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Session: What Is Modern Culture?
This is a Session within the Topic Culture
 
 
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Goal
What is modern culture? What is true and relevant about each perspective, and how can we bring these together to find the essential nature of this topic?
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Perspectives & Resources
Perspectives are short paragraphs summarizing any point of view about the Topic. Explore each View and then vote on it.
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"Culture turns people into objects for wealth, power or sexual gratification"
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Reach the Heart of a Perspective
Topic: What is modern culture? Present situation


Culture turns people into objects for wealth, power or sexual gratification

Hannah Arendt said the rise of radical evil is caused by collective “thoughtlessness.” Desperate to escape from the prison of a failed society, willing to do anything and abuse anyone to advance, those who feel trapped see the people around them as objects to be exploited for self-advancement. This exploitation mirrors that carried out by corrupt ruling elites. Turning people into objects to be used to achieve wealth, power or sexual gratification is the core practice espoused by popular culture, from reality television to casino capitalism. Trump personifies this practice.
Plato wrote that the moral character of a society is determined by its members. When the society abandons the common good it unleashes amoral lusts—violence, greed and sexual exploitation—and fosters magical thinking. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus called those who severed themselves from the moral and reality-based universe idiotes. When these idiotes, whose worldview is often the product of relentless indoctrination, form a majority or a powerful minority, the demagogue rises from the morass.

 

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Addresses the root issue
Flawed, one-sided, or superficial
 
How to Explore a Perspective
Relax, focus. Take a step back and look at the Perspective from all sides. Now, zero in at the center!
 
What is the Bias?
What assumptions does it make? Whose interests does it serve?

What is your Personal Experience?
How does it make you feel? How do your experiences, privileges, and personal interests affect your understanding of it?
Now, enter the heart
▶ Say something good about what you disagree with, even if there are flaws.
▶ Find causes, not symptoms. Ask what lies at the root.
▶ Have respect for people with different views, insights, and priorities!
 
Opinion added by
Visionary Society
on March 09, 2018
 
This is the opinion of Chris Hedges
"Comfort reduces us to passivity and egoism"
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Topic: What is modern culture? Present situation


Comfort reduces us to passivity and egoism

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy...In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

 

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Addresses the root issue
Flawed, one-sided, or superficial
 
How to Explore a Perspective
Relax, focus. Take a step back and look at the Perspective from all sides. Now, zero in at the center!
 
What is the Bias?
What assumptions does it make? Whose interests does it serve?

What is your Personal Experience?
How does it make you feel? How do your experiences, privileges, and personal interests affect your understanding of it?
Now, enter the heart
▶ Say something good about what you disagree with, even if there are flaws.
▶ Find causes, not symptoms. Ask what lies at the root.
▶ Have respect for people with different views, insights, and priorities!
 
Opinion added by
Visionary Society
on March 09, 2018
 
This is the opinion of Neil Postman
"We are headed for misery, chaos, and tyranny due to growing depravity in culture"
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Reach the Heart of a Perspective
Topic: What is modern culture? Present situation


We are headed for misery, chaos, and tyranny due to growing depravity in culture

American popular culture is in a free fall, with the bottom not yet in sight. This is what the liberal view of human nature has brought us to. The idea that men are naturally rational, moral creatures without the need for strong external restraints has been exploded by experience. There is an eager and growing market for depravity, and profitable industries devoted to supplying it. Much of such resistance as there is comes from people living on the moral capital accumulated by prior generations. That capital may be expected to dwindle further—cultures do not unravel everywhere all at once. Unless there is a vigorous counterattack, which must, I think, resort to legal as well as moral sanctions, the prospects are for a chaotic and unhappy society, followed, perhaps, by an authoritarian and unhappy society.

 

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Addresses the root issue
Flawed, one-sided, or superficial
 
How to Explore a Perspective
Relax, focus. Take a step back and look at the Perspective from all sides. Now, zero in at the center!
 
What is the Bias?
What assumptions does it make? Whose interests does it serve?

What is your Personal Experience?
How does it make you feel? How do your experiences, privileges, and personal interests affect your understanding of it?
Now, enter the heart
▶ Say something good about what you disagree with, even if there are flaws.
▶ Find causes, not symptoms. Ask what lies at the root.
▶ Have respect for people with different views, insights, and priorities!
 
Opinion added by
Visionary Society
on March 09, 2018
 
This is the opinion of Robert Bork
 
Recommended Resources (Review before voting)
 
 
Link: Chris Hedges, Diseases of Despair Chris Hedges, Diseases of Despair
 
 
Other Resources
 
Link: The U.N.’s Gaza Report Is Flawed and Dangerous The U.N.’s Gaza Report Is Flawed and Dangerous

Text: We can’t distinguish between good and bad (Nihilism)
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We can’t distinguish between good and bad (Nihilism)

"Nihilism as a state of soul is revealed not so much in the lack of firm beliefs but in a chaos of the instincts or passions. People no longer believe in a natural hierarchy of the soul's varied and conflicting inclinations." Allan Bloom, The Closing Of the American Mind, 155

“Today’s students hesitate to articulate their reasons for loving—they must certainly have such reasons somewhere within them—for fear that they may come up with negative judgments about someone else’s tastes or practices. This would be illiberal and might lead to persecution. Liberal society guarantees the right to privacy, even when nobody wants to keep anything private. A de facto equality among all preferences and practices is declared in order to avoid criticism and comparison.” Allan Bloom, Love and Friendship, 434


Radical freedom of expression advocates equate the best with the worst

“There is apparently nothing that a flummery of professors will not testify has ‘serious value.’ When Cincinnati prosecuted the museum that displayed Mapplethorpe’s photographs, the jury deferred to defense witnesses who said the pictures were art and hence could not be obscene. Cincinnati was widely ridiculed and portrayed as benighted for even attempting to punish obscenity. One typical cartoon showed a furtive figure stepping out of an alley in the city to offer ‘feelthy pictures’ to a surprised passerby. The picture was a reproduction of a Michelangelo. It is typical of our collapse of standards that Mapplethorpe’s grotesqueries can be compared even in a cartoon to Michelangelo’s art.” Robert Bork, Slouching Toward Gomorrah, 146

Immorality is no longer definable or defensible

“Today’s Court majority would have difficulty understanding Chaplinsky’s statement that an utterance could inflict an injury to morality. Morality itself has become relativized in our constitutional jurisprudence, so that the Court no longer has the vocabulary to say that something is immoral and, for that reason, may be banned by the legislature.” Robert Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, 149


Allan Bloom and Robert Bork


Text: We are miserable, greedy, and depraved
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We are miserable, greedy, and depraved

“They took the bread and milk and meat from the people of their fields; they gave it to feed, and retain here in their service, this fermenting mass of unhappy human beings, — news-mongers, novel-mongers, picture-mongers, poison-drink-mongers, lust and death-mongers; the whole smoking mass of it one vast dead-marine storeshop, — accumulation of wreck of the Dead Sea, with every activity in it, a form of putrefaction.”


Work and pleasure is dissolute

“They took the bread and milk and meat from the people of their fields; they gave it to feed, and retain here in their service, this fermenting mass of unhappy human beings,—news-mongers, novel-mongers, picture-mongers, poison-drink-mongers, lust and death-mongers; the whole smoking mass of it one vast dead-marine storeshop,—accumulation of wreck of the Dead Sea, with every activity in it, a form of putrefaction.”

John Ruskin, The Genius of John Ruskin


Text: Most of us have ceased to be shocked
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Most of us have ceased to be shocked

“We live in an age when most of us have ceased to be shocked by the increasing breakdown in moral inhibitions. The decay of conscience fills the air with a pungent smell. Good and evil, which were once as distinguishable as day and night, have become a blurred mist. But that mist is man-made.” 152
“Now we reap the fruits of failure. Through centuries His voice cried in the wilderness. How skillfully it was trapped and imprisoned in the temples! How thoroughly distorted! Now we behold how it gradually withdraws, abandoning one people after another, departing from their souls, despising their wisdom. The taste for goodness has all but gone from the earth.” 152
Decline of the holy and growth of the profane. “We have trifled with the name of God. We have taken ideals in vain, preached and eluded Him, praised and defied Him. Now we reap the fruits of failure. Through centuries His voice cried in the wilderness. How skillfully it was trapped and imprisoned in the temples! How thoroughly distorted! Now we behold how it gradually withdraws, abandoning one people after another, departing from their souls, despising their wisdom. The taste for goodness has all but gone from the earth.” Abraham Heschel, Man Is Not Alone, 152

‘Sex was remade in the image of Hugh Hefner; Eros demoted from a god to a buffoon. Over the last thirty years, America transformed itself into a pornographic culture....A pornographic culture is not one in which pornographic materials are published and distributed. A pornographic culture is one which accepts the ideas about sex on which pornography is based.” Maggie Gallagher. Enemies of Eros, 1989, 251


Most of us are no longer shocked by immorality and the taste for goodness is gone


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Conclusion
Ask the impossible question!
What is most important – and true – about each perspective, especially those you disagree with? Taking all this into account, what do you think is most important about modern culture?
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