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The Real Philosophical Origins Of The Woke Movement
A number of intellectuals and scholars have written of the direct influence that Cross Cultural communications have had on those who initiated the woke movement. The high culture and low culture binary regarding notions such as individuality, punctuality, etc. have been borrowed (or high-jacked) to serve the purposes of the social justice warriors in the fields of political science, history, and sociology in their effort to change society. While this is true it only partially explains the true origins of the woke movement.
In order to discover the true origins one must go all the way back to Europe post-World War II. It was during this time that a very radical philosophy developed called “Existentialism”. The slogan and main belief of this philosophy is “existence precedes essence”. What this means in effect is that the human being has no core essence. It is what is called an “ontological” theory or belief.
In other words, existentialists deny biological determinism. Among the originators is the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. I’ve read his writings so you don’t have to. Monsieur Sartre put forth the proposition that “the human is not yet”. The basic idea is that we can and will determine who and what we are. It is a decidedly anti-science position.
Sartre’s philosophy places great emphasis on free will and the notion that we create ourselves through decisions. Our self-identity is determined not by nature or biology, but by choice. There is a great deal of sophistry in Sartre’s writings, but Europeans were shattered by the (deeply personal) experience of World War II and so were very susceptible to the idea that war and destruction were not a fundamental trait of half-tamed animals.
Existentialism gave them hope that the future could be different. Humans could decide and choose NOT to be violent killers on a mass scale. That we are in charge of who and what we are. That change is possible. Ontological change. After Darwin appeared on the scene and convinced us that we are animals the world changed dramatically. Our behavior was explained through the lens of evolutionary biology. Our actions were determined by our instincts, like all other animals. Ignoring this momentous shift in understanding the existentialist went in the other direction. Ontology is self-determined they declared.
So now we fast forward to the present. For older intellectuals – French or not - the woke movement is a case of Déjà vu. The same arguments reappear and are applauded by many in academia. A replay of how intellectuals responded enthusiastically 70 years ago. But what does this all mean?
Will the woke movement and its philosophy that ontological essence is not biological win out? Can we for example determine our own sexual essence – by creating self-determined genders? “We already have!”, the current-day existentialists declare. Okay - you say - that’s just another fad among the intelligentsia. It will fade away just like other woke fads like Freudian psychology. This time it won’t. Oh ye of little faith.
The modern eugenicists are a religious cult and are already making plans to transform our ontological makeup. They are called transhumanists. Their philosophy ironically is a mixture of existentialism and science. The future human will exist beyond the natural biological entity. We will merge with machines and computer technology so that we go beyond our current ontological state. Glory halleluiah. But won’t that cause confusion? And backlash? Of course. That’s why the current existentialists are asking you to define what a “woman” is.
This is an old trick that any philosophy professor could easily explain as semantic fluidity discussed in epistemology classes. They will repeat this trick 15 years from now when we merge with AI. They will challenge you then to define what a “human” is. Will you be able to answer?