Brush turkeys are asocial, at the opposite end of a spectrum from Bees, whose roles are controlled by the group. Human control is changing towards collective control but it is not always wanted. The novel Turkeys Not Bees explores some trends in control and how they are being resisted. Chance is a physicist who overcomes epistemic injustice from working for employers who keep him on ‘treadmills’, unable to be creative. His experiences are explained by the philosophers Nietzsche and De Beauvoir. He quits and goes back to university to investigate the metaphysics of flow, a psychological condition observed by performers. He meets Megan, an elite athlete and he helps her to train to compete in flow by self-coached analysis of her phenomenon, by the method of philosopher Heidegger. She suffers gaslighting by officials and competitors who accuse her of unfair advantage and try to ban her training methods. She has to struggle to assert her individuality, against regulations imposed by ‘levellers’ who want athletes to have equal success. They act for a ‘nanny state’, which embraces collectivism to control sport, universities, schools, arts, healthcare and employment. Society is under the influence of The Spectacle (Debord 1967) with mass events controlled by industries and governments, for profits from consumption and for votes. Chance and Megan are in love and fight authorities to control her training for the Olympics. When they are quarantined in a pandemic, they lead a campaign which resists mandatory vaccination. Will their campaign of civil disobedience restore to them their traditional rights to train, compete and protect themselves? This is an exciting story set in Brisbane Australia, 2032, with conflict between individualism and collectivism. Turkeys Not Bees is available on Amazon. Reviews see martinknox.com
When a word is taken away from us, like ‘refugee’ and replaced by ‘illegal migrant’, we may not notice. Why do we allow others to choose our words? How can a person align him- or herself with events and become an influencer able to say the words we want and choose the language our followers will use?
In Australia, the means of political control include reason, persuasion and force. The notion that language is the only ingredient for achieving control does not bear close examination. Having the ‘right’ words is not enough. The nature of the actor, the issue, the beliefs, the audience, the political event, the public spectacle and other speakers, all matter too. Philosophers have proposed certain ways to think and behave using written and spoken language.
Descartes advocated analysing events by attributing effects to causation by certain subjects. In the physical sciences, objects change motion due to contact with a wielded force. Social and economic action often has less visible causation, but it is accepted as the basis of political action because it is regarded as ‘reasonable’. There is no ‘truth’ any more. Post modern discourse accepts different versions of truth if they are declared confidently and emotionally.
Heidegger’s approach was more subjective, looking for potential utility and advantage from existing phenomena. Careful analysis and a weight of evidence is used to justify political action.
Darwin’s theory explained changes in living things with time, but it was incorrectly assumed that survival and failure in the social milieu was predetermined by ‘fitness’, allowing brute force and callous disregard to overcome ethical human values.
In a democratic society an individual can seek support for ideas by joining with others to exercise political power. In a totalitarian society, as described by Arendt, power is concentrated under the control of a dictator, with an arbitrary ideology imposed on fearful masses, rendering them individually superfluous. Power can be achieved by surrendering one’s individuality to a party. Tyrannical leaders, to bolster their power, declare certain identities as reprehensible and worthy of punishment.
Foucault observed that the masses enjoyed it when sovereigns punished outgroups, by bullying, torture and even public executions. Punishment seemed to be a concomitant of power, as if the cost of worthiness was excoriation of unworthiness. Leaders may be elevated on a platform suppressing the beliefs of ordinary folk.
The process of public discourse was observed by Derrida to respond to ideas in binary opposition, as if opposition is a core political reflex. This denied the processes of compromise and synthesis extolled by Hegel.
If we didn’t already have a process for screening language used in public, we would have to invent one. Public discourse is a turmoil in which ideas inspire, beliefs are aired, vocabularies evolve, opponents are isolated and influence has complex contingencies. The churn of discourse allows ideas to be created, discussed and modified. It is a process of communication towards agreement and protest. It can hear contributions without wealth, race or creed.
The public discourse has banalities and calls to arms like ‘Make America Great Again’ that attract followers because they are emotive. Emotion can mobilise humans to defend their interests.
There is safety that public fame often has torturous routes. Ambitious players may be unable to navigate their way to prominence. Those who succeed are likely to have endured humbling losses at some stage and had their fondest ambitions rejected. Our process rewards resilience and honesty, with freedom from corruption.
It seems that the repressive world of Newspeak described by Orwell is only a short step away, with language rules that suppress happiness and prevent opposition. Fortunately it isn’t commonplace yet and the language belongs to all of us. Rule of vocabulary with words deliberately constructed for political purposes is not yet absolute, political correctness and woke movements notwithstanding. The takeover of sport and entertainment by the spectacle, as described by Debord. is regrettable.
The power of words cannot be exercised independently of political processes but in some places the personal respect inherent in free speech is being challenged. The alternatives to free speech vest control in others. My posts on philosophical topics and reviews of my novels are in my blog: martinknox.com
Psychology and sociology at first were regarded as unscientific because they lacked the methodology of the physical sciences, which had developed from Descartes philosophy of separate control of mind and body.
Behavioural studies attempted to experiment, control variables, sample reproducibly, be objective, control observation, hide observers, isolate subjects, hypothesise, falsify, blind and double-blind tests. Their investigations tried to omit circumstantial evidence and inference. The investigations were devoid of human value, without meaning of existence, beyond physical and biological processes.
Heidegger tried to replace the Cartesian straightjacket of behavioural research. He allowed any number of human or physical entities or behaviours. His analysis considered intentions and meanings, looking behind scenes for potential present-at-hand, or ready-to-hand, for the analyst to enumerate. His analysis made explicit the purpose of the inquiry, its provenance, trajectory, mood, ambiguities, articulation and projected future.
Heidegger’s philosophy exposed the precepts unstated in Cartesian analysis, nor evident in evolutionary analysis. Heidegger’s approach was post-structural and derivative, like the philosophies of Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, Debord and other post modernists. They looked behind the scenes for what was causing the action.
Phenomenology’s dasein (being there) focusses on values of situations, individuals and behaviours that have potential for the interests of the analyst. Its values are different from the economic values of the marketplace and are unlike the survival values suggested by evolution.
Phenomenology omits, from consideration in dasein, presences of disutility and low potential. Discrimination which omits the young, old, weak, ill, disabled, disaffected or politically divergent, because they cannot be useful, is reprehensible, tantamount to prejudice. Clearly phenomenology should not exclude, from any moral certitude, the interests of people who are disadvantaged. Disadvantaged people have rights and entitlements.
Phenomenology can be used for evil, or for good, or sometimes for both. If phenomenology’s focus is only on the healthy conforming part of dasein, the analyst’s duty to consider the rest of dasein within humanity, for caring, is derelict.
Descartes’ cogito is selective too, but his criterion of value was the observer’s ego. His analyses can neglect disadvantaged people equally, rejecting them from disinterest or prejudice, without obligation to explain. The post-structuralists want selection and bias acknowledged and explained. Heidegger’s bias was more transparent than Descartes’, a limitation.
Heidegger’s bias invites criticism when selection of subjects for their potential would dismiss other types as useless or unworthy of attention. Racial, genealogical and eugenic prejudices could be inferred. Those deemed without potential could object and seek reinstatement. This process is normal in sports and other competitions, but seldom in education. Heidegger’s philosophy can be applied in political, economic and social contexts. Where potential is selected by competition, without equal rights, application of Heidegger’s philosophy can be controversial.
Phenomenology’s gaze was screened, like polaroid sunglasses that cut out the glare, from useless things. The Being acknowledged had value to the proponent, ready-to-hand. The value could be positive or negative, for example being flooded was negative. Dasein was a lived experience of the observer, not as in Descartes’ method, a stylised interaction between an egotistical subject and an unthinking object. This would be screened out. Dasein in my view implies that the lived experience is sustainable and the experience is part of a humane life.
Phenomenology can identify not only potential for improvement but can find shortfalls in provision to be remedied. Being flooded could have the lived experience of dislocation, trauma and even death. It can reveal destruction by the flood of potential for well-being. It can be compared with other hardships for rational allocation of aid to victims and re-evaluation of capital works.
For example, public assistance to victims of cancer, Covid and bushfires can be compared with flooding. Daseins for disaster mitigation projects can have public funding arbitrated.
My coming novel Riverside Being applies phenomenology to control of the Brisbane River.
My six novels on Amazon are reviewed at martinknox.com
This novel story of Chance’s personal journey commences in his 20s, when he suffers within the corporate morass of a job where competition is constrained by wokeism. Failing to conform, he quits the capitalist treadmill and goes back to university for a PhD to investigate risk-taking behaviour. He meets Megan, a champion athlete, who is researching motivation in employment-seekers.
Together they become absorbed in Heidegger’s phenomenology, which enables Megan to self-coach to success with elite performances. But the ‘Spectacle’, described by Debord (1967) takes control in many fields, including sport, with competition transformed into profit-making and to gain political control by the nanny state. Chance and Megan resist, opposing mandatory vaccination during the Covid pandemic and ending with non-violent civil disobedience. Their examples advertise individualism based on the thinking of some famous philosophers.
The novel Turkeys Not Bees is available on Amazon. Reviews are at martinknox.com