To Avoid The Abyss

We have come to the edge of a moral abyss.

The abyss is telling us — “Stop.  Do not go this way.  Turn and go another way.”

A simple message.  Easy to obey.  But there may be other forces in play.

Is there too much whirring in our ears and heads to hear what the abyss is saying?  Are we going too fast, have too much momentum in a single direction to stop in time?  Are there people pushing us toward the abyss? — they call themselves leaders, but they walk behind.  Are there people pulling us toward the abyss? — they call themselves leaders, the already lost.

It will take each individual stopping and asking, “Who are the real enemies of freedom?  Who are the real enemies of truth?”  It will take each individual stopping and saying, “No, I will not go this way.  I will not teach the lie anymore.”

That is what it will take …

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13 Responses to To Avoid The Abyss

  1. Peirce makes it pretty simple. A person able to think triadically does not take sides and is closer to the truth of reality than anyone who has a fixed and unalterable POV.

    • Jon Awbrey says:

      That’s a puzzler.

      On the one hand there is something in pragmatism that gives us an extra degree of freedom — one we can use to reflect on the signs the cosmos is sending.

      On the other hand there is nothing in pragmatism that gives us a space station beyond good and evil.

      So we do eventually have to pick a direction and go with it.

      • This is where both Peirce and Nietzsche are in my view posthumous authors leaving us hints that have yet even to be discovered. My own guess abduction is that both of them point to the reality of values within … reality. And that these are consistent with what can be deduced from the portion of the gospels (and other writings) they cited that do create a matrix for inferring values within us that are universal and ontological.

        This is the general direction of the work I pursue and have pursued for about thirty years.

        I feel I am generally correct. Peirce’s hints came in his various remarks about New Testament texts and related matters — community, continuity, fruits.

        Nietzsche I understand to have completed his revaluation of values with the puzzle left us in the Antichrist. Given his own warped sense of values, he could go no further and went mad.

        Needless to say I have no academic takers on this line of thought, but I do not do badly with my own inferences when I manage to create lucid sentences expressing what I mean.

        I am saying that there are values within us which we either choose or ignore and that choosing them is what moves history.

    • Stephen,

      A suggested reading, if you haven’t already read it:  Andre Comte-Sponville’s “A Little Book on Atheist Spirituality”.  Not that I agree with his take on spirituality but he has some good discussions on what makes up “reality”.

  2. Gary Richmond says:

    Unfortunately, for the most part (and this offered only by way of example) those with power and money own the media and apparently have no ethical problem with brainwashing the millions through, for example, the Big Lie. The destruction of the education system makes this increasingly easy to do. Item: In the Texas constitution it is forbidden to teach critical thinking in the public schools. Would that more people were able to think critically, and triadically, and pragmatistically. But the greedy captains of global wealth and power would dumb down people as much as they possibly can, near starve them, then get them angry with each other, and make sure that they own guns, etc.

    • Jon Awbrey says:

      If critical thinking is outlawed …

      • gary richmond says:

        Wait — I’ve just learned that this is only a recommendation of the Texas GOP platform and has not yet been enacted. The section in question reads:

        Knowledge-Based Education — We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

        But, yes, the outlawing of critical thinking would appear to be the beginning of the (intellectual) end.

    • Stephen C. Rose says:

      So we should get into the arena. I lay some responsibility on the individual regardless of the entrapment created by the economics of professional life. We need some philosophical whistle blowers.

  3. Jon Awbrey says:

    If critical thinking is outlawed …
    Only outlaws will be critical thinkers.

    • Poor Richard says:

      In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

      If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

      Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

      All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

      Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

      — George Orwell

  4. abbeboulah says:

    It occurs to me that critical thinking proponents may just have made a marketing mistake — not realizing that the term ‘critical’ is bound to appear to be somehow adversarial to whatever some people currently ‘in power’ feel is the right thing to do — just for the sake of being critical, or being part of a group struggling to gain power.

    Some simple adjustments of the terms of discourse might defuse these issues somewhat. For example: Starting with the assertions of the pontificating politicians (they do want to do good, in addition to do some good for themselves, they are not intentionally evil, let’s assume until proven otherwise), their promise to ‘carefully weigh the pros and cons’ of some policy or proposal. So they acknowledge that there ARE pros and cons. Well, every plan has both ‘benefits’ and ‘costs’ — that shouldn’t be a source of irreconcilable controversy. Now the question becomes: what are those costs, what are the benefits? — and who gets to enjoy the benefits, who gets to pay the costs? Legitimate, not even ‘critical’ questions — let’s just find out what the costs and benefits are, first, in the eyes of those vying for or trying to avoid being saddled with them? That means engaging in a discourse — and making sure the discourse can occur and is accessible to anybody who feels they will be affected by those costs or benefits. Just getting the information.

    The ‘critical’ aspect or label seems (to some folks) to presume that there is something and somebody to be criticized — upfront, whether justified or not — and if not justified by the facts of the situation, to make people look, even make up some reason for criticism? Getting people into a fighting mood right from the start? Perhaps not such a smart strategy? Would it make sense to some ‘self-critical’ proponents of critical thinking examination of the real facts of the respective situation, however justified by those facts, to avoid the upfront-burdening of the discussion with that perception problem?

    • Jon Awbrey says:

      You are raising points that have been raised since the beginnings of the critical thinking movement, all having to do with the fact that some people will attach narrow or unintended senses to words, in this case, the word critical.  In my experience, rather than capitulating to discrepant senses, it is always better in the long run to continue reinforcing the intended meanings.

      Critical, at root, means making decisions, as based on criteria, by making comparisons among a host of available alternatives.

  5. Mary Libertin says:

    Does Peirce encourage actually holding the conversation?  That is just a rhetorical question.  But I wonder what others think about the current situation in our country.  Is it justified by the facts to discuss the moral implications about silence and ethics, participation and isolation, and others that are pertinent now?  The answer is yes, in my humble opinion.  Should the Peirce List come up with a document that could be posted for consideration of concerned citizens?  I think the attempt would be appropriate.  Having a clear goal and pursuing the truth does not assure we could get an plan of action.  But that is the point.

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