"The map is not the territory, the word is not the thing defined"
Some things that are obvious might need careful re-stating or else there will be misunderstandings between us that could prove fatal. After all, in a time of economic and political troubles, people do kill each other over misunderstandings.
All sense perception is an approximation of that which it senses. Since each person has a marginally different biological structure to their senses and of the brain that orders the senses, then each person is:
- i) approximating objective reality (on terms by which no person can ever know that reality except as an approximation expressed through mathematics or language which pre-suppose that a community of persons have agreed on rules that 'level out' personal perceptions into a pragmatic 'normality' that need not be identical with objective reality at all),
- ii) constructing reality in a marginally different way from every other person so that the reality that is pragmatically effective socially is not necessarily either objective reality or the reality of the person whose situation is (possibly radically) different from other persons.
Practically (or pragmatically), a 'social reality' (a working tool for the ends of the majority of persons in a community for the majority of the time or for the ends of a minority which has managed to command the conditions of the majority) is possible.
However, such a reality is never 'true' except pragmatically i.e. its contingency is in-built by the very biological basis of sense impression and the braibn's ordering of data. Social reality is the most contingent of the three forms of reality (objective or mathematical, individual and community) because it is vulnerable to:
- a) the varying numbers of individual realities that enter into it at any one time;
- b) the degree to which such minds are willing to suspend belief in those aspects of their own reality that do not fit with the community's reality;
- c) the power structures by which some individual persons can impose their realities in a value hierarchy against other minds' realities;
- d) changes in internal objective realities (the waxing and waning of biological strengths) and their effect on minds;
- e) changes in external objective realities (facts of nature) and in the realities of members of the community as they individually face not only changes in internal and external objective reality but ...
- f) shifts in the ability of other minds to manipulate their reality, communicate those shifts (not necessarily verbally), and become aware of their own learned experience of socialised reality and of its degree of dissonance from their own individual reality.
In other words, we must start our analysis of reality not by distrusting the relationship between our reality and objective reality (which is an individual construction derived from the interaction of our own objective biological reality with physical reality) but by distrusting the relationship between socialised reality and our own reality.
Whereas our biology and our physical world set certain absolute limits on our perception and on our ability to create a framework for our perception, socialised reality sets limits that are contingent and constantly changing in a way that is far more volatile than 'natural' reality.
This instability of the social can be summarised thus:-
- a) limits set by our own lack of awareness of our situation: the limitation of blind acceptance or irrational understanding of the degree of choice and risk involved in asserting our own reality (often based on anxiety, fear and the deliberate withholding of knowledge by others);
- b) limits set by the 'imperial' aspirations of other minds whose own realities involve the attempt to dictate their victim's reality through the use of custom or habit (see c)) or a command of physical reality (the bending of physical reality to ensure the ability to deploy 'force' or 'manipulation' [i.e. in regard to sense impressions]);
- c) as a corollary of a), the acceptance of custom or habit, what might be called the 'drag of tradition', especially strong where tradition has become part of the armoury of 'imperial' minds with a stake in promoting conservatism;
- d) the limits set by language which is a social tool and not an individual tool (except for the purposes of wilful managing or manipulating social reality) and which, therefore, defines the person, especially in the form of 'shared texts', by reinventing reality for the sake of what is 'average' or 'dominant.
Ergo, individual freedom (i.e. a right state of individual reality) requires a right relationship with physical or objective reality (including the biological underpinnings of sense perception and idea-formation) and a right relationship with the social, which is one of permanent questioning criticism of the social's functioning value to the individual.
The right relationship with objective reality is a questioning respect which encompasses a right relationship with natural laws where they are scientifically and mathematically valid and with observable social phenomena where they take on mass characteristics (such as the flocking of humans in terms of the market or the community).
This right relationship also requires a right relationship with the individual's own abilities to perceive the world correctly and to analyse it. To know what one cannot or may not know because of the conformation of one's own biology is part of this right relationship. Some distrust of the senses, within reason, is wise.
The right relationship with socialised reality is one of permanent and questioning distrust. To understand social phenomena, including the social use of language and of texts, and the use by those skilled in language, texts and the manipulation of sense perception and brain operations of their tools, is not to be construed as acceptance.
The operations of humans en masse (likened to the flocking of birds or the herd behaviour of wildebeest or the pack actions of wolves) must be understood but not taken as necessary conduct for the free individual - the aim is merely not to be sent awry or be eaten, indeed, to be cleverer than the flock, the herd or the pack.
Similarly, the superior 'fire-power' (control over objective reality) or skills of the few who command the many are worthy of no intrinsic respect but are simply taken to be a 'fact in the world' which must be worked around, undermined or defeated as suits the individual reality of the person observing a social reality that is out of kilter with itself.
It may be that an individual reality is in perfect accord with the flock or with the interests of those with 'fire power' but this can only be meaningful if a person chooses with knowledge to be a conservative or the servant of a master.
Otherwise, the individual reality (the person) has become little more than an adjunct of a socialised reality. They have ceased to exist as a person. They have become socialised reality - a passive component of it like the Borg. They have reduced themselves to the level of the animal.
Conservatism and serfdom are not irrational options. They may be objectively sensible relations if the command over objective reality by the social (either as herd-like community or as a community of betas ruled by alphas) is a fact but the 'victim' in such cases should know their vulnerability and should show their teeth as soon as objective conditions allow.
To internalise socialised reality without needing to do so is asking to be the conscripted soldier, the cheap labour, the bored congregation member ... and so the struggle to preserve a right relationship to objective reality (a respect for science and power) and to socialised reality (a resistance to its claims) is the basis of all human freedom.