Truth Hear

In customary social interaction, I tell people what they want to hear: the truth. And for that reason truth is the most insidious instrument ever to have been invented.

When I want to move people into feeling, I talk in terms of their truth, what they perceive to be real, however far from reality and actuality that may be. Does this cause injury or harm? Do we like being shaken from our dreams?

That is why I let people sleep. Very few people want to be woken from their slumber.

Truth anesthetizes the senses the same way repetitive knocking becomes silent background noise: first it is salient, then it is comforting, finally it disappears.

Repetition lulls man to sleep. It dulls his senses by incessantly chipping away at his resistance until he is made more facile and docile, more tolerant to the beating drum, the inculcation.

Very rarely do I talk in terms of actuality. Far too many people shiver at the prospect of losing ground in their truth. Very rarely do I have the courage to disrupt their cool delusions. Am I wrong? Does this antagonize their delusional trance?

Though exceedingly rare, it is only when someone opens a conversation with hope and self-criticism simultaneously do I test the waters of actuality with my toe, making sure to create the most gentle ripple across their placid consciousness so that I may observe how they react to these waves. If there is no hope, such a ripple will likely cause them to thrash and drown. Where there is hope they will tread water, perhaps reluctantly; and where criticism can churn waters and whip waves high above their head, they will rise with the wake and achieve greater perspective.

What is unfortunate, however, is that most have no hope. No hope in their ability to think critically, to tread in tumultuous waters, and gain perspective. As a result they shirk from novelty, they preserve misaligned bias, and they maintain a certain xenophobia to all things foreign.

While I strongly resist any notion that man is inherently limited by nature, rather than strictly limited  by self, I can only conclude that most prefer the tranquility of sleep, the plush luxury of feeling comfortable in their current state, and that the herd, though bewildered and duplicitous, offers the only mentality capable of capturing this feeling of familiar.


Liberalism: Making Mankind into Cattle

Liberalism is the transformation of mankind into cattle.
-Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (1878). I.67

What does this mean? Liberalism, in the philosophical sense that Nietzsche is using it, is an ethical framework in which man is free, equal, and autonomous. While this conception of man resonates with most as evidently true, I maintain that this is an illusory conception of man. Do we really believe that we are free? Equal? Autonomous? As with most comforting notions, we avow these ideals simply as a means of preserving the familiar, a mechanism of evasion that allows us to avoid the biting reality of our situation; namely, that we are not free, nor are we equal and autonomous.

What does Nietzsche mean when he says that liberalism is the transformation of mankind into cattle? It is the process in which individuality is smoothed over en masse, in which minds are watered down into a cloudy collective consciousness, where man is no longer a thinking spirit that possesses a unique soul but a mere facsimile. Being lead to believe that our thoughts are freely chosen, that we are as valuable as any man, that we can choose according to a unique volition, we cease to employ our internal reason, fail to reflect on our position, and assume that the ideals in which we derive our greatness are a right rather than a product.

I insist that freedom is a state of being that follows from mind, but my fellow man would hold that freedom is a state of existence that follows from body. Where these most evidently diverge, in my opinion, is when man finds himself in a state of perfect equilibrium.

When man has all his bodily needs satisfied, with every desire or whim or passion cared and provided for so that nothing is wanting, do we have a free man? Such a man would be no more free than a domesticated animal whose instincts have been muted and dulled, like an animal coddled and conditioned with pleasures generated by no necessity of its own. My fellow man, swept up in his allegiance toward the sensational, would insist that a man with all his desires satisfied is free, for what more could he want? But I would ask whether this standard– of having pleasure metted out in proportion to wants– is a good mark of freedom. Where does this standard leave man? In a perfect state of equilibrium. But is equilibrium man’s greatest achievement, his highest aim, the natural denouement of successful living?

I must ask myself more about equilibrium to discover whether this is a good measure for judging man. What is equilibrium? A state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces, an equality of balance, a calmness. From this definition I would ask whether we could equate equilibrium with man’s desire for self-preservation; is their aim one in the same?  Self-preservation is a process of maintenance of body and mind, so as to keep alive or conserve existence, or make lasting. In this light, equilibrium and self-preservation seem to be compatible states, achieving one in the same end, namely balance or preservation.

I must implore, however, as to whether this situation is reflective of nature, or a product of man’s mind? Is nature constantly seeking to retain equilibrium? Is life characterized by preservation?

Let’s observe the most obvious characteristics, in my mind, of natural experience: when my mind meets with the impressions afforded to me by my senses, there are two reigning features which traverse through all collective experience past and present. These being the continuity of consciousness and the constancy of change. The continuity of consciousness, I can conclude, is not a feature of experience, for even when I sleep I possess a consciousness, but a feature of mind alone. The constancy of change, however, is a guarantee endemic to nature, indelibly present throughout the physical world, that renders every moment of experience wholly unique and never the same.

Can we say that equilibrium and change are synonymous features? Certainly not. Does life stay the same, or is it in perpetual change? I would reply that life is in perpetual change, for I am not the boy of  my youth, neither is a frog still a tadpole or butterfly a caterpillar.

To exist occurs in the moment, to live occurs over moments. I hold then, that equilibrium is death, whereas disequilibrium is life. In this way existing is a mode of self-preservation, whereas living is a mode of thriving.

In summation, the satisfaction of desires, the end of want, places man in a state of equilibrium that is typified by the complacent tranquility which is characteristic of death. For man to be truly alive he must evolve, he must seek out disequilibrium, living in a state of anxiety and incertitude. To do this, man must not feign satisfaction, nor be satisfied with equilibrium.

Freedom, then, is disequilibrium, a form of living that transcends and expands consciousness. When change occurs, the man living in disequilibrium, having no complacent expectations, and always ready for change, does not flinch nor does he hesitate to move or act or think. His life is a fluid change.

This is freedom. Not all men possess it. Those who do act alone.

“Companions the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow creators the creator seeks—those who write new values on new tablets. Companions the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the harvest.”
—Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Existential Freedom: Simon de Beauvoir

Beauvoir presents an existential account of freedom by continuing with Sartre’s thinking of man as free, but emphasizing the ambiguity man faces by simultaneously existing in freedom and facticity, as a free being in a concrete world (7).  Man escapes from his natural condition, she says, through the freedom of rationality and the pure internality. Men have “striven to reduce mind to matter, or to reabsorb matter into mind, or to merge them within a single substance.” (7) What arises is the inherent paradox of man.

Beauvoir does not want to escape the ambiguity, like so many philosophers and thinkers have done in the past, but to accept the ambiguity and live within it, that is, “accept the task of realizing it” (13). She calls the tendency to deny, or negate, or escape the ambiguity of existence cowardice, saying that this method doesn’t pay. (8)

The existential conversion, Beauvoir says, “does not suppress my instincts, desires, plans, and passions, it merely prevents any possibility of failure by refusing to set up absolutes the ends toward which my transcendence thrusts itself, and by considering them in their connection with the freedom which projects them.” (14) This passage addresses the incarnation of subjective ends through subjective freedom. In this way she says that the world is a place willed by man which “expresses his genuine reality” (17). She emphasizes the “plurality of concrete, particular men projecting themselves toward their ends on the basis of situations whose particularity is as radical and as irreducible as subjectivity itself” (18).  This raises the question of how unique and separate men can live in ethical harmony. Her answer is that “an ethics of ambiguity will be one which will reduce to deny a priori that separate existents can, at the same time,  be bound to each other, that their individual freedoms can forge laws valid for all” (18).

To be free, then, requires the conscious spontaneous choice of projects undertaken moment by moment. These projects must be positively assumed, says Beauvoir, and the weight of the concrete consequences of these choices of the will must be accepted as a result of our fundamental freedom (24, 32). Meaning “surges up only by the disclosure which a free subject effects in his project.” (20) Thus, the principles of ethical action will be discovered as inextricable from choices and freedom (23). In the same way, the will to be moral and the will to be free are one in the same. (24) But a tension arises nonetheless from the disclosure of being. While the justification of life requires the realization of particular concrete ends, it also requires itself universally (24).  As a result, the relationship of a being with others is integral the Beauvoir’s existential thought.

Beauvoir emphasizes the failure of man as a central component to freedom, citing philosophers who wrestle with this failure as absurdity or anguish, the otherwise overall lack of answers. Beauvoir states that “nothing is decided in advance, and it is because man has something to lose and because he can lose that he can also win.” (34) In this way life is marked by activity and ambiguity enmeshed in the situated affairs of other men, all of which objectify the others.

Beauvoir describes the complex situation that free man finds himself in by illustrating the condition as men born into the world like children. A child comes into the world that is determined for them. They act according to the rules and structures pre-established. So long as a man continues acting according to this world, and never for himself, he is kept in a state of servitude and servile. (37) There is no exercise of freedom and the world is seen as a serious place. (38) Eventually the infantile world gives way to adolescence as questions are asked and discovery of subjectivity arises. (39) Not so with slaves. Even women, Beauvoir says, at least have a choice as to whether to choose or consent to the world imposed on them (38). The child is unique in that, whereas man draws upon the character of his past to make choices, the child has no character to draw from and must set it up “little by little” (40).

Beauvoir sets up several categories describing how humans seek to escape their responsibility and freedom by delineating the nature of the “sub-man”, the “serious man”, as well as the “nihilist” and the “adventurer”. The sub-man is a manifestation of bad faith and apathy by constraining activity through the denial of their freedom (44).  The sub-man is barely man at all, living in constant boredom and sloth. This sub-man is often manipulated by the serious man as an object. The serious man is an attitude that seeks freedom of objective standards and values which in turn denies freedom (47). The serious man does not act authentically because the action is not willed from freedom, its goals are not established with freedom as a goal, but rather as instruments revered in various ways as useful or right or good for some end (48-9). As soon as these objective external ends are removed from the serious man, his life loses all meaning (51).

The nihilist is a failed serious man, essentially “conscious of being unable to be anything, man then decided to be nothing” (52). The assertion of nothingness is not a result of freedom, but a result of denial found as a disappointed seriousness which “turns back upon itself”.  The nihilist is right in thinking that the world possesses no justification, but forgets that it is up to him to justify the world and instantiate himself (57).

The last is the adventurer who rejects the attitudes of the serious man and the nihilist (60). He accepts his freedom and projects, but he forgets the role of the others and thus exists in pure egoism and selfishness (61). He is therefore apt to treat others are mere instruments and sacrifice others for the attainment of personal power. In this way the adventurer is the ultimate tyrant, seeking independence and submitting to no other master but his own ends, no other master than the supreme master he makes himself (62). In this way the adventurer maintains a subjective positivity that is not extended toward others. Thus he exists in a false independence that falsely believes one can act for oneself without acting for all. (63)

Works Cited

de Beauvoir, Simone. The Ethics of Ambiguity. New York: Citadel Press, 1948.

Existential Freedom: Jean-Paul Sartre

Sartre wrote Existentialism and the Human Emotions in response to the critics who viewed the corollary of his existential philosophy to be solipsism or quietism. Whether existentialists are religious or secular, Sartre states that it is impossible for man to transcend human subjectivity. Thus, subjectivity is the necessary starting point, for “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.” (15)

Sartre says that man is conscious of imagining himself as being in the future and consequently is what he has planned himself to be.  Man is a plan which is aware of itself, where nothing exists prior to this plan. (16) This runs contrary to the Cartesian paradigm stemming from “I think, therefore I am” where essence precedes existence, where concepts are the genesis of operating processes (13). In this view man is dictated by and in bondage to a priori ideas and concepts as a way of existing. However, man’s existence precedes preexisting determinations. In this way existence precedes his very essence, rendering man totally free.

Freedom is the predetermined nature that establishes a commonality of human nature. Existence is a universal human predicament, a condition that precedes consciousness, a situation man finds himself in. (14) Man’s commodity is his necessity to determine, his freedom in choosing to be. With this freedom, Sartre says, comes a responsibility for determining what he is. Every act contributes to the creation of man’s image so that every choice establishes an essence of man. (17) Man is always responsible for his choice to choose what he is to be and how he is to live: he is always in the making, continually projecting himself into the world and materializing his freedom through action, through deciding. (50)

Sartre emphasizes the responsibility man has to this freedom. A dishonest man is one who believes in passion and other deterministic excuses. Man is responsible for his passions. There is no conception prior to what man has expressed through his actions. (23) Man fashions himself through his actions, by expressing himself through a series of undertakings, through an ensemble of choices, in which he is the sum of the organization and relationships contained therein. (33) This image of man forms a constitution that is continually manifested through his total involvement on the basis of the repeated acts he forms. (34) In this way, man is a destiny unto himself in which his actions enable him to live. (35)

This freedom extends not only to the individual, but to others. Because there is no a priori conception of man, what he is and should and can be, every choice and action contributes to what we believe the image of man ought to be. (17) By allowing for the understanding of self and others, intersubjectivity establishes a universality among men that is a comprehensible human condition. Sartre says his choices to pass beyond or recede from limits or deny or adapt, represent a configuration of man in a set of circumstances. (33) This configuration is perpetually made through choosing or building an understanding of other’s configuration. (39) Thus, since the creation and invention of man’s image occurs our freedom comes with a responsibility to all mankind.

Sartre says that the fundamental project of human reality is the desire to be God since God “represents the permanent limit in terms of which man makes known to himself what he is”. (63) Freedom is the choice to create itself its own possibilities. Consequently, freedom is a lack of being. By being something concrete, one is not free. Therefore, the annihilation of being is freedom. (65) Man’s project, Sartre says, is to manifest freedom through a lack of being by making itself the desire of being, that is, making “the project-for-itself of being in-itself-for-itself”. (66)

Works Cited

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism and Human Emotions. New York: Citadel Press, 1987.

Existential Freedom: Albert Camus

Camus wrote the Myth of Sisyphus as an essay on the relationship between individual thought and suicide as a solution to the absurd (6). Camus used the Greek myth of Sisyphus as a metaphor for life and the seeming absurdity of living. Understanding Camus conception of absurdity is necessary for grasping the role of freedom in human existence.

According to Camus, absurdity can be found to occur anywhere, on street corners or in revolving doors. (12) It strikes in moments throughout a man’s life when the uniformity and routine of existence—the habituations of thought and regularities of action—are broken and man seeks to reconnect and repair them again (12). Camus says that “before encountering the absurd, every man lives with aims, a concern for the future or for justification (with regard to whom or what is not the question).” (57)

Absurdity arises when the inference of reason reveals itself to be wholly dependent on cognitive activity alone, the sole work of consciousness. In this event inference ceases to follow from the nauseating compulsion of objective necessities and the world readjusts itself as a relative, subjective condition of man. Camus says that “A man’s failures imply judgment, not of circumstances, but of himself.” (69) Inference positions itself as alien to the world from which we attribute it (21). When man posits the question ‘why?’ and weariness sets it, he reveals the lack of inference in his mechanical routines, and elucidates an impulse of consciousness. (13) This consciousness either dissipates as man falls back into his life’s motifs, or he realizes, through an awakening, that inference is a device imparted to the mind, rather than a process inherent to the world. Camus says man comes to terms with this awakening by embracing suicide or recovery. (13)

Camus holds that life is indeed meaningless, full of contradictions and confusion, and has no inherent values other than those that we create. He entreats, however, asking “In the face of such contradictions and obscurities must we conclude that there is no relationship between the opinion one has about life and the act one commits to leave it?” (7,8) Certainly not. Rather accepting the futility of our world as an excuse for suicide, and rather than accepting the leap of faith that religion calls for, Camus proposes that we consciously accept the futility moment by moment by revolting with freedom and passion (64). In this way living is keeping the absurd alive, retaining the possibility of happiness and meaning in moments in between, whereas suicide would negate the very absurdity and possibility that established it. (6, 54) According to Camus, revolt as “the constant confrontation between man and his own obscurity” is one of the few acceptable philosophical positions. It means we must “challenge the world at every second” (54). This revolt is defiance, an exercise of freedom, which intensifies life’s value maximally in a way that no other ideological thinking can guarantee (55).

Camus paints three extreme portraits of absurd lifestyles given the form of the lover, the actors, and the conqueror (90). While there is nothing exclusive about these lifestyles they provide a caricature of the absurdity as a joy of living creatively. Inasmuch as life is absurd, life is creation (94). “To think is first of all to create a world” Camus says. Through creation man manifests ends and aims and realities so that just as an artist “commits himself and becomes himself in his work”, a creative being commits himself and becomes himself in the tasks he lovingly chooses for himself (97). Intelligence must refuse to reason the concrete, concluding that “expression begins where thought ends” (99).  According to Camus, gratuitousness is a hallmark of the absurd life and a life with hope: with no revolt or divorce from illusions, there is no gratuitousness. What is necessary then is this constant passionate detachment (102).

Works Cited

Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus. New York: Vintage International, 1991.

Soft Summer Songs

There is nothing so satisfying as an opulent ocean of redolent rays gleaming across the sublime summer sky.

Relationships: these interesting symbiotic syntheses of feelings and minds and circumstance. Two people, pulled by fate, like magnetic force, yield their defenses long enough for a daring gesture of interest to find its way into their intimate chambers, where their egos reside with the risible recantations of a wry world.

Two men exchange their thoughts, like young twins speaking their own tongue, referencing their experiences, in blissful agreement: “Yes, yes” and “yea”, “but of course” and “oh right!” These affirmations of love, spoken in frank response.

Write with freedom, with unrequited passion; the world will never return the favor with the same fervor. Never mind it. You are a model, a leader. As a writer, your words do more than etch new thoughts and moods among men. They reverberate through time. Their roots wrap and coil around future gardens of growth.

I need to journal more. What do I mean by journal? I mean, feel more deliberately. Writers experience life twice. Why would I want to deprive myself the experience of living life with any less feeling the second time? Full and fabulous.

I want to be a writer. I want to capture the human condition, to communicate existence with humanity, as a comfort, a beacon, that life is not a lone journey, but a universal struggle. The journeys are all different, but the struggle is all the same. The phenomenon of each journey may be irreconcilable with another’s, but the limitations are universal, uniform, consistent.

Writers are sensitive, acutely aware of details, of the incantations strewn by the senses throughout the consciousness.

When I write, I feel. I never write without feeling. The best thing one could do for oneself is be transparent with their thoughts and feelings. Thoughts should reflect feelings, so that when you feel intensely, thoughts follow with equal force and vigor.

When I write, I write through my states, through the moods moderating my memories and mind. Like a performer, my heart commands and my fingers obey, with precise form and clarity of expression. There is nothing wanting. The audience is a lone traveler, hungry and thirsty, searching for anything to quench their parched and pallid imagination. The routine of this journey weighs, and each step adds another circular chain to their load. Starving eyes, so eager to capture the faculties of imagination so they might dispel their locking illusions. They long to shed the weight. The writer offers this salvation.

Relationships. These are a peculiar breed of experiences. The man longs to be free, the woman longs to be secure. Each seek to liberate or enslave the other. In this way each relationship seems over before it has even begun. But this is precisely the bond that brings them together.

Everything persists by demand, and it is through this demand we experience a command, a resounding order abounding from the passions. To disobey is mutiny: a self sabotage.

There cannot be freedom without activity. To utilize humanity one must act. But activity must be chosen every moment. Routines develop into chains as circular habituations take hold of choice. We must attend our freedom like a fire, gently stoking its embers and fueling its flame. The inattentive watchman risks losing the fire, the light of his soul; or it bellows beyond control, consuming everything until there is nothing left to ravage. Either way the man is lost: losing his way or losing his life.

Passivity is slavery. Unreflective choice is slavery. Impulsive choice is slavery. Any thought or action that is not chosen via volition is inauthentic. Passivity encrusts the consciousness, it clouds and clutters and confuses. There is no I without action, no subjective perspective without freedom and action.

TV, advertisements, anything generated from a capitalist society that engenders humanity as a static condition of a whole, is an assault on freedom, on authentic living. Man cannot manifest his freedom by doing nothing. He cannot create ethics or values or tastes or preferences that reflect an original genesis of choice unless he acts through himself, for himself, as himself. Men should not be whipped with their past. Advertisements: propaganda that illuminates man as a predictable creature, as a rational creation, with no faculty of imagination, objectifies man and indoctrinates him with alien laws and limitations.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed Review

Chapter One

  In chapter one Paulo Freire addresses the matter of humanization, or the problem of dehumanization. Initially the reader is left wondering what it means to be fully humanized. As he talks of these hierarchal roles of subject-object, of oppressor-oppressed, he refrains from explicitly prescribing what it means to be fully human. This is not unintended, for such a prescription would vitiate his message by qualifying the very structure he seeks to eliminate. For Freire, humanity is not a thing to have or possess, but rather a responsibility towards freedom that allows being more fully.
Continue reading “Pedagogy of the Oppressed Review”

An Analysis of Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy and Modern Education

Freire’s educational philosophy is largely political and social in nature. This aim of his message is to bring attention to the structures that govern our perceptions. These structures are generative themes that frame perceptions and our real consciousness. In doing so an ‘awareness’ can be achieved. It is this very process of approaching these structures that develops our critical consciousness, or a phronesis of practical wisdom, which uses the praxis of reflection and action. Freedom is achieved through the development of this critical consciousness as we confront reality.

Exploring and confronting reality need to occur for knowledge to be acquired. It is the critical consciousness that is responsible for this task. However, he believes that we all operate in generative themes that are framed by real consciousness that contains limited perceptions. He sees that a critical consciousness using praxis of reflection and action takes one beyond real consciousness into the potential consciousness where new themes can be generated. A supposition for the confrontation of reality is that an objective reality exists independently from the consciousness that can be explored. However, he believes that our understanding and knowledge is limited by the generative themes, the perceptions of this reality, which are historically and culturally rooted. Since all humans exist independently and are integrally experiencing reality, he believes that communal discourse allows for reality to be mutually explored which in turn yields a much more comprehensive understanding.

The mutual exploration requires that humans see each other as equal subjects.  As subjects, we should exercise our critical consciousness to solve the pressing dilemmas that are relevant and approximate to us. We should live as beings in ourselves, as ends in ourselves, fully employing our creative faculties of freedom to confront the demands of reality that lead to a fulfilling life. According to Freire, “People are fulfilled only to the extent that they create their world (which is a human world), and create it with their transforming labor. The fulfillment of humankind as human beings lies, then, in the fulfillment of the world. If for a person to be in the world of word is to be totally dependent, insecure, and permanently threatened- if their word does not belong to them- the person cannot be fulfilled. Work that is not free ceases to be a fulfilling pursuit and becomes an effective means of dehumanization.” (145)

In sum, every human possesses the ability to exercise their critical consciousness, to reflect and act on the world, in order to transform it to meet their approximate dilemmas. This is their labor. We are ends in themselves.  In contrast to animals which merely live in the context appropriate to it, and do not transcend contexts and communicate about it, human activity is characterized by reflection and action, theory and practice. This is how knowledge is garnered. Knowledge is simply the product of reflection and action.
However, due to the oppressive structures that characterize their existential experience, many people do not develop a critical consciousness. As a result, this critical conscious is underdeveloped. Oppression, in all the manifestations mentioned, subdues this critical consciousness.
You cannot separate freedom from humanity. It is distinct. Likewise, you cannot separate knowledge from humanity. As long as humans exist in reality there are themes that give it context and meaning. The question is whose context and meaning. Are the people generating these themes, this knowledge about the world and personal problems, themselves from their direct experience? Or are they prescribed or dictated these themes and knowledge by other people?

Freire’s message is that oppression robs people of their freedom to confront their own problems which thus subdues the critical consciousness. Oppression occurs when humans objectify their fellow man instead of see them as subjects. This translates to subjects who own, and objects who are possessed. This manifests as those who own labor, and those who are labor; those who prescribe knowledge, and those who receive knowledge; those who make rules, those who follow rules; those who teach, those who memorize.  To retain power and dominance, the subjects do not want the dominated objects to develop a critical consciousness as subjects and think. This would upset the power balance and strip the oppressive subjects of their ability to control.
Learning occurs when problems are posed and the critical consciousness confronts and rises above the current perceived limitations of the real consciousness. (113) The aim is to for the critical consciousness to move beyond the real consciousness into the potential consciousness where generative themes can be synthesized to solve the pressing problems. It is important to recognize knowledge as cultural and historically rooted. It is relative to the place and problems of the people. To substitute direct experience and the contradictions that arise from that experience is to strip life of its meaning.

Our current academic institutions operate in this oppressive teacher-student, subject-object, dichotomy under the banking method, where knowledge is transferred from a teacher who is ‘enlightened’ to a student who is ‘unenlightened’. This is the wrong way to approach education because it reinforces the oppressive structure by preventing the student from developing their critical consciousness, thus suppressing their ability to critically cognize knowledge for themselves. The transfer of knowledge in this method is static, absolute and lifeless.

On the contrary, education should be a dialogical in a mutual, cooperative, co-intentional exploration of the problems relative to the individual. Under the problem posing method, a teacher is not the ‘teacher-of-the-student’ but rather a ‘teacher-student’, and the student is not the ‘student-of-the-teacher’ but rather a ‘student-teacher’. Mutual learning takes place in dialog between the student and teacher as they unveil reality together. There is a trust, humility, and love that unites the teacher and student to address the problems relative to the student. Knowledge in this method is treated as changing, relative, and lively.
Who are these teachers? They are those who have developed a critical consciousness and see the student not as an object, but a fellow subject, a fellow ‘I’, that aids in the exploration of reality and problems. If those who have a critical consciousness make the student an object, and thus manipulate and divide and conquer, they are not practicing the problem posing method characterized by love, trust and humility. Instead they are oppressing, just like the banking method. A human being as an object in the world and not as a subject suppresses their freedom, submerges the critical consciousness, and limits access to the potential consciousness which gives rise to developing our humanity more fully.

What effects would manifest in an oppressive society that is structured to suppress this critical consciousness? Regarding the malaise of our modern culture, let us suppose that the democraticAmericawe know and love is actually an oppressive system composed of an oppressive hierarchal structure composed of elites and the populous.  In a world flooded with information and knowledge that has been pre-cognized and pre-objectified, where all of our answers have been prescribed for us, what does this do to our humanity, our critical consciousness and freedom?

All information that is not derived from personal experience is sloganized and robbed of the approximate and relevant meaning to the individual. News and media is simply precognized knowledge or propaganda presented and perpetuated by those who ‘know best’. I have to wonder if the repercussions to such oppression manifest as psychological ailments of society. What if there are no ‘Learning disabilities’, or if ‘depression’ and ‘bipolar’ and the like, are simply the manifestations of an oppressed humanity, an oppressed freedom, that cannot cope with the prescribed expectations and seemingly irrelevant and foreign demands of our culture?

If family structures reflect societal structures, then the majority of households operate within this oppressive structure. If this is the case with our current society, then most family structures are characterized by authority in the home, usually a dominating patriarch. In my own life, I found that I could not escape the oppression at home, or in school. When I attended school, or church, I was met with the same authoritative structure that dictated foreign demands and expectations. Teachers would lecture in front of the classroom and I was expected to engage in rote memorization, as if I were an empty receptacle to be filled with someone else’s cognitions of the world. In school, students are not given the opportunity, nor are they encouraged, to engage the world’s contradictions and coin relevant meaning. Instead, students are expected to passively consume someone else’s lifeless narrative of how things are. These structures suppress the critical consciousness, the curiosity for life and the world, by delegitimized our own ‘word’ and experience with the world. This oppression turns into listlessness, depression or rebellion against authority. These expressions are simply a result of ‘oppression’. Rebellion is a revolt against this authority. With this oppressive structure in mind, it’s queer to see how society treats us as problems and seeks to ‘prescribe’ its remedies. Children nowadays are diagnosed with a concoction of physiological dysfunctions that ranged from mood disorders to learning disabilities. Psychiatrists and psychologists attempt to assess and ‘treat’ patients with their own ideologies, and yet the rebellion continues.

I was personally met with this seemingly inescapable oppression which eventually drove me into rebellion as I sought escape from reality through drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t until after high school, when I was kicked out of my house and forced to live on my own that I experienced true freedom. For the first time in my life I was met with a profound freedom. The realization that I could be whoever and do whatever I wanted, that I could transform my life according to my passions and the dreams of my heart, that I experienced true joy in life.
From that point on I no longer struggled with substance abuse (although the habits and dependencies that had formed created challenges), nor did I see learning as a chore, a mindless endeavor of rote memorization with no significance or context. I could engage reality freely, independently, and create meaning and context as according to the passions and curiosities that affirmed my being. Everything came to life.
Any human, be it parents or teachers, should lay foundations of trust and love and humility as the starting point for all human development. Exploration of reality should be a cointentional effort.

However, one must wonder if there something lost by appeasing the undeveloped and nascent thematic understandings of reality in people. As much as Freire advocates a horizontal playing field where every relationship and community is to be considered valuable and legitimate at illuminating themes as a whole, understanding all people as equals creates an imbalance.            People are at different stages of reflection. How can one expect effective discourse to take place when illiteracy and proper reason, poisoned by superstitions, is rooted in their minds? Freire addresses this in the opening preface by referencing a meeting with peasants where a fear of freedom led some to think that this revolution of the critical consciousness could lead to a fanaticism. He mentioned the factory worker that described his transition from being naïve to critical and that while he still didn’t have all the answers, he did not experience a collapse of his world.

If one argues that there are principles that first must me ‘instilled’ in students before exploration can begin, they are overlooking the very freedom contained in humanity that allows him to explore and transform and learn from reality. If these principles exist, we need to be critical and ask their origin, as well as what their functional aim intends. This objective reality is not privy space accessed only by the elites, but an objective reality that can be learned by every human so long as there is a relevant problem to be solved. While these principles seem to offer a starting point for reason and reflection, by exploring reality with a critical consciousness, these principles can be derived from direct experience. In this way people can come to understand and utilize these principles in a way that gives meaning and context while preserving their humanity.



Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed.New York: Continuum, 2000. Print.


Decide to be.

Revolt! You are free to be! Now dream and pursue freedom with passion! Escape societies noisy clamour, throw off the chains that drag you downward. Create yourself! There is no path where you are meant to go! Blaze anew, for there are no limits to the wanderlust of dreams! Gather your gaze and seek yourself out! Pour out the paltry perceptions of pain and problem, for you are beyond the grasp of trouble!

Decide and create! There is no need for the reassurance of petty peddlers. You needn’t ask the world a thing. Demand it from yourself, and the world will respond in bounty! Brave the unknown, lay siege to the remote and mysterious- for possibility awaits! And where possibility abounds, so does life!

Freedom and choice.

What is Freedom?

The question of freedom poses itself when explaining why people convert to god. If a conversion towards god is a result of a lack of responsibility for accepting and exercising our freedom, we must define and determine the nature of freedom as it relates to sentient volition- or free will

The notion of free will supposes an inherent ability to choose. The choice lies in the decision to act or not to act, as well as to choose among alternative actions. Ideally, this choice is autonomously made. However, to what extent are we autonomous? Is there such a thing as freedom of choice? Or, are actions mere precipitations of mechanical chain reactions?

Answering these questions requires the exploration of the science or philosophy of mind.


Continue reading “Freedom and choice.”

Freedom and Spirituality

This essay explores the phenomenon of spirituality by delineating the rise of free will as a product of a reflective consciousness synthesized from conditioned responses resulting from external demands.


  1. Reflection as a starting point for analysis and reducibility
  1. Necessity of cause
  • Freedom
    1. Predictors of Demand
    2. Rise of Ideas
    3. Free will
    4. Reflection as Action
    5. Distance Defines Knowledge
  • Spirituality
    1. God’s Nature
    2. Conversions
  • The Rise of Spirituality
  • Continue reading “Freedom and Spirituality”

    South Park and Open Society: A Response

    An essay I recently wrote. Loved reading about Karl Popper, didn’t really like the essay.

    South Park and Open Society: A Response

                When examining a democratic society there should be ample evidence of open expression, where ideas can be examined and critiqued by the people as a whole. Professors David Curtis and Gerald Erion investigate this evidence in their essay South Park and the Open Society by presenting the controversial cartoon show South Park. South Park gained popularity in the nineties, and has since built the reputation of parading society’s most controversial topics for the public eye. Curtis and Erion provide examples of how the open examination found in South Park was intentionally designed to exercise and preserve the health of liberal democracy. To support their case and qualify the importance of an open society, the authors cite twentieth century political philosopher Karl Popper and his critique of totalitarianism, The Open Society and Its Enemies.

                In the opening paragraphs of their essay, Curtis and Erion reference media theorist Douglas Rushkoff’s position that many social criticisms are intentionally interwoven into seemingly harmless entertainment mediums and serve to illustrate the fundamental principles of democratic philosophy at work (para 1).  South Park, they instance, does this explicitly by portraying its characters as ‘overzealous political activists’. The show openly offers up caricatures of extremism on the right and left for ridicule and derision. Because South Park finds no person or subject taboo, it has been constantly targeted for censorship and cancelation. Curtis and Erion believe that the creator’s decision to allow open discussion of such extremism places them in a position safe from the extremists who threaten to shut down the show.

                While South Park may come off as a crass cartoon filled with crude humor and ‘tasteless’ jokes, authors Curtis and Erion create convincing parallels between serious social and political gestalts that allow for deeper considerations of South Parks methods of free expression. What has protected South Park from much of this ridicule is that by silencing the shows message, many people would effectively be silencing their own. What lends credibility to the show is that it rests on the ideals of open society that are needed for critique and criticisms. It is just as natural that the show is a critic that it is producing critics.

                Curtis and Erion cite South Park cocreators Trey Parkers and Matt Stone in a PBS interview as they remark on the importance of openly recognizing that people screaming on both sides of an issue are the same people, and that it is ‘OK’ to be in the middle and laugh at both of them (para 3). What is paramount here is that these extremists don’t stifle the message of one or the other. Curtis and Erion refer to Karl Poppers principle of intolerance for intolerance to support Parker and Stone’s position (para 14). This principle emphasizes what Popper saw as a necessity in a democratic society in order to ensure open discussion on all subjects that call for critique and lead to progress. While the creators may not intentionally have society’s best interest at heart, they are most definitely furthering the healthy process of examining controversial subjects so that progressive ideas can be exchanged.

                When looking at the heart of this type of free expression in action, twentieth century scientific and politic philosopher Karl Popper provides the best framework for examining the system. As a major proponent of liberal democracy, Popper championed the notion of open society while criticizing the controls of government and customary myths perpetuating closed societies.  

                In order to avoid being subject to criticism from one extremist group or another, the creators of South Park opt to bash all sides, playing it safe in the middle ground. Referring to the remarks of the co-creators about the importance of extremism being expressed, Curtis and Erion find evidence of Poppers open society framework in the countless characters of South Park who openly embody this extremism and portray stereotypes of all kinds. Each of the main caricatures of SouthPark, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, encapsulate characterized beliefs within our culture.

                Through the character Cartman, the obnoxious overweight authoritarian, the co-creators exhibit the abhorrent stereotypes associated with the right wing fanaticism (para 11). Curtis and Erion describe the qualities and character defects that Cartman poignantly displays in characterizing ‘un-democratic’ conservatives. He has no issue berating anyone with his foul mouth and fascist opinions and most often takes his anger out on Kenny, a character that best represents the poorer class.

                With his coat covering his mouth and inhibiting recognizable speech, Kenny’s role usually consists of random muffles here and there, followed by his eventual death in most episodes. His lack of speech is similar to the lack of voice and influence within the poorer class. His regular deaths, and the utter lack of concern his friends share when he dies, represents the constant struggle within the lower classes that is often overlooked or ignored as a whole.

                With just as much ease, Curtis and Erion reference the characters identified with the extreme political left. An episode with their teacher, Mr. Mackey, portrays the hypocrisy of the watered-down leftists as his attempts to get the students to stay away from drugs lead to his own addiction.

                For middle ground the creators introduce Stan to exemplify the every day American middle class Christian populist. Along with Kyle, they represent an open and diplomatic approach to problems which allows the audience to receive him easily. While similar to Stan, Kyle is Jewish and embodies the prejudices as a minority.       

                The friendship between these four not only illustrates the volatile dynamics within American culture as they interact, but creates a satirical stage as they encounter other residents and extremists within the show that demonstrate extreme beliefs and opinions. What makes the show so popular is how these characters encounter these extreme ideas and the scenarios they contain. As an audience we witness our own behaviors, biases and prejudices exhibited through the characters.

                Curtis and Erion present convincing evidence in their essay South Park and the Open Society that South Park creators Parker and Stone share Karl Poppers political philosophy of an open society. By actively identifying and discussing the extremism on all sides, they offer themselves up as an extreme, and legitimize an important stake in open discussions. If Popper were alive to witness South Park on the air, he would rest assure that the health of American Democracy is alive and well.

    Fundamental America

    This is what a paper written in 1 hour and 20 minutes looks like.

    Fundamental America: Free for a Price

    Examining the paradoxes of social inequalities within the scope of democratic sentiments

    Inherent Paradoxes

                Two hundred and thirty years ago the American people declared their independence from tyrannical autocratic rule. The founders synthesized the enduring democratic rights and truths of the greatest philosophers that ever lived. Despite this, democracy was reserved for a margin of people and out of reach from the vast majority. Since our countries conception, great advances have been made to refine what democracy is and establish who has the right to contribute their voice. Major movements in women’s suffrage and later slavery and African American rights were milestones that helped shape the seemingly exclusive ideal of democracy. Currently America faces several fronts that challenge the legitimacy of our current democracy.

    Social Inequalities

                In our readings in Signs of Life in the USA, authors Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon address a variety of paradoxes that exist within our American culture in chapter six, American Paradox. No paradox is more controversial and relevant than America’s simultaneous declaration of universal human freedom and equality and its long history of racism. This paradox addresses the tip of the iceberg of much larger paradox illustrating an advertised freedom that was not intended to be free.

    Historical inequalities

                Examining our American roots we can see that our puritanical Christian forefathers desired a society of their own, free from autocratic dictation. They envisioned this society for the United States. As time went on, these puritanical sentiments persisted and found their way into our legislation. Because their ideals subjugated the rights of women and African Americans, they were prevented from voicing themselves for the first half of American history. Only after massive opposition and generations of change have these become matters of the past.

    Xenophobia of Middle Easterners

                In our current culture racism seems to be localized to extreme fringe groups. Popular culture has seen women take center stage on political issues, and African Americans dominate multiple industries from entertainment to sports. However, social inequalities are still alive and well, and although racism may be withering, xenophobia continues to blossom with every generation. Most recently our country has been in multiple wars and with every war is an accompanying fear. Middle easterners have been the target of these fears as our government denounced radical Muslims and extremists from the middle east of reeking havoc world wide. While the atrocious crimes were committed by radical sects, the language used to single them out has effectively caused a mass hysteria directed towards the Middle East as a whole. Ignorant Americans forget that the numbers of such extremists are next to nothing.

    Xenophobia of Illegal Immigrants

                Another xenophobia gripping our nation is that of illegal immigration. The news of illegal immigrants storming our borders, scaling walls, digging tunnels, enduring deserts and dangers has America in a panic. While Americans national security has been called into question, another issue of economic security has been the focus of most news. Illegal immigrants are publicized as taking hard working tax paying American’s jobs. In light of our economic decline, this has been the spotlight of most Americans concern. To compound the issue further, America’s war on drugs is now directly battling the major trafficking of illegal drugs through our southern Mexican border.

    Social Inequality of Homosexuality

                The last social inequality that challenges the fabric of our constitution and agitates the ethical and moral minds of America is the issue of homosexuality. It seems it would be an inevitable topic given our ‘free’ country was founded by puritanical Christians. While the issue of homosexuality has made much headway in popular culture and open acceptance the past two decades, it has only recently been challenging the roots of America. Proposition 8 and the issue of same sex marriage has been the most widely publicized debate on the issue.

    Examining the Paradoxes

                Why are these paradoxical? While some might look at these issues and produce valid concerns for their legitimacy, they overlook the very foundations of America. This land, whatever the founder’s initial intent, was established as a haven for the persecuted, a home for those underfoot, those whose rights were molested or stripped. Social inequalities serve to destabilize the creed of freedom. To remove one man his rights would be to undermine the rights of all men. This, however, is what America has done throughout its history as it has attempted to reserve democracy to a select few.

    Reserved Freedoms

                These examples illustrate a major flaw in America’s declaration of freedom and equality: where the line of freedom is drawn. While we hold our relativistic and tolerant values supreme, we are terribly protective and afraid of anybody watering this down and wavering from these values.  In the case of illegal immigration, most would think that America, of all places, would be the most receptive and lax about this process. Considering that there are no true natives other than the Indians, we should embrace the people who venture here to exercise their rights. The truth is that earning your citizenship and freedom in America is an arduous test of patience that many people simply do not have the time to pass.

    Paradoxes: Generational Entrapment

                Democracy is defined as a government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained and directly exercised by the people. These people make up the common people and dictate the governing rule through the legislative and judiciary process. However, problems arise when one generation’s laws improperly reflect the current generation. As the generation of one common people phases out, another phases in, often met in opposition to outdated traditions and beliefs that made their way in legislation. These tendencies create obstacles for progress, as is seen throughout American history with landowners only being able to vote, women’s rights, and African American rights.

    Defining a Free Democracy

                 Another paradox that exists within these paradoxes is that of a free democracy itself. Any form of government is a form of control. Whether that control is derived from single or multiple sources detracts from that fact that there is a degree of freedom is forfeited. In a democracy this power is derived from the common people, the populous. This causes difficulties among those who compose a margin of the population or any minority with fringe beliefs and philosophies.


                Overcoming these paradoxes will be the result of overcoming an inherent part of the human nature: fear, specifically the unknown. That includes all unfamiliarity extending to foreigners, homosexuality, or just change in general. While I would love to say these inequalities have all but disappeared with the advent of the mass media, internet, and other mediums of communication that break down the one sided walls of ignorance, the truth is they remain an enduring part of our culture.  Though America once related with the tired huddled masses in Emma Lazarus’s words on the statue of liberty, we have grown alien to these feelings and are less empathetic to those who need it most.

    little boy.

    I am a little boy. I like simple things. Why does everything have to be complex? and when it’s simple, why do I feel that I haven’t put enough thought into it and I’m missing out? Why is there a contradiction here? I want to run at life with my arms wide open and catch whatever fleeting opportunities I run into.


    So I regressed to the depths of my thoughts- to a place where freedom seems to lead to an automatic state of existence. Why is this thought of freedom so exciting? When we are free, then what? Free to choose whatever or feel however we want. Would we be any closer to knowing what it is we want? As technology frees us from the constraints of time and effort, I feel that we are sliding ever closer to a dependency and less towards the freedom we strive for. I feel that this dependency is turning us into automatons that do not think of the implications of their actions. I feel that freedom never exists. There needs to be a dependency on something. Nothing is free to do what it will without sacrificing it’s integrity somewhere along the line, sacrificing a piece of itself. Freedom is an allusion.
    A people cannot be free without sacrificing certain rights.
    A person cannot do whatever it wants without being dependent upon a means.
    In order to eat, I am dependent upon food sources. I am dependent upon people. Upon the land.
    In order to be happy, what am I dependent on? Can I be happy for no reason? Can I be happy due to my dependence of ignorance? Or can I be happy due to the dependence of people, things, circumstances?
    Are we always dependent upon certain variables around me?
    Do we have the freedom to do whatever we want without consequence or implication?