Up@dawn 2.0

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Week 5 Spontaneous Originality

Mill praises "individual spontaneity" and "originality," but says most of us do not sufficiently value the non-conformists in our midst. Agree? How do we correct our bias for conformity?


Originality is held to a high esteem and put on a pedestal in America, but the truth is that originality is hated because it’s the enemy to conformity. America is a capitalist society which means that money comes first. It is impossible to market efficiently to a society that does not follow trends, thinks for themselves, and truly celebrates individual spontaneity. You can mass produce Nikes or iPhones or Dodge Chargers if everyone is an individual or non-conformist. The closest that the American public or consumer gets to non-conformist would be an iPhone with a specialized case or a Dodge Charger with an individualized license plate. But outside of that citizens usually conform to whatever others say is in trend.
Non-conformists are usually isolated or ostracized. They are easily written off as being “crazy” or a trouble-maker. Non-conformists in our society run from Malcolm X to Edward Snowden to Colin Kaepernick to Muhammad Ali. The vast majority of the time when someone steps out of line in society they are not celebrated but instead crucified. I would be interested to see an example of a non-conformist in our midst that is celebrated during the time that they were being different.  So the question of how do we correct our bias for conformity is a very difficult one that does not have an answer most people will like. I do not believe that the bias for conformity can be corrected because in order for that to occur it would require society to consistently become uncomfortable while allowing others to live in their originality and spontaneity. People live inside of a bubble and a comfort zone and to constantly bring people out of that comfort zone would disrupt the natural flow of life and cause societal problems, anxiety, and possible confrontations between those being non-conformists and the conformists.  

3 comments:

  1. "The vast majority of the time when someone steps out of line in society they are not celebrated but instead crucified." Jesus Christ!
    There are two people in history that I can immediately think of whose ideas were rejected and who were initially ostracized, but they did not stay that way. Both Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968). Both are famous nonconformists. The former changed Christianity forever and had a huge impact on ML King Jr. His enemies wanted to kill him for his nonconformity and came close to doing so. The later changed America forever and has had a huge impact on all Americans after him. He was murdered (crucified) for his nonconformity. These are only two examples of successful men that would not conform to the status quo and eventually changed the Western world. Neither were initially accepted by the majority. I’m sure there are plenty more.

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  2. "People live inside of a bubble and a comfort zone and to constantly bring people out of that comfort zone would disrupt the natural flow of life" - which is of course the life of a philosophy professor and some clerics of my acquaintance, who boast of "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable." I hope we're not causing too many "societal problems, anxiety, and possible confrontations"... but how many are too many, especially in times like these? Actually I find that in tough times people come to us, moreso than in times of perceived stability and prosperity. It's always a good time to study philosophy, but especially in times of perceived crisis.

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    1. I have been interested in what the ancient philosophers thought for a while, but have not given much time to more current philosophers. The more current ones are quite fascinating and very interesting too. “It’s always a good time to study philosophy….” I’m finding that to be true.

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