Consciousness embraces the reality of our bodily sensations and experiences and the thoughts that arise from these experiences. Yet millions, most western people, I suspect, neglect and disdain the embodied self. Instead, they believe in an interior psyche of pure thought, of a-priori, pre-existent spirit, separated from, even entirely hostile to, the corporeal facts that imprison it. This spirit has, for them, a far greater reality and truth than that of the scientific, directly, sensually encountered realm. Despite being whole-heartedly embraced by social media, this is not a modern, progressive idea. It’s thoroughly old-fashioned Cartesian Dualism.
Of course, I blame the internet and mobile phones, for promoting this fiction. (I would!) For a start, these devices have standardised and homogenised youth culture and life events all around the world, and this new culture is saturated with Americanism.
Whatever Britain’s and Tim Berner-Lee’s claims, the ground-breaking coders and designers of the internet were American citizens, born into, fostered by, and brought up in an amniotic bath of American cultural assumptions and experiences.
American society, its core, collective beliefs, its whole atmosphere, are underpinned by the concept of the pioneering individualist. Theirs is an adventurous rebel nation founded on personal acts of rejection and dissent. Americans have always been taught to pursue their own goals, forging their own path, building their own homestead, free of interference, free to live their own life and to become their best, true selves.
These are the values of consumer capitalism, for what could be more virtuous than a society that grants all the freedom to prosper, and the opportunity to satisfy their own personal appetites?