Wednesday, September 04 2013 @ 01:11 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
OUR GOAL HERE IS TO MAKE YOU STOP TO THINK, AS WE ALWAYS DO, RATHER THAN STOP THINKING.
MOTOMAN making pancakes
State-of-the-art system called SAP Management Cockpit
As I have said many times before, my only concern is whether humanity has a future. That's the only thing that will make a great difference to my last glimpse of the people and things I leave behind. Paradoxical though it may seem, I am cautiously optimistic in that respect because of my MEism which is something 180-degrees different from egomania.
From my MEist point of view, any doomsday scenario is not only counterintuitive but also logically flawed. So many people say "we" have no future because "they" have successfully manipulated "us" so "we" are headed for ruin.
Simply this is ridiculous. If "we" were really doomed, certainly some of "them" who outsmarted "us" would be able to survive "us" and other groups of "them." And there would be no reason to deny the winning part of "them" the right for survival because "they" now proved the fittest. "We" would have to bow out as underdogs.
I know I am not manipulable. You can manipulate apes but I am a small part of humanity.
At the same time I hope I'm not alone in understanding no other creature puts itself in mauvaise foi (bad faith.) That should mean that some of these "I's," if not many of them, are aware that the word "conformism" should not be defined in such a conformist way as so many of "us" and "them" casually do. I know these "I's" agree to my heretical way of defining conformism. Let me reiterate this: conformism is not an ism, but a disease caused by developmental failure. Sometimes you might be able to remedy it, as you always should try to, but you can never correct it. It doesn't make a bit of sense to discuss whether it is correctable.
Actually the more quickly "they" or "we" degenerate as doomsayers argue, the more likely it is the narrowly defined humanity goes on evolving. It doesn't matter anymore if these "I's" are the smallest minority.
I was ruminating my optimistic view of humanity when I received a mail from Diogenes of Arkansas. He is one of the small number of visitors to this website who are always willing to share their thought-provoking ideas with us. In his mail he alerted me to a full-page advertisement placed in the August 30 edition of the Wall Street Journal. As usual I appreciated the input from Diogenes because now he brought in a new perspective to the issue we have been discussing in the last couple of months.
My take on the recent development in robotics has very little in common with the way most people in the industrialized countries view it. I was impressed by the ad in two different ways.
Firstly, I now learned that managers and technologists in America's service industry are quickly getting used to the idea that practically everyone working there can be replaced by machines. In a sense it is encouraging to know they no longer take it for granted that providing junk food, or other worthless products and services to one another is what man's economic activity is all about.
On the other hand, it's amazing to know the gap lying between technologies and social systems still keeps widening at an accelerated pace. In Britain the Luddites movement was started in the early 1810s. These artisans in the textile industry had a good reason to rise up against the newly-introduced labor-saving machinery. But the union-backed minimum wage initiative by EPI (Employment Policies Institute) is yet another confirmation that there isn't the slightest sign American workers and consumers are waking up anytime soon from their 200-year-long sleep. Small wonder they have chosen the Black Kenyan Monkey as their leader and still let him propagate the absurd idea that jobs are something that can be artificially created out of thin air.
As a result of the yawning gap between technologies and sociopolitical systems, contemporary Americans in every walk of life have become unable to do things any better than a robot. Now it's next to impossible to find a whitecollar or bluecollar worker who can't be replaced by an AI-equipped machine. You may even find one which is able to write a book titled something like The Coming Collapse of China. Another writing robot may publish a book about "the 9.11 hoax".
The MOTOMAN robot was developed by Japan's Yaskawa Electric. But the company has carefully refrained from promoting it locally. Instead, Drives and Motion Division of its U.S. subsidiary Yaskawa America, Inc. is manufacturing the specific type of robot. Obviously the management of Yaskawa made the right decision. On the one hand the company developed MOTOMAN by leveraging Japan's leading-edge technology in robotics, while on the other, the company has been marketing it in the U.S. where practically everything can be automated.
As the company's management is well aware, the cultural climate of Japan is diagonally different from America's. Although the Japanese people are suffering the same mental illness the Americans are suffering, i.e. conformism, its symptoms are quite different between the two peoples. For one thing, the clinical history of the Japanese is three times longer, to say the least. It dates back at least to the mid-19th century. As a result, even today the Japanese value face-to-face contact over modern forms of communication. It's the single most important thing in this "close-knit" society. It's evident from this trait that technophobia always goes hand-in-hand with its reverse side, which I call technology fetishism. And that is why Japanese technologists concentrate on making friendly robots such as Toyota's companion robots, animal robots and those who play the violin for you.
Japan is considered one of the most advanced countries in robotics, nonetheless. I hypothesize that the reason behind Japan's superiority in this area can only be explained by the behavioral patterns of its people which are quite similar to those of robots. These people have always proved as subservient as robots. Not only that, they are sometimes even more efficient than robots. I don't know which is the cause, and which is the consequence, but it seems as though people try to emulate robots as much as robots do people. Either way, it must be an easy task for robotics engineers here to develop robots who are good at mimicking human beings.
All in all, the last thing the Japanese would think about is to replace human beings en masse with AI-enabled machines. As I told you in my recent post about the insanity of Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics, Masao Yoshida, former chief of the Fukushima Fifty died on July 9 of esophageal cancer. Even today we know absolutely nothing about the fate of the Fukushima Fifty, or Fukushima Forty-Nine, because of the total media blackout. And not a single individual has come forward to say something like this: "Tokyo Electric Power Company should have assigned robots to the suicide mission. At least TEPCO should immediately replace all of them with robots." It's all the more inconceivable that someone insists the entire TEPCO management should also be replaced.
In the last ten years or so, my former employer SAP has been selling what it calls "Management Cockpit" (photo) which shows the company management all the necessary information derived from the SAP proprietary "Business Information Warehouse." At least in theory, the state-of-the-art system can kick all these executives out of their high-paying, cushy positions.
Even in the era of the Internet, there are many other allegedly important tasks which can't be taken over from human beings. Just to mention a few, even the most modern robot can't perform the following tasks:
● Offer sincere apologies for what is not his fault, let alone dramatize the situation by bursting into tears on his knees. ● Deceive himself. ● Constantly be duped into doing anything in unconditional compliance with the order from above or pressure from peers.
Last but not least, the robot never kills himself when he has to kill someone else, instead. Since the war defeat, Japanese individuals, more often than not, have substituted a symbolic suicide for actually performing the ritual of Seppuku (disembowelment,) but what Ian Buruma calls a "Death Cult" still remains there essentially intact.
The most relevant question, therefore, comes down to this:
"How would the Japanese have acted if they had been able to develop a suicide machine in the last days of the Pacific War?"
Without a doubt, they would still have continued the same Kamikaze tactic if Yaskawa or any other company had been able to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle that outperformed the V-2 rocket of Nazi Germany.
As I told my audience more than four years ago, researchers at Japan's Aeronautical Research Institute, including my father, were strongly discouraged, or even prohibited from working on UAVs simply because when it came to the show of loyalty to the Divine Emperor, these young living pilots were considered irreplaceable by anything else.
It's very hard for me to remain optimistic about the future of humanity when most people constantly manipulate themselves and claim they are the innocent victims of a real or imaginary crime. · read more (18 words)
Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 03:33 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
"Don't ask me where we are headed?"
"The Japanese response to Western ideas was similar [to their response to Chinese ideas] but less traumatic, or at least it was traumatic in a different way. Japanese intellectuals, too, used the face saving formula 'Western science, Japanese essence.' ---- They also knew that their political system, and the principles upon which it was based, had been imported from China, and there was nothing to stop them from borrowing from somewhere else when the old order was no longer working."
- from Inventing Japan - 1853-1964 by Ian Buruma
I got a hunch, with some good reasons, that not a few Americans went past my previous post, thinking: "It must be a total waste of time to listen to the same old lecture on conformism the old nutter has been repeating in the last nine years." But hold on. Do these salauds américains really understand what the word "conformism" means? It's permissible these uneducated guys do not understand the ontological connotation of the French words. But it's a laugh to know that those whose mother tongue is English don't know how to define the English word.
With that post I never intended to tell you such a stupid thing as "conformism is bad, nonconformism is good." I just wanted to remind my audience that no human baby is born a conformist. Conformism is a disease, not an ism. Sometimes you might be able to remedy it but you can never correct it.
Let me elaborate some more on the description of the illness. It is an extremely intractable disease because it's caused by developmental failure. But as is true with most other clinical cases, there is only a fine line between conformism and nonconformism, and there can't be one without the other. You can't be 100% conformist, and at the same time, you can't be 100% free of it.
When you start to learn a language, the first things you have to familiarize yourself with are the generally accepted definitions of basic words and the grammatical rules. At this stage, you need to conform. Many people say one's learning ability hinges on his adaptability and faculty to memorize. But I think they are wrong. What really counts is self-discipline and the sense of commitment. At the advanced stage, on the other hand, you have to redefine every word in your vocabulary so it fits into your own context, not someone else's. That's where anyone with developmental defect fails.
Honestly I didn't feel resentful at all at the poor response from those who can't do anything more than defining the word "conformism" in a conformist way. My goal as a blogger has always been to make people stop to think rather than stop thinking. There's no wonder it's extremely unpopular among those salauds américains.
When French philosopher Sartre published his autobiography in 1964, he titled it Les mots (The Words.) He thought words were what his life was all about and they were the only thing that allowed him to talk about it. Although you may not admit, this holds true with most of us who are not factory workers or farmers. Throughout his life, Sartre paid due respect for words. He thought that a word should be redefined in his own way every time he used it. No other writer or speaker, that I know of, has ever taken the two-sidedness of the words more seriously.
It's only the wrong people that thought Les mots would deserve a Nobel Prize in literature. Obviously these gentlemen suffering serious developmental defect mistook the reason behind this title as if it meant the author had come back to the tradition of "literature for literature." That's why the French philosopher flatly rejected the offer from the Swedish Academy.
This once again brings me back to the ordeal I went through in 2008. I was working alternately with two Americans living in Yokohama who claimed to be experienced in copy-editing. At one time when I didn't like the way one of the idiots corrected my choice of words, I sent a mail to Gordon G. Chang to ask if he would agree to my statement that words and ideas are inseparable twins. I thought there can't be a genuinely new idea expressed by worn-out words. Likewise there can't be brilliant words to express a mediocre idea. This had long been my conviction since 2004 when I launched this website. At that time I was wavering over what language to use. I finally concluded the use of my mother tongue was out of the question because as long as I stayed with the Japanese language I would never emancipate myself from the Japanese way of thinking. I just settled for English simply because I wasn't good at any other foreign language such as Swahili.
Chang got back to me saying: "You are wrong. Writing and thinking are two different talents, and few people possess both. Just think of the reverse of you: the world is full of ill-conceived ideas that are communicated flawlessly. If I had to choose between the two, I would prefer to have great thoughts than great writing skills. Language can always be tuned easily. Bad ideas, on the other hand, are not so easily remedied." This simply indicated the prominent pundit was a scum.
After Chang separated the inseparable, his literary agent named Rosalie Siegel took over. When I sent her an outline, the bitch started to nitpick over my English writing skills. She said: "The long sentences are indeed part of the problem with your English. The very first sentence raises red flags to an English language reader. This is what we call a 'run on sentence'." The Siegel broad added that I should hire a native speaker as my editor as if I hadn't told her previously that's what I'd already done at a barely affordable cost of 80-100K yen.
That's how the scum and the hag succeeded in keeping at bay the harmful idea from their Far Eastern fiefdom.
Originally I thought someday I would return to Japanese. But now it seems too late for me to relearn it because there isn't the slightest trace of the language I used to use anymore.
These days, I see long queues of Japanese people in Yokohama Chinatown or everywhere else. Most of the time I can't tell what the line is formed for. Sometimes I ask one of these penguins, "What's going on over here?" More often than not the flightless bird grins embarrassedly and says in an apologetic tone: "I'm sorry. I don't know exactly, either."
The other day I overheard one of them talking to his friend in the same line. He was saying something like this:
"Oretachi ga korabo (collaborate) shiteru tokoro wo sumaho (smartphone) no apuri (application) de puromo (promotional video) ni shite netto (Internet) ni appu (upload) suru nante ii ai-dea (idea) kamone." (It must be a good idea to use the application on the smartphone to make a promotional video showing how we are collaborating with each other, and upload it on the Internet.)
This is no longer Japanese, English or any other human language. It's amazing that even the mainstream media use the same "language."
As Ian Buruma observed, this is not the first time the Japanese have flooded themselves with a foreign language only to destroy it over time. In the meantime, the genuinely Japanese language from the prehistoric Man'yo era has also been gone.
The lack of self-esteem inevitably leads to the lack of respect for words, and vice versa. Now I'm totally at a loss over what language to use until I croak. · read more (31 words)
Tuesday, August 27 2013 @ 01:11 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you google for quotable words on conformism, thousands of search results will come up. But it won't take long until you realize it's a waste of time to click on them because most of these advocacies of nonconformity are fake from the diversity cults of the 1960s. It's evident from the way they advocated nonconformity that self-styled gurus such as John F. Kennedy and self-righteous rebels such as John Lennon were conformists, themselves, just disguised as something else.
Perhaps, Rita Mae Brown is one of the few exceptions. She is quoted as saying, "I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” She has a good point; she convinces us with a short sentence that self-hatred always underlies conformism, or vice versa.
On the other hand I do not necessarily agree with Emerson. It's a long time ago I read his essay about the principle of self-reliance. So I am not very sure, but to me the words quoted above sound a little too dogmatic or narcissistic. Actually to remain "yourself" is not that important when you have to change yourself constantly as Henri Bergson suggested.
According to my mother's diary, I was born at 7:30 AM on December 25, 1935. But my birth certificate says I was born one week later - January 1, 1936. In those days the Japanese people were even more group-oriented than they are today. The birthday of each individual did not count at all because everyone was supposed to grow one year older on January 1. That's why my parents decided to cheat the municipal office so I wouldn't be treated as a 1-year-old when I was actually 1-week-old. From the very beginning of my life, therefore, I was made something else than what I actually was. I think the gap kept widening, rather than narrowing, toward my early adulthood.
Since I don't have a good memory, I don't remember what happened to me in this one-week period when I was officially nonexistent. Not only that, I can't recall how life treated me throughout the rest of my infancy except what I learned in later years from family members. And yet, I can still recollect the elusive sense of angst which was left behind long after everything sunk into oblivion. It's hard to explain exactly what it was, but I seemed to be feeling extremely uncomfortable with my own existence throughout these years - and well beyond. Deep inside I felt I had been born to a wrong place where I didn't really belong. This sensation continued until I could overcome it almost two decades later. I think my intransigent trait of nonconformism has its origin in the early days of my development.
Aside from the early experience of my own, one question lingers on over the human behavior: Why does a human baby cry at birth unlike a new-born cub of other species? He may stop crying as soon as he is breast-fed. But that does not mean his problem is finally solved by lactation. I hypothesize that the reason he cries at birth is because being forcibly given birth is as hard to tolerate as facing death, or even harder than that. Like a dying person, he doesn't have the slightest idea about what situation he is going to face, let alone how to cope with it. The only premonition he's got is that in all likelihood, it's a hostile world. It makes little difference whether or not his parent has a pathological bent for child abuse.
Very few people have really understood the ethics of Jean-Paul Sartre, my lifetime philosophy teacher. He based it on his ontological observation that "existence precedes essence." In plainer words, that means you are nothing until you choose to be someone or something. But it's important to note he never meant to say you can become anything you want to be. You are always conditioned beforehand by things and people surrounding you. Sartre just wanted to say you should try to "make something out of what you've been made into." A character in his play "No Exit" says, "L'enfer, c'est les autres," or "Hell is other people."
When one attempts to overcome constraints imposed on him, what he needs first and foremost are knowledge and skills with which to effectively deal with the given situation. This brings us to the issue with education. So many disguised conformists have disseminated a myth that something is fundamentally wrong with the current education systems because they are tainted with indoctrination everywhere. It's as though there could be such a thing as education that is not aimed at helping the young grow into "the fittest" by closing the inherent gap between individuals and society.
Doris Lessing is quoted as saying:
“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.'”
As the sober-minded British writer observes here, what's really at issue is the very fact that there are so many self-proclaimed nonconformists who have been brainwashed to believe indoctrination is an issue. The fact of the matter remains that those who don't have an extraordinary talent to educate themselves have no choice but to accept the ordinary indoctrination system. And that's what I did.
I don't want to repeat the same story about the abnormally Spartan way my father educated me. I later called it a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he taught me never to go with the flow because that was the surest way to mediocrity. But on the other, he forced me to get on the fast track to the exempt status from sacrificing my life for the Divine Emperor in the unwinnable war. Torn between the two contradictory principles, the helplessly dim-witted kid, that I was, finally collapsed when I was in my late-teens. Now I know what exactly made it possible for me to pull myself together. It was none other than my innate trait of nonconformity.
There's very little in common between Thomas J. Watson, Jr., who is dubbed "the greatest capitalist in history," and me. Yet I think, there is a certain similarity between his feud with Thomas J. Watson, Sr., de facto founder of International Business Machines, and mine with my father.
Time and again Watson, Jr. stressed that the single most important founding principle of his company was that it would never try to tame the "wild ducks." As to conformism, he is quoted as saying:
“If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.”
Financially, my life has never been really successful, but nevertheless I am proud of myself because I have never been flattened by conformity. That's exactly why I didn't stay down for too long. I could overcome all the adversity in part because of my respect for professionalism and discipline, and sense of commitment I could develop during the 16 years of being indoctrinated.
More importantly, I have owed these charming and intelligent young ladies more than I could possibly repay. They not only taught me something I couldn't have learned in school, but also made my life really worth living. I am not exaggerating when I say my life must have been "much ado about nothing" without them. To me they were comrades before anything else.
Perhaps I was a little less ugly than I am today, but I have never been a handsome and sexy guy. So the question is why on earth I could have so many unforgettably fruitful relationships with these ladies. My own answer is that it's because I always took them seriously and never attempted to have them subordinated to me like slaves. You may not be aware, but some of these young ladies still retain their innate resistance against being assimilated into the society perpetually dominated by male macaques. You may ask me how I could tell them from those who had already been incorporated. Actually, there is no secret. To anyone who isn't a conformist himself, a female who still retains the biological, psychological, and even ontological instinct against conformity always looks to shine unlike others. And on your part, the most important thing to note is that in a civilized world, it doesn't really count how much pheromone you secrete.
The only mistake I have ever made in my lifetime is when I married the woman with whom I fathered two SOBs. I don't think they were wearing a wide grin from ear to ear at birth. But in a matter of years, they became fully assimilated through something to be likened to bacterial infection, rather than a deliberate indoctrination.
When I started what I call a zoology museum on the web nine years ago, I thought it was necessary to collect a wide variety of specimens to exhibit in the showcase or the cage. But I was wrong. Soon I realized that the country named the USA is a monolith even to a greater extent than Japan is. There are only a couple of types of people among whom conformists, either avowed or disguised, are the overwhelming majority.
Conformism is not an ism. It's a disease. Even worse, unlike cretinism or moronism, it's highly infectious. American conformists are getting used so quickly to the Twitteresque way of discussing matters that they no longer understand it's necessary to give a logical reason to support or refute an argument. They think, "Why the hell do we have to explain the reason every time we speak for or against someone's opinion? Most of us think more or less in the same way."
For example, an American specimen, who flip-flops his position every second day, responded to my previous post about narcissism of the Hottentots like this: "I'm [favorably] impressed by everything and everyone Japanese." I was anxious to know the reason because he was now brushing aside, with a single short sentence, my observation of the terminally-ill people living in this cultural wasteland, which I explained to my audience with 400-plus posts I've written in the last nine years. But he replied, matter-of-factly: "There are no reasons for this. It is custom to adore the Japanese. Your people do the same. As an example, you are the one who revealed the Japanese oddity of venerating our President without knowing him. ('I rub Obama.')"
Obviously this particular specimen is one of those who were "flattened by conformity and stay down for good," or at least until the inevitable collapse of the worst rogue country in history. I will refrain from chasing him too far in part because it would run counter to Bushido (chivalry) to step on a person already flattened on the floor. But more importantly, it's one of my responsibilities as the curator of this museum to keep him alive in the showcase, or the cage, which carries a signboard that now reads: un salaud americain.
Recently I've found the French words very useful as well as usable because an uneducated person never understands the real connotation of the ontological pejorative. Thanks to these words, I can prevent my sympathetic nervous system from sending my blood pressure soaring to 200mmHG or even higher. · read more (40 words)
A Japanese chin though he may look like, 猪瀬直樹 (Naoki Inose) is the Tokyo Governor. In his July 3 presentation to the IOC members, he screeched in what he thought was English:
"This [$4.5 billion we've set aside] is CASH IN THE BANK. Ready right now to pay for all new permanent venues and infrastructure.”
When the fear of self is mishandled, most typically because of the lack of courage, it causes a refractory disease symptomized by the ambivalent feelings between self-hatred and narcissism, as is the case with the "modern" Japanese.
Some couple of decades ago, Japanese Ambassador to Argentina named Kawarazaki said to the effect that the Japanese are the only species uglier than the Hottentots. Since he deliberately said so in a prepared speech, I think he'd somehow felt irresistible urge to stir up controversy by playing devil's advocate. Although the honest man fell short of telling his audience that the ugly physical appearances of the Japanese are nothing but the mirror reflections of their rotten souls, his suicidal speech eventually cost the outspoken diplomat his job. I don't know if Kawarazaki thought he was an exception to the accurate description of his fellow countrymen. But it doesn't really matter. What's wrong with the Cretan who said all Cretans are liars?
The Hottentot comparison is intriguing in many ways. Among other things, it leaves you wondering if there is such a thing as narcissism of the Hottentots. Actually, you don't have to be a Narcissus to be a narcissist. On the contrary, an unattractive person is much more likely than one with irresistible charms to develop what psychoanalysts call "compensatory narcissism" because an obnoxious egomaniac always needs to "cancel out deep feelings of inferiority and lack of self-esteem."
If you look at the history of the "modern" Japanese without preconceived ideas, you may notice there is a distinctive feature in the way the yellow Hottentots redirect inward their deep-seated love-and-hate sentiments toward the peoples in the West, especially the Americans. The creepy creatures innately know there is absolutely nothing to be admired in their own appearances and guts. That is why they have developed burning desire for international attention and recognition they don't deserve. In a book Ian Buruma coauthored with Avishai Margalit, he called the pathological trait Occidentalism.
Over time they have learned that they can always count on the dupes living on the other shore of the Pacific for issuing the certificates of stereotypical Japanese virtues, such as politeness, cleanliness, diligence, discipline, spirit of self-sacrifice, inventiveness, and samurai spirit. Against this backdrop, you can safely assume the 6-decade-old partnership between the two contemptible peoples will never be terminated until death do them part.
Last Thursday, in the middle of the midsummer Bon holidays (see NOTE below,) the entire nation observed the 68th anniversary of the war defeat in the same old format of Shintoist ritual. To the best of my knowledge, no other people commemorate their war defeat this long. If you have difficulty understanding the weird habit, you should know they never call August 15 敗戦記念日, or the day of the war defeat. Instead, they are taught to call it 終戦記念日, or the day that marked the end of the war. Not that they just don't want to call it that way. Deep inside they feel they were the WINNERS. This can't be a delusion, because if that's what it is, they couldn't explain why the same imperial family is still at the helm, and why the same media organizations are manipulating people's hearts and minds. These bastards survived one of the bloodiest wars in history only at the cost of the lives of 3,100,000 臣民, or the sheepish subjects. And yet their bodies weren't hung upside down in the street of Tokyo in August 1945 like Benito Mussolini's corpse was in Milan several months earlier.
NOTE: Bon, or o-Bon, is a period in which the deceased, including the war dead, are believed to take their regular homecoming trip here to have family reunions with their descendants, who still show weak vital signs. This is something more than just a superstition; they actually meet and talk with each other. At the sight of their unique way of renewing the bond, you got a surreal sense that you can't tell the dead souls from the living ones.
Not a single historian has dared to unravel the profound mystery of the Pacific War. To really understand the unfathomable behavior of the Japanese, it's far from enough just to label them defeatists with a strong bent toward self-destruction. Only compensatory narcissism can explain why they went into war with the Allied Powers, while knowing very well it was an unwinnable war. To those who were dying for international recognition, the war was a great success. Pearl Harbor was only part of it.
In his book titled Inventing Japan - 1853-1964, Buruma quoted Kotaro Takamura, a prominent poet at the time, as saying:
"[I felt] as if a heavy load had been lifted from my shoulders,"
when he learned about the Imperial Army's spectacular success in Hawaii. Buruma also quoted another literary figure Sei Itoh as saying:
"I felt as if in one stroke, I had become a new man."
We already know Pearl Harbor was a cheap trick set up by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Previously he had moved the Pacific Fleet from San Diego presumably to save the cost to have been involved in the decommissioning of these obsolete vessels. But that didn't prohibit the 100-million terminally-ill people from experiencing a consummate sense of euphoria.
When the war ended with Fat Man and Little Boy detonated over the wrong cities, they still saw no reason to feel it was necessary to take a hard look into their real selves so they could drop the childish behavior. Douglas MacArthur later called Japanese adults 12-year-olds. The general felt that way simply because they were too immature to do some soul-searching when it was absolutely necessary. To begin with, if you have no soul inside, you can't examine it.
The Fukushima disaster of March 11, 2011 was a windfall opportunity because it put these people in the international spotlight once again. But as the memory of 3.11 was gradually fading away, they resumed looking around for something else that would show they still deserve international attention. On June 22, tens of millions of Japanese across the nation were holding their breath before their television sets. In the fancy liquid crystal screens, the final deliberation was going on over Japan's 10-year-old proposal to have Mount Fuji recognized as UNESCO's World Heritage Site. And the moment the chairman banged the gavel, saying, "The motion adopted," the entire nation went into raptures. More than seven weeks have passed, but the state of ecstasy is still lingering on. It's as though the 3,776-meter-high mound of soil has instantly turned into a sacred mountain which is supposed to mirror the Japanese spirit. It's a different issue whether there is anything to be called a spirit inside these people.
What's next? Of course, it's the Summer Olympic Games they have desperately wanted to host in 2020. There is a myth that says the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 gave this country a jump start for its "miraculous" rise to center stage as the world's second largest economy. They will never forget how it all started in 1964, but they choose to forget how it ended in 1990. As Buruma reminded his readers, the abridged Japanese Century was a total illusion from the beginning.
Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, dubbed "a Neanderthal" by an Australian journalist, hasn't shown the slightest sign of waking up. Encouraged by his fellow apes in Japan and the U.S., including Gordon G. Chang, who is an ardent admirer of him, Ishihara made a bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics to reinvigorate the economy while boosting patriotism at the same time. But it failed four years ago when the International Olympic Committee announced Rio de Janeiro would be the next venue.
Then, Inose, the former right-hand man of the Governor, took over Ishihara's silly aspiration. The new Tokyo Governor has exerted every possible effort to convince the IOC that Japan's capital would be the best choice. To that end he has stressed that Tokyo is much safer than other candidate cities because unlike Istanbul, its citizens will never rise up against any initiative from the government, and that Japan is fiscally sounder than Spain. He is telling the truth when he talks about the unparalleled docility of the Japanese. But it's an outright lie when it comes to the fiscal soundness as you can see in my post about the Pacioli Revolution.
On July 9, six days after Inose's presentation at the IOC meeting, something quite unexpected happened. Masao Yoshida, the former chief of the Fukushima Fifty, died of esophageal cancer. If you didn't know of the Fukushima Fifty, they were covertly ordered to stay on inside the crippled nuclear power plant to work on the suicide mission. In September 2011, the Spanish government gave the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord to these Kamikaze pilots of the 21st century, calling them the “heroes of Fukushima.” Needless to say this particular recognition by the foreign government wasn't appreciated at all here. Since the media practically ignored it, most Japanese don't even know the feat.
As a nonfiction writer puts it, if Yoshida had stopped pumping seawater into the most seriously damaged reactor in compliance with the orders from then Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the TEPCO headquarters, a wider area including Tokyo must have turned into a Chernobyl in a matter of days. But it was a piece of cake for the media to practically hush up the news. Most of them placed microscopic obituaries and some related stories. But nation's leading newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, which boasts the world's largest circulation of more than 10 million, followed suit only two days after Yoshida's death. It's obvious that during the 48-hours time, Yomiuri reporters stationed at Kisha Kurabu attached (in every sense of the word) to The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan were trying to minimize the impact the news would have on their audience, in close consultation with their bosses at the editors' room, government offices and the FEPC. Their primary responsibility was to prevent Inose's vanity project from being adversely affected by the death of the 58-year-old martyr.
They have more or less succeeded to manipulate the post-3.11 situation by glossing over the enormity of the pollution resulting from the meltdown of the reactors. Anyone with commonsense can tell the entire food chain has been irreparably poisoned in this country. But as usual, while they quickly white-list relatively safe food items, they never disclose the blacklist on a timely basis. Certainly they know how to immunize people. For one thing, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, the government and TEPCO announced matter-of-factly that they had learned that 300 tons of contaminated groundwater is draining into the ocean everyday. They added although they didn't know exactly when the massive leak had begun, it couldn't be ruled out that they had been unwittingly dumping this much of the groundwater into the briny since Day 1 of the disaster.
Don't take me wrong, however. I don't particularly want them to stop lying. It can't be helped because it's their job to keep telling lies. Moreover, I have never been a truth-seeker myself. Truth is nothing more than something one does not think is false. So if and when they changed their mind and coughed up the true story, all I could say would be: "Oh, is that so? And so what?" It does not make a bit of sense to reveal an empty truth when the entire population is drowned in one of the most malign types of mauvaise foi - narcissism of the yellow Hottentots.
Now that it seems somewhat likely the venal guys at the IOC buy into Tokyo's second bid on September 7, the day that falls on Japan's Judgement Day, all I wanted to say in this post is that it's too obscene an idea to give the international athletes a big treat of Japanese food contaminated with Iodine-131, Cesium-137, and other radioactive materials, just in order to entertain Japan's insatiable appetite for international recognition.
Many researchers have revealed that among other monkeys, apes that have no tails can recognize their real selves in the mirror. In that context Kawarazaki's statement was an undeserved compliment for these male Japanese macaques including my own biological sons, siblings, friends and neighbors. I don't know if I am an exception, but at least I always try hard to become one. · read more (39 words)
Friday, August 09 2013 @ 04:52 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Good faith seeks to flee the inner disintegration of my being in the direction of the in-itself which it should be and is not. Bad faith seeks to flee the in-itself by means of the inner disintegration of my being. - Diagnostic remarks on mental health by a French shrink
Kids playing kick-the-can
If I am to liken my 9-year-old website to a business entity, DK is the shareholder, while I am its founder and CEO. At the beginning DK was my technical assistant but in 2009 when I financially went under, he offered to shoulder all the costs involved in the use of the blog hosting service. That's how he took over one of the world's most hated websites from me.
My responsibility to the new shareholder is not to pay him dividends, nor boost the popularity of the site. Google Analytics shows some aggregated 300,000 visitors from 150 countries have actually read my posts in the last 9 years. But my boss doesn't give a damn about numbers. He thinks my only KPI is the quality of people - visitors and myself. And to me, integrity is the only yardstick to use when measuring the quality of human beings.
Don't ask me how I define the word integrity. The meaning of the word is so tricky that you would never really understand it if I told you my semantics about it. For one thing the antonym of integrity is bad faith. But that doesn't necessarily mean good faith is synonymous with integrity. It should also be noted that integrity is one thing and honesty is quite another, whereas integrity seldom goes hand-in-hand with dishonesty.
Perhaps until the early-1960s, every educated American knew it was his responsibility to unequivocally define his word every time he used it. It's true Americans were already pathologically obsessed with the idea that it's a sin to tell a lie. But the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has exacerbated the situation. It imposed a new rule that says it's a sin to tell the truth, without superseding the old one. The result was disastrous; both "honest" and "dishonest" Americans got trapped in the worst type of bad faith. Now torn between the two principles, they are at a loss over what to say to remain sinless. It looks as though everyday they take a multiple-choice exam in which they are supposed to find the true statement from among false ones, or they answer questions asked by a pollster on whether they approve, disapprove, or "don't know" the subject in question. It seems to me American visitors to my website are no exceptions.
No one can free himself from bad faith because it's something that separates the human being from the ape. But he puts himself in an aggravated bad faith when he doesn't have the courage to face his real self, which is the only way to overcome the inner disintegration.
Don't take me wrong, however; at any rate we are not operating an online reformatory here. Basically it's none of my business how far they have been "dumbed down" collectively by some evil power, which could well be an imaginary thing, or more likely yet, they have dumbed themselves down all together. All I expect from them as a humble blogger is that they don't deviate too much from the rules of dialectical interchange. To put it in plainer words, I want them to play it fair, so as to ensure creative conversation in this community. I don't think we are overly demanding in that respect.
Unlike with the owner of this website, my knowledge in French is quite limited. I don't even know for sure whether the word "blog" used in a French sentence is masculine or feminine. Yet I think "les salauds" is the right word to describe the "specimens" I have observed in the last 9 years since I started this extremely unpopular blog. My lifetime philosophy teacher rediscovered the word, sort of, and found the philosophical pejorative very useful in the context of his ontology.
I always think the closest thing to the game les salauds are playing here is Kick-the-Can, also known as Pom-Pom in some American states. When I was 9 years old, we played it a lot in the middle of the ruins of war, because an empty can was all we needed, and we could easily find one at a junkyard near the residential area for GIs and their families. It's funny these days not a few good old boys in America are hooked on the kiddies game. No problem. Go ahead and have fun kicking an empty can.
· read more (23 words)
This is a re-post of my reply to an online comment from Mr. Diogenes, combined with a series of mails I exchanged with Mr. Samwidge over some semantic issues. The sentences in square brackets were added for clarity reasons when editing the material.
[To D from me, 11:35, Aug. 5 CDT]
Before getting started with the issue at hand, self-deception, let me clarify something. I’ve talked a lot about Sartre recently. But actually the French philosopher has never been my guru. By the same token, Being and Nothingness has never been my bible. I read the ontological essay for the first time some 58 years ago. I may have reread it a couple of times in subsequent years but I’ve never read it again in the last half century. It’s just that one day when I was in my late-30s or early-40s, I suddenly realized that my own thoughts I had “lived out” by then were very close to Sartrean way of thinking, and thus, his logic and terminology would best describe my life after graduating from his school.
Then, again I have to explain my view of professionalism. So many people underestimate the significance of professional expertise in life presumably because in their lifetime they haven’t engaged themselves in the value-creating process in the real world. People tend to mix up different things, only to cherry-pick one of them at a later point in time. [They know that is the only way to remain uncommitted to anything Sartre called "project."] This can be said of professionalism. They first mix it up with amateurism. And when they want to stress the beauty of amateurism, they cherry-pick it. Only when they think referring to professionalism serves their purposes, they start talking about it.
They treat professionalism like this primarily because if they admit they have to pursue professional skills or knowledge first and foremost, that means they have always to subject themselves to “the pain of study.” The lazy guys simply can’t tolerate this idea. But the fact of the matter remains that while you can SAY whatever you want to say without professionalism, you can’t DO anything you claim to be doing or others want you to do without it. All that we can expect from a nonprofessional or unprofessional person is an empty lip service. These are why I value professional expertise more than anything else.
After 9 years of my futile effort to get my message through to my predominantly American audience, I thought philosophy would be my last bastion. At that time, I realized anew that a retired businessman can't be anything more than a lay philosopher because he lacks the training on the particular discipline. So I decided to borrow these words from Sartre. I keep referring to his name and quoting his words. But actually Sartre is nothing more than my alias. Therefore, when I say in my writing, “Sartre thought this way,” it actually means I think this way. All along I remain ME. And that is the single most important lesson I've learned from Sartre. [I have never talked about someone else's problem in my blog.]
You brought up a variety of subjects, such as the Russian Revolution, the biblical feud between Cain and Abel, Jews’ dominance over Hollywood, etc. These subjects may have some distant relevance to our issue at hand, but after all, these are the same old “Truth-vs.-Fallacy” issues, which have absolutely nothing to do with our own habits of self-deception.
My question: "What is truth?" Your answer: "Truth is something that is not false." Another question: "What is fallacy, then?" Answer: “Fallacy is something that is not true.” [Or, you say: "This is believed to be true." My question: "So what?" You say: "That proved to be untrue." The same question: "So what?" But we already know it gets us nowhere to talk about oversimplified theses.]
For that reason, let me single out the “Life-vs.-Death" issue here.
Actually Sartre never juxtaposed life and death in the way Ernest Becker may have. Like the Buddha, he neither feared death nor denied it. Maybe it’s hard to understand for those who have blindly swallowed everything they were taught to believe, but Sartre had a good reason for his unique way to deal with the life-and-death issue. He saw death within life, and perhaps, life within death. I’m not very sure that he expressed his thought exactly this way. But he famously wrote: “Hell is other people.” This should be interpreted as an unequivocal statement that death is at the very core of life.
Sartre wouldn't have come up with this idea if he had taken it for granted that any death is yet another death, any life is yet another life, which actually means my death is the same thing as your death, and I live essentially the same life as the life you live. It's really frightening to know these days people are taught only to think of death in general and life in general. Their total inability to dialectically interchange with one another all stems from their proximity to the ape in that respect. [If each of them does not have his own idea to share with others, I think chimp's super high-context screech will serve their purposes.]
As we all should know, there are 60 trillion cells in our body. And 1 trillion of these 60 trillion die everyday. Which means what? In a matter of 60 days, you are a 100% different person than you were before - at least in theory. If you still remain the same person, you may have wasted the 2-months time presumably because of your fear or denial of death, i.e. mauvaise foi.
So many people talk so lightly about a man of integrity. But my definition of him goes like this: “A man of integrity is one who has the courage to face his real self in all his bad faith, in the mirror, or wherever it is, so he can effectively use what I call the double-edged sword inherently given in the human BEING.” [Sartre called those without integrity in that sense salauds (scums or swine) and never softened his ontological profanity until the end of his life.] [S to/from me, 22:42, Aug. 5 to 08:37, Aug. 6 JST]
Since English is not my mother tongue, I don’t know the exact meanings of many English words. Will you please tell me your own definition of the word “Integrity”? I ask you this question because you used it in your August 1 post.
American Heritage says the word means:
“Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.”
This makes no sense because it leaves me wondering if a steadfast adherence to the terrorists’ cause can also be described as integrity.
The J-E dictionary says it means Seijitsu which can be reverse-translated into English as faithfulness. But as Sartre repeatedly pointed out, there is something to be called “Faith of Bad Faith.” So I wonder if integrity could also mean steadfast faithlessness.
I will appreciate it if you give me your definition when time permits.
Good questions all.
Integrity means honesty at all levels. For instance; imagine that you are blind and about to cross the street. Someone tells you that there is no train coming. That would be honest. But if there is no train coming but a big freight truck is coming, then that person spoke without integrity.
There are many times in advertising and promotion that the remarks on a bottle are honest but misleading. In these cases, integrity has failed. A bottle of hand lotion might have a note saying, "contains no alcohol." Perhaps the presence or absence of alcohol means nothing. In this case the seller was trying to fool you and to keep your mind off other, more important decisions to make in your purchase.
Sartre has it right.
I’ll leave it there but actually your answer would lead to another question: “What is honesty?” If this someone can’t tell the blind man the train is not coming because he is also blind, would you call him a dishonest man? [And what if he has no voice to warn the blind man a big freight truck is coming because he is a mute? What if he is too preoccupied with something else to notice there is a blind man? What if the blind man doesn't look like a blind man because his eyes are wide open?]
If I am to use your definition, there are millions of men of integrity. [Maybe it's billions.] Thanks anyhow.
You have found a delightful polemic.
For me, a person can give an honest answer or not. Honesty is a yes or no kind of a thing. Nobody does something slightly honest or somewhat honest. There is no single thing that is sort of dishonest or a small bit dishonest.
Integrity is a far wider thing. Nobody has perfect integrity. None of us is really qualified to measure the integrity of another.
In finance, your own business, the world seems to like financial institutions of high integrity. Such firms even advertise that they have integrity. Frequently their integrity is insufficient.
Best of luck with this difficult question. · read more (40 words)
The true problem of bad faith (self-deception) stems evidently from the fact that bad faith is faith. - From a chapter titled The "Faith" of Bad Faith of Existential Psychoanalysis by Jean-Paul Sartre
I'm still on a writing binge in the middle of a funny survival game between the dying PC and the dying me, whose rule says whichever survives the other is the loser. Actually I was working on something to be titled Burning desire for international recognition or collective narcissism of the yellow Hottentots. But I suspended it, because as usual I felt it would be useless to come back over and over to my audience trapped in a perpetual mauvaise foi with such a no-nonsense argument. Now, for one last time, let me tell you what the real implication of cherry-picking is for our online interchange. Sorry for my nasty curveball. I'm not good at tickling your ears.
I launched this website solely for my Han-Anpo (anti-security treaty) advocacy. To that end, I was focusing on political issues in early days of my blogging. Then I realized I had to talk more about social issues underlying them. When I learned that didn't work either, I shifted the focus to cultural issues. I talked a lot about art, especially music, but again to no avail. Finally it belatedly dawned on me that our fundamental difference lies in philosophy although I was reluctant to resort to it. When I was young, I studied philosophy a lot. But I knew a retired businessman could be nothing more than a lay philosopher.
Still today the way(s) American visitors to this site view the U.S.-Japan partnership remains unchanged. They don't think it's an essential issue. They think, "Let's keep it there until the problem solves itself; it can't be helped if the ambivalent feelings grow on both sides of the wrong partners. The same thing often happens in our families."
All along I have tried to share my first-hand observation and experience because for better or for worse I am the only one in this community who knows the politics, society and culture of this country inside out. Most of the time you said you understood me, by and large. In fact, though, you didn't, at all.
Not that you were lying
In 1936 Billy Mayhew wrote a lovely song titled It's a Sin to Tell a Lie. But the Civil Rights Act of 1964 imposed a new rule that said: It's a Sin to Tell the Truth. For an intriguing reason, however, the new rule has never superseded the old one that all boiled down to this notion: "Honesty simply means not telling lies." That is why the American people still keep singing the same old tune about the sin. Now it's a sin whether you tell a lie or truth. Actually, you are totally at a loss over what to say to remain innocent. All you can do is to engage yourselves in incoherent talks over invented issues.
Unfortunately, the same intellectual and moral vacuum has spread over the entire Pacific-rim region, from which I'm inclined to exclude China. This epidemic has left Japan in the most disastrous situation because the country is where the East has met the West in the most unfortunate way. Now Japan has turned into a cultural wasteland.
If the climate in the European cultural sphere is a little different, it must be attributable to the fact that unlike the Pacific-rim nations, European countries, including Russia, were immunized against the fake culture reimported from the "New World."
Amid WWII, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote an essay on phenomenological ontology titled Being and Nothingness. The French philosopher devoted its Part 1, Chapter 2 entirely to the topic of mauvaise foi (bad faith or self-deception.) Ten years or so later, he wrote Existential Psychoanalysis to elaborate on this point in which he detailed the essential difference between falsehood, i.e. lies, and mauvaise foi.
Sartre argued that although you may say nonchalantly that bad faith is "a lie to oneself," there is a subtle but fundamental difference between the two. There, he almost sounded like saying that lies are far more benign than bad faith, although being an atheist himself, he never implied bad faith is a sin, either. According to him, "a man does not lie about what he is ignorant of." In other words, an ignoramus will never lie.
This really clicks because Hitler wasn't a liar. He was a legitimate leader of the nation who was elected by the German voters under the Weimar Constitution just like the Black Kenyan Monkey was by their American counterparts 76 years later.
Don't take me wrong, however; this is not to say there's anything categorically wrong with your habit of cherry-picking. Apes don't cherry-pick because they will never be in bad faith. The ability of cheating self is inherent only to a creature in a more advanced stage of evolution. Since bad faith is a double-edged sword, you can use it effectively if you have a certain amount of creativity. But if you are one of those change-resistant people, you will end up cutting conjoined twins into two dead pieces.
Let's assume you have two candidates from whom you are going to pick one as your girlfriend, you certainly select the one who falls on your type. But once you've made her your girlfriend, you become aware she has too many shortcomings to be an ideal mate. Now you are prone to developing ambivalent feelings toward this woman. Most likely, you choose to stay with her. Are you not cherry-picking by doing so? Although you are unwilling to admit it, that's exactly what you are doing, a little belatedly, and without success.
Likewise, you often develop a love-and-hate relationship toward something, e.g. the country you live in, the political party you vote for, etc. Here I'm not talking about a business decision where a quantifiable tradeoff between benefits and costs, or opportunities and risks is all that matters. Like Sartre, I'm talking about life.
The former yakuza member I mentioned in my previous post has chosen to stay with his home country he thinks should perish, primarily because he can't live without the welfare benefits and tax-exempt status granted by the nanny state. It's a vicious circle; the more he becomes dependent on the nation, the more his grudge flares up, and the more his resentment intensifies, the more he is addictively attached to the country. To him the only conceivable solution to what Sartre termed "inner disintegration" was to fence himself in a real or imaginary prison, almost voluntarily, where he doesn't have to face his real self in the mirror.
If you are a skillful cherry-picker, you can draw a picture of a utopia while staying with a dystopia, or vice versa. Basically your dilemma is none of my business. Yet, I don't think you are playing it very fair if you keep floating aimlessly back and forth between pros and cons entailed in the subject at hand. It's counterproductive, to say the least. We always go round in circles because we keep speaking the same ill-defined words over and over. We stop only when we get tired. And every time we resume our discussion, we start at the point where we started the last time. · read more (51 words)
Frequently [mauvaise foi (self-deception)] is [mis-]identified with falsehood. We say indifferently of a person that he shows signs of bad faith or that he lies to himself. We shall willingly grant that bad faith is a lie to oneself, on condition that we distinguish the lie to oneself from lying in general. Lying is a negative attitude, we will agree to that. But this negation does not bear on consciousness itself; it aims only at the transcendent. The essence of the lie implies in fact that the liar actually is in complete possession of the truth which he is hiding. A man does not lie about what he is ignorant of. - From Existential Psychoanalysis by Jean-Paul Sartre
Jesus, I made the same mistake once again. I shouldn't have started my previous post with a mention of MSR before taking the necessary precautions. MSR stands for Mirror Self-Recognition Tests, a method to test cognitive abilities in children and animals.
Most of "US" fear the mirror like some wild animals are scared to death at the sight of fire. Narcissists seem to be exceptions. But actually I suspect narcissism is nothing but the reverse side of the fear of self.
It belatedly dawned on me that I'd underestimated the ferocity of "OUR" instinctive response to the real existential threat only when I was working on a new piece which now deals with "narcissism of the Hottentots." Some forty years ago a former Japanese Ambassador to Argentina named Kawarazaki said in a speech to the effect that the Japanese are the only species that is uglier than the Hottentots. If I remember it correctly, the controversial remarks eventually cost him his job as a diplomat. But nobody could deny he was just too honest. The wicked Queen in Snow White says to the mirror on the wall: "Mirror, mirror, who's the fairest one of all?". Now I'm asking myself: "Why are there so many narcissists in the nation of yellow Hottentots?".
I am not a narcissist myself, whether or not I look pretty much like a Hottentot, or Pigmy. So I don't particularly like to look at my own battered, wrinkled face. But unlike most of US, I don't fear the mirror. Actually I don't even need a mirror in the first place because I already know what I am, inside out. I am an ailing 77-year-old now dying in dire poverty, who is still being robbed of 20-40% of his pension by the municipal government for his consumption of radioactively contaminated oxygen. It has never been the other way around in my lifetime; not once have I extorted someone else's fruits of labor in the way the small-time thieves at the City Hall are doing to me right now. It's a different issue whether it's their fault or mine. But one thing is for sure: this cannot be a paranoiac delusion.
The reason I mentioned MSR, anyway, is because no one seems to care about OUR constant failure in the mirror test. Among a variety of versions of MSR, there is an interesting method called "the Rouge Test" in which an experimenter surreptitiously places a dot, using rouge makeup, on the face of a human child or an ape. Researchers have reported that most of the time the subject before the mirror tries to remove the embarrassing stain from its own face.
They have never thought about modifying the rouge test so it can be used for adults. But if there was such a version around, I suspect most human adults would try to wipe out the red mark from the reflection in the mirror. On the other hand, they would claim the credit for someone else's achievement when they found in the mirror a man with a trophy in his hand. The test result would reveal how the human race has developed its sense of "we-ness."
In the above-quoted passage from his Existential Psychoanalysis, Sartre wanted to say a lie is a conscious falsehood whereas mauvaise foi (self-deception) largely remains unconscious. This is an utter truism. But beware, a truism is sometimes truer than the truth. That is why the French philosopher thought an ontological approach was necessary to unravel the mechanism of self-deception.
POSTSCRIPT: If you are not familiar with ontology, here's my way of defining it. It's something that demands the disambiguation of tricky (or convenient) pronouns, especially YOU, WE, and THEY, as they are used in public discourse. You wonder: "What good would it do to precisely define and redefine these words every time any one of them comes up in our debate?". I couldn't care less if you feel it's unnecessary.
Some ten years ago I became acquainted with a funny guy named Maeda at a fast-food outlet near my workplace in central Tokyo. Perhaps he was in his late-50s or early-60s. He had a big scar on his cheek. We talked a lot about politics which revealed Maeda was a kind of anarchist although his antisocial vocabulary was quite limited and by and large second-hand. On the other hand he was reluctant to tell me his personal background in detail. All I learned in subsequent conversations between us is that he was a former member of a yakuza syndicate, and now he was jobless because he had somehow been kicked out of the organization in which he'd spent his entire "career." He added he was applying for the welfare benefits because unlike company employees, he wasn't entitled to any pension program. He hinted that he had recently kicked the habit of drug abuse.
I don't have the slightest idea of Maeda's whereabouts because I haven't heard a word from him in eight years or so. But my assumption is that although he is now on benefits, Maeda is behind bars for peddling illegal drugs or abusing them himself. If I am right, it's a happy ending for his life because I hear there's no mirror available in jail for security reasons. I sometimes suspect so many people almost voluntarily fence themselves in a real or imaginary prison simply because the mirror scares them to death.
On the contrary, if Maeda's cell was equipped with a mirror by any chance, it would be like living in hell because day in, day out, he would have to face a man who harbors an irresistible animosity against the society which extends a helping hand to him through the welfare program. Nothing can be more excruciating than receiving support from one's enemy. By comparison, the embarrassment caused by the scar on your face is nothing but an April breeze. · read more (82 words)
Monday, July 29 2013 @ 07:40 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
I don't know if it was just out of curiosity when psychologist Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. carried out the mirror self-recognition tests (MSR) in the early-1970s. On the other hand, if you look at this intriguing paper written by Takaaki Kaneko and Masaki Tomonaga of Primate Research Institute attached to Kyoto University, you can tell that they are seeking a clue to the mechanism of intellectual evolution.
In a recent post, I referred to the President of the United States as a Black Kenyan Monkey. At that time I feared I might be criticized by a monkey-rights group for my discriminatory use of the word "monkey." But on the contrary, an American visitor to my website lodged a protest, saying it wasn't the right thing to insult the leader of a nation this way. Although I still suspect it was an undeserved compliment, here in this post, I'll address these creatures that look more or less like humans as "WE," while referring to chimpanzees as "THEY."
I'm very sure that most of US will fail in MSR because it's now evident that WE have lost the life-size view of OURSELVES. WE tend to talk big while actually acting very small. I'm often inclined to ask US these questions: "Who the hell are you? Exactly where are you within this picture you are talking about. Or are you talking about someone else's problem? Then what makes it your business?"
In the video embedded here, the brainless BBC reporter underplays the significance of the findings by the Japanese researchers at PRI. But actually, the learning ability demonstrated by this particular chimp here was already counter-intuitive to most of US. There's absolutely no reason to prejudge THEY won't outdo US in other types of intelligence tests. Toyota's Partner Robots are a different story. These cyborgs are stupid simply because they all mirror their developers. But to US, chimps are not a mirror.
As these researchers admit, their studies on primates have only just begun. There are quite a number of things to look into before they could possibly unravel the mysteries about evolution. The following are some of them.
First and foremost, the researchers should try to find out THEIR ability to conceptualize. Unlike generalization all of US is so good at, conceptualization takes a sharp analytical mind. If chimps fail to pass this part of the exam, what the researchers call THEIR sense of self-agency doesn't mean anything more than it does with some of US who know no principle to which to commit themselves with professionalism. At the same time, the absence of the ability to abstract things hinders THEM from having a sense of purpose, which in turn disable THEM in many ways. Most importantly THEY can't identify the real issue from among many red herrings because now THEY can't internalize anything that is relevant to THEIR own lives.
According to Wikiquote.com, Voltaire once said, "Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." If he had been a researcher at PRI, he would have said, "Let's call him just an ape rather than something closer to a human being if he is only good at answering the question we gave him."
Neither will THEY be able to prioritize tasks so as to optimize the tradeoff between selecting one and deselecting it.
Most importantly, THEY, WE, or any other "higher" animals in a certain condition are motivated by the "need of self-actualization" as American psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized, though a little too schematically. When you are motivated by something other than the instinct for survival, you don't need the snacks as "additional incentives" as the BBC reporter puts it.
Another aspect to be looked at is THEIR sociality. There's no communication where there is no dialectical exchange of feedback. As Jean-Paul Sartre observed, communication starts with the understanding that every one of US has his own self-awareness. So the question here is whether chimps are aware that THEY are all Being-for-others.
We already know THEIR learning curve is beyond OUR imagination. But this leaves US wondering how good THEY are at teaching. As a general rule, a teacher can't effectively share his idea with his student if he doesn't have this sense of being-for-others.
When it comes to languages as the tools for communication, I suspect THEY would outperform most of US, especially the Japanese and Americans, in learning a "foreign" language. Judging from THEIR super high-context screech which is very similar to contemporary Japanese and English, it would be a piece of cake for THEM to pick up either language. Especially I'm very sure chimps would by far outperform the Japanese if THEY were taught English in the right way.
Needless to say, communication is the only enabler of the synergy effect to be pursued through a coordinated action.
I am not an animal lover myself. Not that I hate animals. How can I hate them when I know they don't have the worst vice inherent to the human race which Sartre called mauvaise foi (self-deception)? THEY never lie. Sometimes chimps may have a dream like humans. But unlike most of US, when THEY wake up, THEY don't mix up the dream with reality.
Aside from THEIR perfect honesty, I know very little about THEM. Yet I am reasonably sure that some, if not all, of THEM will pass these tests. And that is enough to convince US that the average chimp is as smart as his human counterpart. You may say his brain weighs only 14 oz, 59-77% lighter than the human brain and the neurons in his brain are outnumbered by 20-56% by the brain cells of a human being. But so what? Just compare the simplest form of personal computer of the early-1980s against the old mainframe machine. And think about what the Internet has enabled US. WE have just developed the addictive habit to gather tons of information which is totally irrelevant to OUR lives. It can be that THEY know how to economize the use of the limited resource.
The last and most important test should address this question: Do THEY have the abilities to define THEIR own rules for the game to play, redefine them, and sometimes defy them? Let's pose this question differently: Can WE expect THEM to think and act creatively? WE already know that creativity is something WE can't expect from most of US who can't tell art from crap, for instance. This question brings us back to Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution once again.
Guess what, it will be a real challenge not for the chimps, but for the researchers at PRI to prepare themselves for the final exam in which to gauge THEIR creativity. They've got to be creative and inventive enough themselves in order to come up with the methodologies for their cross-sectional as well as longitudinal studies. In that sense, now it will be their turn to be subjected to the tests. At the same time some of US have to have their brains measured objectively and quantitatively because at this stage the researchers should select human samples as the yardsticks for comparison.
WE already know THEY outperformed US in the MSR tests. But that doesn't necessarily mean THEY will defeat US again in the final exam. As an impartial referee, I can't visualize chimps doing music in the way Hot Club of Cowtown does. Neither is it likely that THEY hold an exhilarating sporting event in a charming setting like Muirfield Golf Course in Scotland. · read more (73 words)
CONTINUED FROM PART 2 OF MY LECTURE ON PRACTICAL DIALECTIC To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. - Henri Bergson
Believe it or not, nobody studies economics, business administration, accounting, computer science, neuroscience, philosophy, literature, psychiatry, and politics for sixty years just in order to become able to crack a witty joke or two, or sharpen his caustic tongue. To emphasize my point here, let me summarize below the basic rules and manners for dialectical interchange.
1. Take serious arguments seriously.
2. Drop all that contempt and cynicism for anything beyond your comprehension, and pay due respect for those who know what you don’t, or who do what you can’t.
3. Always subject yourself to “the pain of study” to catch up with or overtake people ahead of you. 4. Otherwise, go to hell.
There’s nothing particularly lofty or esoteric in this code of conduct. Basically it's a matter of commonsense. Even kindergarten kids at Robert J. Sternberg's psychology class of Yale University will have no difficulty understanding it.
Actually this is the single most important lesson I have learned from Jean-Paul Sartre.
I encountered Sartre 58 years ago. On February 14 three years later, when I was a junior at the school of economics of Keio University, a female student studying English literature on the same campus gave a couple of gifts to her live-in boyfriend, that I was. One of them was a 45-RPM record in which trumpeter Chet Baker and baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan played My Funny Valentine. The other item was Sartre's play titled Nekrassov. It's funny, but although I wasn't particularly impressed by the Molieresque farce satirizing the right-leaning newspapers such as Figaro, and French communists at the same time, I think it's this lighthearted play that got me irreversibly hooked on the French philosopher.
Today not a few Japanese still celebrate on July 14 their Pari-sai, Paris Festival, in one way or the other. But in those days, a greater number of people filled bars and restaurants on the Ginza streets, downtown Tokyo, to commemorate the day which the French call La Fête Nationale. These Japanese drunk champagne and sang Shanson, chansons, without knowing courageous Parisians stormed the Bastille on that day in 1789 and that the death toll of the French Revolution reached 16,000-40,000, if you forget about other one million lives lost in the subsequent Napoleonic wars.
Small wonder it was considered especially trendy in the late 1950s through the first half of the '60s to talk about French literature, cinema and philosophy among "educated" Japanese. This lasted until the days Japan started overtaking one West European country after another, GDP-wise. Needless to say, Sartre couldn't escape this bastardization. Against this social background, not a few students of my generation became hooked on the French thinker regardless of their majors. It's no accident that most of them stopped talking about him, at least on weekdays, as soon as they graduated from school. It is true still today we see here and there a small number of Sartrean remnants from the days the Japanese were fantasizing about the French culture. I call them WEEKEND SARTREANS because that's exactly what they are.
For my part, Sartrean ideas kept haunting me throughout my adulthood. One day, decades after I became a corporate warrior, I realized the short (5 ft 025 in,) cross-eyed, nicotine addicted Monsieur Sartre was still there on my mind. I think the reason I have drifted far away from weekend Sartreans and we have never crossed each other again is because I have a peculiar trait to constantly test my thoughts against reality of life, and vice versa. Although I didn't have a particularly good comprehension of Sartre's ideas as compared to these guys, I learned something more important from his attitude toward life. I call it integrity, but he called it constant pursuit of liberation from mauvaise foi (self-deception.) Throughout his lifetime (1905-80) he strictly adhered to his existentialist principle, while at the same time keeping himself open to the constant challenge from changing reality.
In 1943 he published Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. They say it was meant to be an antithesis to Martin Heidegger's Being and Time (1927.) I don't know if that was the case because I am not very familiar with the works of the German philosopher. But either way, I suspect Sartre should have attempted to transcend Henri Bergson's metaphysics before anything else. He first became attracted to philosophy, as a teenager, when he read Bergson's essay Time and Free Will.
Sartre's ontology focused almost solely on human consciousness, which he called lêtre-pour-soi (being-for-itself) as against the material world which he termed lêtre-en-soi (being-in-itself.) From this lay philosopher's point of view, his approach was not really flawless. For one thing, since being-in-itself is essentially self-contained, and thus motionless, his ontology leaves you wondering how to explain moving objects. If I remember it correctly, he said a being-in-itself in motion, such as the wind or the sea wave is nothing but a "disease of being." This wasn't convincing enough.
More importantly, he talked practically nothing about animals as if to get around these questions: "Do some of them have consciousness? And if they do, how does it affect the evolution. or extinction, of nonhuman species?". If Sartre hadn't ignored animals, he might have written something that went beyond Bergson's Creative Evolution. However, I don't think it's his fault. The author of the classic of existentialism was too preoccupied with human affairs because he wrote it in the midst of the occupation of Paris by Nazi Germany.
Then in the late-1950s, amid the bloody Algerian Independence War, Sartre found a tough challenge to his existentialist thesis arising from the Third World. Against this backdrop, he published in 1960 Critique of Dialectical Reason, Volume 1, to synthesize his thoughts with dialectical materialism of Karl Marx.
There's no such thing as a synthesis that is immune from negation forever. Marx wrote Das Kapital at the height of the First Industrial Revolution. Sartre intended to bring it up to date so as to address issues particular to the second phase of Industrial Revolution, although some of his terminology (proletariat, bourgeoisie, etc.) were almost outdated by that time. By the same token, Critique of Dialectical Reason was soon to be sublated because we were to see the arrival of the Internet Era in a matter of a quarter century. So it's a pity that he died in 1980 without updating Critique of Dialectical Reason one step further himself, or being challenged from that angle by someone else. Judging from the feedback I've received thus far in response to my post titled
The Death of the What?, nobody seems to need a philosophy for the 21st century. The yawning gap between technology and its users is further widening at an accelerated pace. This is an unmistakable sign that we have already chosen the path to ruin.
The situation in that respect is even more disastrous in this country. One case in point is a typical Japanese "philosopher" by the name of Yoshiro Takeuchi. He is the very person who first introduced Critique of Dialectical Reason to the Japanese audience some fifty years ago. But it hasn't crossed his mind for a split second that it's his duty to his audience as well as the French author to update it to something that meets the real challenge of the Internet era. This, alone, indicates that he doesn't understand what dialectic is all about.
In the last half century, Takeuchi has made his living by peddling around ideas borrowed from the French philosopher. There's nothing particularly wrong with making money from someone else's ideas. Actually I thought I owed him something. On the eve of Anpo Toso (the nationwide protests against the Japan-U.S. security treaty of 1960,) I contacted the up-and-coming professor of philosophy, that he was, to deepen my understanding of existentialism. He helped me neatly digest Sartre's ideas when we met in person and exchanged letters. But in those days either of us knew nothing about the real world. In the subsequent half century, I've had to change myself, while he has remained unchanged all along because of his physical and intellectual laziness. Now the self-proclaimed Sartre expert is totally out of touch with the reality of the 21st century. Small wonder he still remains a computer-illiterate and is writing letters and manuscripts with a ballpoint pen in his wrinkled hand.
These are why I'm inclined to call him a retired WEEKDAY SARTREAN. We all know what it's like when a weekday person faces a post-retirement life where everyday is a Sunday. But you can't imagine how a retired weekday philosopher can adapt himself to the reality of life for the first time in his lifetime.
In 2009, I found out on the web that Takeuchi was (and still remains) around living in a luxurious retirement home on the outskirts of the capital. The 80-something-year-old is now presiding over a small "study" group. By now he has exhausted his pet subjects - wars and revolutions overseas, and the class struggle at home, which is an imaginary thing in this classless society. That's why Takeuchi and his half-a-dozen disciples are now focusing primarily on this weird cultural climate characterized by the Tennoist cult. There's nothing wrong with "confronting" it, as they word it. But obviously it's not a task the retired weekday Sartrean and the remnants of weekend Sartreans could possibly handle. The most important thing is that the link between Sartre's ontology or dialectic and their battle against the Tennoist cult is fatally missing. Quite naturally, now Takeuchi looks more like a guru than what he actually is: yet another retiree suffering senile dementia. And his disciples look more like cultists than ordinary citizens suffering juvenile dementia who actually work at the office on weekdays and have fun discussing Sartre on weekends.
I was invited to attend their secret meeting to "size each other up." Sickened by the sheepish attendees at the pointless meeting (there were only three or four of them at that time,) I challenged the guru's lukewarm views of the new administration of the Democratic Party of Japan and Obama's, which indicated he had no sense of urgency. Then the old fart solemnly proclaimed: "You should remember Jesus Christ started with 12 apostles to change the world." The megalomaniac seemed to imply I was Judas Iscariot. I decided it was a total waste of time to mix with these bastards whose wavelength is miles apart from mine. Since then I haven't talked to them again.
I'm too tired to repeat my argument about the terminally-ill nation named Japan. To make a long story short, you can trace back the incurable disease at least to the mid-19th century. The Japanese have since suffered the pathological fixation to the idea of Wakon Yosai (learning from the West while keeping the Japanese spirit intact.) They have adamantly refused to accept tangible and intangible imports from the West as antitheses to the Japanese spirit, though with excruciatingly ambivalent feelings toward them. Another mantra of Fukoku Kyohei (building a strong nation with military might,) which was the real purpose of the Wakon Yosai exercise, had already been in place as an inviolable synthesis.
When the idea of dialectic was imported from Germany, it was standing on its head from the beginning. Douglas MacArthur didn't have the guts to turn all this around. Without straightening out the inversion, he ordered us to replace the military might with the economic might.
Even today in Japan, a synthesis always comes first and remains there until the end of time. At times the same synthesis has to be reconfirmed against possible antitheses. But that doesn't constitute a major problem because the Japanese have unparalleled skills with which to neutralize or sanitize heterogeneous elements. Every time that happens, they conduct the ritual called Dibeto (debate.) As I always say, an issue is debatable here only when the correct answer is given beforehand.
In this country, a man who does thinking is completely out of place like a fish that does walking. · read more (54 words)