Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, April 29, 2016

RE: "Groupthink"

Caleb Morton (#6)

As previously discussed, Immanuel Kant was an outspoken supporter of individualism, learning through personal experience, and using one's own understanding within our world to better make ends of it instead of letting more powerful thinkers do so for us. Although it seems obvious to "be yourself" in today's society (as told by school teachers, parents, and most authority when young), can true individualism be obtained? If so, how much can this truly benefit out society and influence innovation?

Personally, I coincide with Kant on his thoughts. I believe individualism is a desirable quality to seek. I suppose separating myself from trends and crowds may have influenced this, but I do like to think that uniqueness brings positive qualities to society and is the root of innovation. Despite this, can a person who is seen as distant and inflexible be trusted enough to innovate? Although most can claim they would never judge others on such points as appearance, we, as humans, judge others. If we deem another as different, we are far less likely to trust them, let alone let them advance exponentially in society.

Touching on the topic of detrimentally following a strong thinker, I believe both sides can be seen. As mentioned in the previous post, blindly following behind strong can lead to disaster, such as how I mentioned Hitler's rise to power during the Second World War. In contrast to this, knowledgeable followers assisting a strong, but unable, thinker can result in wondrous events, such as the 1960's Stonewall riots or notable war victories, like the battle of Gettysburg during the civil war. Both these riots and this battle were led by strong thinkers, but in no way resulted in disaster or genocide, but rather American victory and the furthered acceptance and mainstreaming of gay pride, displaying the ability for "groupthink" to be beneficial.

Concerning conformity, fitting in and resembling a crowd is not always a terrible thing. As mentioned previously, those seen as separate and alienated will be seen as social pariahs (even more so in today's xenophobic society of rampant Internet access and "safe zones"). Casually speaking, how often do you trust the man no one will even speak to? How often can you say you believe the “outcast” has important and worthwhile conversation, nay, worth, in our society? Not often, I can assume. Although this anecdotal example is rather simple when compared to the broad aspect of conformity, the point stands: Conformity does not always result in a dead society.

Although I do want Kant's beliefs to become more mainstreamed, I don't particularly think they will. Aforementioned "safe zones" foster xenophobia for those different from us and the desire for others to think for us seems to have no foreseeable end. Sadly, Kant would more than likely be rather dissatisfied with how we have persisted as a people. Even knowing uniqueness is inherently simple, we, as a species, still struggle with it and simply follow. My opinion on Kant’s beliefs is simple: he was a wishful thinker, and perhaps in his time period his thoughts were plausible, but society as passed being able to follow through on his beliefs. Although groupthink and conformity can occasionally benefit us, as a whole, it will destroy us.

1D post:      http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2016/04/groupthink.html

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