Intellectuals have a certain tendency to look for ideas to identify themselves with. They want to become the idea, and the idea becomes them.
As time goes on, the idea tends to take on more importance than the person himself. The man, if there really was much of one to begin with, shrinks and shrinks, as he feeds more and more blood, to plump up the idea so much that it starts to come to seem real to the man and to others. Why ideas are so thirsty for human blood, I’m not sure, but they do seem fond of how it tastes, much like mosquitoes enjoy the taste.
In the case of an intellectual movement, more and more people come to believe in the concept, and they feed it more and more with their beliefs, energy, and money. They start to carve images for the sake of the idea, if it’s a particularly impressive one. Certain people who feed a lot to the shared notion come to embody some of the numina of the idea, and come to be seen as mediators between the invisible concept and the corporeal reality. In this, the people come to be subordinate to the idea, and what goes on underneath it is much less relevant than the preservation of the belief is.
When liberals think of religion, they think of god as an idea, rather than an embodied thing, which can be touched and seen. Atheism tends not to be the rejection of abstract concepts, but comes first in the conception of God as an abstract concept, and then the rejection of that particular concept in favor of a different one (like Objectivism or Atheism+).
The conservative way of thinking is a bit different, in that it focuses more on figuring out the right way to live often empirically, rather than on selecting the right idea to feed for how one ought to live. In liberalism, love for the idea comes first. For conservatives, love for the people who are close is the primary thing.
One Irradiated Watson says
I feel like this post ended abrubtly like there was something missing. I could see this post expanding more on the dangers of ideology or the atheism+ worldview. Overall still enjoyed the post.
Also somewhat related https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PmOG_FC8TM
Trying to make the prose tighter. Don’t know about the methodology on that study, but sounds right to me.
*glug glug glug*
>In liberalism, love for the idea comes first. For conservatives, love for the people who are close is the primary thing.
Both approaches are fundamentally wrong in different ways and their failure is a function of the ways in which they are fundamentally wrong.
Putting an idea first is idolatry-the projection of a particular human desire/fear/concept onto an idea and then an external object. Inevitably, as Guide to the Perplexed points out, the symbolism gets lost and people take the idea or object as having serious objective value and publically sacrifice things of actual objective value to it. I.e., in the name of “equality,” itself a projection of human envy, fear and greed, women and men kill their unborn children, or sacrifice their opportunity to have those children: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/style/no-kids-for-me-thanks.html
Eventually, the whole thing goes into a death spiral and eats itself or collapses when it encounters a less idolatrous/insane society.
Putting family first is also fundamentally wrong. It reduces humans to the level of animals, which also live by this rule. The decay might be slower, but eventually it will happen. There is no overall point to this sort of life, and so the people are always tempted by hedonism (the stupid more so) and idea-worship (the smart more so.) It’s an unstable structure.
What needs to be put first is G-d, in the sense of infinite first source and primal unity. Then you can have ideas, family and the rest of it coexisting stably.
There was a child who went to my school whose parents had an enormous painting (maybe 42 square feet) on their wall of their son, one of two children, standing nude from the waist-up as a five-year-old boy. We all made fun of him for it.
He’s a public school teacher now, and has a beard. You might even know the reform temple that he had his Bar Mitzvah at — ’bout a neighborhood and a half over from where I think you used to live.
But that is where secular people who have a family tend to go next — child-idolization / living for family, but that’s rather unstable as you point out.