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Archive for June, 2014

What Is An Idea?

ideas

“Where do correct ideas come from? Do they drop from the skies? No. Are they innate in the mind? No. They come from social practice and from it alone . . .”
–Mao Zedong

 

Ideas pop up in the mind as they are triggered by experience which in its most basic form is via sense perception. We call this “sense experience” from which certain description of properties and qualities of perceived objects/entities are formed in the mind. Nevertheless, ideas are likewise formed through the mental process of abstraction wherein perceptual description of properties and qualities we call sense data are combined and/or woven together. In the latter take, an idea doesn’t have to be strictly a mental representation of something that is concretely located in the external physico-material world.

When articulated, an idea is supposed to have a meaning. We can have an idea of a unicorn and articulate our understanding of what it means even if we know that in the physico-material world, no animal called unicorn may be found. An idea like this which could have represented an animal in the physico-material world is said to be fantastic or fictional, if you will. A fictional idea in simple terms is nothing but one’s figment of imagination. However, in a lot of instances, many fictional ideas have been made to “exist” and in fact “have actually seen the light of day” by way of human creativity as in movie productions.

This whole “magical process” has fed children’s imagination with a modicum of realization (as in fiction made tangible) when they don’t just see Superman, Batman and Spiderman, among others on the movie or the television screen but right before their eyes in flesh and blood shaking hands with them and signing their shirts, toys, comic books and what not at the moviehouse lobby. Ideas are therefore generally descriptive of properties and qualities of (1) those that have already been pre-existing as tangible entities in the physico-material world and (2) those that are now made to exist by actualizing the description of properties and qualities of certain fictional conceptions.

We live in a world of facts that make up states of affairs which are not only identified, described, signified and hence understood by means of ideas but they likewise spontaneously spawn new ideas that enrich human experience. In grasping and interpreting a shared or intersubjective state of affairs, an idea may either be right or wrong. Right ideas correctly and accurately identify, describe, signify and understand a state of affairs empirically and/or logically.

There are however instances when ideas are not necessarily reckoned as right or wrong. These are ideas of personal opinions which generally depend on the personal perspectives of individuals from whom such opinions issue out. Yet, we should also be critically on guard that the basis of an opinion doesn’t run contrary to facts and logical thinking. Opinions may be personal and thus perspectival but if they are grounded on false and inaccurate assumptions, they are ab initio faulty at least and impertinent at most.

In pragmatic terms, ideas may either be destructive or constructive and this consideration belongs to the philosophical province of Ethics. In other words, ideas aimed to violate human rights and dignity by way of abusive, oppressive and exploitative acts that assail the very essence of justice is morally destructive. Whereas, ideas that promote the inalienable significance of human life, human rights, justice and freedom, among others form the most valued foundation of constructive principles that uphold and sustain the supreme virtue of human flourishing to: (1) ameliorate the human condition from suffering; (2) resolve conflicts and misunderstandings; and (3) promote the well-being of humanity and the ecological condition that sustains such well-being on planet Earth.

However, “destruction” is not always immoral if seen in a context where human creativity can’t operate well because of certain systemic obstacles in the way of fully achieving higher degrees of human flourishing. In this sense, we need to open ourselves to ideas intended to destroy factors that hinder progress. With due respect to the Austrian-American economist, Joseph Schumpeter, I’d like to appropriate the term he used–“creative destruction”–to describe in a concise way the point I have raised here (though of course the original notion came from Hegel which was later likewise appropriated by Karl Marx in his political economic theorizing).

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 24 June 2014

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demo

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in government to the utmost.

Aristotle

Democracy is the road to socialism.

Karl Marx

“Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man.”
― Bertrand Russell

Freedom and democracy are dreams you never give up.

Aung San Suu Kyi

 

 

Democracy—or literally, “rule of the people”—is the ever ideal political state of affairs in an organization from the simplest to the most complex, like in the context of a nation. As an ideal, there even seems to be magical in the concept as it appeals to people who value equality rights, majority consensus, consultation among members of a group or citizens of a country, openness in the public discussion of important social issues and transparency in the decisions and actions of leaders put into office by the people.

Theoretically, there is always something magnanimous in a society that is ruled democratically. The people’s interests and welfare are of utmost significance in such society and their most able protectors and sustainers are the people themselves. Social benefits, rights and privileges are not supposed to be enjoyed by a few but by all. If such is basically democracy, an instance wherein some people or some sectors of society are deprived of the benefits, rights and privileges enjoyed by others is a clear insult to the essence of democracy.

In the present discussion, I don’t intend to get to a detailed exposition on the varieties of democracy actually operationalized in different so-called democratic societies. Of course, generally in these societies, representative democracy is most common and the instrumentality of election is the most practised to put into office leaders who are not only supposed to represent the electorates but are also tasked to be delegates of the people who bring the latter’s agenda to government. In a democracy, these elected officials are technically known as public servants. They are not masters as in a slave society or lords as in a feudal estate. They are in office to serve the interests and welfare of the people. As public servants, their real power resides on the people who voted them in office and the role of leadership bestowed on them is a public trust which is supposed to be an inalienable, a non-negotiable, conditionality. By and large, these are the exalted ideals of democracy.

But moving on from the ideals to what is actually obtaining in reality, the more concrete question at this point is: Is there really an existing society where the system of governance is truly democratic? Could it be more reasonable and realistic to think on the basis of what is actually happening and hence observed, that there is always a cabal of elite leaders who take up in theirs hands the role of governing people in their respective social locations? Aren’t democratic ideals just as they are, i.e., ideals? In this sense, could we reasonably say that most probably, democracy is just a figment of our imaginations?

If these are all we could get to, then the problematization of whether democracy is obsolete or not is a non-issue. How can a notion which hasn’t actually seen the light as yet in the real world be called obsolete? An ideal that has never yet been given birth but always gets aborted every time it is conceived can never be obsolete. The desire and yearning for it have always been there since time immemorial.

Democracy will always remain to be an ideal until the point of its realization at the highest level of a society’s evolution. All the signs of social evolution moving toward the direction of its achievement are not only apparent but obvious in the history of humankind on planet Earth. Humanity has witnessed the development of societies on the basis of the economic substructure from primitive communalism to slavery to feudalism to capitalism to socialism and the evolution continues under the guidance of the most refined ideals of democracy at this point of human history.

© Ruel F. Pepa, 16 June 2014

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dreams

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
―Sigmund Freud

The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.”

―Sigmund Freud

The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.

Carl Gustav Jung, The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man

The general function of dreams is to try to restore our psychological balance by producing dream material that re-establishes, in a subtle way, the total psychic equilibrium.

Carl Gustav Jung, Man and His Symbols

There were Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung among others who extensively explored and wrote about dreams—literal dreams to be exact. These are dreams that occur in sleep. In the psychoanalytic parlance, they are called subconscious train of thoughts with no supernatural meanings at all. They are rather persisting expressions of unfulfilled desires, spurned wishes and repressed passions that have found their place in the dark abyss of the Unconscious. While the person is awake and conscious, they fail to register in the memory slate but they come bursting out unexpectedly while one is asleep and the so-called subconscious mind is at its most active state.

Freud and his colleagues in the psychoanalytic movement towards the end of the 19th century and onwards to the 20th strongly believed with a triumphant air of excitement that they had scientifically unlocked the hidden mysteries of dreams sans supernatural trappings reminiscent of the “Joseph phenomenon” in the Hebrew scriptures of the Jewish religion. There’s nothing mystical or ineffable about dreams. They are natural mental occurrences which prove to us once and for all that memory is not exclusive to the conscious mind but is likewise a built-in mechanism of the Subconscious.

From the point of view of psychoanalysis, dreams are very important to trace back in the past certain sources of an individual’s present emotional, mental, even intellectual conditions, problems and anomalies. Dreams are then subjected to a thorough analysis and evaluated in relation to past experiences that have led to an individual’s present fears and anxieties, unsettled thoughts and troubling anticipations of varying degrees from the mildest to the strongest. With all the processes involved in the psychoanalytic method, courses of action are formulated and established to finally liberate an individual from her/his past inner self-imprisonment to a new holistic state of mental, emotional and even physical health and well-being.

Dreams in the context of the present discussion do not foretell the future. They are basically connected to the past and their connection to the future, if ever there is, is so indirect and hence not necessary but mediated by what their effects are in one’s present conscious experiences. In simple terms we say that the troubles of the present are a carry-over of the troubles of the past and the troublesome future ahead is their natural result. This is the very course of the human condition which is characterized by the interconnectedness of events in real time.

This is the basic assumption of psychoanalysis. However, as a therapeutic method, it offers a way of healing—an intervention that breaks the curses of past misadventures and “demonizations”. It is supposed to lead an individual to a better and much clearer understanding of her/his being through an “excavation” of what has long been hidden in the depth of the Unconscious. In dreaming, the subconscious surfacing of things “dumped” in the Unconscious comes naturally while in the psychoanalytic process, the Unconscious is intentionally primed and systematically explored.

Whether psychoanalysis has successfully achieved its goal or not to liberate human persons in their present conditions from the woes and troubles of the past is a different issue subject to varied opinions both positive and negative.

© Ruel F. Pepa, 10 June 2014

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justice

These are among the most nagging questions we Filipinos are faced with at this juncture of our socio-political evolution as a people: What and where is justice if the ones who are supposed to uphold,administer and render justice where justice is due have miserably bungled and made a mockery of justice itself? Who are now the credible and respectable dispensers of justice when the government´s stronghold of justice itself has collapsed and disintegrated into smithereens? What if the ¨authorized¨lawmakers and definers of justice have made the very concept—and hence the spirit—of justice equivocal? What if the best and most genuine definition of justice is better understood in rational terms and held morally sacred by the people themselves? Are we not confident that the critical mass of a nation´s populace is more intelligent, rational, creative, moral and decisive than the mesmerizing bunch of so-called ¨legal luminaries¨ who have made the trek towards justice a Herculean struggle? Do we underestimate the organic intellectuals (cf. Antonio Gramsci) among the people? Do Filipinos lack the sense of discipline to adhere to strong principles and the sense of justice to make these principles pragmatic in daily life?

Dealing with matters as complicated as these requires a more sober-minded focus on the hard issue that does not only centre on the Filipino per se. There are certain socio-political forces that operate along the way in the whole gamut of the Philippine condition and these forces have been internalized in the Filipino cultural apparatus through time. Basic to all these is the long-running economic disempowerment that the common Filipino has been subjected to for generations. In this consideration, we should also look at how systemic violence has plagued the Filipino. And without getting to the nitty-gritty of this matter, there is a very real possibility that any superficial look into the Philippine situation would lead us to inaccurate conclusions.

In this connection, it is more balanced if attention is not only focused on the Filipino as such. It would be more accurate at this point to analyze and evaluate the Filipino attitude towards discipline and justice in the light of a more general consideration of her/his personhood and her/his concrete socio-cultural location as well. This is a fair evaluation of the Filipino´s human dignity. In simple terms, we say that we cannot reasonably deal with the matter by abstracting the person from the location. As a case in point, the Filipino who operates in a more highly evolved socio-cultural milieu is responsible, disciplined and has a more defined sense of justice. This reality has been proven time and again when s/he finds employment and/or a place of residence in another society that is culturally far more advanced in its social evolution.

Getting back at this point to the Philippine situation with the challenge posed by the hard issue at hand and examining closely the ¨evil¨ forces that have pulled the Filipino to such a life where discipline and justice are wanting and non-operational, we find along the way the real significance of accepting the fact that liberation is not only personal but systemic. But who will take the frontline and lead the way to systemic liberation? This directs us to a further discussion of the issue of leadership triggered by the question: Can leadership come from the masses?

Leadership can emanate from the masses and history proves that even without going far from the Philippine situation. The inaugurator of the Philippine Revolution of 1896, the great Andres Bonifacio, was a leader who came from the masses. Going a little farther, Mao Zedong of China and Ho Chi-Minh of Vietnam both came from the masses. These are paragons of responsible, disciplined and just leadership devoid of manipulative and exploitative streaks commonly found in dominating taskmasters who cannot identify themselves with the masses. These are shining examples of authentic pro-people leaders who are fellow bearers of the people´s interests and aspirations.

With this glimmer of hope rising on the horizon, a new revolutionary spirit could sooner or later be given birth at the most suitable moment in the life of a nation that has long been exploited, impoverished and disempowered by the powers that be both within and outside of its geographical premises.

© Ruel F. Pepa, 04 November 2013

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intent

“A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.”
― Daniel Wallace, The Kings and Queens of Roam

                “Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.”
― Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason

“Magical intent is the principle by which someone who has said or done something offensive, hurtful, rage-making, marginalizing, and/or otherwise contemptible argues that the person to whom they’ve said or done it has no right to be offended, hurt, enraged, alienated, and/or otherwise disdainful because their intent was not to generate that reaction. In other words: ‘I didn’t intend for you to feel that way, so if you do feel that way, don’t blame me! My intent magically inoculates me from responsibility for what I actually said and how it was received!’”

—Melissa McEwan

 

In one’s commission of an act or in one’s utterance of a statement towards another, the true intent of the former may not actually be known by the latter. The person to whom an act or an utterance is intended is hence viewed as someone who doesn’t have the full knowledge of the real intent why the other person does or says it to her/him. The most s/he can do is to approximate its meaning no matter how offended or hurt s/he is. The only one who is supposed to exactly know the real intent of an act or an utterance is the very person her/himself who does the act or makes the utterance. Within the silent confines of her/his mind, the true intent is never magic.

This fact—that the true intent of an act or an utterance is not magic from the point of view of the source—is likewise not magic as far as we are consciously concerned in the present discussion. What we know to have “magical power” is the spontaneously expressed false intent and/or the alleged offender’s open denial of the felt intent the other person has been offended of. The source of the offence, and no one else, holds the real intent why s/he does the act or makes the utterance. The magic is therefore seen in the offender’s attempt to effect a deceptive ploy by openly expressing a false intent, hence absolutely distinct from the real one, and in the process concealing the latter.

The “magical game” operates in the way an offensive act or utterance is neutralized by the so-called “perpetrator” by denying the malevolent intent and circumventing the event by basically telling the offended that what the latter feels at the moment is just her/his own interpretation. With the “magic spell” of such a denial spontaneously comes the expression of a false intent aimed to pacify the offended. In certain instances, not even an invented false intent is expressed but a direct-to-the-point dismissive line, “That’s all your interpretation!” In such an event, no apology is expected for such would weaken the original true intent of the alleged offender which is really to hurt or to enrage the other person.

In a different circumstance, a favourable act or utterance made by someone towards another may be taken by the latter at face-value as something coming with a positive intent from the former as in “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” without being definitely certain about the real intent of the source. In cases like this, what is magical in the intent is that the recipient doesn’t care any longer to initially find out the real intent of the source since the act or the utterance is a favourable one. However, in another way of looking at it, it could also be construed as a very superficial or nearsighted take as a deeper and detailed analysis could in a lot of ways reveal a different intent leading to a not-so-favourable result in the long run.

An expressed intent in many instances is not the real one. A false intent is carefully woven in a palatable way to pursue a desired objective which is a basic step in a plan to easily convince the person to whom such is addressed. The original intent is therefore well concealed so that it won’t be easily discovered within a projected time limit until the objective has been achieved. Commonly, the real intent is only known by the “victim” after the latter has finally realized that s/he has been conned. We can clearly see here how one’s expressed false intent could really get magical. Viewed as a total operational scheme, it is reasonably assumed that the source knows perfectly well the “cultural apparatus” of the recipient especially the latter’s “Achilles’ heel”. Such is hence the focal point of how the source would effectively formulate in her/his mind the expressed false intent that would yield the exact result actually desired in the real but concealed/unexpressed intent.

© Ruel F. Pepa, 4 June 2014

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