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Episode · 9 months ago

Lecture 29 FREEDOM OF SPEECH

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This lecture highlights our threefold human nature in terms of life, knowledge, and power. It also explores the practical conditions for a good life and a good society.

Meditation Time Lecture, Twenty Ninefreedom of speech, life presupposes viability andviability, implies the power to live life without viability, or the power tolive cannot take form long enough to achieve its living status. It is a contradiction in terms, and so the natural will to live is alsothe Nitian will to power and, more specifically, the will to power inorder to live here. Power is properly understood as acoralit of life or as a means to a vital end in itself. It is totally meaningless. Likewise, the slogan used by BarackObama in his two thousand and eight presidential campaign. Yes, we can begsthe question: can what...

...for Americans, the obvious answer was:Yes, we can thrive, which is a glorious form of yes, we can live. Therefore, it comes as no surprise thatMichel Fuco related knowledge to power, and vice versa. In fact, knowledge or the conceptualframework that is required to understand, predict and manipulatereality is an incomplete form of power that calls for the ability to act uponit thanks to an effective behavior, thereby highlighting the complimentarymind body relationship. This ability, on the other hand, canonly make sense in connection with some purpose, which necessarily fits withinthe larger multifaceted, tellos called life. The point of this argument is to grasppolistically the threefold dynamics of life, knowledge and power as a sourceof insight.

Any exaggerated emphasis on one aspectof this complex would foster atten, entius and misleading view. Life, as a general purpose givesdirection knowledge as theoretical power gives instruction behavior aspractical power gives application. The inner play of these three elements,which come together as one in each individual, constitutes the basis oftheir personal history embedded in nature and culture at a particular timeand in a particular place. What can we say to flesh out theconcept of life as a larger, multifaceted, tellos? A good point of reference is thehierarchy of needs by Abraham Maslow, in the shape of a pyramid. We start at the bottom, with theessentials having to do with survival and health thanks to which the level upis unlocked or becomes possible. The...

...pursuit of safety, freedom fromviolence or hardship and security, for example, stable or dependableemployment in human interactions. This in turn UN locks or makes possiblethe next level in the hierarchy, the desire to achieve meaningful family andcommunity relations, plus sintimate friendships or a loving relationshipthat provide a deep sense of belonging. All this ultimately opens up twofurther levels that together form the APEX OF THE PYRAMID: The concern withgetting recognition from others paired with the ambition to fully actualizeour creative potential and fine fulfilment in the completion of worthysocial objectives. The latter impliin expanded conception of self predicatedon an inside of profound interconnectedness with the world oreven higher, in the order of consciousness, an insight of spiritualtranscendence. Since time immemorial, people have hadto contend with a broad array of...

...circumstances, ranging from the mostunfortunate to the most fortunate and exposed to the vagaries of chance,which can equally bring bad fortune or good fortune. By circumstances, I mean every aspectof life from birth to death, be it genetic, familial, social, cultural orenvironmental ensuret; everything that both empowers and limits people anddefines the conditions of their freedom. The question is, then, given thislottery of fate, reminiscent of the cards given randomly to a poker player,how they choose to play their odds? Perhaps we can take heart in the factthat poker players in the course of a great many games can gain the upperhand and even make a living if they learn the art of playing these oddswith superior discipline and skill. Life is therefore a mix of incidentalconditions and individual freedom.

The ideal political system is arguablythe best one at compensating onfavorable conditions and promotingcreative freedom to maximize the possibility of self actualization forall the members of the polity and yet for this maximum to transitionfrom dream to reality, each member is required to cultivate social awarenessand exercise social responsibility put differently to be universal, everyone's right to follow their wishes in the propitious context of a welfareliberal state that mitigates the rigours of our human condition andconsecrates. The benefits of individual liberty must be accompanied by everyone's duty to respect this right in others. Furthermore, this maximum isunrealizable without a complimentary willingness to cultivate environmentalawareness and exercise environmental...

...responsibility, since our fortunehinges organically on that of the planet. The rule of law is there to bolsterthis call for awareness and responsibility both at the level ofsociety in the environment. Its principal tool of enforcement isthe fear of punishment which traditionally has been considered thebeginning of wisdom. The latter takes virtue or doing theright thing as its own reward. It would appear safe to assume that theideal individual as a social animal would have eternalized the rule of lawor made the call for awareness and responsibility both at the level ofsociety, ind, the environment, a freely acquired wisdom. The problem is even if we could allagree on what constitutes an ideal political system or human being. Wewould be left with the difficult task of determining the way forward to getas close as possible to this ideal like...

...an Acentoe to a hypurbula. Our effortsare meant to strive for this ideal, but never to achieve it. However, far wemay get from bad to good and perhaps even great. We humans can succeed in defining whatis desirable and honourable, but also we can fail at being consistent withthis savoury and lofty definition. In fact, we may even fail in ourapparent successes or mistake illusions for truths, thereby compounding therisk of a shameful or pitiful outcome. This humbling realization leads to animperative. We must collectively in every area ofhuman activity, every group, every institution, non profit, corporate orgovernmental, ensure a system of checks and balances that invites participationand discussion and tolerates dissension...

...in order to achieve superior,inagration or accommodation. Of course, my righteous exhortation isnothing new. Others before me have insisted on theimportance of a safe public realm of respectful disputation. An example is Jergan Habbermoss, whoargued that the possibility of questioning traditions openly is whatcreated the conditions for the French revolution and the creation ofdemocratically elected institutions. There are, admittedly, many moreexamples from the time of socrates who planted his trial for the right tospeak his mind against the opinion of the jury, to the time of Voltaire, whowould have given his life to make it possible for anyone who wrote things hedetested to continue writing until more recently, with known Chomsky in favourof freedom of speech. Precisely for the views you despise,...

...the logic behind this line of thinkingis that we each have a unique blend of strengths and weaknesses in the way wesee or do things such that together, we may somehow compliment each other andreach a mode of being. That is more wise than foolish provided. Of course,we agree to be jarred out of our comfort sone in the name of a higherground of intellectual and moral elevation. Only then can we avoid the pitful ofbigotry or sectarian, an tolerance that can be terribly divisive and oppressiveand even destructive when violent. Here I am reminded of Alexis ofTokeville, who warned us against the danger of a majority turning a deaf earto the minority and becoming a tyranny or of Michel Fuco, who bemoaned thenormalizing effect of a dominant discourse that dismisses his nonsenseor madness. Whatever stands outside of its parochial dogmatism, all these closed spaces stink ofstaleness,...

...they badly need all those we havemarginalized to open the doors and the windows for a breath of fresh air. The point is to restore our mentalacuity and save us from the complacent dullness of a Noa Tal, who only engagesin conversation with mirrors.

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