Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Brave New Philosophy

Sorry, it's not really about Aldous Huxley or his works.

One thing I've been noticing more and more lately about modern language is that there is often a disconnect between what people say and what they actually mean. I think that peoples' grasp of the English language is degrading. Not to say that its devolving, there's no such thing. The English language is evolving, but not in what I would consider a progressive way. You need only watch Fox News for a short period of time before a pundit uses 'liberal' in a context that is far more suited to perhaps 'socialist' or 'communist.' This is at best the result of ignorance. At worst, it is willful misrepresentation. People are letting connotations carry more weight than actual denotation.

I've also noticed another trend. To put it in a phrase: "You cannot be X because you are Y." People are defining other people not just by who or what they are, but who or what they aren't. More and more an 'Us' and 'Them' mentality is developing. This is frightening. This type of mentality often, and perhaps inevitably, results in conflict. A divided population less attuned to the subtleties of the English language, combined with powerful rhetoric can be dangerous. We have see the results of this combination before. Revolutionary Russia. Israel and Palestine. South Africa during Apartheid. The United States during the civil rights movement. Quebec during the FLQ crisis. There are many other factors involved in each of these scenarios of course, but I believe that these two are common to all of them.

This lack of education and social division are issues that must be addressed by our societies if we wish to progress in a manner that is beneficial to all. (Here come the pundits, calling me a communist.)

I want to make a point. I want to prove that I am not merely 'X.' I can also be 'Y.' Schools of thought are not mutually exclusive. There are merits and drawbacks to every system of thought, and to limit oneself to a single philosophy is foolhardy.

I am a liberal. (But I could also be called a conservative or socialist as far as economic matters are concerned.)

I am an agnostic, and an atheist.

I am a feminist, and an environmentalist.

I am a metaphysical naturalist, an existentialist, a nihilist, a humanist, a rationalist, a neo-objectivist, a materialist and physicalist, a stoic and a skeptic, a hedonist and an epicurean.

P.S. Storyteller, I'm happy that that conversation went as well as it did and I'm glad my honesty is appreciated.

1 comment:

Bryi said...

I can't believe I missed this post! I was so glad to read it, not only because we were just talking about this subject yesterday, but also because it perfectly described my thoughts on the subject. Thank you for writing about it. =)

PS - I'm glad that conversation went well too. I must be tired; I actually had to stop and think for a moment to remember what we would have been talking about on that date.