“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person, but if you give him a mask, he will tell the truth.” I believe that people can be enlightened and know truth but, they have to be safe behind a mask that society can’t judge or punish. Being enlightened means you are able to explore and think what you want without the fear that society or peers will judge you for decision. I think the problem with people becoming enlightened is that they are limited by real or perceived attributes or qualities that make them unable to explore truth. People fear the backlash of society or their own mind for exploring something “off-limits”. Most people need the security of a disguise so that they can dare to know without punishment or persecution for even exploring their ideas and thoughts. The three articles I chose deal with our own limits to exploring truth and society’s limits on our exploration of truth. In Descartes fourth meditation he says, “So now I find it easy to turn my mind away from objects of the senses and the imagination, towards objects of the intellect alone;” We are often led off track by the feelings and sensations experienced through the senses. I think sight, smell, and touch, are important to visualizing what is around us but in order to understand what we believe, we must push those out. Letting  go of our sense and just purely relying on intellect can help put our stereotypes and constructs fade away and really know what is going on in the world. Allowing yourself to exist without the smell or sight or feel of who you are is the best way to really know who you are in the world without being trapped in the confines of what society defines you as. Omi and Winant touch on this idea of the senses when it comes to the formation of race. They state, “Thus race, class, and gender (as well as sexual orientation) constitute “regions” of hegemony, areas in which certain political projects can take place. They share certain obvious attributes in that they are all “socially constructed”, and that they all consist of a field of projects whose common feature is their linkage of social structure and signification.” This explains further the limits of physical features and actions in becoming enlightened. If we view the world in the social defined groups and types that are handed to us, we are not thinking for ourselves but feeding on what others have given us. We have to find a way to judge and understand the world by not letting these stereotypes and senses get in the way of truth. Truth can be skewed by allowing other people’s differences, or their perceived differences, to get in our way.  Strasburger’s idea of child development can tie in with the idea of letting go of perceived and socially decided stereotypes to become enlightened. Strasburger states, “Age is often used as a marker of these differences in cognitive abilities, although there is tremendous variation in how and when children develop.” This is about deciding what children can handle what level of material without stealing away their youth and innocence. It is again this idea of allowing other people to tell you when children are allowed to explore idea. Society is placing a limit on who can explore what, this time, based on their age. All these philosophers hit on the idea that people will follow the social and personal norms for fear that they will be punished or judged for disobeying. But it is in disobeying the social and personal limitations that we are able to pass all the nonsense and find truth. In order to do that, we must feel safe and secure so that we don’t limit ourselves for the sake of our reputations or standings with our community.


One thought on “Enlightened

  1. Interesting way of thinking about this assignment. We haven’t yet really considered what the social implications are in regards to enlightenment or the obstruction of enlightenment as you point out here. You adequately brought both of the readings into the assignment to back up you’re points, and while i think you’re idea would have been better informed by other discourse, this works well enough, especially since you’re argument is a pretty unorthodox one.

    So what do you think the anonymity of the internet has done for enlightenment? Is a bunch of angsty 15 year olds posting ad-hominem attacks on an anonymous forum a way to shed that social nonage and really achieve enlightenment, or is us only feeding the self importance and lack of consideration for consequences that seems to pervade most of online discourse? They say everyone is right once they’re behind a computer screen right? Interesting stuff to think about.

    My only complaint really is the formatting, you might want to put a few paragraph breaks in there next time just to make it easier to read, but it’s nothing major.

    Solid S.

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