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Friday, January 27, 2023

philosophy against cultural hegemony

Michael Held / Unsplash

“Remember that if you consider yourself free and by your nature a slave and an alien, you will harm yourself.”

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus invited consideration in his manual That we can be free only when we are not dominated by external elements. He was committed to an inner freedom based on a correct interpretation of what happens to us.

Now, we live in a world in which manipulation and control are deployed through technological means, consumer goods, mass propaganda, disguised narratives, and immediate stimuli. Can we be free if almost everything that happens is out of our control and tries to lead us in a certain direction?

civilization of desire

Antonio Gramsci pointed to the role that cultural hegemony is dominated by ideological or cultural means. In a world of advertisements, slogans and television series, the worldview of the ruling class is often hidden. It is a way of understanding the world and ourselves that is ostensibly designed for the benefit of all, while in reality it maintains a structure that benefits the few.

In the face of this cultural hegemony, philosophy is presented as a way of life that seeks to examine what is truly meaningful to our lives and to free ourselves before the world.

We have created a civilization of desire with various forms of entertainment, gyms, fancy restaurants, TV series, fancy food, beach holidays and high-risk experiences. An entire market and capital structure revolves around the cultivation and satisfaction of desire, but statistics increasingly show a deep sense of desperation and loneliness. Have we laid the foundation right, or will this society, in its eagerness to maximize pleasure, end up tiring without true satisfaction to fill our lives?

strategy of desire

Ernst Dichter learned from Freud that unconscious motivations operate behind our most seemingly trivial decisions. Just as Freud sought to discover the underlying mechanisms of mental life with psychoanalysis, Ditcher found that through group therapy he could discover what feelings we unconsciously associate with certain products and when we buy something. What gap do we want to fill?

in his book strategy of desire He said that if we could know the sources of desire, we would be able to satisfy our vital needs. If we can understand how unconscious instincts work and lead people to consume products they really want, we will live in a civilization of material gratification, we will create a heaven on earth.

Seventy years later, we can confirm that Dichter’s program has been implemented and yet, we are deeply dissatisfied. As Zygmunt Bauman explains in consumption life: “The consumer society flourishes in so far as it has achieved that the dissatisfaction of its members is everlasting.”

Now, in the face of psychological shackles of manipulation through pleasure or fear, philosophy appears as an important tool for understanding the world and ourselves, a true therapy of desire that begins with an inquiry into reality. about us? What is our role in the universe?

the answer to philosophy

These are exactly the questions that Plato raised in his book fido, There he introduced us to his teacher, Socrates, in the posture of peace before death. Socrates would say, philosophy is a preparation for death. This is what he has dedicated his life to, and now he can rest in peace. Despite being in jail, he feels free.

The awareness of the finiteness of life puts us in front of a task: to be better in order to create a more just society. Through rational examination we have managed to free ourselves from the chains that a consumer society imposes on us. Philosophy is dangerous, but even more dangerous is a society without philosophy.

Educating is motivating people to bring out the best in themselves and develop completely. This is possible only through an attitude of wonder and deep contemplation. Reading, discussing, meditating on classical texts is not just an act of scholarship. Shared dialogue with others about the great questions of human life allows us to find answers to life’s problems. Only filling oneself with things that are truly meaningful (beauty, justice, harmony) can make life happy, and that is exactly what philosophy is for.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. read the original.

Manuel Cruz Ortiz de Landzuri is not paid a salary, does not perform consulting work, owns shares in, or receives funding from any company or organization that could benefit from this article, and he has not has declared that he/she has no relevant relationship beyond the above mentioned academic status.

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