Thursday, May 20, 2021

926: Life isn't fair.....

In the previous lecture, I talked about how homo sapiens created a system of laws to keep society organized.


Law can be descriptive, like "when you kill someone, you will be killed" or prescriptive like "You are not allowed to marry your sister"


This enables everyone to live an organized and peaceful life. It gives room for personal development, personal growth, education. It is from all times.


We study the historic development of knowledge in this project. It is a bit of a side-track, but I want to add another idea to our look at history.


I recently read an article, that made me think and wonder about life from a particular perspective. I found it such a challenging idea, that I want to bring it to your attention.


The observation is from all times: Life isn't fair. Some people die young, while others grow very old. Some get sick, while others do not even get a cold.


Some people get rich, while others stay poor all their life. When you are born with black skin in a white society, you run the risk of discrimination. None of all this you asked for. Life is fundamentally unfair.


It doesn't matter in what time you live or lived, life is always the same: we live in a constant state of inequality.


In the previous lecture we saw, that homo sapiens had discovered causality:  IF < event > THEN < consequence >. And he applied it to his empirical world.


Thus we can conclude that this fundamental inequality must have a cause. Throughout history inequality has been accepted, justified in several ways:


God created the world like this, the law of nature, predestination, karma, fate. Whatever you like. If homo sapiens made any progress through times,


then it has been the growing consciousness that this inequality isn't fair. This often led to rebellion and revolutions.


In the most extreme case, it led to an egalitarian society where, to quote George Orwell, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal. We all know how this ended.


In our liberal society we have, no, we think that we have discovered THE solution to social inequality. We have embraced the ideal of EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES.


From left to right politicians believe in a better society by creating equal chances for everyone, as the ultimate response to the skewed growth in their country - between arm and rich, high and low educated, white and colored, man and woman.


If everyone gets equal opportunities, the thought is, life will be fair again. Of course, all those politicians do not mean exactly the same as they talk about 'equal opportunities. 


On the right, more emphasis will focus on the responsibility of the individual, while the left sees a greater role for the government. 


With embracing 'equal opportunities' as the highest ideal, politicians show to be children of meritocracy: the idea that you have to grab a fair chance, and that if you don't do it, it is your own fault.


Don't get me wrong: of course, it is a good idea to combat, for example with intensive education, to combat illiteracy and reduce power inequality with taxes. 


But it is a misconception to think that such policies will take out opportunities. That is not possible. After all, you also are lucky or have bad luck with your genes, with your parents, or simply with everyday events.


LEt's just accept it: Life is unfair with regard to the individual and will always stay unfair. When born with a low IQ you'll never become a well-paid professor.


In fact, we have to return to the social state of the hunter-gatherer, whose survival depended on collective solidarity and mutual sharing.


If you would really like to make the world fair, another philosophy of fairness is needed. One that puts our sacred ability to grab opportunities in perspective. 


A perspective that does not see redistribution as an infringement of rightly acquired prosperity, but as a moral self-evidence. As a logical answer to the unavoidable inequality in every society.


We should not create a number of facilities to give people a so-called 'equal opportunity', and then leave them to their own. We have to redistribute as much as our society can handle.


The state cannot equalize the opportunities of all people. The state can certainly eradicate poverty and make a home affordable for everyone with our immense wealth. 


But do we dare to ask the required solidarity of the successful fellow man? Or are we too much in the grip of "from newspaper boy to millionaire"?


Thank you for your attention again....



MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rens Bod: "Een Wereld vol Patronen".  2019

The Discussion


[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman

[13:23] herman Bergson: By the way...what just came to my mind....

[13:23] herman Bergson: Here in Europe there are ideas about giving everybody via the state a basic income....redistribution of the immense wealth

[13:24] herman Bergson: a way to fight inequality

[13:24] CB Axel: Yes, I heard they're trying that in Wales.

[13:24] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): and why not 

[13:24] herman Bergson: It makes sense

[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): mm

[13:25] herman Bergson: the liberal idea is, that when you are poor it is your own, is your problem , not of the community

[13:25] herman Bergson: But in fact that is very unfair.....

[13:26] herman Bergson: Did you ask for that handicap, that low IQ, that illness etc?

[13:26] CB Axel: Andrew Yang was pushing for that, based, I believe, on the writings of Rutger Bregman.

[13:26] CB Axel: Sadly, if a newspaper boy becomes a millionaire he often does everything he can to keep other newspaper boys from becoming millionaires.

[[13:26] herman Bergson: Sounds probable CB

[13:27] CB Axel: In fact, those millionaires don't even help the newsboys become thousand-aires (I just made up that word).

[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): nice word CB:)

[13:27] herman Bergson: One basic problem is our concept of private property and the accumulation of property by a single individual

[13:28] herman Bergson: Keep in mind that WE invented that is not a law of nature

[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ALL IS MINE! ONLY MINE!

[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): THAT issue

[13:29] herman Bergson: Communism tried to change this, but it was counter intuitive

[13:30] herman Bergson: But I like the idea that life is intrinically unfair

[13:30] herman Bergson: and that we have to deal with this unfairness

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): The russian ways rarley work. Like Chernobyl they tend to go BAUUUUUM!

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but indeed it was an attempt for a solution

[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): if people get a basic income...don't they ask what to do in return of that?

[13:31] herman Bergson: it the believe in creating equal chances and opportunities for everyone is a failing approach for a better world

[13:31] CB Axel: Read Bregman, Beertje.

[13:31] herman Bergson: Indeed CB :-)

[13:32] herman Bergson: People want to live a meaningful live Beertje....

[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they can

[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): even with a basic income

[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:32] herman Bergson: not just be a consumer

[13:32] herman Bergson: yes....

[13:32] CB Axel: If people get a basic income they use it to pay for child care, transportation, housing, etc. It allows them to work at jobs they actually like.

[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's good when you can feed your children

[13:33] herman Bergson: make yourself meaningful for the community

[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed

[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true

[13:33] CB Axel: And if they have a bad boss they can tell him to F-off and quit.

[13:33] herman Bergson: Right ^_^

[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont):

[13:34] CB Axel: It makes everyone better, because bosses have to treat their workers like human beings and not a piece of machinery they own.

[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed

[13:34] CB Axel: And that's why the upper classes don't like it.

[13:34] herman Bergson: The basic idea is the question....Who OWNS this earth....?

[13:34] CB Axel: They'd have to act like nice people.

[13:34] herman Bergson: In fact....nobody....

[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ME ME MEEEEEEEEEEE!

[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lool

[13:35] herman Bergson: so what we have to do is to share the wealth it offers us

[13:35] CB Axel: Bejiita, if you own the earth please fix it up!

[13:35] CB Axel: It's getting trashed!!

[13:35] herman Bergson: IT's all your fault Bejiita !!!!!

[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well i soo wish i could do that for sure, could need a bit of help though

[13:35] CB Axel: LOL

[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but indeed its a bit trashed as now

[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and it needs to be fixed somehow

[13:36] CB Axel: Treat your workers well and pay them a living wage and I'm sure they'll be happy to help you fix the earth. :)

[13:36] herman Bergson: of course this all may sound a little utopian.....

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): (aims LHC accelerator at Herman) What did u say!

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ?

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well we can at least hope

[13:36] herman Bergson: but the ideas, the seeds, are there......we have to rethink our existence

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes

[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): pull slowly in the right direction

[13:37] herman Bergson: It will take generations

[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): at least im trying to make some difference, cleaning up terash etc where i find it

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): trash

[13:39] herman Bergson: There is a better future possible....

[13:39] herman Bergson: Maybe these ideas will help to achieve it

[13:40] herman Bergson: I think it is time to send you out and go and improve the world :-))

[13:40] herman Bergson: Thank you all for doing so :-))

[13:41] CB Axel: I'll do what I can, but life is so unfair!

[13:41] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....^_^

[13:41] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.

[13:41] CB Axel: CU all on Thursday. :) Bye

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