Thursday, December 4, 2014

Another Intentional Fallacy

Edmund Husserl
Racial profiling in its most invidious forms is front page news these days not only due to Ferguson but also the New York’s "stop and frisk" laws. However, profiling not only occurs on a blatantly racial level, but in everyday life. If you don’t realize you’re guilty of profiling then you’re either a liar or self-deceived. Preconceptions about race and religion are hard to shake whether they concern, blacks, Asians, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and of course White Anglo Saxon Protestants whose Waspish ways have been the subject of A.R. Gurney’s plays. But profiling goes beyond race and religion. It refers to the snap judgments, the covert acts of character assassination, that are based upon seeing human beings through a half opened door. Most of the time these judgments refer more to the observer than to the one who is being looked at and are predicted on mnemonic mechanisms whose provenance derives from individual history. Human beings, in this sense, are walking time bombs with regard to perception and more specifically projection. You take an instant like or dislike to someone because they’re wearing your father’s wingtips or your mother’s broach or they sound like the critical stepfather or the supportive coach. It’s really a dismal state of affairs which might explain why there are so many divorces. People fall in love (or hate) with specters that are at best shadows and at worst total distortions of reality. Phenomenologists like Husserl talk about intention as a quality of consciousness. It’s what separates subjects and objects. Delusion is the name of the game and sad to say it seems to be responsible for most of the love as well as hate in the world.

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