Saturday, November 22, 2014

Comment to a student

"Your thinking on this entire story is very short-sighted. Think more widely and broadly. The world is bigger and far older than you are, with a lot of time to outsmart you."

I don't know if this is insulting, but it is true. We are all so very young.

"I think there are a number of ways to talk about this subject using our class materials. For example, you can talk about the government Haber creates through good intentions. The notion of government regulations providing for people's welfare depends entirely on believing good intentions are enough to justify the use of force: all regulation is force. This is also where the Taoist reading plays a strong role: the application of our insight that none of us knows what's real and what's imaginary also means none of us has the moral or spiritual authority to command any other agree or disagree. What has to decide between sides in all disagreements is a willingness to set aside the right to govern altogether. This is Plato's insight that he works towards in The Republic, where the one in the end who is most fit to rule—the philosopher-warrior-leader-poet who is the excellence of all human activity—is also the one who knows no love for ruling others, doesn't want "the job."
So we could also talk about the role of language—such as how you say the laws are not written in a language the people understand—talking about how the changes in a language over time reflect changes in thinking itself, the creation of new concepts, sites of disagreement, greater and more intense political attempts at control. This means thinking about the Lyotard and Arendt readings on how language narratives shape our society deeply, even transparently.

Our language keeps us locked into thinking the entire world works the way our tiny and repetitive parroting claims it does. Tyranny isn't a steel wall keeping inside dangerous criminals. It's a birdcage for talking birds.

The dangerous people are the ones who know how to walk through the walls of words, the only real prisons humans know."

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