A Good Will

A couple of very interesting and beautiful excerpts from Kant.

It is impossible to think of anything at all in the world, or indeed even beyond it, that could be considered good without limitation except a good will. Understanding, wit, judgment and the like, whatever such talents of mind may be called, or courage, resolution, and perseverance in one's plans, as qualities of temperament, are undoubtedly good and desirable for many purposes, but they can also be extremely evil and harmful if the will which is to make use of these gifts of nature, and whose distinctive constitution is therefore called character, is not good. It is the same with gifts of fortune. Power, riches, honor, even health and that complete well-being and satisfaction with one's condition called happiness, produce boldness and thereby often arrogance as well unless a good will is present which corrects the influence of these on the mind and, in so doing, also corrects the whole principle of action...(4:393).
A good will is not good because of what it affects or accomplishes, because of its fitness to attain some proposed end, but only because its volition, that is, it is good in itself and, regarded for itself, is to be valued incomparably higher than all that could merely be brought about by it in favor of some inclination and indeed, if you will, of the sum of all inclinations (4:394). 


The Racial Segregation of Interests and Activities

I have very White interests and engage in very White activities. I am a philosopher, I am a hippie, I swing dance, I listen to symphonic metal, and I do improv. For some odd reason, all those things are dominated by White people. This unusual fact about me I have known for quite some time. The reason why I am writing about it now is because I do not think I have written about it before, and because two recent events reminded me of it. The first event was attending a service at a megachurch, and the second was attending an air show, both of which are worth mentioning in their own right.

Regarding the first, let's just say that I was quite shocked by the whole experience. First of all, the building itself was huge. It was its own structure with its own parking lot. And it looked like the size of a supermarket. Inside there was a coffee shop, a gift shop, and a daycare center. The actual room where the service took place looked like it could have been a theater for a show in Las Vegas. There was stadium seating, professional camera equipment, two extremely large flatscreen TVs, and a fog machine. Though I spent most of the time in a state of shock, I did not fail to notice the fact that the churchgoers were almost all White, which, quite frankly, fit the stereotype of megachurches that I had in my mind.

Contrary to the first recent experience, the second one was almost exactly how I imagined it. What I did not expect was older-looking planes taking up most of the air show, and the Blue Angels only flying at the end. The aerobatics portion of the show featuring older planes was quite impressive, but after watching two of them it became a bit boring. Consequently, I spent most of the air show talking with my friend who invited me. During the 3 to 4 hours I was there, I spent some time looking around to see who attended, and not to my surprise, almost everyone was White. I believe I saw one Indian-looking family.

Both of these experiences led me to ask the following two questions: Why were the churchgoers and air show attendants almost all White? And why does there seem to be a racial segregation of interests and activities? It seems to me that part of the answer is because people are affected by their surroundings, and because there is some tendency to conform and be with one's own group. Geographical racial segregation leads to social racial segregation, which leads to interest/activity racial segregation. The whole answer is surely more complex and nuanced than that, but this general and abstract explanation seems plausible to me. (It should be said that both of my friends who invited me to have these two recent experiences were White.)

So is this a bad phenomenon? The answer is that it depends. If we are talking about the fact that people are influenced by their social circle, then no, I do not believe it is intrinsically bad. That said, I think how this phenomenon exists today is bad, and the main reason is that it shows a lack of the manifestation of individuality. People are inherently different from one another. People, if placed in a room with different styles of music playing, and with no present or past external influence from others, will diverge on which genre of music they like. Some of them will like classical, some country, and some hip hop. This fact of human beings is race-independent. And if this is true, why is it that almost everyone who plays and listens to symphonic metal is White? Of course, it would be false to say that there is no manifestation of individuality. There are certainly some people who diverge from the path of their racial and social group, but not many.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that people must aim to eliminate social influences to realize their individuality—that would be impossible; rather, what I would like to see is self-reflection and courage. I would like to see people question their beliefs, interests, and activities. Do you really like whatever it is that you like because you think it is good? Or do you like what you like because your friends like it? How much do you fit into the stereotype of your group? If you fit the stereotype quite well, it could be a sign that you are not manifesting your individuality. And if there is not a stereotype for your group, how similar are your interests and activities to the interests and activities of others in your social group? If, after people self-reflect and discover that they should manifest their individuality more, I would like to see people have the courage to take the initiative. If you are of one race and you have always wanted to do an activity that is dominated by another race, have the courage to do it anyway. Go their classes. Go to their events. Join their Meetup groups.

The reason why I think the manifestation of individuality is preferable to the non-manifestation of individuality is because external influences are limiting. I am of the opinion that many people would find more pleasure and happiness in an activity that is not dominated by their race. However, a more important reason is that self-reflection is a means to social progress. It is often the case that unjust practices continue to exist due to unreflective people, who either directly or indirectly perpetuate it. Rather than the result reason, many people's beliefs, both just and unjust, are the result of convention. If we are ever to free ourselves from the shackles of irrationality and prejudice, we must first free ourselves from the shackles of blind conformity.