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March 17, 2022 3 min read

the-only-thing-constant-is-change

 

A contradiction in the headline above the meme? Well, one could say that contradictions often describe reality better than logically flawless, stringent and temporally unrestricted statements. These seem almost dogmatic from time to time.

But the meme actually goes back to the contrary positions of two pre-Socratic philosophers: Parmenides and Heraclitus. One could also title the overarching discussion "flux versus stasis". Parmenides held that nothing changes in reality; only our senses convey the appearance of change. Heraclitus, on the other hand, held that everything is constantly changing and that "we step into the same river and yet not the same one," as new waters are always flowing around us.

We can also relate these contrary views to daily political discussions. The so-called Social Justice Warrior, which stands for constant change, can be contrasted with the Status Quo Warrior, which sometimes does not refer to a strict immutability of the whole, but very much refers to immutable, religious-mythical regularities, and if things are to get tricky, also to biological constants. This may have also a certain justification, it seems to me, however, superficially the case that with both views political agendas are to be backed up. It is easier for the status quo warrior to refer to alleged supra-temporal regularities in order to disguise the fact that an agenda is to be pushed. After all, they claim to merely describe reality and thus the truth, and this is apolitical. So one prefers to accuse the Social Justice Warriors of having an agenda, which they openly express.

In the end, both positions are concerned with winning over the undecided middle of the positions in order to gain interpretive sovereignty over reality through the acceptance of the majority. This may not seem to have changed since ancient times, which speaks to the veracity of a dialectical unfolding of reality. One could still argue, however, that the SJWs at least mostly play with their cards on the table as far as their agenda is concerned.

Personally, the initial question is downright redundant for me: of course humans, society, the world as such changes over time, and presumably at an accelerating rate. Even biologically, man is changing, due to changing external conditions. Just to choose a very illustrative example, let's mention the Flynn effect: this describes that the intelligence quotient in Western countries has steadily increased by an average of three points per decade since the beginning of the 20th century. The current study now shows that part of the Flynn effect can be explained by brain growth. This is particularly significant when status quo warriors in particular invoke an eternal hierarchy that is biologically determined, and often cite IQ as an objective measure for this purpose. However, the IQ is simply falsifiable by training effects and for this and other reasons it has in no case such a practical meaning in Europe as in North America.

One could also answer the question of how many philosophers it takes to change a light bulb on a technical level - and thus do justice to the smart-ass image of the philosopher: there are no light bulbs at all, because this is only a colloquial term for lamp. The technician knows this, but still uses the word light bulb in a sales talk, because the customer understands something different by a lamp. So one gets involved with the customer's incorrect use of language - in order to sell something, and not to appear somewhat pedantic.


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