PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, February 05, 2016

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Privilege.

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Privilege

The word privilege can have two distinct meanings. The first is the
sense of being fortunate and lucky to have a certain experience. For
example, it is a privilege to discuss philosophy with some very
interesting people in Madrid. In this sense we can genuine say that we
are lucky since such experiences are a gift by others.

But I suspect that it is the second meaning that would concern us most:
the enjoyment of rights and access to rewards which the rest of society
does not have. It is not that some people have access to certain things
and others don't, but rather such rights are not given for merit but for
status or birth. The privilege of being born into money or aristocracy
or even royalty would definitely exclude most of the people in a
society; and there is nothing they can do about it.

But even then it is neither the money nor the status that might annoy
us, but more likely the sense of superiority and disrespect we perceive
these people have towards us. It is the feeling that these people do
not care about what happens to those less fortunate. And of course the
worse kind of privilege we hate is ostentatious wealth or even access to
power for self aggrandisement and riches.

At what point does privilege turn from a legitimate right into a toxin
of society? No doubt, the French revolution was the classical example
when the toxin of privilege let to a civil revolution. It wasn't the
last either, but it should have taught us a lesson. At least to those
privileged people to have access to wealth and power; be careful some
people really don't like you! We can also ask: is privilege a fast
evolutionary game that gives those who enjoy these characteristics a
really survival advantage? But is success guaranteed because it the
privileged who are smart or is it the case that the rest of society are
just average or even below?

Unfortunately, the fact that there are only a few people who are
privileged compared to the rest of society suggest that it is the
privileged who are smart. This will certainly hurt our sentiments if it
is true, but I don't think it is totally true. We know that in the
survival game we can employ two strategies: we can be smart or we can
apply brute force. By preventing most of society from accessing the
seats of knowledge the privileged practically guarantee themselves
success when deploying the "smart" game; making education expensive is
one way of preventing many people from accessing the seats of knowledge.
And they can also have a good advantage in a "brute force" game by
paying for it and use the brute force of those who are strong but need
the money.

We also know the meaning of: to occupy the high ground. A definition of
success and achievement, but abusing others can never be an occupation
of the moral high ground. The privileged, at least from one perspective,
might occupy the top of the food chain but they'll never occupy the
moral high ground. But surely the best form of defence against someone
who has the advantage of the high ground, both metaphorically and real,
is to isolate and blockade the adversary. All the revolutions since 1789
have shown us that brute force might have short term gains but certainly
long term losses.

To be smart and to act with foresight against a strong adversary is, not
only good fortune but also a privilege and a well deserved one.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Privilege.


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