The Matter with Things
A group to discuss Iain’s latest book.
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Beware the word “clearly”
Beware the word “clearly”
A snippet from Iain (copied from this forum topic: https://members.channelmcgilchrist.com/groups/the-matter-with-things/forum/discussion/message-from-iain-to-members-about-why-he-wrote-the-matter-with-things/#post-1845224)
Our dominant value – sometimes I fear our only value – has, very clearly, become that of power.
I’d like to respond to this. I don’t think that this entirely captures the essence. I think that the “It’s lust for power that is the problem!”-story, is a story that is flapping around the universe looking for any mind to burrow into. It’s an easy thing to say “But look at all those people in power mucking things up!”. Yes, and look at all those people in “power” who worked hard to get where they wanted to go, who are competent and have good judgement. We currently have a narrative that everyone at the top is an incompetent, mean bully who got there merely because they wanted to control others. Well, yes, we have those, of course. There are people who want to control, manipulate, dictate.
There are people at the top of any profession who are lusting after power and nothing else. But I think we’re confusing cause and effect. I think the root cause is: we are not allowed to believe in Competence anymore. Our dominant narrative has become “Competence does not exist and if it does it’s not fair and if you’re faster/smarter/better something you’d better not show it because it’s not fair to your classmates/colleagues/sportsmates”.
Our dominant value has become Power. Why? Because the dominant value that ought to be there in its stead has been dethroned under the creed of “It’s not fair that some are better than others at some things!”. The clamor for Fairness has caused this.
The universe demands from us that we are competent at survival, at raising our young, at judging situations. And those who are most competent are successful. We cannot seem to bear this thought, this responsibility. The consequence of accepting this, that competence is crucial, is also having the knowledge that if you are not competent at something (anything), this will endanger your survival. We love to pretend that this is not an issue anymore in modern society, but we all know it is. You can end up homeless. Your survival is not guaranteed. It demands competence. At something of value. The sick mind moans that this is unfair. What if you <insert difficult circumstance here>? What if you can’t help it? It’s not fair that your chances are lower. Fair? Who said anything about fair. The universe does not know “fair”, this “fair” is a human invention.
And so what if your starting point was shitty? For any situation you can think of, a human being has been in that situation and has been successful despite it.
The assault on the mind that is going on is at the heart of the problem. Because what happens if you do not believe in competence? Or worse, if you fear that it is competence you require and you might not measure up to what you know is required of you to ensure your wellbeing and survival? One option is to pretend it’s not true. To stop looking for those who are competent. To stop daring to look the other person in the eye. To stop demanding competence of yourself (and to be able to bear the pain of knowing that you are not competent enough at all but to keep working at it anyway).
Nowadays, we daren’t judge the other person’s mind. But you must, if you are to avoid dealing with people who are a danger to your wellbeing/survival. You can spot a narcissist a mile away. Unless you were conditioned not to, because of course, there is no such thing as judging someone else’s mind. Because if you can judge a mind, you could judge mine and there’s no telling what you’ll find. No, better to never teach you to spot the arsehole before he introduces himself to you. No, better to hide any flaws by pretending there’s no such thing as being good at anything anyway. No, better to hide the mind’s own existence.
What happens when competence is removed from the equation in any profession? People who value competence will leave. Who will you be left with? Those who want power without having the required competence (or money without delivering the required value). And then we say “See, the problem is that we’re after Power!”. No, the problem is that we stopped acknowledging that there is such a thing as competence.
I think the problem is that our dominant value has become “Fairness”, whatever that means.
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