philosophy

Man VS. Himself


Nilantika Banarjee*

Farakka, August 27 2014 (Alocho,naa):My Favorite novel or rather I call it my bible, is The Fountainhead. I have been in love with the philosophy it endorses; “Inspite of  whatever their future – at the wake of life men seek a noble vision of man’s nature and life’s potential”. That every thing we have, everything we are, comes from a single attribute – the function of his reasoning mind. Coincidently I recently watched watched Carl Sagan’s – one of the most popular television series – Cosmos. It showcases how science – which I believe to be a manifestation of our rationality – had travelled a thorny path since ancient times. It took the absolute devotion of some people – who had pursued their rationality, to continue unabated in their efforts because everything else had ceased to matter for them. But I am not going to write an eulogy of my favourite author Ayn Rand or the famous science enthusiast Carl Sagan.

The latent thoughts behind this article are that groups or individuals who have lived to prove that just as man’s only weapon is his reasoning mind, the consequences that takes place if man gives up on that can be equally significant!

Recently the whole world has been repeatedly shocked and stunned by the barbaric acts of the Militant group Boko Haram (whose literal translation is said to be ‘Western Education Is Sinful/Forbidden’). Often in the newspapers we read only about religious wars, killing over strategic alliances, some sects like Boko Haram and ISIS trying to impose a primeval lifestyle on people – in the name of religion – otherwise threatening with dire consequences and they are pursuing their goals with relentless cruelty. In other words, a large section of the world’s population has completely given up on the only asset a human being is born with and will die with – which is their reasoning mind. Which consequentially makes them ineligible to be included under the scientific tag of Homo Sapiens. A new term needs to be coined for them who look like the Homo Sapiens. I don’t know what else to call a species who kill, scare, loot, vandalize, rape either to gain occupancy of a strip of land or to deny women their freedom or to please their god! They have forgotten or maybe they have never realized that man’s only claim to greatness is forged through his mind.

The circumstances leading to such violence and blood-shed, war and turmoil around us might be extremely complex –  but what pains me is to see so many bodies rejoicing in their apparent win when they have actually died the moment they have given carte blanche to some fictitious emotions and the murk of mysticism to take control of their minds which in turn has actually turned their minds dysfunctional.

The master anarchist, the revered leader of some extremist religious group, the tamer of modern women, the tyrannical dictator and some holy master – all enjoy their moments of glory under the sun. The root of their enjoyment comes from others and who are these others – the species who have no mind! Not a single cognizance of their heroics will come from one who ‘thinks’. These so called mob masterminds who have sort of shaped a parallel reality on our planet – where giving up of rationality is encouraged and religion has pre-emptied the field of ethics turning morality against man and man is made to believe he is a victim of forces beyond his control.

It is indeed sad to see the loss of so many innocent lives as a byproduct of the turbulent times we live in – but it is even more saddening and sickening to see the rise of a species who have willingly chosen to give up thinking for themselves and denigrated the superiority of our species – a species who have the glory of defying the forces of gravity as well as curing the so-called incurable curse of cancer to shedding light on the esoteric fields of quarks and black holes, with 10% of their mind potential as is said about the average use of brain that a human being possibly does in its lifetime. It’s really mind-boggling to think what else is possible if the remaining 90% ever came to use! And the mind is essentially the attribute of an individual. And once we give up on it and switch realms from thinker to believer, we get dislodged from the long legacy of men- single and unsubmissive, who had taken the first step towards uncharted territories armed only with nothing but their mind. Every great thought had been ridiculed at, every great questioning mind true to it’s purpose had been labeled sinful but that had not stopped them as they had been innocent of fear, their lives shaped by the truth of their thoughts and ideas!

From my limited understanding I presume all the wars -religious or civil – all the anarchy in our world comes from a deep-rooted lust for power, a hankering to rule the world of some poor individual who has so little respect for his own self that the only way his existence can have a meaning to him is when he is acknowledged by the world by imposing his own views and judgments on them because he has so little belief in it himself that he fears that it’s just not enough to matter! In this context I really liked a concept that Ayn Rand says in her book ‘The Fountainhead’, she writes that if we like something and say yes to it, it becomes ours in a way that it is of no one else’s, our affirmation or acceptance to a thing of our liking is the sole essence of ownership.

Moving from a broader global context to a limited local one we have come across a new spate of vicarious living where fame, adulation, admiration, envy, power, acceptance, approval are sought by an individual from others to make their lives meaningful and worthwhile. Being thought great is more desirable than actually being great in this age of second-hand living.

Maybe the recent barbaric attacks of Boko Haram in Nigeria, or the Israel Palestine situation were the lateral thoughts behind this article. I thought whether human excellence has reached such a pinnacle where such destructive forces are indeed necessary to balance the positive and the negative or else the world becomes a mundane peace haven! But instinctively I didn’t feel like giving up on humanism yet! I still believe that the species who first lighted a fire by rubbing two stones, first thought of something called wheel, first invented the power loom, first invented cures to presumed incurable diseases, first brought in technologies which has made our world a global village – the internet, first thought of landing on the moon not being content with admiring it from a distance and are now thinking on the lines of colonizing Mars are capable of far better than rejoicing over meaningless loss of human lives, more importantly human potential and mass destructions and anarchy.

Rationality and creativity, thoughts and ideas which have taken birth in the minds of individuals who have shaped the globe for decades – without wanting accolades or recognition, have taken our civilization forward true to the fountainhead of man’s inherent potential. So what really baffles me is when people say that they were brainwashed to fight for a cause someone else believed in. Man is not born to think what others want him to – but to decide for himself and the moment he lets others decide for him – he ceases to exist. I do not know the language such brainwashed people understand but if I knew the language they understood I would not ask them to give peace a chance I would ask them to give themselves a chance!

*Nilantika  is a regular writer of Alochonaa. She is the author of the novel‘To The Anya In You. She now lives in the rural part of India as part of her job posting. 

** Alochonaa.com is not responsible for any factual mistakes (if any) of this analysis. This analysis further is not necessarily representative of Alochonaa.com’s view. We’re happy to facilitate further evidence-based submissions on this topic. Please send us your submission at alochonaa@gmail.com

 

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Categories: philosophy, Philosphy, Reflection

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