Free men are not equal, equal men are not free.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Plato Would be Spinning in His Cave

OK. I was shown this video by someone who thought it was awesome. It's "Prince Ea", a spoken-word rap performer who is all the rage in all the right circles for being philosophical and "deep".

Or as deep as anything leftist gets these days.

So, I'll look at this - original in italics, my interjections in bold.

I am not Black
I mean, that’s what the world calls me, but it’s not... me

You're going to see a lot of this motte and bailey crap - where a nearly reasonable argument is made, but then taken to a different context or scope. 

He is an individual, he is the territory, and not the map, and so the labels on the map don't necessarily apply because the map is not perfect.

I also get that he's being poetic, so at this point you could argue he's making the point that he is MORE than the label, or even not fully defined by it.

I don't believe so though. Note the rejection of grammar, of reality. "what the world calls me" - while rejecting the meaning of any of the words, and how relatively accurate, or innacurate they may be. This is NOT an argument that the label is incorrectly applied in its objective sense, it's an argument that he doesn't accept the label regardless of reality. His reality is paramount, and other people's descriptions of it are invalidated.

I didn't come out of my mother's womb saying, “Hey everybody, I'm... Black.”

Point of fact, people don't say much at all at that stage, yet some of what comes with the label "black" already applies.

No, I was taught to be black
And you were taught to call me that
Along with whatever you call yourself
It’s just a.... label

"I was taught to be black"... depends on how you define black. Your skin color, your physical construction, physical strenghs and weaknesses, statistical odds of getting certain diseases, are inborn and part of your genetics. They were not taught. The cultural expressions of your personality, yes, those were learned.

"It's just a.... label". This is where we get to the part where someone, upon figuring out the map is not the territory, decides it is the height of wisdom to throw away maps.

Labels carry meaning. Meanings which, like all human communications, are imperfect. 

Let's step back a minute. One of the core themes in Anathem by Neal Stephenson was that of the conflict between the Rhetors, and the Incantors. The Rhetors believe that we shape reality by defining reality, that much like newspeak in 1984, we can reshape the past by reshaping our understanding of it, our models of it, and how we understand language. That we create triangles by defining them. The Incantors were the Platonic idealists - the triangle exists whether or not we define it, or create a model of it. Things have an "ideal" or real form, of which we see but pale shadows, and can imperfectly communicate and realize. Just because you relabel a dogs tail a "leg" - a dog doesn't suddenly have five legs to walk on.

More importantly, you still have a category/label for "leg", and you need at least one, maybe two more labels or adjectives to differentiate between these two types of 'legs". 

Also nevermind that they already share a label - appendages.

So yes, you can treat "labels" like a computer variable in a typeless language, but eventually someone, not knowing you're operating in a different context, will not be able to communicate with you. And the program will crash.

See, from birth the world force feeds us these.... labels
And eventually we all swallow them
We digest and accept the labels, never ever doubting them
But there's one problem:
Labels are not you and labels are not me
Labels are just ...labels

Yes, we get it, the map is, indeed, not the territory. Yet he acts like there have not been decades spent trying to redefine some of these labels.

But who we truly are is not... skin... deep

See, when I drive my car, no one would ever confuse the car for.... me
Well, when I drive my ....body, why do you confuse me for my... body?
It's.... my ....body....get it? Not me

Two things. The soul, the personality, is indeed not the body. Yet we are inextricably tied to it, to our hormone and chemical balances. While we are not the meat robots some would call us, it takes effort to build a new system of habits and thought.

The body is not us, but it determines what we can grasp, where we can walk, whether we can run, and how easily we sunburn.

Let me break it down
See, our bodies are just cars that we operate and drive around
The dealership will call society decided to label mine the "black edition,"
Yours the "Irish" or "White edition"
And with no money down, 0% APR, and no test drive
We were forced to own these cars for the rest of our lives
Forgive me, but I fail to see the logic or pride
In defining myself or judging another by the cars we drive
Because who we truly are is found inside

Is a Honda Pilot a better car than an Accord? A Range Rover a better car than a Countach?

Of course not, but if I intend to drive at 150mph I'll take the Lamborghini, if I intend to go off road I'll take the Range Rover or the Pilot, and between the two Hondas I'll take the Accord if gas mileage is a bigger deal for me than carrying lots of cargo.

Which is "better" depends on what you value in a car. And it doesn't matter which car is on the road if the idiot behind the wheel keeps ramming other vehicles.

Lady Gaga once said - I think while wearing a meat dress - that no-one was better than anyone else. I answer that it only holds true if you value nothing, as it's easily debunked by asking if they think the same of Ghandi and Hitler, or in this year, Trump and Hillary.

Listen, I’m not here to tell you how science has concluded that genetically we’re all mixed
And race in the human species doesn't exist

....and I'm sure he thinks he believes in science too. Many are mixed - but many largely are not, and we can nail down racial differences and backgrounds to a very fine degree.

Or how every historian knows that race was invented in the 15th century

To divide people from each other and it has worked perfectly...

"To divide". Motte and Bailey here. The term was invented around that time in its modern format, as part of the scientific study of biology. The sophistry comes in the second sentence. Do we label Hondas and Toyotas to be able to discriminate - to identify they are different, in the older meaning of the term - between the two, or do we do it to create differences between the two. Are they the same? If not, why do people prefer one over the other?

No.... I'm not here to lecture

I just want to ask one question
Who would you be if the world never gave you a label?

Confused. And so would everyone else be.

Never gave you a box to check

Would you be White? Black? Mexican?
Asian? Native American? Middle Eastern? Indian?

M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. What, I don't have treads?

No. We would be one; we would be together

No longer living in the error
Of calling human beings Black people or White people

or fuschia people, or mauve, or olive drab.

These labels that will forever blind us from seeing a person for who they are

Labels, and the conceptions/statistical liklihoods that go with them, are useful when no other information is available. That said, once more data is known, there are terms for someone who refuses to let go of stereotypes or preconceptions when faced with a differing reality. Delusional, idiot, bigoted.

Those terms also apply to people who insist "we're all the same" but can't see what's in front of their face that culture - whether rooted in statistical groupings of genetic factors affecting personality traits in the population at large and affecting IQ, or cultural inertia - matters, and differs by tribal and racial groupings.

And there will always be at the very least tribal differences simply because different living environments provoke differing behavioral priorities.

But instead seeing them through the judgmental, prejudicial, artificial filters of who we THINK they are

Yes, we know, some people refuse to let go of their models when reality contradicts them. Nevertheless, I guarantee you, some term will be used to describe observed traits. 

And when you let an artificial label define yourself

Then, my friend, you have chosen smallness over greatness and minimized your.... self

This may shock you, but I completely agree.

Confined and divided your .....self from others

And it is an undeniable fact that
When there is division, there will be conflict
And conflict starts wars

Also true, and obvious. 

There-fore every war has started over labels

And we wander into bullshit fields again. This time we know our rapper has not studied history, and he is putting the cart before the horse.

It's always us... versus them

Yup. Because there IS a difference, in nothing else but tribe, if all else fails.

So the answer to war, racism, sexism, and every other -ism

Is so simple that every politician has missed it
It’s the labels...

Again, putting the cart before the horse. You label the people you already want to attack, to dehumanize them. To indicate they are bad people. Sometimes th reason is bad and you do it to make others believe without asking. See "idots" above.

We must rip them off

Isn't it funny how no baby is born racist

Really? I seem to remember babies, even hours old, can differentiate between faces of their tribe/race, and other. And this was shown to prove that we are racist from birth.

Now, I'll concede that hating someone just because they're different in appearance is something taught, but bluntly, rare. It's rarely just because we have different skin color. 

Yet, every baby cries when they hear the cries of another

No matter the gender, culture or color


Proving that deep down, we were meant to connect and care for each other


That is our mission, and that it's not my opinion

That is the truth in a world that has sold us fiction
Please listen, labels only distort our vision

Only if we let them, only if we forget the map is not the territory. Otherwise, labels let us know things like "is that person in my family/tribe?", or "can I take that car off-road?"

Which is why half of those watching this will dismiss it

Showing that our rapper lacks imagination to imagine other reasons.

Or feel resistance and conflicted

But, just remember...
So did the cater-pillar
Before it broke through its shell and became the magnificent butterfly

A pretty metaphor that is... irrelevant.

Well, these labels are our shells and we must do the same thing

So we can finally spread our wings
Human beings were not meant to be slapped with labels like groceries at supermarkets

We can help define new labels. But we can't stop people from applying them, or avoid the fact that they are sometimes useful.

DNA cannot be regulated by the FDA

Actually... as much as I'd like it not to be.... the FDA would disagree.

We were meant to be free

Again, we agree, but more wisdom is needed.

And only until you remove them all

And stop living and thinking so small
Will we be free to see ourselves and each other for who we....TRULY.... are

What's stopping you? Go read Maga Mindset, or Gorilla Mindset.

It's also useful to note some of the comments. "He's trying to say we're all human..."

Well, yes, and that's still a label. Science Fiction has many stories dealing with the question of just what is "human."

"...except Trump supporters." - proving that the person making the comment, while patting themselves on the back, didn't get the point.

Update: Fleshed out a couple minor points.

No comments:

Post a Comment