In the vidchat of October 27, 2023 (to which members may refer for details), @Scarmoge contributed a most interesting and thought-provoking submission, which I much appreciated. Intrigued by his submission, I’d like to add a few thoughts and responses of my own.
Regarding what Neil Postman calls the “now . . . this” mode:
The “now this” culture fostered by the contemporary propatainment media reflects the triumph of the Orwellian memory hole. We are a culture that has forgotten history. Indeed, we increasingly see our history and culture actively denigrated by our so-called opinion leaders – wokeism being but the latest phase of a longstanding trend toward the complete devaluation of anything and everything inherited from the past.
Regarding the idea that if in a democracy all are equal, no one opinion could be more valuable than another (in line with Alexis de Tocqueville’s prediction that Cartesian philosophy would release in American democracy a horrible form of individualism and leave thought, at best, mediocre and uninspired):
To lay the blame for our current culture of narcissism and solipsism at the feet of the notion that all are equal in a democracy is, in my opinion, to misconstrue that notion. The original idea was that all are equal before the law – not that all are equal in aptitude, judgment, virtue, intellect, or attainment. That notion has been twisted into a belief that “my truth” is just as valid as “your truth” (cf. wokeism again), with no regard for the age-old human understanding that there is simply the truth, which we may or may not understand perfectly but which nevertheless exists in and of itself, quite apart from any individual’s ability to grasp it or anyone’s feelings about it. If Tocqueville foresaw the twisting of that notion, then in that respect he was right.
Regarding the “anomalies of the alternative research community” and the idea that they may be the result of consistently choosing a flawed, ego-centric (with “ego-centric” meaning that the locus of control is internal to one’s self) methodology for fixing beliefs concerning what is true:
I would paraphrase the above this way: Individuals are increasingly relying on “their truth,” or their belief, without subjecting it to critical scrutiny. I agree that’s part of what’s going on. I think there’s another element: the derailing or redirecting of discussions, through both deliberate trolling intended to cause mischief and simple knee-jerk reactions with no particular ill intent. Neither of those things can be avoided in an online forum, at least not without constant, costly moderating of forum content. In addition, the culture at large has been very strongly influenced by social media and by the style of “communication” it has fostered; that influence bleeds over into online interactions in other venues.
Regarding nominalism (the philosophy according to which reality depends on cognition and, moreover, on each individual’s cognition, leaving us with a merely subjective criterion of reality, which will vary from individual to individual) and why our three-letter friends aren’t evaluating it as a threat to national security:
Nominalism, or relativism (“my truth” versus “your truth” again), is indeed the order of the day. Why do our three-letter friends not consider it a threat to national security? That’s easy: Nothing is harder to manipulate than a society with a firm grounding in a shared culture and a shared understanding of what is true. “National security” – which is to say maintaining the power and control of the powers-that-be – depends on keeping individuals atomized, in disagreement, and fighting amongst themselves.
Regarding the question, Have we lost the ability to make what Peirce calls “deliberate adoption,” preferring instead the packaged bundles of hypotheses provided for us by our so-called media?:
In the aggregate and as a culture, yes.
Regarding the sense that something in the wider cosmos is afoot:
I get the impression that more and more people sense that “something big,” something qualitatively different from anything in their previous experience, is afoot. I certainly do. My belief is that we’re coming to the end of not just a multi-century, but a multi-millenium cycle (on the scale of 26 millennia or so), but that’s just “my truth.”