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In Defense of Prejudice

M&Ms2,588 words / 16:05

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Years ago, a friend told me a parable about a species of hominid that did not live to inherit the earth. These hominids regarded each and every entity as entirely unique. When a tiger leaped out of the darkness and dragged one of them to his doom, this did not prompt any generalizations about tigers as a group. Thus when a new tiger began to prowl the shadows at the verge of the firelight, he was not judged on the basis of the other tiger’s behavior. Indeed, if the first tiger came back, they would not have judged him on the basis of his past behavior either, because that was then, and this is now: two unique, individual moments in time.

But even though tigers are not always man-eaters, and man-eaters are not always hungry, these poor creatures still went extinct, because their problems were not limited to tigers. They could not learn from any experiences at all. They were just too dumb to survive.

Survival, you see, requires the ability to learn from past experiences so that one can predict and even control future ones. To do this, however, one must recognize that there are not just individual beings, but kinds or types of beings. Individuals belong to the same kind if they share a common nature. And, since what we can do follows from our nature, we can infer that if a tiger is dangerous once, it will probably be dangerous again. And if one tiger is dangerous, it is probable that other tigers are dangerous too. Thus if one of us is killed by a tiger, we can take reasonable precautions to make sure that it does not happen again.

Drawing conclusions about kinds based on individuals is called inductive generalization. Induction allows you to infer that all members of a kind are “like that” based on one’s experience of individual members. These purple berries made me sick today, so they will probably make me sick tomorrow, since their nature and mine will probably not change overnight. And since you have the same nature as me, they might make you sick too. And since the purple berries on this bush are the same as the ones on the first bush, they’ll probably make us sick too. The flesh of this animal tastes good to me, so it will probably taste good to you too, since we have the same nature. And other members of its kind will probably taste good to us as well, since they have the same nature too.

However, induction also teaches that natural traits tend to graph along bell curves, with a large number of typical cases in the middle, and small numbers of atypical cases on each end. Typical purple berries will make us sick, but on every bush there might be some that have no negative effect and others that are downright toxic. Thus, inductive generalizations hold “not always, but for the most part.” In terms of any given trait, “Not all X are like that.” But most of them are.

Inductive reasoning is, therefore, probabilistic. There is always the possibility that one is not dealing with a typical instance of a kind. But it is not likely, since the atypical is by definition rare. Furthermore, as we experience more particulars, it becomes less likely that we are dealing with outliers, and our generalizations about a type become increasingly fixed. We even come to have a sense of what outliers are typical.

Although this is not common parlance, one could refer to a well-established inductive generalization as a “stereotype,” which comes from the Greek stereos (στερεός), “fixed” or “firm,” and the Greek typos (τύπος), or “type.”

Inductive generalization does not just allow us to learn from past experience, which would be of merely theoretical interest. Induction also has important practical implications, for it allows us to predict future experiences based on past ones, thus allowing us to act advantageously, even intervene in the course of events and control natural phenomena.

Another word for predicting future experiences is pre-judging them. Another word for a pre-judgment is a prejudice. Now, some prejudices may be utterly baseless and irrational—e.g., prejudices rooted in bad inductive generalizations, superstition, or mental illness—and acting on them may lead to disaster. But well-founded inductive generalizations (stereotypes) are the basis of well-founded prejudices that can be highly advantageous—for instance, helping us to discriminate between dangerous breeds and gentle ones, poisonous mushrooms and edible ones, etc.

Induction, by giving us the ability to predict future events, is the foundation of practical reason, which is the primary human means of survival. Induction is also the basis of science and technology, which allow us to more deeply understand nature and thus to predict and control her better. Induction is thus the foundation of the ongoing conquest of nature that we call modernization and progress.

Stereotypes and well-founded prejudices may be a triumphs of inductive reasoning and the foundations of common sense, science, technology, and progress. But today, when it comes to judging human beings, we are told that stereotypes and prejudices are evil and that each individual should be judged on his own behavior, not on the basis of the past behaviors of his kind. We are told that it is an injustice to judge individuals based on group membership.

This viewpoint is a kind of perversion of individualism. I myself defend a kind of Aristotelian individualism. I hold that the purpose of life is the actualization of our individual potentialities for excellence. In terms of politics, a well-ordered society should encourage individual self-actualization and excellence, as long as it does not undermine the common good of society.

The perverse individualism I reject, however, has nothing to do with individual self-actualization. Indeed, it basically amounts to a moral imperative to be stupid, since it is an attack on inductive generalization as such, which is the foundation of practical reason, science, technology, and the modern world. Perverse individualism demands that we behave like the hypothetical hominids discussed above, which were simply too stupid to survive.

False individualism is really an applied form of nominalism, which is the theory that there are no natural kinds in the world, only individuals, and all concepts of kinds are merely social conventions or “constructs.” According to false individualism, justice requires that we ignore all groups — except, somehow, “humanity” — and judge each individual as an individual, without any preconceptions based on his membership in any merely constructed category, such as race. Nominalism, however, is metaphysically false. There are real natural kinds. Individual members of those kinds share natural traits that allow us to make probabilistic predictions about them based on what we know of their kind.

An individualist could, however, reply that even though nominalism is metaphysically false and there are natural kinds, we should still set aside our well-founded stereotypes and prejudices and judge each and every human being as an individual. In effect, we have to treat every individual as a potential outlier, even though most of them are not. Why? Because, apparently, every individual is of infinite value, so rendering justice is an absolute value and committing injustice is an absolute evil. We must act as if nominalism is true, because otherwise there is a vanishingly small possibility that we might be unjust to a stranger.

This position is a moralistic absurdity, for it simply cannot be practiced. There are seven billion people on this planet. It is impossible to treat each and every one as a special snowflake, and if one tried it, even with the limited numbers of people we encounter in our individual lives, it would consume all one’s time and make it impossible to pursue one’s own goals, i.e., to actually live. Because the purpose of life is self-actualization, and the time we have is short, we just cannot get to know everyone we deal with.

One of the ways that civilization advances is by giving us means of dealing with greater numbers of people than we can ever know as individuals. The market economy, for instance, allows individuals to interact with millions of others around the globe through a largely anonymous symbolic medium that, at least in theory, allows all participants to pursue their individual self-actualization.

Psychologists have observed that the human mind cannot deal with more than 150 or so direct personal relationships, which means that if we could deal only with people as individuals, civilization would regress to the complexity of a hunter-gatherer band or agricultural village.

Well-founded stereotypes and prejudices make possible highly complex societies by allowing us to size up individuals at a glance and to choose to embrace or avoid them. Since natural kinds are limited in number, we actually create artificial kinds with visible distinctions — accents, clothing styles, even uniforms — that allow us to chart a course through complex social situations at a glance. For instance, a black man dressed in a ghetto clown costume signals danger, whereas a black man dressed in a police uniform signals trustworthiness.

Furthermore, if stereotyping is wrong, why do people go to great lengths to stereotype themselves? We all want to find like-minded people, and dressing in a certain way is one means to communicate the group we belong to, e.g., hipster, preppy, metal, redneck, businessman, career woman, slut, prole, gay clone, black thug, etc. Blacks go to great trouble and expense to dress like thugs, in order to communicate that they are dangerous, or that they aspire to be. Why do white liberals think it is disrespectful to take their signaling seriously?

The idea that we should always treat others only as individuals also undermines one of the greatest gifts of modernity: privacy. It is fashionable to bemoan the impersonal and mediated nature of modern society, but in a smaller scale, more personal society, everybody knows everybody else’s business. Thus it can be liberating to live in a society in which most people only know you by the persona you project and the money that you spend. Years ago, a student of mine told me that she grew up in a small Georgia town full of prying, censorious Baptists. She said she could hardly wait to move to Atlanta. I’ll never forget her reason why: “so I could sin.”

Under what conditions do we want to be judged as special snowflakes? We all want a fair shake when we are applying for a job or are on trial for our lives. But even then, chances are we are trying to conceal as much as we reveal. Moreover, we know that employers often can look only at the most superficial criteria simply because they lack the time to dig deeper. But we hope that we can at least expect justice from the criminal justice system. Beyond that, when nothing really crucial is at stake, we are content to navigate with prejudices and stereotypes, i.e., to play the odds with others and accept that others do the same with us.

Since nobody can judge each and every person as an individual all the time, it stands to reason that people only trot out this imperative to use as a weapon against others. Universalists of both the Left and Right typically deploy it against any form of racism, nationalism, tribalism, or antipathy to various religious groups or categories of sexual deviants. Of course, if you prod these universalists just a little, you find that they have some rather poorly formed and emotionally charged stereotypes and prejudices about their opponents.

“Not all Xs are like that,” the universalists say, implying that it is a mortal sin not to appreciate the uniqueness of every special snowflake. And since group membership can never be a basis for excluding someone from our society, there can be no racially and ethnically homogeneous societies, and we cannot uphold any norms of social and sexual behavior. Thus perverse individualism is just a tool to make us incapable of resisting ethnic dispossession and social decadence. What kind of people preach (but do not practice) “blindness” to race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual identity as a moral imperative? Obviously people who are up to no good.

If you propose discrimination against pedophiles, you will be told that they aren’t all child molesters, and you can’t do anything against them until after they have been caught. If you propose discrimination against blacks or mestizos because of their propensity to criminality, you are told that they are not all like that, and we can’t do anything against them until they actually commit crimes. If you propose discrimination against Muslims on the grounds that their religion mandates lies, rape, terrorism, murder, enslavement, and the overthrow of all governments, you will be told that not all Muslims are like that, and we can’t do anything against them until after they have committed a crime. If you propose discrimination against Jews because they are a hostile elite working to corrupt our politics and culture and destroy our race by promoting white guilt, miscegenation, and race-replacement immigration, you will be told that they aren’t all like that, and it would be collectivism to treat them simply as an enemy group. We have to treat all members of problem groups as if they are innocent, until proven otherwise. It is immoral to try to separate ourselves entirely from problem groups. Instead, we need to give them a chance, which boils down to a chance to harm us. And that means no borders and no standards.

These perverse individualists might even try to argue that the soldiers of an invading army are not all out to kill us, so it would be unjust to kill them just because they carry arms against us. But at that point, we would see what they really are and stand them against a wall. Of course by then it might be too late.

I am a nationalist because I believe that racial, ethnic, and religious diversity within the same political system are not strengths but weaknesses. They are constant sources of simmering tension that frequently boil over into hatred and violence. Thus the best guarantee of peace and harmony is to create separate homelands for all peoples. A healthy society also requires norms regarding sexuality, marriage, and child-rearing. Thus a society has to practice discrimination. We have to discriminate between who is us and who is not. And within our group, we have to discriminate between the normal and abnormal, the optimal and suboptimal, the law-abiding and the criminal.

We can freely acknowledge that there are some good blacks, Muslims, and Jews. There just aren’t enough of them for our tastes. But even if these groups were equal or superior to us — and they are bound to be superior in some ways — in the end they are simply not us, and we wish to create societies for ourselves and our posterity. We are not creating a team for a sporting event or a spelling bee by recruiting exceptional outliers from a wide range of different groups. We seek to create homogeneous communities with full ranges of both average specimens and outliers, i.e., organic white communities, which are one in blood and culture but diverse in abilities, opinions, and interests, so that all of our people have places to call home.


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  1. wigi
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I am from Africa
    It is so true that white people, nay, westerners, are so” clouded in their vision”.
    They think all us african people to be sweet, much maligned victims of euro oppression.
    You patronise us with your PC liberalism.
    It is hilarious how the predatory african exploits that…. no matter what!
    The greatest perpetrators of FGM here are women.
    In many languages there are NO words for Please nor Thank You, and across the continent the meaning of truth as you Europeans understand it does not exist.
    Africans too are coming to Europe. Africans too, will rape and pillage and pull down your “civilisation”.
    Will the apologists be like the French who bent over for The Third Reich?

  2. Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink
  3. william Allingham
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    “For instance, a black man dressed in a ghetto clown costume signals danger, whereas a black man dressed in a police uniform signals trustworthiness.”

    In mexico when you see anyone dressed in baseball or basketball extra-size drags its a sign of danger but when you see a mexican in a police uniform its a sign of even more danger because its the same kind of people just with more power and authority to do his evil will.

    Its well known among Medievalist specially if you focus in the early Middle Ages that the Oriental traditions of the Muslims and the Oriental religions which inspired Christianity where in opposition to Indo-European natural philosophy and their acceptance of nature with all her goods and bads, Oriental religions promote the ignoring of reality and leaving aside the instinct that many times is right when it tells us that somethings wrong (that’s why Hitler insisted on educating the will and using instinct along with reason, he also implied to be cowardice to surrender what you know is true because of your opponents having better rational arguments, as if reason was all that mattered! … trying to justify everything with arbitrary standards of reason is a way of trying to avoid responsibility), these traditions became an ally to the Roman Empire in its thirst for power and cultural destruction of the more beautiful but less militarized societies of northern Europe.

    Muslim science in the Middle Ages is a myth…they borrowed everything, introduced the nonsense of “secret magic” and despite of being more (not better) organized and having bigger (not superior) cities they were still not above still confused Europeans, that’s why when Europeans got a chance to organize better they easily outdid the former.

    at some point I came to understand that there’s some-kind of transcendental beauty that goes beyond simple acts or attitudes… it could be what some people call “a texture of life” which you experience only in certain societies, you can go to super-modern and super clean Japan and you wont feel it.

    being kind, generous, honest, intelligent are not enough in fact all those attitudes can be aped and replicated by different peoples and be used as a mask to hide or promote their transcendental beauty or ugliness, I see them as a “spectrum” of attitudes which can be equally deployed for advancing ugliness or beauty in this world….. (yes loving acts can be used to advance ugliness which will lead ultimately to anomie and decadence) and that to me would explain why there are a lot of kind, honest people who wont enrich my life and thus I don’t desire to share my destiny with them.

    also well being is not the most important thing…. a dog can be happy but I certainly prefer to be human no matter how much I have to fight for happiness instead of resigning myself to a lower, simpler and powerless existence, no matter how comfortable, because the purpose of existence is actually the opposite, the increase of power, beauty and freedom things that can only be achieved by mastering our surroundings and nature not by ignoring or denying them (as Christianity and modern liberal Jews want us to believe), thus the beauty we see is all we have to work with and to try to improve, we wont magically have more of those things in an afterlife if we are not able to master and enhance them even in this one.

    white people are not all nice and perfect but are the best we have to start off constructing the kind of future we want otherwise we will be recycled to be used as material for ugliness.

    • c
      Posted December 12, 2015 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      I enjoyed this comment. Thanks.
      I have given a lot of thought to rehabilitating the concept of Nature.

      If you are a modern, empirically minded person, I believe that those in the field of ‘Gestalt theory’ had the most salutary approach last century.

      Not a political school, but very sane and clear-sighted when touching upon political matters, e.g Eino Kaila.:

      “Kaila emphasizes that great social
      movements and changes often have multi-layered motivations. The higher-
      level motives are usually real but they are weak, but the lower-level (“animal”)
      motivations are strong. Kaila presents an interesting thesis concerning historical
      materialism (Marx): Historical materialism fails, not because it thinks that the
      higher values and higher motivations play only a minor role in the great drama of
      history, but because it emphasizes in a one-sided way only one type of lower-level
      motivation, namely economic and financial strivings. Historical materialism
      does not give any role to other kinds of lower-level motives, e.g. self-assertion,
      vanity, striving for superiority, desire for revenge, and so on.”

      -Manu Jääskeläinen, “Personality as a Dynamic Gestalt-System”

      • william Allingham
        Posted December 13, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        That sounds interesting, I’m by no means a Philosopher, but by studying science like “Behavioral Economics”, “Evolutionary Theory” etc.(always with a critical mind of course, because as Hitler said, there are higher ends like the survival of our kind to which every other purpose have to serve….otherwise, to begin with, science itself wouldn’t exist to be studied or there would be no men worthy of comprehending it, specially when science doesn’t care about morals) … I started to discover ideas that many philosophers have described only with different names.

        Ill take a look into that, Thank you.

        • c
          Posted December 14, 2015 at 6:34 am | Permalink

          If you do, take anything published after 1945 with a grain of salt.

  4. Ray Symm
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    I think suspending judgement helps when dealing with a symmetrical population which composed of similar people but when there’s an assymetrical predisposition to bad behavior among races living together then the benefits of not judging accrue more heavily to the race which is more disposed to bad behavior than to the one which isn’t, and that’s unfair. In other words, the proportional winners would be those who are more likely to behave badly. It’d be like a prisoner’s dilemma which was rigged to punish one side for co-operating more than another. To fix this the racial groups would be made to live separately. But as long as the population is ethnically homogenous, I see no reason not to suspend judgement such as in the courts where the presumption of innocent until proven guilty is the norm.

  5. Rose Madder
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the time and effort it takes to write such a well done argument. Such a nice antidote to, well, everything else.

    I have read a few of your essays to my husband. He often interjects with the same point you are about to make. This is very entertaining and confirms the value of reasoning.

  6. DrAndroSF
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Very nicely done. Amazing when common sense has to be defended, but that’s our current plight.

    Two things I learned from my years in Catholicism. From Aquinas, that the capacity to generalize is foundational to thinking of any kind and that it is completed in making judgments. Second, my old novice master would respond to the hurt feelings of some novice who felt his integrity was under suspicion by saying, “It’s not you I mistrust, brother, it’s your human nature.”

    As for the endless meme that “Christianity is the problem,” while I do not have any hope for Western Christianity presently in its recently and ironically liberalism-infected state and I regard its embrace of alien immigration as treason, I point out that while Europe and America were Christian for all those ages, Muslim immigration and the worship of the Third World Other were all literally un-thinkable. The bizarrie, eg, of Icelanders volunteering to have thousands of Syrians move in with them would never ever have happened while they were church-going Lutherans.

    Why do you think feminists and other Enlightenment-descended liberals loathe the racist homophobic patriarchal oppression which was/is The Church? For a lot of WN’s –and a lot of other people who mature only part of their characters and mind– it’s more like “Christianity is my problem.” The problem is Liberalism. And blaming Christianity for it is like blaming a liver cell for becoming cancerous.

    • Luke Aragon
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      I wish someone would publicly ask the pope whether all souls are equal, and if so, why some go to hell and others to heaven.

  7. Peter Quint
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    The problem is Christianity, it has made the white race into a herd of bovines. The other races have not been corrupted like the white race. That is why when you look at a black you are disturbed, because you are looking at a predator. It is in the eyes, bovinity (round eyes, obtuseness, cloudiness, lack of focus, doe-eyed) in the white race, in the black race, predatory (intent, malevolence, sometimes sloe-eyed).

  8. Luke Aragon
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    It’s nice to see such a clearly laid out case for accepting inductive reasoning, and at the same time it’s disturbing that we’ve gotten to the point that we have to justify natural cognitive processes and logic itself. The left is definitely at war with induction.

    As a recovering cultural appropriator, I find it interesting and seldom talked about that the left has borrowed a couple of harmful mystical/metaphysical ideas from the East in order to fight against natural cognition. Namely, the ideas of infinite open-mindedness and “living in the now,” which are seen as synonymous with or symptomatic of an incomprehensible/unknowable (but for some reason desirable) “enlightenment.”

    According to a certain Eastern line of thinking, looking at everything with a child-like ‘beginner’s mind” and ignoring all of your past experiences is a good thing. Somehow, ignoring the entirety of history and the future and not categorizing things as good or bad is supposed to put you in a mystical transcendental state of “enlightenment.” In reality, all that people accomplish by “quieting the mind” in this way is to lose their ability to distinguish between the benign other and the harmful other, as you explore indiscriminately without the ability to chart a course towards truth and happiness. It’s easy to see how the left uses Eastern thought and “New Age” spirituality as a weapon when you think about it in the context of a war against inductive reasoning.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:20 am | Permalink

      This is very interesting. Thanks for commenting.

      • Luke Aragon
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        I’m really happy I found you guys, and while we’re flirting with epistemology and ontology, I’d like to mention just one more extremely dangerous way that I think the left has infected western cognition with Eastern thought: By taking advantage of the Faustian nature of the western mind and its pursuit of the infinite — as described in this Counter Currents article — and putting it at war with the “confines” of the self, i.e. identity.

        By preaching that having form implies being tragically limited, and that “enlightenment” or “liberation” is reached by being formless, a prominent voice from the East puts the infinity-seeking self on a path of spiritual suicide, in which it aspires to attain a paradoxical infinite freedom through extinction. Specifically, this line of Eastern thinking pushes the unintelligible concept of shunya, which is some sort of transcendental formless consciousness (whatever the hell that means); and which despite being admittedly unintelligible and incomprehensible, the spiritual authorities are able to conceptualize, talk about, and promote. The concept of shunya runs deep through Hinduism and reaches Buddhism as sunyata or “emptiness”. Of course any criticism of Eastern thought is written off as a misinterpretation, and we must acquiesce to arguments from authority from special magical non-western gurus with the proper credentials to observe reality and explain the unintelligible and unknowable.

        It’s important to call out this suicidal nonsensical rejection of form because it doesn’t just motivate people to reject inductive reasoning (by rejecting form and therefore shared essence), it directly prevents people from forming any identity whatsoever. Western mathematics and physics show us that systems can be deterministic in some dimensions and non-deterministic in others. In other words, it’s possible to simultaneously have form and evolve infinitåely while maintaining your essence. Realizing this is the antidote to this ontological sickness. I explain it to people by comparing their spirit to a song, and talking about how you can write an infinite number of songs with a finite number of notes.

        • Ray Symm
          Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:52 am | Permalink

          If what you say is true, that easter religions induce people to escape their sense of self, then east asians certainly apply it differently. They try to escape their individual selves whereas westerners try to escape their collective selves.

          • Luke Aragon
            Posted December 11, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            That’s an interesting observation. I think you’re right in a sense, but I see the relationship between individual and collective identity a little differently; I don’t place them on different sides of a scale.

            I think that an individual identity is a prerequisite for a collective identity because identification with the other depends on seeing oneself in the other. Therefore, I think a stronger individual identity actually creates a stronger collective identity — provided you are surrounded with people of your same kind.

            I would actually argue that the brands of Eastern spirituality that I’m referring to — including Buddhism and the more egalitarian branches of Hinduism — actually create a weak collective identity, even though the collective can be large. After all, many monks care as much for the life of insects as they do the lives of humans. This is also why they’re such pacifists, and maybe why Buddhism, for example, has virtually disappeared from it’s place of birth.

    • Rose Madder
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:46 am | Permalink

      Here is an interview that relates to your comment. Some of the ideas the interviewee presents are ones that I have entertained in my half backed way. What he lays out matches my experience with meditation practice and mysticism of the Sufi variety many decades ago.

      The interviewer can be a bit disruptive, but the content is still good.

    • JJJ
      Posted December 12, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      I am a Buddhist, and having read the work where “the beginner’s mind” was popularized in the West, I feel I should clarify.

      The “beginner’s mind” and Zen Buddhist/Taoist mentality in general is not about purposeful ignorance to distinctions and inductive reasoning. The Westerners who use the “beginner’s mind” as an argument against prejudice do not interpret it correctly.

      What the beginner’s mind refers to is rather the state of an inner neutrality or “extra-samsaric” consciousness cultivated in Zen Buddhism. What this means is essentially “mindfulness”- no more. It does not stand against making judgments or having likes or dislikes (in fact, in the book where beginner’s mind was popularized- “Zen mind, Beginners Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki, there is a chapter dedicated to this topic.) Rather, it is the practice of acknowledging all that is present from a state of detachment- If you feel prejudice, you acknowledge, detached, “I feel prejudice.” If you make a judgment, you acknowledge “I made a judgment.” If you think something is good, you acknowledge “I think something is good.” That’s all there is to it.

      A lot of people make this mistake- Buddhism is not about denying distinctions or the natural prejudices we have about reality, it is about cultivating a sense of detachment from our likes and dislikes/personality. A popular distinction in Zen Buddhism is “Big mind” and “small mind.” The small mind is our ego, wants/dislikes/desires. The big mind is what connects us to the transcendental. Enlightenment is achieved through putting our “small mind” under control of our “big mind” and a way to cultivate the big mind is to practice “beginner’s mind.”

      • Luke Aragon
        Posted December 12, 2015 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps many good Buddhist ideas have been misunderstood and “weaponized” in the New Age movement. However, I think that you’ve restated my view that it can weaken identity — albeit with more subtlety.

        I don’t see the difference between detachment from “small mind” (likes dislikes/personality) and detachment from identity. My likes and dislikes are an essential part of what makes me, and I feel kinship with those who like and dislike the same things that I do — people who share my same nature.

        It seems like the preference for the Big mind over the “small mind” amounts to a preference for knowledge by description over knowledge by acquaintance, in which full engagement with nature is something to be overcome in order to eventually escape into an extra-samsaric formlessness. After all, when describing the ultimate transcendent state, an intelligible part of the Heart Sutra says:

        “… Therefore, in the Void There Are No Forms,
        No Feelings, Perceptions, Volitions or Consciousness.

        “No Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, Body or Mind;
        No Form, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch or Mind Object;
        No Realm of the Eye,
        Until We Come to No realm of Consciousness.”

        • JJJ
          Posted December 13, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

          Yes, you are correct that detachment from “small mind” is a detachment from identity. However, this is not something to be necessarily viewed negatively- detachment means to view what one is detached from from a rational, (or if you will, “Apollonian”) perspective- It is not synonymous with renunciation, in the physical sense. What I mean is that one can be a Buddhist and still be perfectly able to do their duty in society.

          A perfect example of this is the Samurai. The Samurai resolved to die in service of the Emperor, but this was not from a passionate love of the Emperor and country- it was practiced in a detached state of “action without desire”, in other words, the Samurai resolved to die for the Emperor because it was simply their duty in this life. There was no attachment to the ends of their action or their person. (Of course, some Westerners will argue that Zen Buddhism is incompatible with killing, but seeing as the precepts are purely pragmatic, and reading stories of enlightened Zen masters doing things like chopping live cats in half, I am of the opinion that Zen Buddhism is fundamentally antinomian.)

          • Luke Aragon
            Posted December 14, 2015 at 3:21 am | Permalink

            I certainly embrace an Apollonian perspective, which I view as mindfulness of form. It’s necessary for rational living. As the Indo-Europeans in the Rig Veda say: “In the tree of life there are two birds. One eats the fruit of the tree, and the other watches.” My objection is definitely to the renunciation of life. I believe that identity arises in response to nature as a consequence of the act of living, and as a function of our innate qualities. Therefore, I think that to renounce life is to reject identity.

            In all fairness, there is a spectrum of renunciation that different Buddhist traditions fall into. Certainly the Mahayana traditions are less prone to renunciation. Zen in particular, it seems, has always held the position that the transcendent is not separate from the imminent, and therefore it’s not necessary to go away anywhere. I think this is a consequence of it being one of the least theistic of the traditions. In fact, It’s been said that Buddhism removed God from religion, and that Zen removed Buddha from Buddhism. This might also explain why it’s antinomian.

            Zen is exceptional. The ontological hierarchy has been flattened, purely psychological interpretations have arisen, and I often felt that practitioners recite the Bodhisattva vows like students halfheartedly reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag in American public schools. However, Zen never fully killed Buddha, the vows are still recited, and the intent is still colored by the legacy of the Buddha’s original intent: to end the cycle of birth and rebirth for all living beings. This is the Bodhisattva’s vow, and it amounts to the end of all life, and the end of history. I don’t know how that can be anything but a renunciation of life, and therefore an extinguishing of all identity… it’s within this context that I discern the direction of the “Apollonian” detachment.

  9. AVA52
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness for the internet — where ‘controversial’ (but common sense and likely widely held) ideas can be found. Your definition of true individualism is spot on, and an important point. Great article — thanks.

  10. Capercaillie
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Actually, scientists have found that stereotypes are more valid than most social psychological hypotheses.

    A man without a set of well-founded prejudices is like a helpless child.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted December 9, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Can you supply a citation? This is very interesting.

  11. Robert Pinkerton
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman philosopher of San Francisco, called prejudices, “… the testicles of my mind…”

  12. Ea
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Very, very good. We need more solid articles and thinkers like you. Instead of wackos full of blind hate and mental issues.

  13. Petronius
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Most prejudices are post-judices actually…

    • Posted December 9, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. Prejudices and stereotypes come from pattern matching.

      When youngsters are tested for normal development, they are tested for pattern matching. If they can do it, it’s healthy development.

      Then, the rest of our lives, we are hectored NOT to do it. It just happens to be a special human skill, so it’s another war against nature.

      Pattern matching: embrace it. It’s who we are.

  14. c
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    The ‘individual’ of this soft liberalism is not precious – he is *at best*: atomic, featureless, genderless, a cipher, existing nowhere. What is precious and hopeful is the thought that any of these nobodies could combine to live in perfect harmony. Even Kant’s ‘race of devils’ could live together, if one found the right laws. By contradicting this, it is felt that you are contradicting the most hopeful strain of the whole modern project.

    In short, the problem may be that we modern Europeans are not yet superficial enough – always diving down to the substrate. Like Aristotle, we may need to spend some time describing what is evident to everyone everywhere.

    I would be interested to know if any readers of this site had studied Rudolf Kassner’s Physiognomik.

  15. Posted December 9, 2015 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    I was reflecting on “bias” and “prejudice” recently, too. I’m amazed that, even as unreconstructed as I must be (hell, I read Counter Currents!) I’m still deprogramming myself. I’ve long understood the necessity of prejudice and bias themselves, but I hadn’t fully appreciated the job that’s been done on our use of language until I studied the American standard at law, which is concerned with preventing unfair prejudice, not which preventing all forms of negative inference about people and groups.

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