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"New York Philosophy" Message Board › power struggles

power struggles

A former member
Post #: 283
Why do you think power struggles exist?

I was reading something that said there are power struggles because of money and religion.

And I was thinking there have to be more reasons than that so I thought this be a nice political question to pose.
A former member
Post #: 5
I have been away but could not resist this most urgent question. I think every individual in the world, regardless of their persuasions (and they are all persuasions of descriptive, normative, prescriptive nature, not always true, good, or beautiful), should ask this question, if they want to understand life, mind, the world and their inter-relationship.

"Man is a political animal," said Aristotle. "Man is a metaphysical animal," said Schopenhauer. No matter how you want to define man, in essence, man is a calculating animal--Homo Computationist. The calculus of profit and pleasure, fear and insecurity dominate the politics and metaphysics of humankind since time immemorial.

From Politics Among Nations by Morgenthau:

The idea of interest is indeed of the essence of politics and is unaffected by the circumstances of time and place. Thucydides' statement, born of the experiences of ancient Greece, that "identity of interests is the surest of bonds whether between states or individuals" was taken up in the nineteenth century by Lord Salisbury's remark that "the only bond of union that endures" among nations is "the absence of all clashing interests." It was erected into a general principle of government by George Washington:

A small knowledge of human nature will convince us, that, with far the greatest part of mankind, interest is the governing principle; and that almost every man is more or less, under its influence. Motives of public virtue may for a time, or in particular instances, actuate men to the observance of a conduct purely disinterested; but they are not of themselves sufficient to produce persevering conformity to the refined dictates and obligations of social duty. Few men are capable of making a continual sacrifice of all views of private interest, or advantage, to the common good. It is vain to exclaim against the depravity of human nature on this account; the fact is so, the experience of every age and nation has proved it and we must in a great measure, change the constitution of man, before we can make it otherwise. No institution, not built on the presumptive truth of these maxims can succeed.

It was echoed and enlarged upon in our century by Max Weber's observation:

Interests (material and ideal), not ideas, dominate directly the actions of men. Yet the "images of the world" created by these ideas have very often served as switches determining the tracks on which the dynamism of interests kept actions moving.

Morgenthau's Politics Aming Nations is one of the classics of political literature, and delinetes the predicament of being human with emphasis on power. Google it. Some excerpts are available.

We have all heard that perception is reality. The way
the developing human brain gets programmed to percieve
the world is largely determined by one's active yet
unconscious, long-term representations of the world,
and such representations along with the algorithms of the brain act as
"unconscious switches of perception."

Such unconscious switches of perception will subtly,
inexorably, most probably, determine our responses to the news headlines,
be it politics or economics, ethics or metaphysics.

What headlines we will "free-will" to respond to, with much emotion, is no
secret given humankind's tribal histories, parochial education, biased motives and provinicial
politics. Headlines have always divided human beings,
and only heartlines can unite them. Someone said it
well: A person's world is only as big as their heart.

A former member
Post #: 286
Isn't profit and pleasure interchangable?

Or do you still hold it as two distinct matters? If you do please explain.
A former member
Post #: 6
Thanks Stacy. Yes one should define one's terms. But there are many ways to define--from denotative to connotative to stipulative to ostensive to metaphoric, by using synonyms, negation, enumeration, origin (word's derivation, original meaning, or usages) etc. So no definition is exhaustive.

For the purpose of this post, I stipulate pleasure and profit to be two distinct enitities.

Pleasure is a state of consciousness and therefore psychological, whereas profit is a state of affairs obtained in the socio-economic domain with reference to costs and revenues.

Pleasure being a state of consciousness, humans are capable of experiencing when certain specific conditions are obtained in the inner and the outer domains, is unique to the individual. The kind of things or experiences which are pleasurable for one and not for the other (from sadistic to masochistic) have to be understood at three levels: genetic or species-specific, culturally conditioned, and personally cultivated (but that takes longer). Majority of world populations are ethnocentric and remain arrested at that level.
Ethno-aesthetics explains much marketable material and interior decorations of homo sapiens. Ethno-ethics explains so much of socio-political dimension.

The permutations and combinations and iterations of pleasure states are infinite. Pleasure, in short, is psychological and subjective but based on neuro-biological substrates, and conditioning histories or chance learnings of individuals. In another sense, pleasure is the principle behind "free will" but that can't be shown on MRI scans yet. Its just another way of defining. But definitions are not proof.

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