PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS ISSN 2043-0728
Issue number 45 17th November 2002
I. 'Dehumanisation of Humanity: Slavery' by Munayem Mayenin
II. Book List on Twentieth Century Philosophy
III. New Additions to the Pathways Book List
I. 'DEHUMANISATION OF HUMANITY: SLAVERY' BY MUNAYEM MAYENIN
[Continued from Issue 35 June 30th 2002]
Slavery is the point of the progress that we had made from zero ground. That was where we lost control of our lives and traded on the roads of self-destruction. However, we still see that whatever was being done in the name of benefiting humankind had two contradictory elements. One, namely, power and control and the other to aspire for human values. But these two are absolutely two opposing concepts which are incapable of being brought together annihilating the contradiction. It seems that humanity was trying to get back to rationality, equality, morality, liberty and purpose and through this natural justice while still maintaining power and control and divide and rule. Hereby we see the invention of the state, the government, the security services, law enforcement and crime and punishment and lot of other apparatus to main order while there was no need at all to have order. Because order is only necessary when somehow we have created anarchy, which must now be brought to order. The question of peace or order does not arise unless peace itself has been slain. It is like Macbeth:
"Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more! Macbeth does
murder sleep' the innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the
ravelled sleave of care, The death of each day's life, sore
labour's bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second
course, Chief nourisher in life's feast.
Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor Shall
sleep no more."
We shall have no peace or happiness or harmony as we had killed it. We are murderers of rationality, liberty, equality, morality, natural justice and purpose. Having done that we cry out like Macbeth and realise we cannot sleep anymore until and unless we learn to pretend and forget, in other words, we have become dehumanised. Having got ourselves dehumanised we then become 'normals' and live as 'sane', as long as we can cope and then we are done!
Robindronaath Thaakur, a Bangaali poet-philosopher (Novel Laureate in Literature in 1913) once wrote in one of his songs:
"I would have told you what my pain is had I known it myself."
That is the pain he was talking about. We cannot have peace while we have ourselves in pieces, shattered everywhere. How long can we take the things that we are not supposed to take! It is like the body of a drug addict or an alcoholic. The body is not made or prepared to take all these substances. It is not natural and thus against natural justice. That is why the body gives in and the mind soon follows. That is what was happening with people when slavery came and it is happening much more deeply and profoundly now. As soon it is done and slavery is established and made an acceptable norm, our rationality says like Macbeth again:
"To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself."
That is where we first got the idea of partial rationality, where it loses its nature and becomes twisted. How could you talk about rights, democracy, politics, aesthetics and philosophy when half or more of your kind are made slaves and other people own them as particles and sell them and buy them and kill them or train them to kill themselves before fellow beings in an attempt to entertain them! And what are these crowds of humans laughing at or getting entertained about? They are not laughing but getting drunk so that they can feel safe from the fact that they are the murderers. They do not want to know their deeds, as it will show them what they are.
But slavery tried its best to show itself to be rational and humane in its time.
People started to fight and kill for no reason or for reasons of advantage and power and control. They did not know how to kill their fellow human beings but now they do. They did not even know how to kill a fellow animal. They would hunt for food. They would hunt for food and no less or more. But now they kill to enhance their power, increase their numbers and advance their control and dominance. They will now keep prisoners and then make them slaves as they could be employed to work and produce so that they do not have to go and hunt or work for food.
Slavery started by way of power. Power is not a natural thing. Power is a manipulative mechanism and it dazzles and corrupts. Power is not rational either. Power has no morality or purpose and power cannot support natural justice nor tolerate it. The statement that there is power means there cannot be liberty and equality; as so long we have power we will have powerful and powerless. Thus it is impossible to have liberty safeguarded from the powerful and equality cannot be achieved with the powerful and powerless in the same society, as power does not want to share unless its very existence is faced with danger.
As soon as slavery got itself going with power it was bombarded with all sorts of problems. First of all, the slaves were not going to just accept some fellow beings imprisoning them and setting them a different set of rules to stop them having a life of liberty and choice. Thus the slave owners had to come up with some apparatus to deal with that practical problem. They came up with the state that will act to help them. The state then came up with a system. Law came about dealing with what? Justice? Now, what justice was that? Supporting the slave owners and helping them to protect their properties, namely, slaves.
The state would legislate to make slavery legal. The law would define how a slave is a slave and define who are the slave owners and detail the rights of the slave owners. It will legislate against any slaves trying to escape or anyone else trying to take someone else's slaves away. It will threaten punishment. It will have forces enforcing the law. If a slave flees then the forces will find him and bring him to his owners. If anyone else helped the slave in "its" escape they will be brought to "justice" and put in prison. The prison is the place to put the outcasts who cannot be put in line.
The most advanced slavery was found in Ancient Greece where all the practice of science and humanities and arts and philosophy took place! The basis of democracy was born and bred there. And even then we have the most beautiful of minds accepting and not raising a single utterance against slavery. The Roman Empire is known to have been the birthplace of law and jurisprudence and yet no one did see anything wrong with slavery. They developed the most advanced legal and political system that enabled them to control most of the world while they spent most of their resources fighting against slaves' fights for freedom. Why is that? Because of the fact that it was to do with power and control. Power needs to be used and, in that, power used can only be said to be abused. If power needs to be used then it has to be used against some people, who have none of it. That was why they needed the slaves.
But what about the powerful? They had become so used to power and its ability to give a certain sense of glory and comfort that they forgot the fact that they were slaves of a different kind. They were slaves of power itself. They could not just abandon it. They could not just one day feel humane and declare that the slaves and all the people (nations) that are occupied are to be free and equal to the others. Regardless of that they tried their best to show the grandeur of power, naturality of power, rationality of power and even the purpose and morality of power. But Machiavelli showed how ruthless the business of power should be and ancient Indian philosophers touched on the business of power and its ugliness. If we follow the development of slavery we would see that the system of power and its ability not only to manipulate the people but also nature itself was increasing. Power keeps on working to increase or centralise more power to it. How could more power be had? More people become more powerless and the centre of power gets more radiant and dazzling.
On the other side of the coin, power cannot be sustained, maintained and exercised by just a single person or a group of persons without a class of people working and between them sharing the glory and benefits of it, enforcing and defining the Power. That is why we have got a monarch and government and army and navy and other aristocrats working in symphony to establish law and order. In simple terms law and order means the protocol to keep them all and the system in place.
Getting back to the powerful. They did not realise that they were slaves of another kind. They were slaves of power and they could not be happy either. They were worried sick. They were insecure. They lived in constant fear and threats of losing their physical life. They had to act as a class but then again they had to distrust anyone and everyone as anyone could challenge and take away whatever little power they had. They were worried and fearful of their personal lives as well the survival of their class. They could not be happy, because they were the vanguard of the murdering system. How could human beings be happy with their rational and human faculties still alive when they know that whatever they are doing is nothing but genocide of reason and humanity! They had the mechanism to support them. They had the power even to manipulate people's way of thinking and way of living. The people had hardly any power to do anything.
Things cannot change or made unless they are first conceived in ideas. Ideas are the essential ingredients of change or creation. The powerful were able to train people to think in an uniformed way so that new ideas or questions would not be asked or raised. Whatever the system, there were people parroted to see that as the most natural and harmonious. There was no reason. Look at the army. They were trained fighters and killers. What was the purpose of the army of a Slave Empire? To fight wars? To fight war means to kill and get mentally ready to be killed eventually. But why on earth were millions of people ready to be trained to be killers? What were they fighting for? For the empire? What was the empire? Keeping slaves so that some other people could live physically happy life, albeit such an unproductive and boring one as that, while fellow human beings put in a life worse than a table or chair. At least tables and chairs did not have to work to their death or be trained to fight as gladiators or as soldiers and kill or get killed by fellow helpless gladiators or soldiers to entertain the "free" people, or to protect the "interests of the empire"! Not only the slaves were slaves, the army were made slaves too by the hanging bait of future land or freedom a scary service life in which you are more likely to be killed. Had they have the real choice none of them would choose to be trained and spent their lives to kill or getting killed.
But even that system of slavery claimed that they had the rule of law. They had equality and liberty. They claimed to have established democracy and rights of people. All this would make us the modern sophisticated salves feel like vomiting. It is the same for those slaves! They did not know that their system was corrupt and that they were just slaves and wasting their lives not living it but getting killed everyday or killing until they died, just as we do not see our system as corrupt and killer of our souls.
Their normals would not question why slaves were made slaves and why they had no rights. They would not question their system. They would not seek answers. They would accept things, as they were normals they were trained to accept and not question the way we do not. They had law and they followed it, as that was the normal thing to do. Those who went into prison were the ones who were either salves or supporting slaves (because they failed to be normals somehow and still felt like responding to their heart's plea to support the slaves).
Slavery brought humanity into the system and away from nature. A system is for maintaining power and manipulating for power. People cannot do that if they treat nature as their mother or as an entity where they belong. Power does not have the benevolence to feel belonged. It owns. It is the taker and thus it is arrogant. It thus manipulates. Hence we have people more unhappy and shattered as they are taken apart from the place where they could have felt at home.
Antagonism with our own inherent qualities, namely humanity and the source of it, namely nature-the earth; is the name of the system that we see in slavery.
Slavery was vulgar. Men and women and children are rooted out of their environment, family, friends, surrounding and life and, put in the market as objects. Then buyers would come to them look at their physical abilities and skills. They would look at their legs and arms and bones and heads and tongues and teeth. Then they would buy them. They cannot even be allowed to reproduce. In case of accident, if they did reproduce the child is taken away, raised and sold or kept as slaves. What sort of a rational and moral system is that! It does not to appeal us, but our modern slavery does appeal to us, doesn't it? Otherwise we would have done something about it. But we don't do anything.
Having that vulgar and ruthless system that was killing humanity, slavery continued to develop in its organisational forms and apparatus. It went on to develop areas of knowledge and science and other disciplines of knowledge. It did so not because it had any love for it but it required the knowledge to continue dominance. Moreover, it only allowed through a complex system of manipulation and mastermind approach, arts, humanities and science to be developed in a way that supported the system. That is why we did not see Greek Philosophy or other forms of humanities and science concerning themselves with slavery. If we look at the Greek scenario we see that the idea of city state, representative democracy, the ideas of citizenship, law and order and other necessary concepts and their realisation which we still use today with modifications. However, we cannot see any discourse concerning itself with the reality of the system, the slavery etc. It is as if to say slavery is the most natural way of living and life. We see a perfect order of things. We see wars being fought or lodged either to crush slaves uprisings or enhance slavery further.
If we look at the Egyptian Pharaohs' rule we see all those years ago they had developed an astonishingly well ordered system but one that supports power and the system. We have their grandeur to be dazzled about but we do not see any questioning of the system. There was no murmuring about anything, for it was as if that that was the most natural and established order and system and everybody was made to accept it.
The Roman Empire was built on slavery as a wonderfully organised, astonishingly equipped and trained and absolutely mechanised system that had everyone's life defined like a modern job description and personnel specification. The Romans had a weakness towards grandeur and organisational institutionalisation. They wanted to establish their power base as wide as humanly possible and root it as far and as deep as possible. They developed idea of rule of law and law and order, and developed the mother of The Law the way it is even now. However, most of the resources of the empire were spent raising armies and in fighting endless wars, and killing God knows how many millions of people. But we do not see any questioning of the system. We do not see any theoretical arguments challenging the system. How could you develop a system of law when the whole system of maintaining power is based on ruthless imposition, fierce manipulation and beastly dominance! But they did last a long time, they did continue to keep enhancing and sophisticating their system. They indeed had been able to manipulate whatever was there to be developed in a way that supported the system of Rome.
No one questioned their rational validity or even legitimacy. Whether Rome went republic or whether there were emperors or kings nothing mattered as the system of governance continued the same. People did not question the world dominance or the brutal wars and the beastly occupation of nations nor they did not have any means or ways to do that. However, they did turn up to watch and get entertained by the gladiators at the coliseums while they fought to their death, while they kept killing their fellows until they got killed. These were the people who were the normals who had been trained and made to think, act and live like normals, which means that they had to be like that. A system cannot sustain itself unless it is capable of creating an army of normals who are alike, who do not think any other way but the one they had been taught, who do not see, feel or act any other way but the way they had been taught. That is why Rome survived as long as it did. That is how Greece survived as long as it did. That is how Egypt survived as long as it did.
But even with the end of Egyptian system or Greek or even the Roman Empire the slavery did not end. It continued because of the fact that the system of power remained the same. The slavery continued a lot longer in its original form and shape as the power invented a different way to use it. We will see how that is the case when we discuss the Feudal Social System.
One must acknowledge that there were some liberal thinkers. However, the essential question is whether the great mass, which enabled the system not only to sustain itself but also to enhance, enlarge and develop had been made to accept that system as the most natural thing in the world. The answer is simply affirmative, yes, indeed they did. That is where the manipulation played its part through a lot of things including education, cultural and religious factors as well as enforcing law, which created a reign of psychological terror.
The modern reader might shout out that that is not true! We would say in answer to this shout that you should include us as well. The vast majority of us today are a product of the sophisticated slavery which has created us. The toys we buy for our kids at Christmas or the bed covers we use for our kids' beds are not chosen by us but the latest blockbuster! The things which we and young people find desirable are the products of companies that spent millions of pounds promoting these brands and the media that benefit from their advertising campaigns and the television that creates the magic! We do not think ourselves as slaves. Yet at this very moment there are millions of people on this planet who have gone to sleep on the street hungry, millions are facing death in a week's time and there are millions in this very country of ours [Britain] dying away earning a 3.65 Pounds an hour, dreaming of winning the national lottery! Hundreds of thousands of pensioners and other groups of people in this country suffer cold because they cannot afford the heating bills!
You ask, Where is the research? You would get money even from your local Council if you can do a piece of research to show how a wonderful Green Council they are. But go and seek funding for a project to show that the Council is violating people's human rights by forcing people (pregnant women, disabled people, children and elderly people) to live in inhabitable bread and breakfast hostels with mice, cockroaches and rotten damp. See how you fare! No, we are not slaves. What are we? Renaissance people? Then why do not we see that the guy, who is an MP from a Party A, is controlled by that party because he was nominated by that party and that was why he was elected and thus he can never represent anything but his party? Why do we not see that it is his career to continue to be an MP and that means that he is going to do anything and everything to ensure that he is not going out of power because at the end of the day he wants a piece of the cake of power. We do not see that! We are all so clever, we have enlightenment, then why do we not see that the air we breath in is dirty, smoky, filthy and filled with fumes and industrial residues! And if we see it then what do we do about it? Why do we not ask why there is no money to provide our hospitals with decent amount of doctors and nurses and equipment! Why do we not ask questions when we wait 6 hours for a doctor to see us in Emergency, Why have you shut down three hospitals in this area? Why do we see thousands of people losing their jobs because a company decided to lay off staff in order to save money so that the shareholders could get their dividend and we normals can go back to sleep normally and get up and have our toast and coffee and go to work every day and then go partying at the weekend!
The point we are trying to make here is simple. We all are very good, because of the system we live in, at seeing the mistakes and wrongs of the past systems and not the one we live in. We are the most humanitarian, the most liberal. We cry out if something happens to us, but it does not matter if the same happens in Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay or Iraq or Israel or Palestine! Why? Because we are normals and we cannot be keep our sanity if we get too much concerned about all these things. Being normal means you learn to not see, hear, think or ask, because, if you do, you cannot run a normal life. Even if you do, still the point remains, on your own you are nothing. On our own this little individual is nothing literally against a state with all its visible and invisible apparatus and forces, which amounts to an awesome scary monster. Civil liberty! It is an invention of politicians, who along with the system keep bombarding us from childhood, leading people to believe that we are civilized etc. etc. What is so civilised about seeing people killed! What is civilised about seeing Palestinian children and women killed by Israelis? What us so good about seeing Israeli women, children and young people killed by Palestinians? What is so good about seeing Chechen or Russian killed by each other? None! But no one does anything about it. No one says anything about it. Well, the people and the bodies that matter do not, do they? No. Why not? If we were not slaves and had any power we would have told the world leaders, 'Sort this mess out with Iraq and if you cannot just go and we will get another set of people who can.' Because we do not want a war. A war means you are going to kill and we will not have blood on our hands. But that does not happen! So what is good about us normals? There would be more wars and we will read history about them and say this that and the other!
This is the system we live in, that carries on disempowering, dehumanising us and we are nothing to the sheer power and force of the system. This is the result of slavery. Well, the slaves still had some power, at least, they managed to lodge a few fights for their freedom. We are even not capable of that because we no longer do anything that does not get us financial or power related benefits! We even send our elderly mothers and fathers and uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters into awful care homes or places that are dumps. We send them Christmas cards! Our elderly, who spent their whole life for this system, for us for the society and for their children and are now incapable of giving, we send them to queue up at elderly luncheon clubs to have some warm food and some human company because we have no time! Why? Because it does not help us financially to go and waste hours talking to someone who is waiting to die, and we even think they should die sooner as they are costing the NHS a fortune. We even send the mentally ill person out on the street because he seems well enough and because we need the bed for someone else, and that ill guy then turns up somewhere at a school and kills innocent children! We are civilised! Well, this author is one and ashamed of it, totally and utterly ashamed of it!
(c) Munayem Mayenin 2002
II. BOOK LIST ON TWENTIETH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY
A couple of months ago, members of the Philos-L e-mail list, which is used by professional philosophers in the UK and Europe, were canvassed by Canadian philosopher Robert Timko for suggestions on five works which would provide a broad survey of 20th century philosophy. The idea was not to include any anthologies.
43 different titles were suggested, many only once or twice. Here is the final ranking by Robert Timko in terms of the most frequently mentioned/ recommended. The remaining titles were mentioned three or less times.
I have added dates of first publication given by the Oxford Companion to Philosophy (see the Chronological Table of the history of philosophy, pp. 945-956).
1) L. Wittgenstein, 'Philosophical Investigations' (1953)
2) L. Wittgenstein, 'Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus' (1921)
3) A.J. Ayer, 'Language, Truth and Logic' (1936)
4) John Rawls, 'A Theory of Justice' (1972)
5) W.V.O. Quine, 'Word and Object' (1960)
Simone de Beauvoir, 'The Second Sex' (1949)
R. Rorty, 'Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature' (1980)
8) Gilbert Ryle, 'The Concept of Mind' (1949)
Saul Kripke, 'Naming and Necessity' (1972)
T. Kuhn, 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' (1962)
Martin Heidegger, 'Being and Time' (1927)
Robert Timko continues:
"There were many useful suggestions: include continental and analytical thought, include feminist thought, include American pragmatism, include ethics, include social/ poitical philosophy, but the most interesting was to make sure the books actually related to each other in some real way.
"Here then is my final composition for my 20th century class:
1) Russell, Problems of Philosophy
2) Wittgenstein, Tractatus
3) Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
4) de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity
5) Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope
"Russell and Rorty make, I believe good bookends to the century. In Russell, we have a forecast of the ways in which philosophical thought would develop. In Rorty, we have a reflection on the 20th century and his own pragmatic turn. (The work mentioned addresses social/ political issues, American pragmatism, postmodernist thought, and more.) Kuhn adds the revolution in philosophy of science (and Rorty comments on his thought); de Beauvoir adds the existential and feminist perspectives, and Wittgenstein--well can you really do 20th century philosophy without doing the Tractatus?"
Robert Timko, Ph.D Professor, Philosophy & Liberal Studies Director, MU Canadian Studies Programme
III. NEW ADDITIONS TO THE PATHWAYS BOOK LIST
Here are three capsule reviews by Pathways Mentor Brian Tee, which are being added to the Pathways Book List, at https:--- .
Students and teachers of philosophy are warmly invited to contribute book reviews. If you have come across a volume which you find helpful as an introduction to philosophy, share the news!
The Questions of Life -- An Invitation to Philosophy by Fernando Savater Polity Press 2002
A book that has, deservedly, sold over 70,000 copies in Spain and has been translated into 10 languages. Savater here presents an overview of the main philosophical themes, whilst engaging us with his own views and arguments. Savater shows how philosophizing infuses all aspects of life and is not merely a compartmentalized catalogue of opinions. As can be seen from the subtitle Savater asks us to try to think philosophically for ourselves. This book goes a long way to helping us achieve that. Each chapter is accompanied by a set of provoking questions and an appendix with biographies of important thinkers complements the book.
Philosophy Matters by Roger Trigg Blackwell 2002
Trigg takes the view that philosophy is a method of thinking rather than a collection of facts. This method, one of rational investigation that leads to knowledge, is then defended from various challenges such as relativism, naturalism and scientism. The result is a rewarding and innovative re-instatement and introduction to the origins, nature and role of philosophy.
Philosophy Goes to the Movies, An Introduction to Philosophy by Christopher Falzon Routledge 2002
An original introduction, this book uses examples from films to guide the reader through the some basic philosophical problems. This is a great device for those with no previous knowledge of philosophy because the questions raised are given concrete and familiar formulations, a change from the tendency to abstraction in some other introductions. One of the consequences of reading the book is that not only does one have grounding in philosophy, but also that when watching the films again we can impress (or annoy) our friends with what we have learnt.
(c) Brian Tee 2002