Friday, June 17, 2011

In the Valley of the Blind, The One-Eyed Man Will Be King

In the Valley of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man will be king.

No mention of the man with two eyes.

Depth of field. Simple notice. The eye plays tricks. Living in the Valley of the Blind, the voice of the alarmist is greatly exaggerated. We cannot see for ourselves, so we do the simply easy thing; rely upon the voice of alarum.  We have institutionally plucked an eye from the voice that sets the alarm. Hemingway was right to warn us*. Laocoön was institutionally unable to move the Trojans. (You actually have to read the book to get the reference to Laocoön, you're not going to find it in any on-line critical review.)

Reading Aeneid, you're not really enamoured of Laocoön. He's a minor character. But inescapably, in the literature, significant. Not, perhaps, the literature being taught today. But literature, when the quality of literature had been  important in the process of discerning the critical distinctions between merely strongly felt belief and truth. It isn't mere coincidence that Schopenhauer found a certain intellectual constancy with works of art that "transcends spatial and temporal determinations, the desires that derive their significance from one's personal condition as a spatio-temporal individual are seen for what they are, as being grounded upon the illusion of fragmentation, and they thereby lose much their compelling force." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Nov 17, 2007.) It is, in fact, the artfulness of the one-eyed man that I would suggest we find his claims so appealing. Whether or not you're an adherent of Campbell's beliefs isn't important. The fact that you come to Campbell, willing to believe his assertions without the benefits of two eyes, is. Schopenhauer viewed the world with two eyes. I believe he remains, currently, discredited. While the one-eyed view of Campbell remains all in vogue.

It is essential that one not lose faith with the senses with which one greets the world. More importantly, that which one views with both eyes. For the normative theorist, I assert that as much as there is validity in the view that the non-rational is important, and yet that,too, the rational is also important. There is, I would assert, an important distinction between the world viewed with one eye, than that same world, viewed with two. Much of modern thought or, post-modernism, is reliant upon a form of unity in viewpoint, that is non-rational, than that of rational thought, and what the Enlightenment Period would refer to as Rational Thought. The argumentation of the dualist has been discounted to such a low level that an attempt to impose the rules of logic and empiricism to argumentation today are relegated to what may be viewed as the ash-heap of history. They aren't relevant if they don't advance our stated outcomes. That is, we can discard those ideas that don't advance our own notions of what the outcomes of our actions should be. It is a view of the world with one-eye.

While going over the ideas that I wanted to represent with this post, one thought kept popping into mind, "what type of Egotist (ego-centrist) would allow this kind of thinking? How could I begin to think that 'my' thinking could have a greater relevance than the thinking that takes place around me? Why should my perceptions of what I view be given greater credence than the perceptions advanced by the singularly envisioned?"

An impulse to say or tell the truth, choked in an attempt to avoid the label, ego-centrist. 

Simple. Demagoguery. 

In the Valley of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man will be King. The one-eyed man has a certain, definite advantage over the dually sighted. There is no depth of perception. And one-dimensional viewpoints, while not representative of the world we live in, and are in fact more cartoon-ish than descriptive, may have the advantage of only representing a single thing by itself, rather than the relationship that thing may have to other things that may or may not be relevant to our ability to value that "single thing."

How do we continually excuse thinking forms that exclude logic or consistency?

After the fourth or fifth attempt to frame the thesis of this post, it became apparent to me, that I became as much a victim of politically correct thinking as has been the youngest First Grader upon his/her first day of school.

I am as much a victim of fifty years of tolerance training as the next guy. Even though I find myself facing ridiculous examples of erroneous thinking on the Left, from Homosexual Rights, to a Woman's Right to Choose, to the need to teach our six-year old children about their sexuality, I find myself caught withholding my own, personal vehemence towards these initiatives as a signature of  my intolerance to those who are different.

This clear, firm postulation of a thesis is today socially derided as a form of social injustice. And social injustice is a bad thing. (For a totally ridiculous article on "social injustice," see here.The article was written in 2004, before clinicians agreed that the cellular sufficiency for cancer lay dormant within all of us. This article is just another example of how issues of how advocates of "social justice" wish to advance an agenda that attempts to blind us to certain empirical and observable data sets.)

A simple thought problem; what is your strongest, held belief? 

I believe that taking a crap in ones' house is acceptable. I believe that taking a crap in ones' hosts' house is acceptable. I believe that taking a crap in ones' hosts' living room is unacceptable. Not the mere taking of ones crap. If you, or your host, has either an outhouse or bathroom, taking a crap is an expected behaviour. That is, the taking of ones crap in a manner which is acceptable to the standards of politeness and civility is a crap worthy of taking.

As much as my training, as the product of teaching or as of temperament, has been conditioned toward the elevation of my ideals, I find that I'm constrained by those ideals in ways that others aren't. Mere assertion of a thing is not, in the way I think, sufficient for either my holding a belief, of for the beliefs held by others.

I don't have a problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with the exhibition of homosexual crap in my living room. I don't have a problem with your assertion that a Woman's Right To Choose is your held belief. I have a problem with your suggestion that killing an unborn child isn't killing an unborn child. You may wish to crap in my living room. I would hope you find the civility to refrain from doing so. You may wish to kill your unborn child. Please don't expect me to accept the death of your child as your right. I view your child's rights as highly as I view yours.

I've had several conversations today about the sad state of Language Arts in our public schools. It seems that the narrative form that relies upon the statement of a thesis, and then is followed by an argument, has all but been expunged from our public schools. The level of what passes, or parses as argumentation, for language arts today, barely surpasses incoherence. Not always, successfully.

But, what is your answer to the question posited above? What is your strongest, held belief?

 Mine is simple. The belief that often sufficiency, when knowledge is uncertain, is sufficient. That knowledge isn't always necessary for action. That knowledge, while preferable to belief, isn't always available. And the relative uncertainty of belief isn't sufficient to deny the individual responsibility any person faces when faced with the necessity of action.

You may choose to believe that you're not required to be responsible for taking an action. In the Valley of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man Will Be King. The appropriate question for one's self should be, am I blind, singularly-sighted, or stereo-optically sighted?

The Myth of the One-Eyed Man can be traced back several hundred years. The popularization of the myth is attributable to C.S. Lewis.

The important moment, whether through the retelling of the mythic, or the story of Lewis is, is that the assertion that one can have a clear moment of assertion of positive truth may either be a gift or a sin.

The Value of the One-Eyed Man

What advantage is held by the One-Eyed Man? In the Valley of the Blind it is his sight. But, more importantly, his ability to use to his own advantage, the merits of sight to gain the allegiance of others, based upon his sight; that he alone can see.

This is an assertion. How can the blind actually know whether or not the sighted man has sight, or not?

The One-Eyed Man attempts to raise ideas to levels of thesis, posited as observations. Then, these observations are often posited as thesis/theses. Then, there are those who would use both their views or perceptions and/or others' inability to view or perceive, as an ability to expostulate those views or perceptions as having sufficient influence in order to assert argument. An assertion of argument that fails as thesis and as that which fails as a statements of thesis, which is no more nor no less than that of mere assertion fails the definition as either thesis or argument.

But, based upon a one-eyed view, upon evidence that is only discernible to the one-eyed viewer or their adjuncts, the blind, who are willingly able to accept the advice and wisdom of those who proclaim superior knowledge, as they are, the one-eyed men. That is, their willingness to assume that the mere assertion of a thing has the validity as that which is either based upon empirical evidence, or, assuming that logic is capable of playing a role that can show the meaningfulness of ones perception, thought and logic, as that of  an a priori ability to perceive that which is possible, than that which is not possible. (Yes, I know that I'm setting up another scale of believability, but that which can be shown, a priori, to be impossible is another valid form of argumentation. Perfect triangles aren't possible. But they are, by definition, perfect ideals of that which is both true, and unknowable.)

The value of the One-Eyed Man is thus; we know that his ability to see is limited. He will assert that knowledge of any system of duality is unnecessary. That is, it is sufficient that one only be able to pay attention to his (The One-Eyed Man's) observations and his views in order to be fully informed as to that which is necessary for holding the views and beliefs necessary to live life as a fully informed member of the society within which he finds himself. According to the One-Eyed Man, who would be King. Choosing a different life than that which the One-Eyed Man would accord you involves a certain risk, especially if you are blind. How many times must you hear, "Don't step there!" before you begin to ask yourself whether or not this advice is worthy, or not?

Being blind? A real handicap. Finding yourself reliant upon a one-eyed man?

How would you know?

*(The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway, October, 1926, Scribner's.)


Max said...

It appears that we coincidentally touched upon similar concepts at roughly the same time, although you delve into it from a literary/philosophical perspective while I approach it from the standpoint of current events. They are remarkably complementary discussions of what you might term monocularism. Rather spooky to find that we think very differently, yet simultaneously arrive at the same concluding point. How interesting!

T. D. said...

Exactly right that we are in a crisis because post-modern thought has tossed both reason and truth.

Lewis has another contribution regarding reason and truth. He asserts that the validity of rational thought depends on being based outside of natural processes even though we depend on data from the senses to fuel rational thought.

"Each particular thought is valueless if it is the result of irrational causes. Obviously, then the whole process of human thought, what we call Reason, is equally valueless if it is the result of irrational causes."
. . .
"But Naturalism, as commonly held, is precisely a theory of this sort. The mind, like every other particular thing or event, is supposed to be simply the product of the Total System. . . . And the Total System is not supposed to be rational. . . . The finest piece of scientific reasoning is caused in just the same irrational way as the thoughts a man has because a bit of bone is pressing on his brain."

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ZZMike said...

It's also true that there are none so blind as those who will not see. That condition afflicts a large portion of our population.