The Social Imagination

Exploring the Social Imagination

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Fake News in the Social Imagination...

Is that even possible? No... why not?

Because, all information has information in it. And, the information we 'use' is information that we either as one or a group 'feel/think' we can gain and or benefit from and that is called by sociologists - agreement reality.

It is interesting for sociologist to look at what is being considered fake news. So, what information can you find online that describes today's fake news?  One can read online that it considered to be a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. 

Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person, and or gain financially or politically, often using sensationalist, dishonest, or construed as in fabricated headlines to increase readership, online sharing, and Internet click revenue. Mmm, isn't that prevalent in most news networks including ones that some think or call ' real' news? Yes!

Wasn't fake news and isn't fake news used in political campaigning? Yes. Isn't fake news and or 'fake' 'information' used in advertising? Yes. Isn't fake news, about a person spread as rumors, used by most people in this fallen world? Yes. And, why is that? It is to gain an upper-hand, or gain social status.

Well, revenue is generated from this activity, regardless of the veracity of the published stories. Of course, some will argue that fake news intentionally misleads and so advertising doesn't when it claims that its product is so much better than another? 

They, the manufacturer of the product may not come right out and say that but they use images and satire or parody to make the viewer or reader think that theirs is best, even their politician. Like laundry... information is clean or unclean but its still information to be used and people use it to their advantage, both kinds.

You see, we are all subject to 'fake' news/information. We have only so much information available to us at a given time and we act on that as if it is true and for the most part it is true to us in the moment we use it. For instance, if we say that so and so did not do what they were supposed to do and we told the boss about it only later to find out that they actually did but it was someone else who did not do what they were supposed to do and they just passed the blame. 

Well then, shouldn't we 'fess' up and say "Oh, I am sorry, I didn't know that" or "I was only going by what I was told or thought was right"? We should and sometimes we do but sadly more than likely we will just do it again and again...right?

There are plenty of theories and scientific persuasions that we have repeated as good or right information only to be told later that studies disprove it. Was that sharing fake news? Well, ... if you share that which has been disproved, then it is now fake news. For example, we have been told that Pluto used to be a planet.

It happens in our everyday that we share information that is relatively true or not true. Is it fake information? Well, it is and it isn't. Especially, if its only true or untrue for you. I told my students that if they have a certain kind of dog and bring it to the campus, I will not touch it even if they tell me its a nice dog and won't bite. I will not touch it because as a child I had a very bad experience with that kind of dog. 

So, no matter how many times you tell me your dog is nice, if it is that kind of dog (the one from my past) I will not touch it and I will not nor ever like it. Am I acting on 'fake news/information'? Well, I might be if your dog (that kind of dog from my past experience) is really a nice dog just like you are telling me yours is. And, I guess I certainly would be acting on or spreading fake news if I told other people that you have that kind of dog and I say it with a tone that makes others think that you are some kind of person to have that kind of dog, right?

All in all, whether you or me,  I am / you would be acting on information that I/you consider to be true given my/your socio-historical past experience... with that kind of dog; and, even if I read or was handed 'black/white' print that such a dog has been given a 'bad rap' over the years, I will still consider my information true based on my real experience, at least real in my experience with it.

Now, here is where the problem lies as it does with all social pitfalls (social interaction that has corrupt information yet is still exchanged). Where is the problem? I just told you in parenthesis. And, thus those at the time with power and wealth who want to keep that position will use such 'fake news' or information to train you up for their future and their children's future. 

They will even call out 'fake news' when it seems like information being shared will bring them down and or change their social status. So, think twice even three times about 'fake news' and if you are really being told the truth. Who gains from telling either the truth or a lie and their motive. In that respect, if there is any... is 'fake news' information really fake? No, all information clean and unclean, right or wrong is still information and both kinds are used in a fallen world such as this. And, believe me were warned about this.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Violence in the Social Imagination is a Reaction to the Fallen World...

This is a fallen world, it's in a state of decay or what is called in science 'entropy'. It is kind of word that most people don't like to hear because it means the universe or let's say the world as we know it is winding down ....  

All processes manifest a tendency toward decay and disintegration, with a net increase in what is called the entropy, or state of randomness or disorder, of the system. This is called the Second Law of Thermodynamics ~ Henry Morris.

Some have changed the word entropy to mean a measure of disorder and that there is no total decay. I can agree with that in that entropy of social reality is a disorder of information and that it could be re-organized. Well, that is what God has a plan to do. But, man... you can be sure cannot and will not ever be able to reorganize disorder in the universe. 

This world is passing away. We see death and destruction all around us yet no one really wants to talk about it as a real aspect of existence; no, rather we only discuss it as if it is avoidable. If you eat right, exercise, take vitamins, avoid too much caffeine and alcohol, have regular checkups, drive safely, hang out with the right people etc. If you do these things, you will live forever in this world. 

But, people do grow old, do get sick and die. Our reaction to this is denial, rejection and our way to cope is our own useless attempt of mastery over it as Max Weber recognized. We want to escape it, or master it and when we can't we want to blame someone else, and we even want revenge. We want to lash out in anger and hatred because we feel hopeless and end up isolating ourselves becoming lonely.

Alfred Schutz realized that this hopelessness and anger/hatred and tendency to isolate ourselves is rooted in the fear of death which he called the fundamental anxiety. This is what drives men and women to do the things they do sometimes out of such fear and isolation... to do bad things, ugly things or what we could call - evil. 

Because, we do experience entropy and in it evil...out of the same hopelessness and fear of death, we attempt to escape it, run away from it or master it. That is why we try to come up with ideas, politics, contracts, laws, and all kinds of schemes in order to try to escape entropy 'disorder' (which is decay of information) or to distance ourselves from it. When they don't seem to be working, we fall into a dark or 'darker' state of mind - darker social imagination.

Take a look around isn't it obvious. Don't we see and or hear about horrific violent crimes or conflicts at home, down the street, in our schools/towns/states and abroad. Whether it's on television or in the movies, on the internet, in games, on t-shirts, in music, sports, or in real life, violence is in our face on a daily basis. Why is that? Man is afraid that there is nothing else ...

Now, we do from time to time justify certain violence, and often abhor it too.  But, we never actually try to 'face up' to it and admit that we are much instigators and perpetrators of it as we are victims of it. Oh really you say. You never did anything to anyone! You never personally hurt anyone, right? Didn't you grow up with 2 parents in a nice home in a good neighborhood? Didn't you get exactly what you wanted for your birthday or Christmas, and didn't you get a blue/red ribbon while someone else did not. 

Didn't you have access to and eat healthy food and drink clean water or breathe clean air while someone else did not. Didn't your dad get a promotion while someone else did not. Didn't your mom stay home to raise/nurture you while someone else's had to work... leaving the key under the flowerpot near the back steps? 

Didn't your grandpa become a major in the military service while someone else died executing his orders? Didn't you go on vacation to Disney World, or go to the Olympics either as a competitor or spectator and someone else did not?  Didn't you get that great job, expensive car, pat on the back or nod from the boss, or find a loophole that enabled your upward mobility while someone else did not? Oh, sure maybe they weren't as competent as you or they just were to slow on the uptake, not in the right place at the right time.

You say that just because you had a better upbringing, or opportunities, or a better education, you are not responsible  for other people's problems, bad choices, illness/depression, crimes, or deaths. Really? Aren't we all part of the fallen world/the social imagination!

Take some time now... look up the word decadence, which means simply "decline" (fall into disorder) in an abstract sense. Now, in a social sense, we can observe decay in social standards, morals, dignity, religious faith, or skill at governing. By extension, it refers also to a decline in  ethics, and an increase thus in self-indulgent behavior as we claw to escape social entropy. 

Is there a way out of this decay/decadence for the social imagination? How can we escape or in the  very least somehow move forward into a future forgoing decay, forgoing or eliminating violence??? Pray to the Creator that His Kingdom Come!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Problem with Legal Experts in the American Social Imagination...

John Brigham of the University of Amherst, wrote a book called - Civil Liberties and American Democracy. It was published in 1984 by the Congressional Quarterly, Inc. In the final chapter, Democracy, he writes about threats to constitutional democracy with regard to the future of civil liberties in America. 

I have blogged about this before, pointing Brigham's book. There are a few threats that we should be aware of: the threat coming from the elites, from the people, and from experts - lawyers and judges. Before getting into the meat of what Brigham writes, let's consider the legal system today in the social imagination. It looks like a kind of circus. 

Why is that? Likely, its because legal experts have become the law unto themselves and by doing so, they do not actually defend the law of the people who are held together by that law (s). They defend themselves and their positions. Thus, they end up destroying the law (for the people and by the people) by establishing and or creating a theater of law out of the court system for personal gain, for their own advantages. 

Moreover, they write laws that they favor and favors them. They interpret the law and the laws are not about the people. Laws benefit lawyers and the more complicated the laws are the more they favor the lawyers. Its a myth that lawyers are favorable or noble people. Look at the Nazi party, many were 'legal' experts with law backgrounds.

In Brigham's book, on page 259, he writes that ultimately, the most sinister threat to constitutional democracy is the domination of civil liberties by legal experts, the professionalization of the capacity to deal with fundamental rights.  All one has to do is review the history of law and legal experts in this country and you will likely observe what Brigham did and one can still witness. 

Which is that the power of the judicial in this country has morphed beyond the people's social imagination; as it is no longer based on their idea of it but rather on the idea that the ultimate reading of the Constitution should be left to a legal elite has transformed constitutional law into a form of judge-made (lawyer defended) professionally crafted legal discourse. Now, many would agree with that... especially the legal experts.

The law, especially constitutional law, is no longer serving the people but serving 'deals' to be made for political and personal gain. Deals made have come to characterize the criminal process. No longer do we have the tradition of due process promised to every citizen whereby they could respect the institution of law and government because of the high level of respect that they themselves would receive; and hence, the basis for legitimacy has shifted to claims of legal expertise -the Intercessor.  

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Pelagius vs. Augustine in the Social Imagination...

The Pelagian Heresy ~ Pelagius rejected the Augustinian concept of grace. According to his opponents, Pelagius taught that moral perfection was attainable in this life without the assistance of divine grace through human free will. Augustine contradicted this by saying that perfection was impossible without grace because we are born sinners with a sinful heart and will.

The Pelagians charged Augustine with departing from the accepted teaching (e.g.: John 8:11) of the Apostles and the Bible, and demonstrating that the doctrine of original sin amounted to Manichaeism, which taught that the flesh was in itself sinful (and thus denied that Jesus came in the flesh). 

Pelagius mistakenly thought that man always had 'righteous' free will and he just had to be reminded of that as Pelagius pointed to John 8:11. But, Augustine taught that a person's salvation comes solely through a free gift, the efficacious grace of God, but that this was a gift that one had no free choice to accept or refuse. 

So, what about John 8:11? "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you,"Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." Isn't that an example of what Pelagius meant? Yes and no. Yes, because Jesus did tell the woman to go and sin no more as if to 'remind' her that she was always able to. Not! She could not be reminded of her 'righteous' free will as if she always had the ability to not sin. If she had, why would Jesus (God) ever enter in. 

No, that woman did not have that kind of mind in a fallen world to know that she could go and sin no more...of her own free will. Until the moment when she encountered Jesus Christ; the woman did even understand her 'free will' let alone her sin, nor did she ever have the ability to not sin before she encountered Jesus Christ. Jesus gave her the gift of His Grace; and thus, it was not her 'own' free will that she just had to be reminded of in order that she go and sin no more but because Jesus empowered her by the Gift of His Grace. 

For anyone to make the argument otherwise, it must be pointed that moral perfection could not be attainable by man alone/ by himself in a fallen world or a universe in a state of entropy. Our 'free will' is corrupt made corrupt at the fall. Hence, though we may think we choose to do something good or not do something good, doesn't make 'good' or right or wrong in our own eyes... in a fallen state, man alone could not fully understand the difference. 

The only time we could feel bad about doing something wrong is if we were told it was wrong because others in the same corrupt state reacting with anger, jealous or rage out of missing out on either the same opportunity/advantage as animals react; those reactions are barbaric as in tragically natural for man in a state of entropy. Jesus said, "For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander". There is no not one who is without sin... all are filthy rags. 

The only time we could overcome or escape the penalty of sin (eternal damnation) is by either death or by grace. By grace gives us eternal life. But, whose grace if all the world / universe is corrupt? Only by someone outside of the corruption. So, the next problem for the two schools of thought - Pelegius and Augustine is was Jesus 'in the flesh' corrupt too simply by entering into this fallen world? 

To defend that Jesus was not corrupt by being in the flesh, one has to ask the question, Would God come into this world of sin if He could not overcome it? Would God create a stone so big He could not move it? No. He could always overcome because He is God. So, Jesus (God in the flesh) could never be touched by this corruption because His true being remained outside of it.
We must keep in mind, if we always had the understanding of 'right' free will choice, then why would Jesus come into the world? It would have been enough to continue looping in a forward motion until we just got it right (Ground Hog Day) through a struggle of trial and error (or until,like in the move, right choices win) as if man alone could save himself. 

Yes, Pelagian said a little grace was necessary as if to say a sprinkle of stardust over our heads or holy water was a means to remind us. We see the Pelagian Heresy in American civil religion and played out in many American dreams/films and or plays/books. Even in the Wizard of Oz! Dorothy supposedly always had the free will to go home.

In sum, until we are born again by the Holy Spirit, we cannot of our 'own' free will save ourselves from the law of sin and death! Nor can we by our own right/good choices make this a better world. It is in a state of entropy - This world is passing away ~ 1 John 2:17.

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Beyond Reason ~ The Mind Behind the Universe... by: John Lennox

Prof. John Lennox teaches mathematics at Oxford. His insights support that past blog wherein the work of Charles H. Cooley was discussed in context of man's social imagination and its true source.

Although science with all of its power cannot address some of the fundamental questions that we ask, nevertheless the universe contains certain clues as to our relationship to it, clues that are scientifically accessible. The rational intelligibility of the universe, for instance, points to the existence of a Mind that was responsible both for the universe and for our minds. It is for this reason that we are able to do science and to discover the beautiful mathematical structures that underlie the phenomena we can observe. Not only that, but our increasing insight into the fine-tuning of the universe in general, and of planet earth in particular, is consistent with the widespread awareness that we are meant to be here. This earth is our home.

But if there is a Mind behind the universe, and if that Mind intends us to be here, the really big question is: What is the purpose of our existence? It is this question above all that exercises the human heart. Scientific analysis of the universe cannot give us the answer. But true science is not embarrassed by its inability at this point — it simply recognizes that it is not equipped to answer such questions. Therefore, it would be a serious logical error in methodology to look only within the ingredients of the universe — its material, structures, and processes — to find out what its purpose is and why we are here. The ultimate answer, if there is one, will have to come from outside the universe.

But how shall we find this out? I have spent much time over the years arguing that there is evidence of a Mind behind the universe, a Mind that intended us to be here. We too have minds. It is, therefore, not illogical that one of the major reasons why we have been given minds is not only that we should be able to explore our fascinating universe home but also that we should be able to understand the Mind that has given us the home.

Long before Aristotle, the book of Genesis was penned. It starts with the words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This statement stands in complete contrast with the other mythical cosmogonies of the time — like the Babylonian, in which the gods were part of the stuff of the universe, and in which the world was made out of a god. Genesis claims that there is a creator God who exists independently of the universe, a claim that is foundational to Christianity. The apostle John puts it this way in his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1–4).

In Greek, the term translated “Word” is logos, which was often used by Greek philosophers for the rational principle that governs the universe. Here we have the theological explanation for the rational intelligibility of the universe, for the fine-tuning of its physical constants as well as its biological complexity. It is the product of a Mind, that of the divine Logos. For what lies behind the universe is much more than a rational principle. It is God, the Creator Himself. It is no abstraction, or even impersonal force, that lies behind the universe. God, the Creator, is a person, and He is not part of the stuff of His universe.

Now, if the ultimate reality behind the universe is a personal God, this has far-reaching implications for the human search for truth, since it opens up new possibilities for knowing ultimate reality other than through the (scientific) study of things. For people communicate in a way that things do not. People can reveal themselves in speech and thereby communicate information about themselves that the most sophisticated scanner applied to their brains could not reveal. Being people ourselves, we can get to know other people. Therefore, the next logical question to ask is: If the Creator is personal, has He spoken directly, as distinct from what we can learn of Him indirectly through the structures of the universe? Has He revealed Himself?

For if there is a God, and He has spoken, then what He has said will be of utmost importance in our search for truth. Here we once again encounter the biblical claim that God has spoken in the most profound and direct way possible. He, the Word who is a person, has become human, to demonstrate fully that the ultimate truth behind the universe is personal. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14).

This statement is highly specific. It asserts that at a certain time and place, God the Creator encoded Himself in humanity. It is, of course, a staggering claim to supernatural activity of the highest order. Yet, science has not and cannot eliminate the supernatural.

I submit that, far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point toward His existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by His existence. Inevitably, of course, not only those of us who do science but all of us have to choose the presuppositions with which we start. There are not many options — essentially, just two. Either human intelligence ultimately owes its origin to mindless matter or there is a Creator. It is strange that some people claim that it is their intelligence that leads them to prefer the first to the second.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Locus of Society Exists in the Mind....The Social Imagination!

Yes, all that we know, experience happens in the mind. If lover's of 'science' would embrace that first, they would better understand their science is only what they make of it in their social imagination; in their limited social imagination/agreement reality. In that realization, one surely has to ask, who is responsible for the universe let alone the social imagination of men and who makes it all possible to even have one? A mind greater than man's, a social imagination that is the Alpha and Omega!

It amazes me that someone as genius as Charles H. Cooley, could be so easily overlooked and or readily forgotten by men of so called science. His work as a social scientists/insightful witness to the social psyche, was avante garde, pioneering for his time. In 1902, his two major writings were published as one book "Social Organization and Human Nature and the Social Order".

You see, what Cooley knew was at the heart of all social reality - social imagination. The immediate social reality is the personal idea. Society is a relation among personal ideas. It exists in your mind as a similar group and so in every mind. Given that, there can only be experienced information that is given, shared and agreed upon as to what the world is, the universe and how we find ourselves in it and what that means to each and everyone of us. There is no space, time or any tangible thing outside the human mind. Well, maybe Einstein got it- its all relative, isn't it...

Man in his struggle to have what he/she thinks is the right and or ultimate information, the ultimate social reality of personal ideas falls short of realizing the importance of others in that struggle; for there is no relation unless there is agreement. You see, others are necessary in our relation of personal ideas; in fact, they exist for that purpose.

Perhaps, that is why we desire to control not only our own ideas as if they are property but those of others as well. In that embeddedness, are witness to the fact that others have the same experience though we cannot know someone else's mind, we know from our own mind that there is no other existence.

In order to not fall into a catatonic state, a fatalistic retreat into the darkness of the mind. There is yet built in by nature or rather program (being created by an omnipotent Creator) the desire to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are able to move out from there. Plato wrote of this in his 'allegory of the cave'. Its not easy, but its worthwhile. The enlightened social imagination can be an incredible accomplishment for those that build it up in the light.

Who is it that holds all things together?The supremacy of Jesus Christ, God the Creator of all things seen and unseen, He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together - COL 1:16-17. He who is at the heart of our personal ideas... or should be! If we started from there as a platform of departure, as many enlightened people have, greater leaps in 'science' ...the social imagination would be made and its eternal capacity would grow into an immortal infinity of the mind - the greater cloud of human information reality.

Unless, we be deceived and return to darkness of oneness; one without light. The key to eternal light the eternal pure (as we were created to be) social imagination 'information reality' is love, "For God so Loved the world, ~ John 3:16. He sent His Son, God became flesh" ~ Hebrews 2:14. And, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another ~ 1 John 4:11. In our heart, mind and soul ...we live by faith, not by sight ~ 2 COR 5:7. In Him, we live, move and have our being! Acts 17:28.

God's children are human beings--made of flesh and blood--the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death ~ Hebrews 2:14.

The Meaning of the Heavenly Universe in the Social Imagination...

Fascination with the heavens is intrinsic in man's social imaginatioin.

And as it should be and can only be. For man was shaped by the same Creator, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, the One who holds all things together ~ COL 1:16-17.

From in-depth archival investigations, online or by hard cover, one's findings are likely to reveal clearly the origins of Western astronomy which are found to be in Mestopamia, the "land between the rivers" Tigris and Euphrates, where the ancient kingdoms of Sumer, Assyria, and Babylonia were located. A form of writing known as cuneiform emerged among the Sumerians around 3500–3000 BC. Our knowledge of Sumerian astronomy is indirect, via the earliest Babylonian star catalogues dating from about 1200 BC.

We do know that during the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Babylonian astronomers developed a new approach to astronomy. They began studying philosophy dealing with the ideal nature of the early universe and began employing an internal logic within their predictive planetary systems. 

This was an important contribution to astronomy and the philosophy of science and some scholars have thus referred to this new approach as the first scientific revolution. This new approach to astronomy was adopted and further developed in Greek and Hellenistic astronomy.

The study of the stars was not limited to the Middle East. China and India were engaged in the study of the cosmos almost going back as far in time as any other group which sought to navigate and communicate with the heavens. 

In those early civilization's exploration of the heavens was also an understanding (through observation of the heavens and earth in a state of entropy) that there was a beginning to all things seen and unseen and likely an end.  

Its sad that more scientists today haven't studied the social reality of man. There is only agreement reality. The sun is a star and it still is as we agree that it is. And, as we to continue to agree about other things in our 'closed entropic' universe, we mistakenly think it is all being made known to us through our 'man-made' scientific method. 

But that is really beside the point given this discussion. What matters to the true sociologist is why we seek to agree on anything and in the end what we agree on or disagree on. Some agree that our universe is a closed system and some don't. Some agree that the world 'universe' is coming to an end and some don't. Perhaps, it is just the way we talk about the end of the or end of days that leads us to either agreement/disagreement. The sharing of information, the meaning in that information is important to us in terms of our agreement or not. And, what promise it holds for us.

So, why would some people want to agree that the world and or universe is coming to an end? Why do some people agree that we are in the end of days? Is it because they see it that way or there is meaning in that argument in terms of their social reality - social imagination? Perhaps, its not that the world is coming to an end but rather they may be agreeing that the world as we know it is. 

It may be that their 'information' social reality - social imagination (which is the only reality) as we/they know it/use it, is expected to be re-booted. In the meaning, that things are spiraling down in this state of social reality (an entropy of the social imagination) and when they hit bottom there is only one way and that's up. 

Thus, future man may not agree in the same way as we do now; but then, there is nothing new under the sun. However, that may be changed in a new information reality. And, in that, certainly the end of one means that the beginning of another. You see, information can never be destroyed. It cannot by man. But, it can be by the only one who has the authority to - the Creator of it; who can completely destroy it and re-create it according to His purpose. 

Regardless of being a person of faith, our fascination with the heavens and either their end and or the end of the world/end of days are rather encoded into our information reality by the absolute Creator of the cosmos. Hence, we are witness to its entropic condition and regardless of that we are able yet to imagine and agree on or hope in its new creation or at least the expectation of its renewal.