The Illusion of Categorical Identity

The Illusion of Categorical Identity

by Delmar England
April/May 2001

Excerpt from the book “Mind and Matters: The World in a Mirror

Copyright Notice

A category is subjective mental invention, not objective discovery. It is a mental grouping of entities or relationships on arbitrarily selected similarities. This fact is especially important in dealing with unique existent human individuals because specific volition, the root identity of each individual, defies categorizing. When dealing with a stack of concrete blocks, one block will do as well as any other for the purpose at hand. What is usually mentally lost in this type of action is the principles by which one block is selected from all the rest. It may appear to be instant and automatic knowledge, but it is not. It is the principled process of primary identity, the sine qua non of all knowledge. Given the beliefs generally held, it is not surprising to find that nearly all frequently disregard these principles and presume to begin their "reasoning" from a category.

Daily one hears or reads a constant barrage of language usage that posits a category (or other abstract) as a volitional, valuing being. Characteristics, attitudes, and beliefs are attributed to "Americans", "Germans", "Russians", or other "nationalities" as if all under the subjective arbitrary label constitute a "collective entity" of identical components. A newspaper columnist asks the question: "Are men superior to women?" The columnist receives many responses that presume to answer the question. This emotional response is so ingrained in most thinking, they ignore absence of identity and imagine they hold a valid answer to the question. Yet, if one were to ask each if all men and all women are the same, the likely answer received would be no. Also, what is the basis upon which they imagine a superior or inferior being? This popular anti-individual thinking and "common usage" language is cut loose from reality in every respect. Worse yet, every believer holds knowledge to know that it is not valid, but ignores it. There is no end to this confused thinking as it is evidenced again and again in "group identities", "infinite entities" of "nationality", gender, race, or any other similarity one randomly chooses as "identity".

This philosophy, epistemology, and mode of thought is nearly universally accepted without question. It is a derivative of the god concept that denies the principles of epistemology and identity. The ultimate consequence is the denial of the individual as the real and definitive reference for thinking. With the real finite individual psychologically negated, what remains to direct the mind is the illusion of "infinite entities". These "infinite entities" are categories or other abstracts psychologically regarded as valuing, volitional beings. When I say that this mode of thought saturates our philosophical environment, I do not exaggerate. Indeed, as difficult as it may be to believe, the entire official governmental, socio-economic system is set upon and dependent upon this backward epistemology and illusory infinite entities. Since it is the common and usually unquestioned mode of thought accepted by nearly all, it is evidenced not only in the official system, but in every part of every believer’s life. If one fails to heed the principles of identity, they not only fail to identify another individual, they also fail to know themselves. All are aware of many conflicts and problems on every level of interpersonal relationships, but few are aware of the underlying psychological and epistemological cause.

Racism is a topic frequently discussed and regarded by most as an important issue and problem in need of resolution. Some, on the other hand, such as members of a white supremacy group, see racism as a good thing. Since both of these factions are mentally dominated by the same epistemology and psychology, they inadvertently join forces to promote the natural corollary of such epistemology and psychology. In other words, those consciously trying to oppose racism continue to believe in and promote the underlying concepts of racism no less than those who consciously promote it. Racism under one label is applauded while the same thinking and same effect under a different label is condemned.

The question they fail to ask and answer is, what is racism? What is the radical of the concept? What is it when defined in the context of an objective reality and principled identity? Strangely enough, some frequently come very close to the answer, but are blinded to it by their dominant philosophy and backwards epistemology. From time to time, someone will say that each individual should be treated as an individual regardless of race. Then they follow it with the conclusion that this is the way to improve "race relations". They see not at all the contradiction of such a statement, nor the self defeating horror of it. The point is that objectively, epistemologically, and definitively there is no such thing as "race relations", for there is no such thing as racial identity. The concepts of racial identity and race relations are anti-individual and, therefore, are racism. So, how does one propose to end racism by promoting its root concepts that deny the real individual?

For those who subscribe to the idea of racial identity, I have a question: If yours was the only race on the earth, would you disappear into the sameness and cease to exist? This is a serious question with serious implications. If no is your answer to the question, then obviously your existence and identity is not dependent upon arbitrary racial designation. What does it (your identity) depend upon? If you look, I think you will find that your identity is a set of characteristics that only you possess. This is you, your individuality, and your identity. So, the crucial question is: Why would anyone want to trade their uniqueness of individuality and identity for the nothingness and non-identity of race or nationality?

A race is an arbitrary category based on arbitrarily selected similarities. It exists only in the mind. The real is each individual who is identified by a specific set of characteristics peculiar only to that individual and no one else. This is reality. The admonition to treat each as an individual is sound advice if one wishes to deal with reality. Although the core definition of racism is anti-individualism and not at all confined to skin color, it is this particular manifestation that is most highly visible and the focus of much attention. Given this fact and the fact that exposing the roots of racism in one area exposes the roots in all, let’s examine the racism that is usually regarded as a "black vs white" issue.

Racism and slavery have been around for as long as all known history. The past era most relative to the current situation is that time period when black persons were brought from Africa (and elsewhere) and sold as slaves. Not only these specific captured and transported black persons, but generations derived therefrom were also considered chattel. They were bought and sold in the same fashion and with the same attitude as horses and mules. The surface attitude has changed in some degree in the minds of many since that time, but no one speaks of and questions the beliefs and motives that were the directives of that time of treating human individuals like livestock. Since these same beliefs are still around and still causing many problems, I believe a close look is well in order; indeed, mandatory if understanding is the goal.

Certainly, financial benefit was an incentive to own slaves. A "Lord of the Manor" ego trip no doubt also played some part in the decision and practice. This, however, does not explain the beliefs and ideology by which the slave owners "justified" claiming another individual as property. These same individuals did not claim white persons as property, so we must assume that black skin tied into their thinking in some manner. This was not always so, for there are many historical records that show that some white persons enslaved other white persons. Obviously, they had "justifiable cause" as well. Could there be a connection here? Is there a common belief, or common set of beliefs, that necessarily must accompany the "justification" of slavery?

From some of those historical records, we know that in some instances, slavery of one’s own "kind", or group, was prohibited by the law of the day while all others were fair game. What beliefs and psychology does this indicate and how does it fit into the "justification" of slavery? Since slaves were made subordinate to their masters, there had to be and has to be a basis in belief for holding some as inferior beings; inferior beings being the necessary psychology for the instituting and carrying out of slavery. Where does a believer get the idea of superior and inferior beings? In formal religion, "God" is considered the supreme and ultimate "superior being". "God’s will" and "divine values" are believed by many to be totally superior to the will and values of human beings. From this premise, anyone who believes in and adheres to these "divine values" is logically superior to those who do not. Sometimes this "higher position" is called "the chosen". Many times it is implied if not named directly.

It is of utmost importance to clearly grasp the underlying psychology and divided epistemology that results in the superior-inferior belief. By your own experience and your own conscious mind you can mentally view the mixture of fact and fiction, the psychological juxtaposition of fact upon fiction to produce the mythical superior-inferior being status.

If the end desired is to travel from Florida to New York in the least amount of time, as means, is an airplane superior to a bicycle? If the purpose, i.e., end desired, is to have and keep a healthy body, as means, is nutritious food superior to food sorely lacking in vitamins and other elements essential to good health? The point is, and it is a point you demonstrate thousands of times each day, is that the terms superior and inferior always refer to means evaluated in respect to a purpose, a goal.

In each of the examples given, it is understood that the purpose and goal in question is of an individualistic nature, a personal choice of end desired. Given the natural and logical connection between ends and means and the evaluation of means in this connection, what is the effect of positing a "universal goal"? Answer. In the beliefs and psychology of a "universal goal", "God’s will", or any other alleged "objective and universal value", the mind regards a human individual not as an individual in itself, but as a means to the alleged universal goal. Whatever one’s god concept beliefs may be, subordination of the individual as the means to an alleged universal goal is always the underlying directive psychology and "justification" for slavery or racism of any description.

In any event, since subordination is a logical derivative of any superior-inferior belief, we know with certainty that whenever a condition of slavery exists, there is a believed superior-inferior being condition. In very large part, the condition ties directly into formal religion. This should come as no surprise since literally every king who ever held power either directly or indirectly claimed the "right" via divine descendance or divine decree. "Lesser persons" merely adopted the premise and found "even lesser persons" they could dominate. However, formal religion is not essential for the slavery condition. All that is required are beliefs that psychologically set the superior-inferior relationship. Any belief or set of beliefs that are expressed or implied to come from something other than the subjective mind of an individual fills the bill no less than the same premise in formal religion where such beliefs and values are said to come from "God".

To grasp the anatomy of slavery, one must look at the belief directives that create the condition. We can easily do this by a look at some of the "justifying" arguments heard in the "old south" and still heard to this day. Intelligence is held in high regard by most, indeed, is commonly thought of as a mark of a "superior being". It makes no difference that intelligence is not a quantity and not subject to objective measurement, believers are quite certain that intelligence is an "objective value" and a competent yardstick by which to measure a person’s superior-inferior status. Believers have argued, and many still argue, that the black persons brought from Africa, and their descendants, are of lesser intelligence, ergo, inferior.

Part of this "proof" is that neither the "African" nor any other "black nations" ever developed a modern civilization with tall masonry buildings and other high tech creations. This they say is a "white accomplishment". This argument has a lot of flaws. First, I have no idea why a "high tech society" was not developed in those areas populated by black persons. It really doesn’t matter, for if lack of intelligence to do so were a genetic trait, then no black person to this day would be capable of such a feat. Since there is much evidence setting aside this premise, we can dismiss lack of intelligence as a factor. Indeed, all we ever actually look at is the direction the intelligence takes, not how much of it exists as determined by what one chooses to value. In other words, whether one values or devalues high tech is a personal value judgment and certainly no objective criteria by which to imagine intelligence is measured. As for high tech creations being a "white accomplishment", if it is true that "intelligence" is genetic, then one may randomly select any white person or persons and have them invent the light bulb, put up a sky scraper, or navigate a space craft. Can any and every "white" do this? What does the answer do to the "white accomplishment" theory? The absurdity of the whole thing is easily seen by the implied declaration that every member of a particular race is "more intelligent" than any member of another race. As always, the truth of the matter comes down to real individual interest and individual accomplishment, not an illusory categorical entity.

Mr. Lincoln’s decree ended the legal and official sanction of open slavery. He has received much credit for "freeing the slaves". What was Mr. Lincoln’s motivation for this act? Did he and others have a sudden change in beliefs and find slavery "morally reprehensible"? I can find no evidence to support this conclusion. In fact, Mr. Lincoln promised in a political speech not to disturb the slavery situation below a specific parallel. His "change of heart" not so mysteriously coincided with a change of circumstance called war. "Freeing the slaves" was not an act of understanding or compassion. It was an act of military strategy and logistics.

The segregation that followed clearly revealed that there had been no noticeable change in beliefs and attitudes. The superior-inferior being philosophy was as evident as it had been in open slavery. Granted, there were a few individuals here and there who voluntarily sought to improve the condition by helping some black individuals. Even here, I must wonder about attitude and motivation. Was it a matter of recognizing the individual as an individual and discounting the idea of superior-inferior being? I much doubt it. Most likely, at least in most cases, such help offered was of a condescending nature; an attitude much like that which is seen in sympathizing with animals as inferior creatures in need of protection.

During the last four or five decades, lawfully sanctioned segregation has decreased greatly. Why? Is it a matter of change in beliefs and attitude, or a matter of political expediency? Is it mere coincidence that the anti-segregation legislation followed close on the heels of an increase in black voters? Did this factor combined with marches and other protests, sometimes violent, have anything to do with this great "humanitarian" change? Did racism diminish, or is it status quo racism much obscured by different labels and verbal declaration?

One of the most highly visible and controversial pieces of legislation to come out of all this was and is called "affirmative action". The legal requirement is to hire X-percent of "blacks" and other "minorities". What "affirmative action" affirms is blatant racism. When personal preference and individual merit is taken out of the equation, this is clearly anti-individualism, i.e., racism. The "affirmative action" psychology is not only evidenced in the job market, it saturates the socio-economic environment, including schools. "Minority status" often gains preferential treatment in the form of newer and better schools, better equipment, etc. Some children are deprived of equal opportunity for no other reason than not being a "minority", i.e., for being white. If this isn’t racism, then what label do you put upon it? A most poignant question is, How does this obvious racism help in the alleged goal to end racism?

Contrary to all the posturing and talk about ending racism, the ideology of racism is as much revered today as is was in the "old south" and thousands of years beyond. Believer’s, whether they be black, white, purple, or whatever, are not interested in ending racism. They seek only to gain advantage by it. Each seeks to be the "superior" in the "superior-inferior" relationship. They can conceive of no alternative and strive only to gain ego and economic stature by dominating the "inferior". They play a foolish mind game that is certain to culminate in violent conflict wherein all are certain to lose.

It is literally impossible to resolve a problem wherein the context is the problem. This is precisely the condition that presently exists. The prevailing anti-individual psychology and philosophy proposes to divide reality into two segments of equal content, and then by different labeling and attitude pretend a difference that doesn’t exist. If one says, "I am proud to be white", denigrating all non-whites, it is frowned upon as unacceptable racism. On the other hand, if one says, "I am proud to be an American", denigrating all non-Americans, the remark is applauded as valued patriotism. To simultaneously promote and destroy an idea is a contradiction. It can’t be done. Either the promoting of racism or the destroying of it will prevail. I believe we know which prevails at this time, and pursuing the contradiction will inevitably result in escalation of the racism they imagine they seek to end.

In the anti-individual environment, "group identity" has always been and still is a value held by most. One often hears proud talk about "national" or "cultural heritage". In an epistemology, psychology, and philosophy that denies the individual, what remains for "identity" and "self value", except the "group"? Let us not forget that we are also in an atmosphere of the "superior-inferior being" ideology. The "being" is "group being" and the struggle to gain the superior status is a foregone conclusion. So is the animosity between "groups". Religious denominations, national denominations, racial denominations, gender denominations, whatever. Literally every "group identity" is inherently antagonistic to every other "group identity". Please do not jump to the conclusion that I am opposing group activity per se. Much can be and is accomplished by a few or many joining forces to put up a building, build airplanes, go bowling, or a million other things. However, do not confuse "group doing" with "group being". The former is the interaction of individuals. The latter denies that such individuals exist.

In the present time, the black-white racism pendulum has, in many instances, swung nearly full cycle. Are the laws favoring blacks due to assumed inferiority, needed help, or needed advantage, or is it a declaration of superiority that receives such favoritism by law? All-black beauty contests and other such segregated activities abound. An all-white beauty contest would surely raise much outcry and be labeled racism, but no such label is attached to "all black" activities. One hears again and again the reverence for "African heritage". For many black persons, it is identity and being itself. I hear not a word of protest about all the efforts to promote "black identity". Yet, when members of the Klu Klux Klan do the same thing in promoting "white identity", millions arise in protest. Why? What do we have here except the "proud white" – "proud american" contradiction under a different label? What I am pointing out is highly visible, yet only a few see and fewer still mention it. Most are simply at a loss as how to handle the situation. In the meantime, the division and hostility builds.

The coin of black-white racism has two sides. Both sides are bogus for they are stamped of fallacy. During a TV interview, one well-dressed, erudite black man remarked, "We have been enslaved for over 300 years." Who the "we" is, he didn’t specify, but I think it is clear that he referred to "blacks". The inference is that there is some eternal "black entity" that defies nature and continues in the form of black itself. Thus did he see himself in this form and felt the part of the victim. It follows from the "victim status" that he felt deserving of recompense. It follows from the "black identity" that he blamed "white identity."

Another black man on the same program stated, "Whenever I hear that a crime has been committed, I pray that the perpetrator is not black." Why? What difference does it make what color the skin of the perpetrator? Obviously, this black man felt guilty because of the act of another black person. The first black man attributed guilt on the basis of skin color, while the second accepted guilt on the basis of skin color. Both responses deny the reality of the individual, individual volition, and individual responsibility. Thus this entire scenario of attributing and accepting guilt is derived from the illusion of categorical identity.

By no means is the thinking and feelings of these two black gentlemen an isolated incident. Indeed, it is a clarifying microcosm of nearly all thinking and feelings. The illusion of categorical identity is not a respecter of skin color or any other physical trait. The illusion exists in most minds as part and parcel of the encompassing and "unquestionable" belief system of nearly all. Make no mistake about it, racial bias is inherent in every god concept philosophy. It may be suppressed or repressed, but its there and influences thinking, including the making of laws and jury decisions. If race is your "identity", would you not be somewhat inclined to favor "yourself"? I trust that it is clear that not only am I talking about every race, but every nationality and all other "group identities" as well.

Most white persons remain silent about the "all black" racism described above for two reasons: 1. They really don’t understand the situation, but fear being labeled a racist if they object to the pursuit of "black identity". 2. Since they also subscribe to the illusion of categorical identity, they feel "white guilt" no less than the black gentlemen felt "black guilt" for the actions of another. To be sure, a white person may consciously conclude that the black man who claimed to be enslaved was not, nor is one responsible for what some distant relative or a member of the race may have done hundreds of years ago. No matter. Accepting the illusion of categorical identity is accepting the "group identity" feelings that go with it – even if conscious mind says it is untrue. (I strongly suspect that many white persons involved in "black causes" are motivated by the feeling of "white guilt", but rather than admit it and try to understand, they go out of their way to "prove" that they are not racist.)

Want to end racism? The answer is elementary and highly visible. It is individual identity and individualism. Not only is this the end of racism, it takes care of just about every other social problem as well.

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    Copyright at Common Law, Delmar England, 1997
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