Monday, July 4, 2011

Approaching the question of the nature of freedom

Even though it is independence day in the USA I am probably the only blogger talking about independence from the mechanical mind. But at least my example is rooted in the fight for freedom among abolitionists and black people in the next to last century, freedom from blatantt external oppression, a fight which generally must succeed prior to an inquiry into the real limiting factors to freedom. 

John Brown, and his raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859  --- demonstrates a peculiar but universal quality of mechanical thought---the sense one has of the clarity of one's verbal conclusions. 

John Brown saw so clearly how much suffering slavery caused, he saw it clearly---so he planned a whole revolt based on the assumption that the downtrodden would rise to his call for revolution. The slaves were miserable and Brown's whole plan was that the slave population of Virginia would rise up once they heard his verbal rallying cry. It was so clear in his mind. You gather your followers so far, you get control of the arms and ammunition in the neighborhood, and then the black people in Virginia will rush to your banner. 

Some people see John Brown today as a martyr, some as insane, but my point here is that he is the exemplar of ordinary thought. His air tight conclusions were so vivid and so irrefutable, that he is remembered even now for a hopeless sally against a bastion of the slave owning south. The point is the faith he placed in his calculations. 

What he is not is a fool. Today the natural scientists display the same reliance on ordinary binary thought when they divide those without science degrees into the "scientifically literate" and the creationists. To most scientists today to speak of varieties of religious experience, is to speak of the subjective and pointless.
They and John Brown are both good examples of that aspect of ordinary thought which can be partially characterized as a clarity of convictions.