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John Graham
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“Imagination isn’t impractical; without it, nothing is possible.” Arguably all of human awareness is derived from imagination, albeit successful outcomes tend to require imagination that can be can be brought into relative correspondence logic and attention to sensory experience. Einstein’s most influential work was preceded by thought experiments which he harmonized with existing models of physics. Any practical innovation begins with an idea which is reconciled with empirical constraints. Even ideas that fail empirical testing may have value as a stepping-stone to a more practical one, or to stand on its own as “pure” exploration of human imagination. Problems arise when action is taken based on poorly constructed and vetted imaginings; especially when what is imagined is a deliberate lie; information presented as an earnest assessment of reality that is in fact designed to mislead. Lies of any significance should not be treated lightly. Lies can kill. As was true for Einstein, imagination has great potential to bring us closer to the truth or it can lead to entrapment, depending on what we do with it. “Supremacist assumptions” Power tends to corrupt, so the safest and most just distribution of power is universal dispersal. We each posses a unique personality and consciousness, and liberty is meaningless unless individual rights are protected, (as by the Bill of Rights) lest a tyranny of the majority prevail. At the same time, majority rule seems, however imperfect, the most just method to take action as a society. We are both individuals and social creatures, and so it would seem to be in our interests to integrate and optimize both individual freedom and the common weal. Universal liberty cannot by definition include actions that rob or destroy the freedom of others, but conflicts can still arise between persons pursuing legitimate actions, such as seeking to cross a traffic intersection. Socially contracted rules can reduce such conflicts and provide (ideally) just processes of conflict resolution. Supremacist assumptions contradict democracy and rationalize oppression. “Individualism” is by no means synonymous with narcissism, although in recent years it has been increasingly interpreted as such. Emerson wrote of “self-reliance” through which he encouraged exercise of individual imagination and avoidance of mindless conformity, but not the self-centered sociopathy that some in every age attempt to pass off as virtuous. Democracy must support wide diversity of thought and lifestyle or else be dismissed as another form of tyranny. Our strength as a species depends on out integration as a people of a diverse pallet of talents, perspectives, and discoveries. Lincoln’s eloquent description of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is widely met with approval, so we may profit by conducting a detailed inventory of which contemporary political concepts, actions, and policies appear to reinforce Lincoln’s formulation or else appear to erode it.
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Mar 13, 2016