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One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Nietzsche

  June 25, 2011

Everyone Else Knows You're Crazy

In youthful idealism, we believe what people profess as their goals, purposes, reasons, and principles. Later we discover it's robots all the way down, all trained to hide behind politician masks and strategic phrases appealing to all constituencies.

Even academics, the most literal, rigid, insensitive, and maladroit machinery, have become aware of what Schopenhauer wrote over 150 years ago, long before narcissistic culture made it obvious.

When one sees the number and variety of institutions which exist for the purposes of education, and the vast throng of scholars and masters, one might fancy the human race to be very much concerned about truth and wisdom. But here, too, appearances are deceptive. The masters teach in order to gain money, and strive, not after wisdom, but the outward show and reputation of it; and the scholars learn, not for the sake of knowledge and insight, but to be able to chatter and give themselves airs.
[On Men of Learning]

Nietzsche sketched numerous attacks on the pretense and arbitrary nature of what men call truth.

I. Truth as a cloak for quite different impulses and drives.
II. The paths of truth is based upon belief.
III. The drive to lie is fundamental.
IV. Truth cannot be recognized. Everything which is knowable is illusion. The significance of art as truthful illusion.
[Nietzsche's Notebooks of the Early 1870's]

Uneducated academics unfamiliar with the thoughts of better minds end up clumsily rediscovering partial truths that previous generations wrote about at length, still in print, but no longer fashionable.

Now some researchers are suggesting that reason evolved for a completely different purpose: to win arguments.
"Reasoning doesn't have this function of helping us to get better beliefs and make better decisions."
[Reason Seen More as Weapon Than Path to Truth]

Linear mathematical relations are useful in describing fictional universes, but rarely match real world details. Nature delivers quality by taking pains for long routes of extended testing, skipping none of the steps that oversimplified scientific models bypass for efficiency. Just as nearly all mutations result in death, thus ceasing their propagation, perhaps beliefs and ideologies utilize a similar mechanism.

The essential glue is that everyone quickly detects a crazy and irrational person, and they kindly announce themselves just as nature does with Down's syndrome and many other traits. Often the crazy person is unaware of how they are perceived, just as people will confess undeniably indicting statements without cognizance of what they imply.

Imagine political and ideological discourse as a giant dartboard with every possible belief. Actors throw darts and become advocates of whatever they hit. Listen to their clever justifications, how this idea is separate from all others, how it alone is correct, how all alternatives are deficient. Smile and encourage them to keep talking -- they spill unaware of their madness in bloom.

Nature's system works expensively by showing us many examples, often tragic and beset by failure and utter ruin, brutal outcomes sometimes seemingly unnecessary. From the general human inability to make abstract assessments, these blatantly horrible, unforgettable examples of destruction serve the purpose of a vast warning system by demonstrating fatal consequences and what are connected to them.

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