Determinism by fate: Freedom by will


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Determinism by fate: Freedom by will

We are meaning creating creatures. But DickandJane fear to assume the responsibility for his or her own meanings.

Instead of encouraging creativity of courageous proportions we are advised to “go shopping”. Our complete focus upon production and consumption, i.e. material prosperity has made us into cowards. Our commercial-industrial complex discourages autonomous meanings and “cultivates mass man and the mass mind, promoted sex fetishism along with consumer fetishism, tried with all the modern techniques at its disposal to indoctrinate the great commercial fiction like huge blanket over modern mind.” Fetish—an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion.

Our educational institutions teach conformity and an uncritical mind. Universities along with our K-12 schools have become tools of the commercial-industrial complex; neither seeks to create spoil-sports of cultural fiction.

Psychiatry has shown that “lack of self-reliant autonomy actually causes human breakdown.” Shopping is not the answer. The shiny new stuff does not always, in fact it seldom, satisfies the individual need for dignity and worth. Many very materially successful men and women have spent time in mental wards.

The truly self-reliant person must find a way to learn to be, not a critical shopper, but to be a person who is capable of moving away from the herd to which our formal educational system propels us. “Civilization can be debasing; weakness causes evil.” We now know what is debasing in our commercial industrial civilization; our nature is debased by narrowness and powerlessness. “Not powerlessness to tyrannize others, but powerlessness to assume responsibility for one’s own ethical choices.”

Our educational system prepares us for herd action and good shopping. After this education is complete we must then learn how to be independent and courageous critical thinking individuals unafraid to create our own meanings.

Do you think that humans have the capacity to become free from that which is “given” at birth and fortified constantly throughout life?

Quotes from “Beyond Alienation’ by Ernest Becker


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Ah the wonderful debate of Determinism vs Libertarianism. Interesting as it is utterly bewildering. I like how the mention of the consumerism present in the society oddly fits with my cynical view of our purpose of existence. That being a parasitic, superficial existence which only strives to create reasonable living conditions to allow the time alive to be bearable.

Functionalist Sociologists would say that the herd syndrome put in place by Education and parenting, isn't a bad thing and actually gives us the necessary tools to become a worthwhile member of society. However having attended a Catholic Primary School, I've become all too aware that religion can be a little forced upon us. But at the time, it just seems like an acceptable routine. Who is to say that other aspects of choice are taken away from us and we're being directed towards a path already laid out for us. Not by some greater force but by the authority figures we know no better but to follow idly and free of doubt.

I suppose I would have to say that in my opinion humans are capable of breaking the herd syndrome, but that it is by no means an easy task. Logically the first step must be to be aware of the problem, which many may go their whole lives without doing so. Questioning the Majority Influence is difficult and sometimes something as solid as logic or common sense can be bunked off for the sake of conformity.

I myself was part of such an example while in college. I was asked to take part in an Psychology A Level experiment. I was in a room in with a line of people sat down, myself being the penultimate person. We were asked questions and we all had to give an answer aloud. The final question everyone gave the wrong answer, and it was up to me whether to join them in being incorrect or stand out and give the right answer. Now being a show-off/being used to sticking out anyway I had no problem in not conforming but I was one in a handful that did so.

I think a greater question than "Can humans break conformity?" is whether they want to.