Ignorance Today

April 23, 2011

Ignorance Today

Massimo Pigliucci (April 22, 2011)

NEW YORK – Ignorance is the root of all evil, according to Plato, who also famously gave us a still-current definition of its opposite: knowledge. For Plato, knowledge is “justified true belief.” That definition is worthy of consideration as we reflect on the perils of ignorance in the twenty-first century.

Plato thought that three conditions must be met in order for us to “know” something: the notion in question must actually be true; we must believe it (because if we do not believe something that is true, we can hardly claim that we know it); and, most subtly, it must be justifiable – there must be reasons why we believe the notion to be true.

Consider something that we all think we know: the earth is (approximately) round. This is as true as astronomical facts get, particularly because we have sent artificial satellites into orbit and seen that our planet is indeed roundish. Most of us (except for a lunatic fringe of flat-earthers) also believe this to be the case.

What about the justification of that belief? How would you answer if someone asked you why you believe that the earth is round?

The obvious place to begin would be to point to the aforementioned satellite images, but then our skeptical interlocutor could reasonably ask if you know how those images were obtained. Unless you are an expert on space engineering and imaging software, you may have some trouble at that point.

Of course, you could fall back on more traditional reasons to believe in a round earth, like the fact that our planet projects a round-looking shadow on the moon during eclipses. Naturally, you would have to be in a position to explain – if challenged – what an eclipse is and how you know that. You see where this could easily go: if we push far enough, most of us do not actually know, in the Platonic sense, much of anything. In other words, we are far more ignorant than we realize.

Socrates, Plato’s teacher, famously goaded the Athenian authorities by maintaining that he was wiser than the Oracle at Delphi, who claimed to be the wisest, because he, unlike most people (including the Athenian authorities), knew that he did not know anything. Whether Socrates’ humility was sincere or a secret joke at the expense of the powers that be (before said powers put him to death after tiring of his irreverence), the point is that the beginning of wisdom lies in the recognition of how little we really know.

Which brings me to the paradox of ignorance in our era: on the one hand, we are constantly bombarded by expert opinion, by all sorts of people – with or without Ph.D. after their name – who tell us exactly what to think (though rarely why we should think it). On the other hand, most of us are woefully inadequate to practice the venerable and vital art of baloney detection (or, more politely, critical thinking), which is so necessary in modern society.

You can think of the paradox in another way: we live in an era when knowledge – in the sense of information – is constantly available in real time through computers, smart phones, electronic tablets, and book readers. And yet we still lack the basic skills of reflecting on such information, of sifting through the dirt to find the worthy nuggets. We are ignorant masses awash in information.

Of course, it may be that humanity has always been short on critical thinking. That’s why we keep allowing ourselves to be talked into supporting unjust wars (not to mention actually dying in them), or voting for people whose main job seems to be to amass as much wealth for the rich as they can get away with. It is also why so many people are duped by exceedingly costly sugar pills sold to them by homeopathic “doctors,” and why we follow the advice of celebrities (rather than real doctors) about whether to vaccinate our kids.

But the need for critical thinking has never been as pressing as in the Internet era. At least in developed countries – but increasingly in underdeveloped ones as well – the problem is no longer one of access to information, but of the lack of ability to process and make sense of that information.

Unfortunately, colleges, high schools, and even elementary schools are unlikely to mandate introductory courses in critical thinking on their own. Education has increasingly been transformed into a commodity system, in which the “customers” (formerly students) are kept happy with personalized curricula while being prepared for the job market (rather than being prepared to be responsible human beings and citizens).

This can and must change, but it requires a grassroots movement that uses blogs, online magazines and newspapers, book clubs and meet-up clubs, and anything else that might work to promote educational opportunities to develop critical-thinking skills. After all, we do know that it is our future.

Massimo Pigliucci is Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Copyright: Project Syndicate/Institute for Human Sciences, 2011.

34 thoughts on “Ignorance Today

  1. Friends, my blog has been constantly under attack for providing a forum or platform for idea exchange and rational discourse.

    Over the last few years, I have been trying hard to encourage my blog interlocutors to engage in, and learn the practice of what Professor Massimo calls “the venerable and vital art of baloney detection (or, more politely, critical thinking), which is so necessary in modern society”.

    Sometimes it is demoralising to learn that there are some individuals in our Malaysian society who cannot but resort to name calling, stereotyping and use of gutter tactics to discredit my person and my purpose. But I will persist and I hope those of you who are with me on this worthy undertaking will also not be discouraged.

    It is easy to cut and pass gutter stuff to insult or demean others. There is no integrity and self worth in such characters. It is tough to come up with ideas of one’s own and write with integrity and conviction.

    Read Massimo’s succinct commentary and let see what needs to be done to improve our discourse. I accept constructive criticisms, but I detest those who continue to spray rubbish on this blog. I will spam them at every opportunity. I suggest that you should not react to them as my dear wife Kamsiah and I will throw the “gubberish” out as quickly as we detect them. That is a promise.–Din Merican

  2. Din
    Can I please digress on another topic about RPK giving statement to the Bukit Aman boys in Bangkok. Delete this if you think it is not appropriate.

    I do not know the end game RPK is up to. The way he is cleansed his statutory declartion by placing the blame on the Army Colonel for a non- existent report on Najib, RPK intentionally by design, or otherwise has exonerated Najib and his wife just before Sarawak election.

    In cleansing the Statutory Declaration RPK has surprisingly refrained from expressing any of his personal views of the many unanswered questions that are linked to the allegations against Najib. After working the Malaysian rakyat he wants to send the real murders to hell , his benign absentisms of any of his opinion or objective makes one wonder what game RPK is up. I hope he comes clean with his statement to the Police.
    My dear friend, I am not interested in RPK’s game. He has caused harm to innocent people like me and brilliant John Phang (LSE and Stanford). That to say the least is most regrettable.–Din Merican

  3. Critical thinking and ignorance?
    First we have to accept ‘gubberish’, as a natural consequence of flawed mentation.
    Ignorance cannot be overcome merely by critical evaluation by an intellect capable of dyadic (cause-effect) thinking.

    Supposing we do have such a faculty called consciousness, there is then the question of free-will. Is it possible to accept an alternative explanation? Can there be other possibilities, not revealed? Is there a ‘Spirit of Inquiry’, a childlike curiosity to mold our reality?
    Nah, Malaysians only like gore, porn and to begger our neighbor.

    Next, the weight of sociocultural mores, traditions and norms. Blinkered, bull-shit or baloney it doesn’t matter, they all start with the letter ‘B’. It’s just that we are expected to follow like little sheep. Hence, the need of the Sacrificial Lamb or some other innocent victims, as long it is not us. Projection. This Myth, is in a sense our: ‘Individualization’.
    An Individual is the most reviled creature imaginable – a rebel or revolutionary.

    Honestly do you see any truly independent thinker amongst bloggers who like me, are half wits? Everyone has an “Agenda”.
    Which comes to Ontology – the study of self, being and such dreary stuff of metaphysics.

    In this country, with our education system being as politicized, racialized and religionized as it is – and higher education being regarded as dumbed down factories to produce human automata, i think we are asking too much.

  4. CLF, there is nothing insane about you. You are clear in your thinking and very articulate. It is always a pleasure to read your writings. Keep going. The process of change, says Machiavelli, is hazardous and not guaranteed of success. But we have to keep pushing the envelope as gently as we can.–Din Merican

  5. Well, this is pretty heavy stuff

    You have remembered in the Book of Acts, Paul has reasoned with a group of philosphers in Athen…..Of course, Paul has failed to bring them to christ
    Something to share in this topic. Introducing CS Lewis. I would also wanna introduce Kenneth William, one heck witty guy. Of course, CS Lewis & Kenneth Williams are world poles apart. However, one would agree these folks are intellectual fellas…..Rowan Atkinson aka Mr Bean too….Rowan & I shared the same profession….We major in engineering….hehehehe

  6. Anakrakyat,

    You have yourself only to blame for falling victim to ‘uncritical thinking’ and should now not shift the blame to someone else.

    Someone else merely quoted someone else’s statement to him or to others who then repeated the same to him. To give it an aura of truth and seriousness of motive someone had his thoughts reduced to writing, employing terminology accustomed to people who are no nearer the truth but would like others to think he has found the truth, like “I have been reliably informed” in front of someone who has been authorised to administer oaths for a small fee.

    For putting your critical faculty on hold and in deep freeze you now want to vent your frustration and apportion blame on someone else.

    Remember whenever you point your finger at someone else for your own failing, four of your remaining figures keep pointing back at you. Praise be to the Lord God for He is All Knowing – for giving you the finger.

  7. In modern China, and my opinion, many universities prepare their students for certain industries and big government companies (SOEs). There they are turned into systemic parts of the machinery.

    They are so in a mad rush to develop and modernize. Except for a few places, they are not into the thinking “sort” of education we had in Malaysia, at least when I was student.

    I see trouble when 1.4 billion people of China are limited in their thinking. That is why, the world needs the Indians.

    Their general education level is very low, and please don’t talk about critical thinking or philosophy to the students.

    The government is more worried about unemployment and the political fallout if they fail. They believe critical thinking does not help in reducing unemployment though there are minute signs of change.

    Any inclination for critical thinking is subsumed under tonnes of rote learning and memorising. And countless hours of internet games removed any initiative or motivation for independent thinking.

    The students need somebody to poke them into thinking, and they repsond. Very few go around searching and observing, and coming out with answers on thier own like the old sages of China of whom, China rarely talks about nowadays.

    Talking about stretching the envelope, Chinese education system encourages students to go only a single answer, instead of stretching the envelope.

    Many believe answers come from textbooks, and not through thinking. They memorise formulae but neglect to understand the roots.

    I am not sure if I am wrong when I say they regard knowledge from textbooks are eternally sacrosant.

    Critical thinking is more suitable for countries that are relatively rich and developed. For some is a luxurt, and for others a security threat.

    The rich countries used to be the Europeans and Americans, but that does not mean the education system can be politicized, racialized and religionized in a multi-racial country like Malaysia. I hope that our country Malaysia will not turn into a country that regards critical thinkng a security threat.

  8. Koon Hong,
    You sure of China people lack of critical thinking? Have you been to China? Stay there & work there? The problems are there are too many “thinking” people in China…..It might lead to world war 3

  9. Looes74,

    Ma femme et moi venons de rentrer de Paris, au cœur de la France qui nous a donné l’idée de liberté, d’égalité et de fraternité. C’est cette idée qui a son inspiration dans le concept des droits universels de Locke naturelles. C’est la terre qui a nourri Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu et d’autres penseurs qui ont influencé Enligthenment les rédacteurs de la Constitution américaine. Rousseau en particulier, était très influent avec son livre ou Emile éducation.

    La pensée critique est de l’éducation formelle et informelle, fondée sur la croyance que la raison apprivoise l’esprit animal en l’homme et se concentre l’homme à chercher la vérité. L’homme doit être humain et compatissant. La connaissance donne à l’homme que la capacité unique de réfléchir et de mener une vie utile. L’ignorance nous conduit sur ​​le chemin de l’abîme intellectuelle. L’avenir appartient à un homme instruit et ouvert d’esprit avec la capacité de raisonner et de vivre une vie éthique.

    Voir, mon ami, la valeur d’un spirt libre et indépendant qui respecte la primauté du droit, vise le gouvernement responsable et d’assurer la survie de l’État (une communauté ou organisation politique des individus indépendants, libres et souverains) .

    [My wife and I have just returned from Paris, the heart of France that gave us the idea of liberty, equality and fraternity. It is this idea that has its inspiration in the Lockean concept of universal natural rights. It is the land that nurtured Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu and other Enlightenment thinkers who influenced the framers of the American constitution. Rousseau in particular was very influential with his book Emile or On Education.

    Critical thinking comes from formal and informal education, founded on the belief that reason tames the animal spirit in man and focuses man to seek truth. Man must be humane and compassionate. Knowledge endows man with that unique ability to think and lead a purposeful life. Ignorance leads us down the path of intellectual abyss. The future belongs to an educated and open minded man with the ability to reason and live an ethical life.

    See, my friend, the value of a free and independent spirit who respects the Rule of Law, seeks accountable government and ensure the survival of the state (a community or polity of independent, free and sovereign individuals).]

  10. Din,
    Like I say, I got to improve my french…..Perhaps, I should start now….Study French when I was with French Singapore Institute, a dumping ground for A level & STPM students. EDB grants sound good. Free tuition fee with 300 SGD allowance per month. Me miss all that they abolish the system & merge it with the brand new polytechnic called Nanyang Polytechnic.

    As usual, being a french collaboration, one got to etude la francaise. Pour trois ans. I can still study your comments in french with little help from dictionary. Ecrit part need lots a brushing up.
    Never too late, my man. 65% of the French words are English and our Korean guide told me that French is easy because of this. Only Grammar is complicated, but not impossible. –Din Merican

    You are right about ignorance. That’s what happens to the German intellectuals when Hitler came to power. Perhaps, it’s the seduction of power blocks from being a sane. That’s what happen during the french revolution. That also happen earlier when Oliver Cromwell comes to power
    Yes, German intellectuals. Martin Heidegger was one of them and another is composer Richard Wagner. Even Carl Schmitt. Joseph Goebbels knew how to use them for his propaganda for the Third Reich and Hitler’s Vision of an Aryan Race.

    If you have time please visit this:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/46933712/A-Dick-Moses-German-Intellectuals-and-the-Nazi-Past. Cheers, Din Merican

  11. The problems are there are too many “thinking” people in China…..It might lead to world war 3 –

    Talking about world war 3 – US-Russia against China?

  12. Loess, i read ‘Jack’ Lewis Mere Christianity a long, long time ago, but thanks. A better book to read wrt to Din’s article about critical thinking and deception is his “Screwtape Letters” and the “Weight of Glory”. In fact, Dr Francis Collins, the former head of the Human Genome Project, which completed the mapping of the Human Genome was also influenced by Jack’s writings, but only saw the Light and received the Spirit, sometime later. As an engineer, i think you would like to read about what Collin’s refers to as “Bio-Logos”.

    While we are on the subject of critical thinking, i agree with much of L.K. Tang says. There is as Datuk says, two ways of ensuring that ‘critical thinking’ is taught. Formal education by Rote learning is of course not ideal, as critical thinking enjoins too much danger in ‘irrelevant’ questions of causation and derivation of set formulae. Memorization is usually preferred. This, of course nullifies the ‘thinking’ Creative mind and leads to oversimplification in the domains of ‘human nature’.

    The Far Eastern philosophies inherently discourage the Western notion of Critical Thinking and ‘Scientific Method’, except with the possibility of the now extinct Mohism (from the sage Mo-Tzu, 墨子). The others in ancient China being Legalism, Confucianism and Taoism. Coincidently, the Mohists were henotheists who were believers of ‘unconditional/universal love’ and were in the process of developing a ‘scientific based’ meritocracy, before being exterminated by Qin Shi-Huang. Such are the vagaries of history.

    The informal ‘education’ by parents and caregivers is probably a better way, given our circumstances. Awareness and conscious choice, tempered with conscience, is the essential element of child-rearing.

    But then as the Franciscan Psychologist, Fr Anthony Di Mello says: “Most people are born asleep, study, marry, breed, divorce, live and finally die still asleep.” So sleeping parents cannot possibly awaken their children, whilst in slumber.

    Beyond critical thinking, there is also what we call ‘Divergent’ thinking. But, i’ll leave it for another day, ‘cuz i’m still sucking on my Easter Egg.

  13. Rightways, give that a break.
    PRC PM Wen is on his way here and Amb Chai Xi is up to his neck already, without you starting another ‘war’ on this blog. Hahaha..
    PM Wen’s, a very intelligent no nonsense meritocrat. Hope he’ll give our Tempurung Goon Squad here a piece of his mind. Behind closed doors, of course!
    Btw, you noticed how they treated our dPm during his jaunt, in your ancestral land recently?

  14. Dato’, it IS becasue your blog is for rational discourse and critical thinking without resorting to name calling that it’s being attacked constantly. That is no reason to give up. This is reason to keep on persevering. For this is the indication that you are on the right track. Thinking is uncomfortable for it makes everyone responsible for their own deeds. So no one wants to think, they just say ‘yes” wihout thinking. They just copy another becasue it is trend to do so,even though the conduct is wrong. Going upstream is difficult, going against the tide is difficult. No one wants to do it but life will make us . Life will dish out lessons for every individual to make them think and reflect of their (our)own deeds whether we like to or not .

    Especially if we dont want to , that lesson will keep coming back until we have learnt it. So dont give up Dato’, you are on theh right track. The more people try to mock you (us), the harder you (we) must fight to have proper discourse wihout name calling and discourse maturely on issues that face the country until one day discoursing maturely becomes second nature in Malaysia.

    Dato, it is also in the Koran that teaches when we have taken on the challenges to cleanse our Soul,to choose right from wrong, there will be constant challenges to it to see us how we handle it,however with every challenge, there is relief.
    Thanks, Kathy for your kind thoughts. I appreciate the above comments very much.–Din Merican

    “Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. ”
    John F. Kennedy

  15. Having “critical thinking” is not a license to wreak havoc in society though I would say, a precursor to transformation, and not revolution. It is not license to kill or destroy, much less starting WW3.

    Those who think “critical thinking” is a license to start WW3, should check on their emotional underpinnings.

    It inadvertently eflects some weaknesses in that domain – these people will be the domineering type, always refusing to listen to other opionions in exchange for fresh ideas, and they often get very personal, and criticise the people rather than the people’s ideas.

    In addition, these people would most likely see “critical thinkers” as security threats if they were in a despotic position either because they want to stay in power at all costs, or they simply cannot entertain the thought of other people have better and brighter ideas, and as a result their positions of stature is thus threatened .

    “Critical thinking” expands and stretches the envelope of thoughts, in that it provides wider options and choices for society to choose from when solving problems and searching for solutions. In other words, critical thinking prepares society for responding to changes in circumstances.

    This is important in democracy because it lets the people choose with more information (and scenarios) available.

    This is assuming there is no restriction leading to information asymmetry. This is the arena when politics and economics dominate which are serious barriers to the implementation and resurgence of “critical thinkng” in democratic societies. We can leave this out for the time being.

    But again, I say, being “critical thinkers” does not mean you can criticise the person. You criticise the thoughts and ideas. Never get personal.

    Therefore, “critical thinkers” contribute to society because it prepares the society for future problems, as these people provide different perspectives in problem definition, and also options for optimal solutions.

  16. Din,
    Actually the grammar is ok, as German is even tougher in grammar. It’s actually the conjugaison. Of course, if I were thrown in a french village where nobody speaks english, my french would improve tremendously. Okie…..I would start now….Step by step
    However, the more complicated the conjugation is, the more sophistecated the language would become, Latin is the best language…..My opinion…..It stimulate logical thinking……Not just good for stimulating Bean’s chai brain on legal terms, but scientific terms too……hehehe, ok lah….Me in engineering laa……Not scientist

    Give me some time to respond to your comment

    Again, have you watched Li Ao commentary on Tiananmen square incident. You still think China people still backward. You are wrong,man……China is filled with plenty people who thinked very highly of themselves. They are pretty philosophical in thinking.
    Who are we to compare to these fellas from Qinghua & Bei Ta?

  17. CLF,
    As much as I admire Premier Wen, what about Zhu RongJi? China needs 100 Zhu Rongji to get rid of corruption in China. I have mentioned before that
    China now….Mao China or Chiang China? Or who actually won China? Or Kuomintang really lost? Hehehe

  18. Critical thinkers cannot criticize the person, but only his ideas? Not all the time.
    The reason for this Difficulty, is that the ‘medium’ is often times is the message itself. Take for example our Dear Leader who is noblesse’ personified. He is a target of derision, precisely because he is not perceived as an agent for Change, Transformation, Evolution or whatever term they want to couch it in.

    Critical thinking should not be confused with “Divergent” thinking (first coined by psychologist J.P. Guildford), which are the characteristics of your last paragraph about dealing with problems from different angles of attack and about creativity. Let me explain.

    * Creative thinking requires rationality and awareness of individual choices. It can be equated to healthy skepticism, even cynicism and the ability to see beyond the psychological inflation, narcissism, megalomania, bohemianism and consolation of vice. This should not be regarded as a process nor reduced to mere logical extension/experience. It is a ‘domain’ inherent to sentient beings. Otherwise, called “Individuation”. It is about wondering, questioning and seeking answers for the not-yet obvious.

    * Cause and effect forms of rationality (Dyadic) tend to be reductionist or convergent. It narrows down all options to one solution. It does not allow for a component of creativity; nor is there capacity to arrive at unique and original solutions by considering the problem in terms of many solutions. This is the problem, i see with the current “One” Malaysia mania and hype, which is at best a placebo. No truly thinking person is deceived.

    * Divergent Thinking appropriates opposites. Conflicts between freedom and control in politics, for example can be “solved” only by attaining a higher level of justice. This is the ‘rule breaking’ required by the authorities. It requires a higher conceptual ability and unity. Unfortunately, the powers to be are totally devoid of such ‘antinomian’ attitudes and lack the will.. They will continue with convergent solutions for triadic problems.

    Too dense? O.K, i’ll go back to sucking my Easter Egg.

  19. TLK / CLF
    China never lacks people with critical thinking. However, the political system and culture doesn’t allow or promote the freedom to express what you think, the society as a whole incline toward collectivism. Look at Singapore. I also don’t quite agree rote learning and memorizing hinder critical thinking.

    There is difference between a premier Zhu and a retire premier Zhu be it 100 or 1000. You can’t rely on a Mao or Zhu or Bao Gong to reduce corruption. The people choose socialism, hence socialism wins China, of course Mao wins China as well but his economy model failed. Capitalism helps to revive the economy, Deng changed course when he know communism and control economy don’t work, but that doesn’t mean he will adopt a liberal democratic. Fukuyama had to eat his words and have to write more books to tell us he is still relevant, until the erudite CLF also get confuse. CCP never allow multiple party democratic system, however they may give more freedom / democratic to choose leaders within the party, this time they want to do it slow. They are actually revert back to an imperialist system that without emperor. One of the best era in China could be Song whereby commerce, science, thought and literacy is relatively advance and progressive, but weak militarily. We will see much increase in CCP defend budget to modernize and strengthen the PLA.

  20. HuaYong,
    You sure? Have you watched Emperor Kangxi? Really does not allow critical thinking? Do you know that 姚启申 has been extremely critical of the emperor that he’s willing to go against him…..Something for you to watch….hehehe….I would find clips how CCP themselves debating on issues……Extremely heated debate

  21. Huayong,
    I have yet to find the movie on Deng Xiao Peng. Something for you to reflect upon.
    Though there might not be a multi party system in China, there are multi factions in China. Yes, CCP is doing it slow. China has introduced direct elections in the local town councils & village councils……Got to go, no battery

  22. HuaYong, critical thinkers are not the solution PRC needs. Creative-Divergent thinkers are.
    That, they don’t or can’t have – due to the cultural stigmata attached to ‘individualization’, as you so rightly pointed out. There is a constant need of conformity to the tenets of whatever sort of governance that is practiced. That is why all Empires, Dynasties in extremis etc are wracked by calamitous convulsions of rebellion from time to time. Ever since the dawn of civilization began. China is the best example.

    It may surprise you that the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations are very much intact, only that they are now called “Western”. The Dark Ages were called that, as Christianity absorbed and adopted the underpinings of Platonian, Stoic and other Greek philosphies, culminating in Aristotlean kept intact by the Islamic civilization. This period is not as barbaric as most popular culture would have it. Therefore, it is wrong to say that China is the oldest extant civilization. It would be better to say it was unable to change and adapt with time. Westernization is not the way, but Christian precepts are. That is what is happening.

    Btw, ‘Science’ is not mere Technological advances, rightways. The true ground-breaking scientific discoveries will remain in Western hands for quite some time. PRC is at best 2-3 decades lagging behind the US in empirical science. No matter what they do, because Science is not an Act but a Thought Process.
    A matter for your perusal and reference would be the LHC (Large Hadron Collider – quatum physics), the advances in asrtrophysics (including space telescopes), artificial intelligence, communications, hypersonics, enviromental science, micro-robotics and genetic research. In fact, South Korea and Japan are much more advanced than PRC.
    Mere money expended into ‘Science’ is a fatuous, unrewarding exercise. It is better spent on Technology. Even that, our brainy authorities can’t distinguish. Where got hope..?!

  23. Dato’, pleasure. You are one of the leader of change. We must follow suit. We need someone we can emulate for proper values and conduct for the future.

    CLF, thank you for your thoughts @ 10.23pm

    I found this enpightening. We badly need it back home,

    “* Creative thinking requires rationality and awareness of individual choices. It can be equated to healthy skepticism, even cynicism and the ability to see beyond the psychological inflation, narcissism, megalomania, bohemianism and consolation of vice. This should not be regarded as a process nor reduced to mere logical extension/experience. It is a ‘domain’ inherent to sentient beings. Otherwise, called “Individuation”. It is about wondering, questioning and seeking answers for the not-yet obvious. “

  24. Looes74,
    I watched the entire trilogy of Kang Xi , Yong Zheng and Qian Long, I suggest you watch a second time. The core message of the series is nothing but to conform for the good of preserving harmony of the polity. Like I said, China never short of people with critical thinking with feature of individualism, however most of them can’t break through the norm. Since you are the aficionado of series and movie, you shall recall how Jet Li kill himself for the sake of 大一统 (unification). I think among one of the freest period is late Han (if exclude Chun Qiu), the turbulent time of The Three Kingdom allowed the people to act and live at their own will, read 竹林七贤.

    That said, one interesting question is why Europe never unifies until today but China did?

    I never have the habit to glorify China and Chinese, and I also don’t write in a demean manner for the sake to tell I am neutral, I wrote base on my understanding from reading. The ‘extant civilization’ is pretty confusing unless we have a clear definition of what constitute extant. In the China context, the comparison is made among the four major civilization, Egypt, Greek, India and China, the rational, I believe, is actually more on physical parameter like language and writing system, not thought and philosophy.

    If your thesis of Chinese cultural stigmata is correct, don’t you think the contention of oldest extant civilization seem very convincing? The Chinese is not much different from 4000 years ago.

  25. Hua Yong,
    Look at the China history again, do you really think that China is that united? Is China the same China proper existed nong nong nong time ago?
    I have to agree with CLF that PRC is still lacked behind “Thought” process. But however, they are closing in the gap pretty fast. Once they do, hehehe

    Better start asking Aussie to tanam more jagungs back in Oz land

  26. Looes74
    China has a relative long history, so your nong nong nong would depend on how nong you are referring to. Regardless there is break up from time to time, we can’t deny the fact that the core ideology is unification “After a long split, a union will occur; after a long union, a split will occur (分久必合,合久必分)” is always the pattern of China history. Point is, the yearning of unification is the utmost wish of their people. Taiwan or ROC ring a bell? I never disagree with CLF, however what thought process are we talking about? Send troops all over the world?

  27. My blog has been constantly under attack- Dinobeano

    Internet is jungle, bad and good are there where the winner takes all, losers lost all.
    It is not an attack on your blog alone! In fact WordPress and Google servers are constantly under attacks.

    The competent undoes them while the ignorance, the root of all evil, complained like UMNO’s M, even Diam as financial wizard were undone by George Soro!

  28. Rightways,
    Mahathir called George Soros a moron. Thereafter the Malaysian dollars plummeted against the british pounds. Even the MARA students are cursing & swearing at Mahathir & UMNO. Culminating to massive revolt by the melayus in 1998

  29. looes74,
    Right, Dr M also complained about British who never told him in advance about devaluation of GB Pounds.
    He was so ignorance that devaluation actually don’t work if it was not done by surprise!
    Dr M is a shame to Malaysian!!

  30. Rightways,
    Ask that apanama how he humiliated the whole nation while dealing with Singapore on water issue. Double disgrace when LKY show hand by disclosing the whole correspondances………Shaming him & Malaysia government

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