This conversation is closed.

To what extent does an individual represent his own consciousness in a world of mental slavery imposed by media and governments?

In the books depicting future anti-utopias like "1984" by George Orwell and "Clockwork Orange" by Antony Burgess we observe the effects of the human mind manipulation. But even in the present world, we can notice actions that inevitably lead towards manipulation of our mind (propaganda, adds, governmental actions).

The question is whether existence in the psychological sense is “to be” or “to think” (the Descartes school)? How can we direct our self-consciousness? To what extent are we aware of ourselves, our motivation, actions and thoughts and in what ways is our mind controlled? How can we distinguish between self-consciousness and mental slavery and which actions can lead towards the last one? And finally, in what ways can we become more self-aware?

  • thumb
    Jun 24 2013: We are inevitably influenced in how we think and interpret our environment by that environment and the sequences of images we perceive. So we quite literally bring the outside in, building it into ourselves.

    Much of our processing is unconscious, and we can be aware only of conscious parts. Daniel Kahneman's Nobel address is on this subject, but any neuroscience or cognitive psychology course or text would elaborate on this idea, which began, I think, with Freud but has been confirmed empirically in the last couple of decades.

    In popular thought people often have an exaggerated belief in how much we can really understand ourselves through introspection. We do form after the fact narratives to justify or interpret what we have done, but these are not the same as actual insight into why we do what we do.
  • Jun 26 2013: It would take a book to address all of your questions in a way that would be convincing, so I will not attempt to be convincing, just tell you what I did when I was facing similar questions as a youth.

    I chose to be responsible for myself. I decided that I would be completely responsible for who I am, for everything I think, and for everything I do. I am responsible for how I perceive the universe. I am the primary active agent in my life, and I can reshape myself and my life at any time, at any moment, just by deciding to do so.

    I fully realize that an "objective" scientist would consider this approach to life to be self delusion. But if I do, in fact, make those statements become true, then the scientist is clearly wrong.

    You can choose to not be enslaved by the media and the government, simply by disconnecting yourself from them. You could become a recluse. If you choose to remain engaged with the modern world, you will always be at risk, to some extent, to their manipulations. You can devise strategies for managing and minimizing that risk. You must choose to be confident that you will be largely successful. Occasionally believing a lie is not mental slavery; stepping into a puddle is not experiencing a flood.

    To me, your topic explanation seems to be passive, as though you have little control over what you see, what you hear and even your own awareness. You can control your life to whatever extent you choose. That is not to say that exercising control will result in getting whatever else you want. Control involves trade-offs. You must establish your priorities.

    I suggest you again read Fritzie Reisner's contribution, and do further reading in cognitive psychology.

    I am not suggesting that you take my approach to life. You must choose your own path.
  • thumb
    Jun 24 2013: Well, one way is to always be looking for contradictions, in other words if you are told two different things by two different agencies, or you are told something and it contradicts your experience, make inquiry to find out what is the truth.
  • Jun 24 2013: Thank you Alexander, I definitely meant "A Clockwork Orange". I've already corrected my mistake.

    From what I can see, the attempts to understand ourselves through introspection can be regarded as inept confrontation with our mental slavery. Does it mean that even if we believe that we are not mentally enslaved, in some way or other we always are?

    Where is this border between being and not being self-conscious? I can feel the subject but I barely touch it.

    Can you point out other people, philosophers, neuroscientists that dealt with the topic?
    • Jun 24 2013: You might start with Plato and Buddha.
  • Jun 24 2013: There is no such thing as mental slavery.

    No one else can control your mind without your consent. If you consent, it is not slavery.

    Your concern was shared by people from antiquity that could not imagine modern media.

    The traditional approach is isolation and meditation, and I think that is still a good start.
    • Jun 25 2013: Barry.
      William Casey, CIA director in 1981, stated:
      "We will know when our program of disinformation is complete,
      when everything the American public believes, is false."

      How many and how much of their lies, did you not consent to?
      How many, did you consent to?
      • Jun 25 2013: First, I think it is clear, that we cannot rely on the truthfulness of statements from William Casey.

        To answer your questions, I consented to no lies.