? They are the ones who want to take control. They think that they have earned the right to decide the direction this nation and even the world should take because of their perfect grades in school and their degrees from high-falutin universities, and they just echo the ideas of liberal college professors who couldn’t earn an honest dime at real work.

Is that true?

Yes, there is a lot of truth to that complaint and that kind of anger.

Regular people in the run of everyday life make choices about what they think is important.

But The Elite don’t listen to them. Instead, they study them.

Well, the regular people are going to be listened to.

Let’s turn the tables and do a little study on The Elite.

Start with the scientists. Of course, some scientists do their work in the laboratory or out in nature through the week; then on the weekend they go to their place of worship like the rest of us. But many have decided that if scientific study can’t answer a question, the question really wasn’t worth asking. That kind of scientist, I hear tell, goes by the name of positivist.

Here are some questions, positivists:  Why does the world exist at all?  Why are you and I kicking around in this world?  What makes it all worth the trouble?  What ought to drive us to do what we do? Is love the greatest thing?

Those are not small questions. They are not worthless questions. But you can’t answer them, positivists.

Next, the rich and powerful. With money and property comes power. But a lot of times they don’t really own what they think they do. And they sure don’t own up to anything. Money drives all the choices they make. Money owns them.

The rights and privileges of money are enshrined in the Constitution, according to the Supreme Court.

What about the Elite News Media? They all claim to be like Sergeant Joe Friday, saying, “It’s just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” They aim for neutrality, which means that anything goes. Any act is as moral as another, and the only shared value is the lack of shared values, except what drives the ratings.

The Hollywood crowd? Celebrity brings a power to influence fans and followers, but it never has guaranteed moral authority. Why are the decisions these people make more important than ours?

Theologians? They got rid of Judgment Day by declaring that any one sin is as bad as another. We’re all bound for Hell. Only God decides who gets a pass and who doesn’t. God has also decided who gets blessed with divine knowledge, and it’s the theologians.

Philosophers in universities? First I’ll have to say that they are almost an extinct species, a dead-end branch of evolution. Every once in a while a philosopher pops its head up and tells us that free will doesn’t exist. Well, sir or ma’am, what made you choose to say that? Now philosophers are being replaced by English professors in the universities. They tell us about something called postmodernism. After 350 pages we learn that it’s all a joke that nobody is going to understand, unless more “research” is funded.

Politicians? They are next only to God. Yeah.

Except one who aims to replace God in American hearts and minds. You know who I’m talking about – #PythonDon #TakinOverThaSwamp #AmericasFirstRussianPresident.

What a revoltin’ predicament the failings of The Elite have brought us to. And my own humble failings as well.

You can argue all you want about the paradox of free will. Choosing still happens. The real question is – where does it happen? Are choices made only at the top? Are they made by individuals or groups of people? Are real choices made only by people who pretend to be value-neutral, and only by consensus? Are they made at multiple levels?

At a, believe it or not, liberal southern university I learned a chant at religious gatherings on Saturdays in the fall. I’ll adapt it to the present purpose:

Hoddy Toddy! Godamighty! Who the hell are we?

Hey! Flim-flam! Bim-bam! We count, by damn!


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Header image: Image by Ingi Finnsson from Pixabay

I Am Not My Brain

When I speak or write, my brain generates neural signals that activate my lungs, vocal cords, mouth, or alternatively my fingers on a keyboard to form words and sentences. This sort of activity applies to anything “I” do. It seems natural then to propose “I am my brain.”

Citing difficulty with the notion of “I”, some neuropsychologists would prefer to say, “The mind is the brain.” The naturalist philosopher Daniel Dennett, who agrees with this position, took it further and once predicted that personal pronouns such as “I” and “you” would likely disappear from human speech in the not-too-distant future.[1] In that happy time neuropsychologists and psychiatrists may understand much better than today how to treat brains and their disorders. Or maybe not.

We don’t have to wait a hundred years to find a group of people whose concept of “I” or self has been shattered. They already exist. They are people with severe mental illness, especially schizophrenia. Continue reading “I Am Not My Brain”

The Middle Domes

The middle domes of life absorb most of our daily attention. By the middle domes I mean those that lie between the smallest – my individual skull – and largest – a horizon of universal reality approachable by faith or by science, depending on one’s disposition.

The middle domes therefore comprise groups as small as a pair of individuals or as large as a culture, but less than all, that form the subject in we-sentences. Examples include friendships, marriages, families, churches, schools, bowling and other sports leagues, clubs, local and state politics, nations, business groups, hobby groups, news and entertainment media, professional societies, military and public safety forces, and charitable organizations.[1]

About 150 years ago an ill-named tide of modernity began to overrun the place of the middle domes. Modernity began to insist that truth governs every event in life, and modernity recognized only universal truth. Continue reading “The Middle Domes”

Should We Make Every Choice Scientifically?

Psychology, the science of mental events, has grappled from the start with a critical question of moral neutrality. The science of psychology with its ideal of the impassive observer began as a branch of philosophy in the latter decades of the 19th century. In the United States William James, philosopher and close friend of Charles Peirce, was recognized as an originator of psychology. But philosophy including that of James and Peirce raises questions of value-choices.

Are human thought and behavior best defined from a position of scientific neutrality? It should come as no surprise that psychology took just such a value-neutral turn in 20th century modernity. Continue reading “Should We Make Every Choice Scientifically?”

Gilbert Ryle, Reconnecting Mind and Body

Just after World War II and near the halfway mark of the 20th century, philosopher Gilbert Ryle published The Concept of Mind, a book widely credited with ending the philosophical division between physical and mental realms of reality. Continue reading “Gilbert Ryle, Reconnecting Mind and Body”

Reflections on Race

In this continuing search for GSOT, the last 2 blogs gave a personal history of race relations from the viewpoint of a white boy growing up in Mississippi. Does the developing theory of GSOT (the grand scheme of things) give any insight for issues of race and ethnicity?

Let me recap here the barest essentials of GSOT as they appear so far:

Two facts that completely lack explanation confront me: 1. The world exists. 2. I move in it. Continue reading “Reflections on Race”

Medical Education for the World and Home

When Arthur Guyton assumed the chair of physiology at the 2-year University of Mississippi Medical School in Oxford in 1948, he recognized a personal inadequacy because he actually never had taken a full graduate physiology curriculum. His knowledge derived only from medical school courses at Harvard, as well as what he had picked up in surgical internship and brief surgical residency and his term with the Navy in the war. Continue reading “Medical Education for the World and Home”

Power and Systems

Witnesses from Schopenhauer to Frances Perkins agree that a sense of responsibility accompanies choices made by force of will, whether in the life of an individual or a nation. If I or we choose, then I am or we are accountable.

Yet on occasion something happens that looks very much like choosing, and it seems impossible to assign accountability. Nobody takes responsibility. Continue reading “Power and Systems”

Owning in Common

Can will be plural? Does it make any sense to speak of our will?

When ornate letters on aged yellow paper state “We the people…do ordain and establish this constitution,” shall the heirs of that document consider it to be (1) an expression of common will or (2) an astute contract among individuals? And is there any difference between the two? Continue reading “Owning in Common”

Treasure of the Heart

What do you own? And what sort of stuff do you possess?

Ordinarily we think that people own material things like land, houses, automobiles, and jewelry. People also own pledges or contracts – in the form of money, bank accounts, stock funds, insurance etc. – that support basic needs and interests beyond basic needs.

However, a few voices at either end of a spectrum, the most radical on one side and the most religious on the other, have asserted that we do not own those things and those pledges. Continue reading “Treasure of the Heart”