THE THREAT TO INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM.
This is the threat to the independence and worth of the human personality- a threat to the meaning of human life.
Nothing threatens freedom of the personality and the meaning of life like the words, poverty, terror. But there are also indirect and slightly more remote dangers.
One of these is the stupefaction of man the “gray mass” to use the cynical terms of bourgeo use in (prognostricators) by mass culture with its intentional or commercially motivated lowering of intellectual level and content, with its stress on entertainment or utilitarianism, and with its carefully protective censorship.
Another example is related to the question of education. A system of education under government control, separation of school and church, universal free education, all these are great achievements of social progress. But everything has a reverse side. In this case it is excessive standardization, extended to the reaching process itself, to the curriculum, especially in literature, history, civics, geography, and to the system of examinations.
One cannot but see a danger in excessive reference to authority and in the limitation of discussion and intellectual boldness at an age when personal convictions are beginning to be formed. In some countries the systems of examination for official positions lead to mental stagnation and to be canonizing of the reactionary aspects.
Modern technology and mass psychology constantly suggest new possibilities of managing the norms of behaviour, the strivings and convictions of masses of people. This involves not only management through information based on the theory of advertising, and mass psychology, but also more technical methods that are often widely discussed in the press. Examples are biochemical control of the birth rate, biochemical control of psychic processes and electronic control of such processes.
Man must not be turned into a chicken or rat as in the well known experiments in which elation is induced electronically through electrodes inserted into the brain. Related to this is the question of the everincreasing use of tranquilisers and antidepressants, legal and illegal narcotics, and so forth.
We must also not forget the very real danger mentioned by Norbert Wiener in his book Cybfrentics, namely the absence in the cybernetic machines of stable human norms of behaviour. The unprecedented power that mankind or even worse, a practical group in a divided mankind, may derive from the wise counsels of its future intellectuals aids, the artificial “thinking” may become, as Wiener warned, a fatal trap. The counsels may turn out to be incredibly insidious and instead of pursuing human objectives, may pursue completely abstract problems that had been transformed in an unforeseen manner in the artificial brain.
Such a danger will become quite real in a few decades if human values, particularly freedom of thought will not be strengthened, and if alienation will not be eliminated.
Author: Navin Kumar Jaggi