Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 1 decade ago

Our entire society and culture is based around a lie?

We're used to thinking that we're "special", we're "different", and we're "unique". But in reality, none of us matter as much as we think. From a macroscopic view, we may be different than everyone else, but certainly not in a irreplaceable manner. Take me for example. I'm an engineering student, and the society and my family have invested heavily in my future as a successful career, but if I failed to accomplish this, replacements are easy to find. Another engineer trained in the same manner may look, sound, and act differently than me, but he/she will serve the society just as well as I would, so what does it matter?

The entire capitalist system of our society revolves around this idea of individualism and pragmatism, resulting in a system (ideally) maintained by nothing but laws, and people acting in whatever manner they wished within the confines of those laws, always placing self-interest (I'm special, I'm important) at the forefront. What if those laws break down? What about its loopholes?

Even our political system is centered around this idea of self-importance. The Western style of democracy, at least in theory, stresses the importance of individual participation: that the will of individuals, when accumulated, bears great weight. While this is true, note that the focus is placed on the society, not the individuals. In other words, it's the general consensus of the society that matters, not what each of us think. To think that "my vote matters" is nothing but self-indoctrination.

Speaking of self-indoctrination, what is more obvious than that imposed on us by the Western religion? The one religion that dominated the Western society for over a thousand years, Christianity stresses the importance of each individual to God, even going so far as to state that angels rejoice every time a sinner accepts Jesus as his/her "personal Lord and savior". This gives a mystical correctness to the philosophy of individualism, placing it on the altar of universality.

Ironically, this sense of self-importance, overinflated and utterly false though it may be, is integral to the proper functioning of our society. It is these lies that drive the various features our society possesses, such as the Western democratic system, the capitalist economy, etc.

What if, instead of these ideals, we adopted a communitarian belief system? Not communist in that it does not have to show its effects immediately, or ever, but rather a philosophical framework that stresses the importance of the community? A universal (to one community) sense that we're all working toward one goal, may that goal be unity, peace, power, or general utilitarianism? People may be naturally selfish, but societal indoctrination, I believe, can be a strong tool. Just as it amplifies the natural instinct for survival, twisting it into selfishness on which our society is built, I believe it can also minimize, if not eradicate this particular desire, and unify the members of a society in the ultimate test of civilizations: time, i.e. survival of the society.

I know this is absolutely massive and probably goes against everything you've ever been taught, but please tell me what you think about what I wrote. Keep in mind this is just a bunch of thoughts I jotted down while having nothing better to do, so please forgive spelling mistakes or logical inconsistencies. In fact, if you find any, don't hesitate to point them out. Long responses are OK so long as they're coherent, I'd truly like to improve my way of thinking.

12 Answers

  • zilmag
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    It seems that cultural values go along with how much society values the individual freedom versus the collective goals, so it's hard to judge this. But I think that if you had an ideal culture, with ideally conscientious people and ideally functional uncorruptible institutions, able to transmit values stably over long periods while still advancing your moral goals, then individualism, maximal individual freedom, would have more potential for superiority. Simply because nature made us the basic conscientious agents. Each of us is a decision maker and basically free. Artificial arrangements that transfer decision making authority to institutions, IMHO, ultimately must reduce the overall moral functioning capacity of a group, in proportion to how much freedom and responsibility they take away from the individual conscience. Institutions so far have had a life of their own that is out of hand to some extent - they have their own kind of selfishness, and less conscience than individuals. Not to say that society would survive without some source of "authority," because we are naturally selfish as well as being conscientious. But in a hypothetical ideal world, that source would not resemble today's governments, IMHO. It would be purely "societal indoctrination," as you say -- purely cultural, and virtually all voluntary.

    I agree that Western individualistic narcissism and greed is a problem. But I can't say I'm in favor of Western society just "going communitarian," at least not until we can somehow create an institution of societal authority which can't be corrupted and which actually values individual lives and experiences equally. That is politically just plain impossible ... people are too selfish; and I think that the impossibility of real-life morally authoritative institutions, is the real reason individualism exists in the first place. So I think the struggle for balance between individual freedom and the "good of all humanity," the dream of establishing universally held moral priorities and the humane and "successful" arrangements to promote them, will just be ongoing. It's the human condition, as they say.

  • 1 decade ago

    I began to figure out those kind of things when my dad pointed out the chimney pipe in the attic and said; "that's where santa clause comes down on christmas", .... looking at that skinny four inch tin pipe I figured something was wrong. There was no way in God's blue jewel of a planet that fat man could fit through that pipe!

    NO WAY!

    For years afterwards I learnt of other lies we call "white lies" and hiding the truth so that we don't hurt someone else's feelings.

    Then I learnt that there is never an honest politician, never! They can't tell the truth; otherwise they would never get elected. They tell us what we want to hear, they do what we want them to do.

    More than 80% of the politicians that are honorary M.C.s in the infamous "gay pride parade day" hate the idea of it but for political reasons? They will lie through their civil servant teeth and grin and bear it for our votes.

    Do you really think all the money the nations around the world are throwing at the recession is going to avert a depression?


    The likes of Obama and his peers know it won't but the public seems to think that the government can fix it so off they go to do what we want for our votes. It isn't going to work but they are going to do it.

    We live in lies from day one to the last day of our life.

    I learnt that very early in life, but I lived in a state of denial until I was in my late thirties and just accepted it as the way of the world.

    I don't bother with the way of the world anymore, I just live the best I can with what I have and pray the good Lord will take care of me now.

    The lies I don't pay attention to anymore, not from the media nor the neighbours.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Unfortunately your question vs answer is paradoxical. That is your dream. What all you've said is based on a "logical" string of commonality between one and another. Yet it's as impure as adding oil to water. One hand it's said that our whole world is believed to exist to unify the whole and on the other you've come to this grand conclusion of exactly what theory will create that unification as a whole. While still holding "true" to the fact that your premise, at least in your "writing" and supposedly in your mind, unless it's all written for general amusement, the system of the whole is all based upon the "lie" that we believe. We're all unique. Good writing is premised upon thought - so the writings on the wall!

  • 1 decade ago

    while it's true that as unique individuals most of us are not spectacular and society wouldn't miss us if we no longer existed there are some whose individuality has changed the world.

    imagine a world in which elvis, or the beatles, or whomever you think is a great artist never created because it wasn't in the best intrest of the community. jesus, gandhi, einstein, edison, newton, darwin, lincoln, davinci, picasso, etc.

    even in the most primitive societies individuals are revered for their unique talents and points of view. tales are told of great chiefs, hunters, warriors, healers, and the persons who follow in their footsteps try to live up to those ideals.

    i don't agree that societal indoctrination can eradicate or even minimize "the selfishness on which our society is built". there has been selfishness and coruption in society as long as there has been society. eve ate the apple, cain killed able. to religious? observe any group of societal mammals. they all display individual personalities and will act territorial and selfish towards others in the group. the difference is that we are self aware and realize we our doing it. but that doesn't mean we can develop a society to stop our behavior. but if it were possible it would take an amazing individual to lead society in the right direction. someone who is "special" "different" "unique". someone who is more influential than, marx, hitler, gandhi, bin laden, or jesus. these are the most influential people i can think of, all with their own concept of an ideal society. each one changed the world. you may agree with one or more of them. but none of them were able to fully develop their version of a perfect society.

    i could go on but i have to get up in the morning.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I like to compare the capitalist society to the set up of chess.

    "The king is nothing with out its servants."

    Is this a lie? No. Yet, aren't we all kings? Yes, because each individual gives power to the king, just like rivers connected to to the ocean, are ocean (not a perfect analogy). The point is no one can do anything alone. I think that is what lie our society lives under. We forget to embrace differences, and unify our intelligences. Nations, races, religions, all are standards for diversity. We need acceptance of diversification, instead of a parting of it. One day, I think it may just happen.

  • titou
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Some very good answers to many of these questions (which would put them in a frame of reference of Human Psychology rather than "Philosophy" -- which is by its nature empirical), in Don Richard Riso PhD's excellent text, 'Personality Types', particularly Type 4 (whose fatal characteristic is Uniqueness) and Type 3 (Deception -- of others, and eventually self).

    P.S. Try this for some consolation -- I know I need it at times!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    ok i did not read everything however from what i did read i can see you do not have blinders on - you have some very keen sharp insights.

    and yes to a large part our reality has been manufactured and there is little truth to it.

    the trick in all of this is please do not get bummed out - others are waking from a long slumber to - the sooner the better.

    good luck and find like minded people - do not get bitter - there is hope involved by seeing what a lie/bs has been manufactured simply to control others.

  • 1 decade ago

    Go Skydiving. It sounds like you need to live life a little. If you worry to much about all this stuff, you will get up one day and wonder why you didn't have more fun. You've just had too much time to think.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    the government is corrupt and they get away with everything because majority of the population is to busy shopping at the mall for shoes with lights in them.

    Wake up!


  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Government always lie! that is the fact everyone knows for sure! hahahahahahahhahahahahaha


    Bad, evil, sinful and nasty pple always lie too! hahahahahahhahahahahah

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