This is part one of an essay advocating something that is considered to be a negative trait of humanity, a trait we can nonetheless never remove. Those who are against Othering engage in Othering. We cannot escape our own nature, people have become so anthropocentric that they believe we can merely just change who we are, they believe that every aspect of what it is to be human has been conditioned into us. They call us a ‘tabula rasa’ while at the same time advocating for contradictory causes. If humans are a blank slate we have no need for policies that advance minorities, theoretically – following this train of thought – they are inherently equal by default and should require no legislated equality. Those who are born today should be at the same level of opportunity as others as they are all born as a blank slate with no inherent differentiating abilities. So, why promote extra privileges for other groups? Could we not just remove all legislation directed at specific groups and have across the board education similar (not exactly the same!) to Plato’s proposal in The Republic? Would this not be the best judgement of each individuals character if nobody was given any extra advantages? We should be directing our focus on improving education instead of generalized blaming towards one large group when in reality there is only a tiny group of people who are doing better than all of us, right? People across the political spectrum are directing all their attention at symptoms of a much larger problem, which is why I am starting off with ‘Friend-Enemy and Other’. It seems appropriate to knock down some of the rubble that is interfering with our ability to determine where (who) we should be directing our hammers at.
The above will be off putting to many people, they may take it in the wrong way. But what have I said that is actually bad? I have followed the logic of those that claim to hold the “correct” moral view of the world, those that have a hegemony on values and believe to be directing us in the direction of positive progress. I followed their logic and found an error, nothing more and nothing less. What I have said will be accused of racism, transphobia, homophobia, fascism, and all the other labels used to silence anyone who highlights a flaw in the argument of moral crusaders.
In fact, I have said nothing that justifies the fallacious claims directed at people who question the unquestionable doctrine. All I have said is that there are contradictions – that there is a flaw in this logic. Slavoj Zizek (the only modern Marxist philosopher who is worth paying attention to and learning from) has been crucified for making similar points. Have I said above that we should do anything? No. I have asked why we are doing something if the logic behind it is flawed.
I have now defended my argument, and so, they will now move to attack me as a person and discredit my claim by looking beyond what I have said above instead of the argument I have made. Yes, I have published essays criticising things like egalitarianism, so they will then present that to people as a reason to reject my argument instead of actually challenging my argument. They will pick small quotes from essays out of context, they will not present to anyone the fact that I have argued about flaws in a concept, legitimate flaws. They will then direct attention at people I have referenced, and ignore all the Left-wing people I have referenced…
In short, for me to criticise or defend certain ideas, I am playing with fire. For me to highlight useful aspects of controversial ideas, I am playing with fire.
But I must ask, why must we ultimately reject something outright due to the individual that proposed it? Due to the ideology of which it came? Why should we reject something due to the fact that it upsets a handful of people? We are in an age where we lock things away without understanding them because of guilt by association, we do not question them, objectively inquire or anything of the sort. I find this absurd unbearable.
That is why I am going against the grain, I do not care if the creator of the notion was Left or Right, I am curious, and you should be to!
Moral auditors have had posts of mine removed despite the fact I am do not even receive that much traffic, it is a truly laughable time we live in… We live in an era where philosophical inquiry, or academic inquiry in general, is subject to a filter very similar to what George Orwell wrote about in 1984. There have been a handful of leaks, but those with cultural hegemony are close to sealing them off. In academia divergent thought is stifled and the academics are placed in a gulag, in classrooms it is deluded professional students that harass and drive other students out, they make the campus environment so distasteful that many just leave instead of completing their degrees or avoid going to classes as much as possible.
And so, with this essay I intend to begin laying the foundation for a philosophical system that rules out no ideas. I will draw from anyone and everyone regardless of the individual themselves. My goal is to understand the modern condition, its causes and what we can do to solve them.
Ideas should not be discriminated against, they should be credited and discredited based on the idea alone. Whoever they came from is irrelevant. Some ideas that may be distasteful can still be holding kernels of positivity within them, a proposed idea is not a completed thought, it is a proposition than can be used for the development of a new notion, a step in the right direction on which we place our feet.
I have been stopping and starting my project for a while now. I am certain of what the problems are in modern, Western society. I spend most of every day thinking, pondering, beating my head against the desk in an attempt to start writing the absurdly large text that I need to eventually write.
I have arrived at the conclusion that I must tackle the fundamentals.
I am not saying that I will start compiling a dictionary of dry, boring explanations of philosophical terms. Not in a million years. I want to be as original as I can. I do not want to fill a book with explanations of other people’s ideas, though I will sometimes have use other people’s concepts for explanation, call this a minimalization tactic.
Instead, here, I will explain concepts in the sense that I will be using them. Some concepts may only change minimally, some will be a critique, some will be a carjacking at gunpoint followed by a complete rebuild. And some may even be a defence or attack of a notion that could antagonise those who believe to have a hegemony on what is Good and what is Evil.
What is the Other?
The Other is a very broad term. Subjectively the Other can be any other human Being no matter their relation to you as an individual. As we move outwards from the individual-level we begin to create various bubbles of which we are a part of and which others who are not part of that group are Othered. Your immediate family is your group, all those who are not of your family are Othered due to your unbreakable bond with your family. You are connected to them on the closest possible level. Even if you are to marry someone, that person can still be removed after a break-up, nobody can become a family member.
The first two examples of Othering are forms that cannot in anyway change. They are integral to existence. You cannot be not yourself, nor can you ever change who is and isn’t family. Now we step out further into the first level of Othering that involves groups with interchangeable members, Friendship and Associations. Why am I introducing these two distinctions at the same time? Simply put, we all have people who are actual friends and those that are more of an association, those that come and go and neither of you are overly concerned with the creation of a close bond. We have friends, we have people we associate with, and we have people who are separated entirely. The first level, Friendship, is the authentic connection. True friends are those who are closest to being actual family, they are, nevertheless, people who can still come and go. We have all had friends who were as close as you can possibly be, but they still faded away. This is just part of life.
Those who are not friends are still Others. They may become close friends at some point, but they are regardless Others because they are not; they may become, they may even be in the process of becoming, but they are still not.
Associations are within the realm of conversing. There may be times where you are close for a week, a month, a couple months. Then they fade away and neither of you really actively seek the Other out. There is no animosity in this relationship, they may indeed seem to be a friend, but they are not within the circle of friendship. For me to be saying this may seem to be harsh, some may push back on these statements, some may argue this is still a friendship. I believe people may react in this way to my statements for a few different reasons.
Firstly, people may view these arguments in the wrong manner. My intention is not to be hurtful, rude, etc. I am being objective, this requires a bluntness and honesty. Trying to understand the world and create a philosophical system for analysing what is wrong with society as it stands and the negative aspects of our relations with other people and objects, and most importantly, finding a way to correct these problems, requires statements that some may react against emotionally. For this I shall never apologise. I want to help and helping sometimes requires (in this day and age maybe ‘regularly requires) saying and writing things that may antagonise sensitive sorts.
Secondly, people may feel guilty over not maintaining close friendships with certain people in their lives. They may feel agitated at someone raising questions over the authenticity and intensity of their relationships with other people. To this I will reply, if you feel guilty then make changes, if you aren’t willing to make the change then maybe ask yourself if what I have said is right. Do not take your anger out on someone for making you question your own Being. The point of philosophy is to ask questions and propose answers. And maybe more importantly, to make other people who are not philosophers engage in philosophizing themselves. We should not just ask questions to other people, we must also ask ourselves questions, we must question everything. Sometimes this means asking ourselves uncomfortable questions.
Further out from the above distinction is impersonal grouping. We here have organisations or groups that you are either directly/indirectly involved in. The groups you are part of here are like-minded associations, people you agree with or who share common desires, goals, interests or hobbies. I am not using the word ‘ideology’ as in the sharing of an ideology because this grouping is not just political. It includes political orientation, but I am not referring to anything political here.
The reason for this brings me to why I am discussing both ‘Other’ and the ‘Friend-Enemy distinction’ together.
Once something enters the realm of unfriendly competition (as opposed to friendly competition, for example, sports) the group that is you are Othering is no longer just an Other, it is an enemy you intend to defeat. I will be discussing the Friend-Enemy distinction in Part 2, but for now I will briefly point out how these two notions, in my own philosophical system, overlap but are not quite the same.
Your designated Enemy is still an Other, but they are not solely your Other, they are an opponent in a war. In saying war I do not just mean in the sense of violent conflict. That said, violent conflict is sometimes involved, obviously. Economic competitors are your Other in the sense they are not you, but they are your rival and your desire is to dominate and defeat them, this is war-like. Political opponents, those of an Othered ideology (communism vs neoconservatism) are in a state of war, the opposing ideology is an Enemy and not a Friend.
§3 – Building Our Understanding
− In terms of immediate-subjective development of knowledge, we rely heavily on making judgements of what something is and isn’t. Does it not follow that Othering is making this same form of judgement except it is specifically in relation to Beings.
− What arguments are there against Othering?
There is a criticisms about visual Othering (making judgements based on appearance), cultural Othering (belief that their culture is below yours), and so forth. With relevance to my work we will only consider these moral-based judgements.
With appearance generally people will associate someone with a face tattoo as someone that is anti-social, potentially this Other may become a designated Enemy depending on the scenario as they could be a threat. This person did, however, get tattoos on their face with intention of presenting something about themselves. They could be a nice person, caring a kind, but there is nothing immoral about Othering an individual when they have engaged in an act with the intention of presenting themselves in an anti-social light. This world is not safe-space, there are bad people and dangerous ideas everywhere.
How someone looks is what gives an individual first judgements of character, how we see them as an Other is based of physical presentation. Before we hear them speak, thus gaining our first understanding of them as an individual, it is the Look which presents the framework in our mind on which we will build our understanding of them. If this individual presents themselves with the intention of conveying a negative impression it is going to create a negative perception that is likely to repel most individuals, they will become an Other to avoid.
This carries over into individuals that keep bad company. Personally, I do not like to make judgements that are akin to ‘guilt by association’, but this nevertheless has its limits. If someone enjoys spending their time in the company of people who engage in criminal/harmful activity (with the caveat: if they are actually aware of the actions these individuals are engaging in), I am not likely to perceive them as someone who I would like to have a beer with.
But what about ideas? I explicitly stated that the purpose of my project is not to make judgements on ideas based on the individuals that have created them.
Ideas are a realm of their own. We can judge bad ideas and render them an Other to be avoided. The idea of attacking or persecuting individuals based on nonsense grounds is repellent on its own. However, we should also argue why that is bad. How can I know as an individual that something is bad if I cannot justify why it is? This is how we understand morals and ethical principles. We must play devils advocate. If someone does something that makes us feel negative emotions, such as one of the shootings that have happened so far in 2019, we must understand why those individuals committed those actions. How can we fight against something if we cannot properly understand why it happened.
Take serial killers. So many people find them fascinating, so many people buy their biographies, the Ted Bundy series on Netflix has drawn in millions of viewers. Books on the Sandy Hook Massacre draw in interest as well. We all have an innate desire to understand things. Othering and the distinction between Friend-Enemy seem to me to be parts of the foundation for each individual gaining an understanding of Others, much the same as we obsess over the darker aspects of history.
§4 – Conclusion
To clarify all that has been said in simple terms I will conclude this essay with simple, brief explanations.
For you as an individual, an Other is someone who is not you. An Other is another human-being that you can never know completely. You know yourself (though we all sometimes question if we do) and no one else can be inside your mind, just as you cannot explore theirs. In philosophy there is, and forever will be, a debate on whether we can actually know anything with complete certainty. I believe that we can, with a caveat. A majority of what we know can only be obtained from our own questioning. We can be certain of what we know by trying to understand what exists around us from our own questioning and then proposing our conclusions to the Others in which we share our existence.
Some things are definitive such as mathematics, the existence of this laptop on which I write exists and I know this because Others around me can see it, they can see my screen and what I have wrote. This writing has been uploaded to an abstract and complex entity known as the internet and you are reading it now and either agreeing or disagreeing with my points. If someone disagrees with me, they can debate me. They can give me a counter argument from which I will counter their counter argument. Through this discourse we can obtain knowledge and conclusions. People may argue that we can only have knowledge of what is empirical. They believe that anything abstract is merely guessing. This is naïve. The belief that we can ever truly understand our reality in its entirety is childish. The belief that everything can be boiled down to material existence is gullible. This is to ignore how grand and remarkable existence is. We have only a short period on this planet, the planet is beginning to reset itself as we speak. To think that human beings are capable of explaining reality at all when we are currently at the end of the eyes blink is a leap of faith much greater than the faith of a Christians belief in God. Anthropocentrism is a religion on par with the idiocy of Scientology.
We differentiate between objects and people in the exact same way. Either these two objects are A and A, or they are A and B – A and B meaning B is not A, B is different from A.
At the immediate subjective level, I am A and everyone else is B, meaning they are not myself. I am I and no one else can be I. Othering is the acknowledgment of difference.
When we take this to the group level, we are acknowledging that we are part of an in-group and anyone not associated is part of an out-group, we are acknowledging that there is a difference. One group is made of people who enjoy a sport, the Other is people who do not enjoy that sport. One is a group of people with Left-wing views, the Other is people with centrist or Right-wing views. I repeat: Othering is the acknowledgment of difference.
There is nothing at all wrong with the acknowledgement of difference, or even a desire to maintain that difference. Let us take a controversial example.
I do not want an ‘ethnostate’, however, I think that the only way we can avoid the chances of an all-out violent conflict is by allowing people who do want an ethnostate, whether they are black, white or any other race/ethnicity, is by organising for them to have areas where they can exist in an ethnostate. This just seems like a common-sense resolution. We should be doing what we can to reduce this Friend-Enemy designation between people to merely an Othering. Separatists in America (whether they are white, black, Hispanic, so-on) are in a Friend-Enemy state. Allowing them to form there own areas where they can live in an ‘ethnostate’ seems like the only peaceful solution and the only way to avoid an actual armed conflict from occurring in the future. I will develop this further in Part 3 which will be a large essay discussing these two notions – Friend-Enemy and Other – and how they will operate in my own philosophical system.
A Last Note On Race:
We Other groups or individuals in relation to external and internal qualities. Othering someone based on appearance, Othering based on their associations with groups, Othering based on culture and so on. When it comes to Othering individuals on race there is an interesting thing to note in regards to Othering on racial grounds.
Racial supremacist Othering and apparent anti-racist Othering judgements overlap. Racial supremacists believe their race is superior to another, which is inaccurate for numerous reasons, while anti-racists believe that they must speak up for other races because they can’t speak up for themselves. This is tantamount to racial supremacy, they believe only their race can lift other races up. They believe their race holds all the power, it must be they that elevate the Other. Whereas normal people just simply do not care. It seems to follow that both those on the far-Right and far-Left hold supremacist views about race. They have both Othered different races and characterised their own as the higher race.
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